Thursday, December 25, 2008

Happy Christmas!

Have a wonderful, happy and delicious Christmas!

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Friday, December 19, 2008

Chai spiced truffles

When I started this blog I thought that I'd be posting every day with the Christmas season just around the corner. Well, life intervened and that didn't happen. Now, Christmas is almost here. And this is going to be my first "official" Christmas post.
For me Christmas is not Christmas without truffles. I usually make several different flavours to choose from. This year I'm going to stick with just one: Chai spiced truffles. I make a huge batch and send them (well, not all of them) to my sister every year.
Word is she enjoyed them a lot. I hope you enjoy them, too.

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1/2 cup heavy cream
6 cardamom pods
1 cinnamon stick
3 black peppercorns
4 cloves
7 oz coarsely chopped milk chocolate
2 tbsp butter
1 tsp vanilla
2 tbsp cocoa powder

Bring heavy cream to a boil, add all spices. Cover and let infuse for an hour.
After an hour strain into a clean pot and bring to a boil again. Discard spices.
Add chopped chocolate to the cream, mix well. Add vanilla and butter. Mix well to melt the butter.
Let the mixture cool, cover and refrigerate over night. The next day, line baking sheet with waxed paper. Drop mixture by rounded teaspoonfuls onto prepared sheet. Freeze until firm, about 45 minutes.
Place cocoa into bowl. Roll truffle between hands into rounds. Roll them into cocoa.
You can also roll them in melted chocolate, you'll need about 6 oz for this amount of truffles.
I used Callebaut chocolate, my chocolate of choice when a recipe asks for quality chocolate.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Midnight snack of the week

This gal likes to snack. A lot. Especially before going to bed. Preferably something spicy, hot and full of flavour on a piece of stinky cheese. Usually a nice coriander and cardamom flavoured kiwi or sweet mango chutney will do it, but this time it's something special: my second childhood food crush, mushrooms.(The first being cheese). I found this recipe in an old hand written cookbook of mine. Plus I needed to make good use of some herbes de Provence I had sitting on my spice rack.
It's the perfect midnight snack. Sweet dreams, everybody!


Citrusy mushrooms with herbes de Provence


1 lb small white button mushrooms
juice of 1 orange
juice of 1 lemon
2 tsp grated orange zest
1 shallot, minced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
150 ml vegetable stock
2 tsp herbes de Provence
100 ml olive oil
1 tbsp parsley, finely chopped

Clean mushrooms, peel and cut in half if too big. In a bowl, mix orange and lemon juice, vegetable stock, orange zest and herbes de Provence. Mix well, then add the mushrooms. Heat olive oil over medium heat, add the shallot and garlic. Cook for 2 minutes, then add mushroom mixture and cook until mushrooms are soft, about 10 to 15 minutes. Finally add the parsley. Cool completely. Refrigerate for a few hours to let the flavours develop.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Cardamom and damson plum cookies

OK. It took a little longer than expected to publish the recipe for this cookie. My apologies. I made these heavenly bites a few nights ago, while the Grinch was stealing Christmas (on TV). It was almost midnight by the time I finished baking them. ( I seem to be doing a lot of late night baking).
Except for the few I kept to take photos of the next day, they were all gone in a matter of minutes. I do have to say though, that they are better the next day, if kept in an airtight container. My damson plum jam is home made. Friends say it's the best jam ever. I tend to believe my friends. If you cannot find damson jam, use a good quality raspberry jam.
Cardamom does it for me, so I used a lot in this recipe. Should you like a milder taste, use less. Same goes for the damson jam. I kinda like it dripping out of the cookies. For aesthetic purposes use less. This is a small batch. You can easily double it.
If you're not thinking Christmas yet, it high time you did folks!

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1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
3/4 tsp ground cardamom
pinch of salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 1/2 oz cream cheese, at room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 egg yolk
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup(or so) damson plum jam

Add flour, cardamom and salt to a bowl. Mix well.
Beat together butter, cream cheese, sugar until light and fluffy. Add egg yolk and vanilla. Next add flour mixture in two parts.
Mix until dough comes together. Chill in the fridge, wrapped in a plastic wrap for 2 hours.
Preheat oven to 350F. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Remove dough from fridge.
Roll out the dough to 1/4 inch thickness on a lightly floured surface. Using a 1 1/2 inch cookie cutter stamp out rounds as closely together as possible. Arrange cookies on a baking sheet, about 1/2 inch apart.
Bake cookies for about 10 to 12 minutes, until edges are golden. Cool completely. Sandwich cookies together with damson plum jam. Sprinkle with powdered sugar.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Sour cream coffee cake with chocolate pecan filling

As this wonderfully moist coffee cake was on the picture,(previous post) I thought it wouldn't hurt to post the recipe as well.
It's a great, easy to make alternative to more elaborate cakes or pastries that could be served with coffee. It makes quite a large cake, but no worries here, it keeps for 4 to 5 days under a cake dome.



