Sunday, October 31, 2010

Pumpkin Pancakes

I would never have made this recipe if it weren't for the good folks over at August Cooks. Man, these were delicious! I added some chocolate chips into the second half of the batter, but both Phil and I loved them.

These would be great with maple syrup mixed with a little orange blossom water... but I was too lazy for that, so we just ate these with bacon and regular maple syrup.

Definitely check out the recipe on August Cooks and give it a shot!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Winter Sangria

Last week, there was snow just north of us. Eek! I'm just not ready to see the flakes! So, here's a great drink that has the fun elements of summer (sangria) with the flavours of winter (cinnamon + allspice)

And I'm really sorry, we actually drank all of this before I had time to take a picture.

Which should tell you that it's great!

Winter Sangria

1 cup fresh orange juice (I used valencia)
1 orange, cut into 8 wedges
1 lime, cut into 8 wedges
1 lemon, cut into 8 wedges
1 cinnamon stick
2 whole allspice berries
¼ cup sugar
1/3 cup grand marnier
1 bottle fruity red wine (I bought a California cab that was pretty much bursting with berries)

Mix all ingredients in a pitcher and let sit in the fridge for a minimum of 4 hours, but preferably 24.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

The Return of Vegan Cooking with Kat

We whipped up a couple of recipes and had, what I would deem, our first disaster.

First up: Roasted Garlic and Sundried Tomato Bean Dip. We've made it before here. It's still totally delicious and we ate the whole bowl with toasted pitas.

Second up: Polenta Terrine. Kat brought the recipe over, so I don't have it for you to play with. It was supposed to be layers of polenta alternating with layers of roasted mushrooms, roasted peppers and steamed swiss chard topped with a tomato basil sauce.

We had some problems with the layers. Erm... more specifically with them sticking to the pan.

It took both of us to try and reassemble the thing.

The end result was pretty good, although I think it could have benefited from a thick layer of cheese.

Lastly, I whipped up a quick Maple Cranberry Compote that we served on top of coconut ice cream (made with coconut milk, and completely non-dairy).

Alas, no pictures. We ate it before I had a chance to whip out my camera. So, at least you know it's good!

Maple Cranberry Compote

(Bon Appetit, October 2010)

2 cups fresh or frozen cranberries, rinsed
1/2 cup pure maple syrup (preferably Grade B)
1/4 cup (packed) dark brown sugar
1/4 cup cranberry juice cocktail
1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon peel

Combine cranberries, maple syrup, brown sugar, cranberry juice, and lemon peel in heavy medium saucepan. Bring to boil over medium-high heat, stirring until sugar dissolves. Reduce heat to low and simmer until most berries pop and juices thicken slightly, 4 to 5 minutes. Transfer to small bowl. Chill until cold, about 2 hours. DO AHEAD: Can be made 3 days ahead. Cover and keep chilled.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Pan de Muerto

Ah... okay. This one had some disasters along the way to completion, but turned out tasty. It's a long recipe (although not hugely complex), and here's the link to it.

Even better? There's an audio sideshow!

So... here's what happened when I tried it. But first, for all the people who were too lazy to click the link: the recipe:

Pan de Muerto

For the bread
1/2 cup whole milk (I used ¼ cup each 1% and half & half)
2-3/4 oz. (5-1/2 Tbs.) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
Two 4x1-inch strips of orange zest (use a vegetable peeler; avoid the white pith)
1 Tbs. orange blossom water
3 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/4 oz. (1-3/4 tsp.) active dry yeast
15-3/4 oz. (3-1/2 cups) unbleached all-purpose flour; more as needed
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp. kosher salt
Vegetable oil as needed
For the topping
2 oz. (4 Tbs.) unsalted butter, melted (I used 2½ tbsp)
1/4 cup granulated sugar

Make the dough Put the milk, butter, and orange zest in a small saucepan over medium heat; stir until the butter melts, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool until warm. Discard the orange zest, add the orange blossom water, and whisk in the eggs.

Or, you can add orange zest and strain it out later!
Dissolve the yeast in 1/4 cup lukewarm water (no hotter than 110°F) and let stand until the mixture bubbles slightly, 5 to 10 minutes. (If the yeast doesn’t bubble, discard it and start again with new yeast.)

