Satsuma Almond Sammich Cookies


It was amazing I had a chance to fill these cookies. Fresh and plain, the almond biscuits coming straight from the oven proved pretty popular. I almost would have thought to leave them just for snacking although it is Christmas cookie season, so I figured a little extra sparkle was in order.

Setting off with an original idea to use up the finally ripe hachiya persimmon sinking into my window sill, I was thinking of a swankier jelly thumb print. All I needed was the cookie to dab my thumb downward.

Looking for a cookie base to stuff, ice or otherwise decorate wasn’t too tough. I wanted versatility and these cookies have it. Delicately flavoured with almonds these cookies are also nice and crisp, able to hold up a sweet orangy center.

This, I guess is where inspiration meets evolution; or laziness meets versatility – can’t decide.
No matter which, the cookie base is a great canvas and here are two works for it.
Let me know what you come up with.


Continue reading Satsuma Almond Sammich Cookies

Chocolate Chestnut Biscotti with Candied Clementine


Not that I’m the authority but I think that it’s safe to say that Holiday baking is may “officially” begin, now that it’s actually December.

Be it that we took our kids to the community Santa Claus parade or that was today was the first of December, Holidays get me to hum classic carols and remember highlights of Christmas Past. With my brain swirling of roasting chestnuts and the clementine I almost mistook as a lump of coal down in the depths of my stocking toe, I decided the first cookie of the year should be able to last as long as that heart wrenching childhood memory.

Memory aside, it’s always a thrill to bring home the first box of “Christmas Oranges”, as my daughter refers to them. Cracking into them fills a room with a special kind of happiness only little orange packages can bring.

With clementines and cookies on my mind, it wasn’t too tough a decision to get that this biscotti would be the first cookie of the season.

Biscotti is a double baked, super crunchy cookie, perfect for packing in just about any flavour combination and, of course, dipping into mulled wine, coffee or nog.


Continue reading Chocolate Chestnut Biscotti with Candied Clementine

First day of school



It came and went, summer that is, and now it’s back to school already.

What’s better for the first day than such a comforting classic as the PB&J refined and a collection of reminders from summer? From our own found and picked gooseberries and black currants, we rediscovered canning and preserving this summer.

I don’t know about you, but I can’t think of too many better things to go with jam than nut butter. I’m not much for peanuts, but almonds and hazelnuts? That is spreadable perfection. Usually found in the organic section of the grocery store, it’s also actually easy to make on your own. Just by adding a cup each of skinned almonds and hazelnuts to a food processor, they will cream and reduce. The nuts will release their own oils, so nothing needs to be added.

The bread? We got adventurous and made our own. It’s not as laborious as you’d think and the results are better than some kind of wonderful. Around here we don’t eat plain white bread all that often, in fact it’s referred to as “Cake Bread” as my kids never see anything so white other than a true special occasion. Nut, seed and whole grain free, this bread packaged a lunch manufactured in heaven.

All that, and an apple for the teacher, of course.

OLD FASHIONED WHITE “CAKE” BREAD

1/2 teaspoon Sugar
1/4 Cup Luke Warm Water
1 1/2 teaspoons Yeast

Dissolve the sugar and yeast in the warm water. Allow to sit for about 5 minutes while it becomes frothy.

1 Cup Hot Water
1 1/2 Tablespoons Sugar
1 1/2 Tablespoons Vegetable Oil
1 teaspoon Salt
1 Cup Cold Water

Dissolve the sugar, oil and salt in the hot water. Add the cold water to cool. Once it is lukewarm, add it and the waiting yeast mixture to an electric mixer fitted with the dough hook, or a large bowl.

Add 4 Cups Unbleached, All Purpose Flour.
Mix well and let rest for about 15 minutes. The dough should be about the consistency of a cake batter and about doubled in size when you return.
Add another 2 Cups of flour, one cup at a time.

When the dough comes together and is workable, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and knead it for a few minutes. The dough is fantastically stretchy and soft. When it’s smooth and elastic, lightly spray a large bowl with oil and place the dough in it to rise, covered and in a warm place, for about 1 – 2 hours.
Once it has doubled in size, remove it from the bowl, knead it for a minute and return it to the bowl.
Let the dough rise a second time for another hour or more. When it has doubled again, preheat the oven to 350ºF and prepare two loaf pans by lightly spraying with oil. Divide the dough in two and shape to fit the loaf pans. (The dough may also be shaped into round, rustic loaves or cut smaller and shaped for dinner rolls.)
Cover the pans with a tea towel and let the dough rise again. Once the dough has risen high enough to resemble a regular loaf, a few inches above the pan, bake it on the center rack for about 45 – 50 minutes or until golden and hollow sounding when tapped.

Try not to burn your fingers when you eat it.

Makes 2 Loaves.

Savory Zucchini Loaf


It’s September, September! I was not only aghast that summer vacation is over but also that I’d made it this far without tinkering into a zucchini bread.

There are probably about a million recipes out there, I know, I’ve tried many, but I think that this can safely be added as a million and one.

My Nana makes one of the most incredible sweet zucchini breads out there, so in my recipe book she’s got that one covered but I don’t often find a savory variety. I just love the texture of zucchini bread. It’s so wonderfully moist, if weren’t for the lively green flecks from the zucchini’s skin, you’d almost never know it was in there. Sweet is great, but images of zucchini also conjure spices, tomatoes and cheese. I wanted something perfect along side soups, toasted under eggs or of course on it’s own, I wanted a savory version of one of the best quick breads this side of a banana, to stand out from any other loaf of artisan bread. Of the limitless flavour combinations, this one works pretty well. Besides which, I thought this might be a good start to brace myself of the quickly approaching autumn and all the good things that come with it.

SAVORY ZUCCHINI LOAF

1/2 Package Medium-Firm Tofu (225g)
1/4 Cup Vegetable Oil
1 1/4 Cups Finely Shredded Zucchini
1/2 teaspoon Baking Soda
1 teaspoon Baking Powder
1/4 Cup Brown Sugar
1 teaspoon Rosemary, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon Salt
1 Cup Unbleached, All Purpose Flour
1/2 Cup Whole Wheat Flour
Juice and Zest of 1/2 Lemon
10 Kalamata Olives, pitted* and roughly chopped equal to a scant 1/4 Cup
1/2 Cup Pecans, broken

Preheat oven to 350ºF.
Spray loaf pan lightly with oil, and dust with flour.
Shred zucchini with the small hole of a box grater, or food processor, remove any excessive liquid and set aside in a large bowl.
In the bowl of a food processor, purée the tofu with the oil, salt, baking powder and baking soda.
Pour tofu mixture over the zucchini and combine well.
Add the brown sugar and rosemary.
Mix in the flour just until combined.
Stir in the lemon, olives and pecans, less 1 Tablespoon for garnishing.
Fill the prepared loaf pan 3/4 full and top with reserved pecans.
Bake for 50 – 60 minutes or until a toothpick can be cleanly removed.

Alternatively bake in a greased Madeleine pan for about 15-18 minutes.
These freeze very well and go unbelievably well with this Creamless Potato Leek soup.
A little something to bring back fond memories of zucchini when it’s chilly outside.

*Olives may be quickly pitted by applying pressure with the flat side of a wooden spoon. Simply mash the olive between the spoon and a hard surface, the pit should be loosened enough to easily remove with your fingers for easy chopping.