Gum Drop Cake

•April 4, 2010 • 9 Comments

Had enough sugar yet today?

My Nana used to make this cake for us when we were kids.

I’m not sure if it’s one of those depression era cakes that remind me of grandma’s and farmhouses or if it’s just a classically good everyday cake that’s delicious enough to serve for any celebration.
…And most days are worth celebrating, aren’t they?

GUM DROP CAKE

1/2 Cup Butter, vegan
1 Cup Granulated Sugar
1/2 teaspoon Cinnamon
Juice of 1/2 Lemon
1 Cup Plain Soy Milk
2 teaspoon Baking Powder
1 teaspoon Baking Soda
1/2 teaspoon Salt
2 Cups All Purpose Flour
1 Cup Chopped Gum Drops, about 15

Combine the milk with the lemon juice and set aside.
Preheat the oven to 350ºF and grease a loaf pan with butter and flour.
Cream the butter with the sugar.
Add the salt, cinnamon, baking powder and soda.
Alternating, add about one third of the milk and 1/2 cup of flour until it has all been incorporated.
Stir in the chopped gumdrops to combine.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake 50-60 minutes or until a cake tester is cleanly removed.

Cool completely before serving.
If desired drizzle with a tangelo glaze:

1/2 Cup Icing Sugar
Zest and juice of 1 tangelo

Sift the sugar and add the zest.
Whisk in the juice until smooth, add water, one drop at a time, if necessary.

New Season, New Post.

•March 28, 2010 • 9 Comments

Hello. Hello?

Is anyone still here? I didn’t abandon you, I swear!
& I wouldn’t blame you if you’d abandoned me.

Between illnesses, traveling, working and life, Visitors have been neglected.

We’ve explored Amsterdam, tiptoed through tulips and back again.
I’ve been getting back into a groove though. The sun is shining, warming our skin and seeds are sprouting. This year’s pending bounty is creating an itch to eat fresh from the Earth and the sap has been running again:

Just before March Break, we were prompted by our bathroom demo and perfect weather to flee our house and go to the cottage. My Grandparents are still up there enjoying the Great White outdoors and thankfully they are more than willing to have us freeload for a few warm meals, which I am more than happy to accommodate for!

My Grandfather, who taught my kids the in’s and outs of winter tree identification and the love of maple syrup, encouraged us to get at it again, tapping the trees for their yearly elixir.

Being up their is just what we all needed. Relaxed, we’ve returned to a dusty house and ready for renewal.

Cooking is what makes me happy, and I’m so ready to start sharing again.

Spicy Black Eyed Pea & Sweet Potato Stoup

•January 4, 2010 • 9 Comments

How about a flavourful and heat loving blast into the New Year?
Healthy and sinus clearing, this is a lunch to knock that cold back outside where it belongs.

It’s been frigid and I’ve been sick. The extra sleep has been good, but I’m in need of a hug from the inside and this soup delivers.
Thick like a veggie stew, it’s not too spicy but still turns up the heat with seasonal, hearty goodness.
Phew.
I’m almost feeling better already.


SPICY BLACK EYED PEA + SWEET POTATO SOUP

1-2 Tablespoons Safflower or Vegetable oil
2 Onions, diced
2 Stalks of Celery, diced
4-5 cloves garlic, chopped
2 cups dried black-eyed peas, picked over & rinsed
6 cups water
1 teaspoon Oregano, dried
1/2 teaspoon Rosemary, dried
1 Sweet Potato, peeled and diced, about 2 1/2 cups once diced
1 16-ounce can San Mariano Tomatoes, diced
4 cups  Vegetable Broth
1/3 Cup Mixed Grain & Brown Rice
1 tablespoon Sriracha Hot Sauce
1/2 teaspoon Smoked Sweet Paprika
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Heat the oil in a pressure cooker or a large pot.
Add the onions and sauté for about 3 minutes, until they begin to soften.
Add the celery and garlic to the onions, stirring, for 3 minutes more.
Add the black-eyed peas, water along with the dried oregano.
Seal the pressure cooker and bring to a boil. Once it locks and begins to steam, cook for 10 minutes under high pressure.
Remove from heat and release pressure. (If you’re cooking in a regular soup pot, the boil for about 50 or until the peas are tender.
Add cubed sweet potato, tomatoes, along with all their juice and the vegetable stock.
Return the pot to medium-high heat. Bring it to a rolling simmer.
Add rice, Sriracha, paprika, rosemary, salt and pepper, then continue to cook until the sweet potatoes are soft, about 15 minutes.

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Tonight’s Gonna Be A Good Night

•December 31, 2009 • 1 Comment

Good health and prosperity to you and yours.
Happy 2010 Everyone!

Limoncello

•December 16, 2009 • 6 Comments

I am on a lemon-bender. These fragrant yellow orbs are hobbling into grocery stores everywhere for the season.
I couldn’t be happier.

It’s no secret I love citrusy things. Biggest problem is usually that I can’t decide which of it is my most favourite.
Besides having to rip through half a dozen lemons for this treat, It’s super easy and it’ll leave your kitchen (not to mention your hands) smelling AMAZING.

Perfect in a snazzy bottle for gift giving and enjoying during the Holidays.

Adapted from Ilva at Lucillian, (love her blog!)I figured she, living in Tuscany, would get it perfectly right. Not being much of a liquors sipper myself, I have to admit the idea is a simple as it is tasty.