Mix the flour, sugar, and salt on a work surface. Make a well in the center.

This is where things got awkward for me.
Gradually pour the yeast mixture and the milk mixture into the well while mixing with your hand.

Yeast mixture in? Okay! Milk mixture? Okay! Mixing? Uhm...

Or until the liquid leaks all over the place and your counter is a mess...

Knead until you have a nice, uniform dough, about 10 minutes. The dough should be smooth but still slightly sticky. If it seems too sticky, add more flour as needed.

Full recovery from the mess. It's good to know you can recover!

Put the dough in a large, lightly oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap or a towel, and leave in a warm place (about 70°F) until doubled in size, 1 to 1-1/2 hours.

Shape the bread
Cut off a piece of dough about the size of a lemon and reserve. Divide the remaining dough in half and shape the pieces on a lightly floured surface into 2 rounds. Lightly oil a heavy-duty rimmed baking sheet or line it with parchment; put the dough rounds on it and flatten the tops with your hands.

With some of the reserved dough, form 2 balls the size of large marbles; set aside and cover with plastic. Divide the remaining dough into 6 pieces and roll them with your hands from the center out, making ropes that are slightly longer than the width of the loaves.

These little bits represent bones! You're going to lay them on top of the bread.

As you’re rolling, press with your index and middle fingers spread about 1 inch apart to make knobs that represent bones. Arrange 3 of the ropes on top of each dough round, overlapping the ropes in the center. Cover loosely with a cloth or plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about 45 minutes.

Ready to go in the oven!

Meanwhile, position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 350°F.

Dab a little cold water on the top center of each round where the ropes meet and put the reserved dough balls on top, pressing slightly so they adhere. Bake until the loaves have an even golden color, 30 to 40 minutes. Cover the loaves loosely with foil and continue to bake until their bottoms are browned and the internal temperature is 190°F, 10 to 15 minutes more. Remove from the oven and cool for a few minutes on a wire rack.

Gorgeous! And they smelled great.
Top the bread Brush the loaves all over with some of the melted butter.

Mmm. Glistening with butter!

Holding one from the bottom (if it’s too warm, use an oven mitt or a piece of cardboard), sprinkle half of the sugar all over the top, tilting the loaf slightly to help coat it evenly.

Make sure you get all the corners!
Repeat with the other loaf and remaining sugar.

The ball on top popped off of this one.
Cool to room temperature before serving. The bread is best eaten within a day of baking.

Ta Dah! The finished product!

All in all, I think this was a great recipe. It was relatively easy, with the exception of my failure with the well. Overconfidence will get you every time, I swear. I can't stress this enough, but the orange blossom water makes this bread! It lends it a gorgeous floral tone that's in no way overpowering. I would definitely make this one again!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

South Indian Curry

I've really been working through my Fine Cooking magazine this month! I meant to make this for my Thursday night veganfest with Kat, but we opted to do a different recipe instead. So this dish got deferred to Saturday night.

This is one tasty curry. It's mild, but flavourful.

Love the colours! We had it with basmati and paranthas.
Don't be put off by the long list of ingredients. You probably have most of these in your crisper or pantry. Also, if you have any lime leaves, throw them into the coconut milk mixture along with the cinnamon stick for added flavour.
South Indian Curry

2 Tbs. canola oil
1 large yellow onion, finely diced
4 medium cloves garlic, minced
One 2-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and finely grated (1 Tbs.)

1 Tbs. ground coriander
1-1/2 tsp. ground cumin
3/4 tsp. ground turmeric
1/2 tsp. cayenne

1 Tbs. tomato paste

2 cups lower-salt chicken broth or vegetable broth
1 cup light coconut milk
One 3-inch cinnamon stick
Fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 small cauliflower, broken into 1-1/2-inch florets (about 4 cups)
1 lb. sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes (about 3 cups)
2 medium tomatoes, cored, seeded, and coarsely chopped (about 1-1/2 cups)
2 large carrots, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch-thick rounds (about 1 cup)

One 15-1/2-oz. can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
4 oz. baby spinach (about 4 lightly packed cups)
2 Tbs. fresh lime juice
1 tsp. finely grated lime zest
2 Tbs. chopped fresh cilantro

In a 5- to 6-quart Dutch oven or other heavy-duty pot, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until beginning to brown, 3 to 4 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium (or medium low if necessary) and cook until the onion is richly browned, 5 to 7 minutes more. Add the garlic and ginger; cook, stirring, for 1 minute to blend the flavors. Add the coriander, cumin, turmeric, and cayenne; stir for 30 seconds to toast the spices. Add the tomato paste and stir until well blended with the aromatics, about 1 minute.