For the cake:

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
pinch of salt
5 oz unsalted butter, at room temperature
5 1/2 oz superfine sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup sour cream


1/4 cup toasted pecans
3 oz coarsely chopped bittersweet chocolate
3 tbs light brown sugar
1 1/2 tbs natural cocoa powder

Preheat oven to 350F. Generously butter a 9-inch bundt pan.
Make the filling: In a food processor, pulse pecans, sugar, chocolate and cocoa to combine and chop the pecans and chocolate.
For the cake: In a bowl whisk the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. In another bowl beat the butter and sugar until smooth and creamy. Beat in eggs, one at a time until well blended. Blend in vanilla.
Next alternate adding the dry ingredients and the sour cream, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients.
Spoon half the batter into the bundt pan. Smooth with the back of a spoon, spreading out evenly. Sprinkle over the filling, then layer on the rest of the batter. Run a large wooden skewer around the pan for a few times to get the desired marbled effect. Smooth the top again.
Bake until golden brown and the wooden skewer inserted comes out clean, about 45 to 55 minutes.
Transfer to a wire rack and let cool before removing from the pan.
Recipe adapted from Fine Cooking magazine.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Glorious brunch

Bad weather should not get me down. Not me. Not usually. But when by some miracle it does, I already know how to make my day better. A long, long weekend brunch that will keep me satisfied for the day is the answer.
Muesli, with lots of sweet dates, apples, walnuts. Maybe some coffee cake. A big bowl of latte. And maybe some simple scrambled eggs, with chives and truffle oil. Just a tiny bit. Drizzled on top.

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Honey muesli with medjool dates, apples and walnuts


225 g old fashioned oats
125 ml fresh orange juice
250 g plain yogurt
finely grated zest of 1 lemon
4-5 pieces chopped medjool dates
2 apples, grated
50 g toasted walnuts

Mix oats, orange juice and 150 g of yogurt (or more, depending on how thick you like it).
Mix in lemon zest, chopped dates and half of grated apples. Serve in a bowl, topped with rest of the yogurt, chopped apples and toasted walnuts.


Sunday, November 23, 2008

Memories of Japan

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It's only been a few months since we're back from Japan. But boy, do I ever miss it! This strange country with its complicated customs is definitely different from anything I've ever seen before. It's so much more than cherry blossoms and world famous gardens. The food is the best you'll ever find no matter what cuisine you prefer. The Japanese have elaborate ways of presenting food. Everything looks perfect. Always. You could go to a department store, go to the food court(usually in the basement) and spend hours just looking at the display . Impeccably presented salads, fresh seafood, Italian baked goods and not to mention the individually packaged, sealed french macaroons, (the current rage in Tokyo) and other goodies. My favourites were Takasimaya and Isetan.( Too bad we were not allowed to take photos).

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While Tokyo is a modern shopping mecca, Kyoto is a more traditional city with lots of beautiful temples and shrines. Real Geisha still exist in Kyoto. They can be seen on the narrow streets of the city walking to school or maybe to one of their appointments.

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A must see in Tokyo for any food lover is Tsukiji market. It's the largest fish market in the world, selling 400 different kinds of seafood on any given day. It may sound unbelievable but you can't even smell the fish, it's so fresh. Really.
I had the best and certainly freshest sushi at the market at 9 am!!! after lining up for 2 hours. It was all worth it.


My favourite Japanese desert? Mochi ice cream, a confection made of pulverized sticky rice and ice cream filling. Favours like honey lemon, mocha, blueberry cheese cake,azuki bean, green tea and my favourite: double caramel made me go back to Shinjuku district again and again.

All this reminiscing made me want to eat something very Japanese, very fast and even more delicious.
So here it is: wild salmon sashimi. It takes 10 minutes to make. If it takes longer, you're doing something wrong.

Salmon sashimi with sesame oil flavoured dipping sauce



1 bunch green onions, cut into 3-inch long pieces, halved
1/4 cup tamari soy sauce
1 tsp lime juice
2 tsp fresh orange juice
1 tsp Asian sesame oil
1 1/2 tsp roasted sesame seeds
twelve 1/8 inch thick slices of salmon cut into 2 inch squares

For sauce mix tamari, lime juice orange juice and sesame oil.
Arrange green onions on 4 plates. Next arrange salmon pieces on top. Drizzles with some of the sesame oil mix.
Sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds. Serve with remaining sauce.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Aromatherapy with cinnamon honey buns

Cinnamon buns will never be old news in my book. I have made different variations of them countless times. They're pretty hard to get bored of around our nook. Last Sunday I woke up craving something comforting and delicious, something that would go perfectly well with a hot mug of cafe latte. So I decided to make this pecan honey variation. They are a lot easier to make than they might sound. The sweet smell of cinnamon filled the entire place. That alone is worth making them for.

Pecan honey cinnamon buns



2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast
2 tbsp granulated sugar
1 cup milk, warmed
4 tbsp unsalted butter, melted, plus more for buttering
3 large egg yolks
2 tbsp honey
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 1/2 cups plus 3 tbsp all purpose flour, plus more for dusting
1 tsp salt

1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup light brown sugar
4 tbsp unsalted butter, plus more for brushing
1 1/2 cup pecans, coarsely chopped

3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1 tbsp cinnamon
6 tbsp unsalted butter, softened

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To make the dough: In a bowl combine yeast, a pinch of sugar and the milk and let stand until foamy, 5 minutes. Add remaining sugar, 4 tbsp melted butter and the egg yolks, honey and vanilla. Mix until blended. Mix in flour and salt. Knead until dough is smooth. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled in volume, about an hour.