LIMONCELLO

7 Lemons, preferably organic, peeled
750ml Grain Alcohol (I used Vodka)
1 Cup Sugar
1 1/2 Cups Water

Scrub each lemon until the oils begin to release.
Using a vegetable peeler, remove the skin in strips, leaving the bitter, white pith.
Submerge the zest in the alcohol an leave covered, for about a week in the fridge.
Strain the zest, leaving the lemony scently, yellow tinted alcohol, while you prepare the sugar syrup.
In a saucepan, heat the water then, pour over the sugar to dissolve.
Heat it over a medium heat until it just simmers.
Add about half to the waiting alcohol and taste to your liking, adding more of the sugar syrup as necessary.
Replace into a sealable bottle and store.
Best kept chilled in the refrigerator for quick and delicious use.

Holiday Kourabiedes – Walnut Sugar Cookies

•December 10, 2009 • 7 Comments

Tis the season to learn of new traditions. When I first heard of these I couldn’t help but be excited.

Greek Kourabiedes are popular special occasion cookies. They are often served at weddings, christenings and of course, Christmas. You might also find them on an Egyptian cookie tray for the similar celebrations. There, they are called Kahk.

They remind me a bit of what a cross between a shortbread and a sugar cookie.
They’re simple, nutty AND they use some of my orange blossom water I coveted for recipes past.

Kourabiedes are subtle and not too sweet. The seasonal walnuts may be traded for almonds, but I love the combination of the bitterish walnut and bursts of salt with a hint of citrus and the warming, sweet and intriguing fragrance of orange blossoms. They’re perfect for the Holidays. I hope you try them.

KOURABIEDES – WALNUT SUGAR COOKIES

3/4 Cup Walnuts
1 1/4 Cups All-Purpose Flour
1/2 teaspoon Baking Powder
1/4 teaspoon Kosher Salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) (vegan) Butter, like Earth Balance, softened
1/2 cup Confectioners Sugar, plus more for dusting
1 Tablespoon Cointreau
1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
1 Tablespoon Orange Zest, optional
2 Tablespoons Orange Flower Water

Toast the walnuts in a 350ºF oven, until golden brown, about minutes.
Pulse about 1/4 cup of the nuts in a food processor until finely ground.
Add the flour, baking powder, remaining nuts and salt. Pulse again to mix everything together and roughly chop the remaining nuts.
Meanwhile, beat the butter, sugar,  Cointreau and vanilla extract together with an electric or stand mixer until and fluffy.
At a low speed, stir in the nut/flour mixture to make a crumbly dough. Bring the dough together with your hands (it IS crumbly). Flatten it into a disk, like pastry dough, and wrap it in cling flim.
Refrigerate dough for about half an hour.

Preheat oven to 350º F. Line two baking sheets with parchment or a silicone liner.
Unwrap the dough and cut into 20 pieces. Roll into balls between with your hands. Flattening to shape each piece into a round   disk.
Place the cookies on the prepared baking sheets.
Bake until the cookies are golden, about 15 minutes.
Remove them from the oven and lightly brush the orange blossom water over the tops of each cookie.
Transfer to a cooling rack and dust with additional confectioners sugar.

Whole Garden Gnocchi

•November 25, 2009 • 6 Comments

Who knew I could feed myself from a front yard garden alone? Other than the flour, I grew everything for this dish in my small, urban yard; potatoes, garlic, chard, tomatoes and squash.

I may have mentioned my front yard transformation last spring. With the help of a great neighbour, a dumping of dirt, a seed catalogue and some eager kids, we transferred lawn into an edible space.

Less the brussels sprouts and the chard, most of the garden now harvested. There were the three varieties of potatoes; Peruvian Reds, Blue and Russian Fingerlings, Rainbow Swiss Chard, Butternut Squash, sweet Yellow Pear Tomatoes just for this dish alone. (It doesn’t even hint at the edamame, peas, beans, beets, asparagus, blueberries, herbs, okra, cabbages, zucchini, pumpkins… corn… wow!)

After digging up a surplus of potatoes, I needed a few ideas on what to do with them. With BBQ season pretty much a thing of the past, potato salad wasn’t topping my list as much as the gnocchi. Besides, I just had to when I saw the light pinkiness of the potatoes and the great texture that was perfect for such a thing.

Feeding yourself all on your own, that’s local.
Now, that’s something to be thankful for!

PERUVIAN PINK POTATO GNOCCHI

1Lb Potatoes, peeled, boiled and mashed (you can use other starchy potatoes, like Russetts as well)
1 Cup All Purpose Flour, plus more for rolling.
1/4 teaspoon Salt

In a large bowl, finely mash the cooked potatoes so they are lump free.
Add the salt and half of the flour then add 1/4 cup at a time stirring to combine and bring everything together in a smooth dough. You may not need it all.
Depending on your work surface, third or quarter the dough. Take one piece and cover remaining pieces.
Roll the dough into long “snakes” and cut into 1″ pieces.
Roll each piece off the back of a floured fork and repeat finishing all of the dough.
Drop into salted boiling water and cook gnocchi until they float; about 3 – 4 minutes.

While the gnocchi were boiling I made the “sauce” of tomatoes, chard, squash and garlic.
I cubed the peeled, cleaned squash and sautéed it, covered in a large, lightly oiled pan. Once the pieces began to soften, I removed the lid to let the stem escape and pieces brown.
I added two cloves of finely chopped garlic and the chard to cook for another two minutes.
Once the chard had wilted, I added 1 cup of sliced yellow pear tomatoes, salt, pepper and a palmful of chopped basil.
Simple and delicious.

 
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