Add the broth, coconut milk, cinnamon stick, 1 tsp. salt, and 1/4 tsp. pepper and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium low or low and simmer for 10 minutes.

Add the cauliflower, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, and carrots. Raise the heat to medium high and return to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium low, cover, and simmer until the vegetables are tender, 20 to 25 minutes. Discard the cinnamon stick.

Stir in the chickpeas, spinach, lime juice, and zest; cook until the spinach has wilted, about 3 minutes more. Season to taste with salt. Serve garnished with the cilantro.

Coming tomorrow...

... Pan de Muerto

"You are now carrying my child."

"But how?"

"It is the mystery of the bread."

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Sorry for the lack of posts!

It's been a rough week. I won't go into details, but some work drama went down that I found myself caught in. Being the victim of gossip and slander isn't fun, but I've come to the conclusion that rising above it all is the only way to go.

That, and keeping a detailed log of what happened and when so that if the aforementioned people say anything else, they can expect a formal complaint from the federation. I would take it now, but there may be pregnancy hormones (two weeks before due date) involved.

And, at the end of the week, my face blew up as a swollen mess of an allergic reaction to either (or some/all of): eye cream (I definitely had a reaction to this), face cream and an peel. I can't decide if I look like the Elephant Man or like a pig (the swollen eyelids are particularly piggy).

I will say that Kat and I had a cooking fest on Thursday night and I have a great Winter Sangria recipe to share with you.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Cranberry Orange Muffins

I had a half bag of fresh cranberries left over from the pear cranberry tart and really wanted to clean out my fridge.

That, and I wanted to procrastinate from my marking.

So I found this recipe for Fresh Cranberry Muffins over on and decided to give it a whirl. This is what I came up with:

I was long overdue for a classic cooking error though - I accidentally replaced the baking powder with baking soda. So... while still *okay* they have a metallic taste to them.

I suggest trying them except using the right ingredients!

Fresh Cranberry Muffins

Yield: 12 servings (serving size: 1 muffin)


  • 2  cups  all-purpose flour
  • 2/3  cup  sugar
  • 2  teaspoons  baking powder
  • 1/4  teaspoon  salt
  • 1  cup  chopped fresh cranberries
  • 2/3  cup  2% reduced-fat milk
  • 1/4  cup  butter or stick margarine, melted
  • 1  teaspoon  grated orange rind
  • 1/2  teaspoon  vanilla extract
  • 1  large egg, lightly beaten
  • Cooking spray


Preheat oven to 400°.

Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl; stir well with a whisk. Stir in cranberries; make a well in center of mixture. Combine milk, butter, rind, vanilla, and egg; add to flour mixture, stirring just until moist. Spoon batter into 12 muffin cups coated with cooking spray. Bake at 400° for 18 minutes or until muffins spring back when touched lightly in center. Remove muffins from pan immediately; place on a wire rack.

Note: These muffins freeze well. Bake them ahead, cool completely, and store in freezer bags. To serve, thaw at room temperature. Reheat in aluminum foil at 300º for 10 to 15 minutes or until thoroughly heated.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

A fundamental Japanese recipe: dashi

Dashi is at the heart of Japanese cooking. It's the snokey, fishy broth that makes up the base of soups, and really, seems to be added to just about everything. And yes, you can buy little MSG laced packages of dashi granules (the fishy equivalent to a beef boullion cube), but it's really easy to make your own - especially if you skip the fish part.

Vegetarian dashi consists of only two ingredients:

Konbu is kelp. I buy it in packages labelled "dashi konbu", which means it's in the perfect size for throwing into a pot. In the vegetarian version, the shiitake mushrooms add a pleasant earthiness and depth of flavour to make up for the lack of dried fish flakes.