For topping: Butter a 9-by-13 inch glass baking dish. In a medium sauce pan melt honey with the brown sugar and 4 tbsp of butter over moderate heat until the sugar is dissolved, about a minute. Pour the mixture into the baking dish and sprinkle with pecans.

For the filling: In a bowl mix the sugar and cinnamon. On a lightly floured work surface, roll out the dough to a 12-by-18 inch rectangle. Spread the butter over the dough, leaving a 1 inch border all around. Sprinkle the dough with cinnamon sugar.
Starting at the long side, roll the dough into a log and turn it seam side down. Cut into 12 slices. Arrange the slices, cut side up, in the baking dish. Cover and let stand in a warm place until buns double in volume, about an hour.

Preheat the oven to 350F. Bake the honey buns for about 35 minutes until golden brown. Remove from oven and let stand 5 minutes. Invert buns onto a baking sheet and let cool slightly. Serve warm.
Recipe from Food and Wine magazine.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Zucchini patties with feta

Here's a fast weekday dinner recipe. These patties are from Bon Appetit magazine. I've been making them for a while. Everyone loves them.

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2 1/2 cups coarsely grated zucchini
1 egg
1 tsp salt, divided
1 egg yolk
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
1/2 cup chopped Italian parsley
1/2 cup chopped green onions
1 tbsp fresh dill
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup corn oil
Greek yogurt to serve

Mix zucchini with 1/2 tsp salt in a large bowl. Let stand 5 minutes. Put it in a sieve. Press out excess liquid. Put zucchini back to bowl. Mix in egg, yolk, flour, cheese and 1/2 tbsp salt. Mix in parsley, onion and dill. If the batter is too wet, add more flour.
Heat two oils in a large skillet over medium heat. Drop batter by tablespoonfuls into skillet. Fry patties until golden, 5 minutes per side.
For a more substantial meal( to go with the patties), fry up some organic lamb sausages, and serve with yogurt and warm pita bread.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Hazelnut and mascarpone brownies for Santa

Made these brownies as an early bird snack for Santa(as he was in town yesterday).They turned out really well.
Next time I might try them out with fromage frais ( now available from Liberty) or even with creamy cottage cheese( also from Liberty, they make the best).
To roast hazelnuts, roast them in a 300 F oven until skins crack, about 15 to 20 min. Cool, rub with a paper towel to remove skins.



250 gm mascarpone, softened
1 egg
1/4 cup sugar
1 tbsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup chopped roasted hazelnuts


135 gm chopped chocolate
4 tbsp butter
3/4 cup flour
pinch of salt
2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
3/4 tsp baking powder
3/4 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup coarsely chopped hazelnuts

Put cheese into a bowl. Combine eggs with sugar, beat with electric mixer until light and fluffy. Add to mascarpone. Mix well.
Mix in all other ingredients. Cover and refrigerate.
For batter, melt butter with the chocolate in a bowl, set over a pan of simmering water on medium heat.Remove. Set asside.
Preheat oven to 350 F.
Put sugar, eggs, vanilla into a mixing bowl. Beat until light and fluffy. Fold in chocolate mixture. Add baking powder, salt and cocoa. Mix well. Add flour and mix until smooth.Fold in hazelnuts. Spread batter into a baking paper lined 8" square cake pan. Spread filling over batter. Pull a large wooden skewer through layers to create a marbled effect.Bake until toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean about 30 to 35 min. Do not over bake. Allow to cool before cutting.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Look who's coming to town!

For all you non-believers, look it's Santa! He decided to make an early appearance on Sunday in Toronto.
The biggest, baddest Santa Clause Parade happens in this city every year. Kids of all ages line the streets early in the morning to catch a glimpse of him. He knows all of your names, of course. I think I even heard him call my name:)
He was just passing by, though.But he'll be back sooner than you think. So, have y'all been good this year???

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Monday, November 3, 2008

Honey almond semifredo with fresh figs


Why not start with figs? I used to not love them so much. But like so many things in my life (over the last few years) my view on figs has dramatically changed. If you can still get your hands on fresh figs this season, make sure you give this recipe a try. It is increadiblly luscious.

250g mascarpone
3/4 cup vanilla custard (I used PC Devon custrad)
1/3 cup mild honey, plus extra to serve
2 eggwhites
3/4 cup toasted almonds, roughly chopped
150 g nougat, chopped
fresh figs

Line base and 2 long sides of 1L loaf pan with baking paper. Whisk the mascarpone, custrad and honey until combined. Beat eggwhites with electric beaters until stiff. Fold in custard mixture to combine, then add almonds and nougat. Pour into pan and freeze overnight. Let it soften slightly before serving. Serve with extra honey and fresh figs.