And you know what's even better? If you're in a rush, you can make the stock in about 10 minutes.

How To

1. If you have a couple of hours on your hands, take one square of konbu and one shiitake mushroom.

2. Wipe the piece of konbu with a damp paper towel to remove some (though not all) of the white stuff on it. Then throw it and the mushroom into a pot of 4½ cups of cold water. Let it sit for 2 hours. That'll infuse the broth with even more of that pleasant seashore aroma that characterizes dashi.

3. Over high heat, bring the pot of water almost to a simmer. Keep it at this temperature for 4-5 minutes (don't let it boil!), then remove from heat and let sit a further 4-5 minutes. Remove and discard the konbu and the mushroom and voila! Dashi, ready for use.

 If you only have 10 minutes, skip the 2 hour soak and proceed directly to step 3.

Yes. It is that easy.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Cranberry Pear Tart with Walnut Shortbread Crust

Who wants an insanely easy but totally delicious dessert that will get you through the fall/winter festivities? Might I introduce you to this little beauty?

It's got a pat-in-the-pan crust, filling chopped in a food processor and a whole lot of personality!

You may have noticed I've been doing a lot of cooking from Fine Cooking magazine lately. They're definitely my new favourite!

Mmm. Macro-licious!

Follow the link for the recipe! 


Thursday, October 14, 2010

Uncanny Preserves

A friend from my university days has her own Preserving business, and let me tell you, her products are killer. I scored a super sweet jar of chocolate raspberry jam (amongst other purchases) this summer that is HEAVEN on toast.

Peach Rum Butter on toast. Glorious!
If you love preserves and supporting local farmers, check out her website  Uncanny Preserves and peruse her current fall selection. Seriously, you can't go wrong with anything she has! She also has a super sweet blog too.

My FIL in a canoe

I'll be honest, we were cheering for my father and my father-in-law to fall into the river.

And watching my FIL hold the canoe paddle the wrong way really bolstered our spirits. We already know that my Dad has a habit of tipping the canoe!

 Can you sense their excitement?

Off in the distance, towards Snake Creek they went.

Alas, they arrived back dry.

Nothing like a lack of schadenfreude to ruin our fun!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Roasted Butternut Squash Salad and a Cottage Saturday

Part of the annual Thanksgiving weekend tradition involves all the people on the street taking the docks out of the water. There's a lot less enthusiasm for this activity (versus putting them in on the Victoria Day long weekend), mostly because the water is so much colder. 

Dad walking down the street wearing hip-waiters.

I see my role, as official photographer, to be a pretty damn important one.

The beach, with more than half of the dock gone.
You see, there are dogs that need portraits done.

Promptly after running into the water.
And... well... do you want to go swimming at Thanksgiving?

Yar. Look at that strength!
After everything at the beach seemed under control, Jenn and I took a walk down towards Snake Creek.

More milkweed pods!
And, you know, because we were tired after that, we sat around reading at the cottage.

The living room
Phil and I took a quick walk before dinner just up and down River Road.

River Road at Murray Hill
I love autumn up here. I swear, no one does autumn like Ottawa-Gatineau.

View from another beach.

And what would the cottage be without eating? Nothing, I tells you.

See the plaid shirt I'm wearing? I wore it practically every day in grade 8 (it was the grunge era). Now I reserve it for fall at the cottage, where it's kept permanently!

We're eating a poorly plated, but totally delicious Roasted Butternut Squash Salad recipe. I swear, it's the best dish ever.

Well. best dish for fall anyway.

Roasted squash, red onions, bacon, melted goat cheese, walnuts, maple... this salad has a whole lot of awesome goin' on!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Where were you this weekend?

I was here:

View from the steps of the little cottage at 8:30 this morning.
Sure, the little cottage was 2º at night, but that's what 6 layers of blankets and flannel sheets are for! Really, it was a great weekend. I got to hang out with my family (albeit, with a seriously drugged brother who has a tooth infection), play tons of games and enjoy some beautiful walks.

The colours this weekend were just gorgeous!

Our maple tree
I'll post more later, but I'll leave you with one last shot of my cousin Jenn:

Milkweed pods take flight
Hope all my Canadian friends had a great Thanksgiving!

Sunday, October 03, 2010

forgotten dinner turned lunch

Do you ever buy too much food during the week? I always start off the week with the best intentions. I'll cook mains and sides from scratch and enjoy the best food ever.

This is what happens in reality:

Monday: extreme enthusiasm
Tuesday: dinner without Phil (he has class) means I eat a piece of toast and a reheated Costco sausage.

And thusly are all my plans killed. I cook Saturday-Monday really and then just hope for the best the rest of the week. Maybe the food fairy will come and visit me.

One of the recipes I had planned to make this week was Roasted Sprouts with Mushrooms. I love Brussels Sprouts - as long as they aren't boiled. Roasting is a great way to show off their flavour.

The sprouts sat in the fridge all week. By Saturday, I could feel them glaring at me. So instead of having a sandwich, Saturday lunch consisted of spouts, mushrooms, cream and wine. After all, Phil and I were all gussied up and ready to go for dinner at the Beerbistro with his parents.

We solve mysteries in our spare time - you know, Castle style.
Let's just get back to the sprouts, shall we?

I'm not going to mince words. It was pretty fabulous. I can see why Nigel Slater often just has a dish of vegetables for a meal. This is a totally luxurious treatment of the humble sprout... and definitely worth opening a bottle of wine for!

Perhaps a trifle over roasted...
For all you Canadians: I highly recommend this recipe for Thanksgiving next weekend. It`s about time you upgraded from boiled sprouts!

Recipe can be found here or after the jump!

Saturday, October 02, 2010

The perfect Friday night dinner

Everyone has favourite thank-God-I-have-2-days-off meal. Most times, we tend towards pizza, but yesterday we were feeling to lazy even for that.

Thankfully, I'd hit up one of my favourite shops on Thursday: Nancy's Cheese. It was here that I was introduced to the joys of sheep cheese. It's so much better (read: less gamey) than goat.

Best of all, Nancy always gives samples of whatever it is you're looking to buy! And I'm definitely a girl who loves her samples.

So, Thursday, I spent the better part of 40$ on 4 wedges of cheese.

I regret nothing.

Friday Night Dinner
Sweet, delicious Friday:
  • a bottle of Malivore Gamay
  • one sliced Honeycrisp Apple
  • pumpkin pecan bread from Whole Foods
  • Beemster XO cheese - cow's milk aged gouda with butterscotch notes
  • Moliterno - sheep's milk cheese with truffle
  • Zamorano - unpasteurized sheep's milk cheese
  • Brie - unpasteurized cow's milk
  • tarragon orange olives
Life is good.

As a bonus, here's Thursday night's dinner recipe. It's amazing and was also served with delicious cheeses.

Roasted Butternut Squash & Shallot Soup

From Cooking Light

Yield: 6 servings (serving size: 2/3 cup soup and 1 teaspoon chives)


  • 4  cups  (1-inch) cubed peeled butternut squash (about 1 1/2 pounds)
  • 1  tablespoon  olive oil
  • 1/4  teaspoon  salt
  • 4  large shallots, peeled and halved
  • 1  (1/2-inch) piece peeled fresh ginger, thinly sliced
  • 2 1/2  cups  fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
  • 2  tablespoons  (1-inch) slices fresh chives
  • Cracked black pepper (optional)


1. Preheat oven to 375°.

2. Combine first 5 ingredients in a roasting pan or jelly-roll pan; toss well. Bake at 375° for 50 minutes or until tender, stirring occasionally. Cool 10 minutes.

3. Place half of squash mixture and half of broth in a blender. Remove center piece of blender lid (to allow steam to escape); secure blender lid on blender. Place a clean towel over opening in blender lid (to avoid splatters). Blend until smooth. Pour into a large saucepan. Repeat procedure with remaining squash mixture and broth. Cook over medium heat 5 minutes or until thoroughly heated. Top with chives and pepper, if desired.

Nutritional Information

Calories: 112 (20% from fat)
Fat: 2.5g (sat 0.4g,mono 1.7g,poly 0.3g)
Protein: 3.3g
Carbohydrate: 22.4g
Fiber: 3.6g
Cholesterol: 0.0mg
Iron: 1.6mg
Sodium: 266mg
Calcium: 84mg
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