What Ever Became of You?


We found ourselves getting a bit carried away, shall we say at the apple orchard last week.
At least, not until we’d discovered an overwhelming tree full of brightest red Mac’s. Our picking was literally done in minutes. With my filled bag, I headed to the scales and the woman running the show was notably impressed by our haul.
I’m greedy, I thought. We leave on vacation in four days, how are we possible going to go through an 18 pound bag of fresh apples?*

As I listed off potential recipes to make a dent, we were invited for a casual afternoon with friends so, this is what we made.
Thrown together, it was a cinch to make and although it only used up two apples, it was pretty delicious and perfect for tea.

APPLE UPSIDE-DOWN CAKE

1/2 Cup + 2 Tablespoons Vegan Butter, divided (vegan, Earth Balance) softened
1/4 Cup Granulated Sugar
3/4 Cup Brown Sugar, divided
1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
1 Tablespoon Baking Powder
1 1/4 teaspoons Ground Cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 Cup Plain Soy Milk
1 Tablespoon Lemon Juice
1 Cup All Purpose Flour
1/2 Cup Whole Wheat Flour
2 Medium Apples, peeled, cored and sliced 1/4″ thick

Preheat the oven to 350ºF.
Combine the two flours with a fork and set aside.
Cream the butter, less the two tablespoons, with 1/2 cup of the brown sugar and 1/4 cup of the granulated sugar.
Pour in the teaspoon of vanilla extract and add the 1 teaspoon of the cinnamon.
Add the baking powder and soda then continue to mix until fluffy.
In a measuring cup, soy milk and lemon juice.
Add half soy milk mixture to the creamed sugar, then half of the flours, mixing until each is combined, repeating with the remainder.
Evenly spread the butter over the bottom of an 8″x8″ baking pan. Sprinkle over the remaining 1/4 cup of brown sugar and 1/4 teaspoon of cinnamon.
Lay out the apple slices over top of the sugar in an even layer.
Add the cake batter to the pan.
Bake in the center of the oven for about 35 – 45 minutes or until a cake tester can be cleanly removed.
Cool in the pan then gently slide a knife around the edges before turning it out to a cooling rack or a serving plate to completely cool.

Serve warm or at room temperature.

*Oh, and just as an update, after creating and edible centerpiece, a few pints of slow-cooker apple butter and a pot of pumpkin soup, I’m down to four (count ’em 4) apples! I had to restrain myself not to get any more… but I have about 50Lbs of pumpkins… and a whole other story.

Pomegranate Blueberry Bran Muffin


With all the driving I’ve done over the past week or so, I can’t even begin to express my fondness for finding an occasional Starbucks instead of a McDonald’s along the way.

I mean, what could be better that 9 hours of driving with a Venti Soy Macchiato and a bran muffin? Yup, I live dangerously.

Now I’m home and can get my crazy fix by the dozen.

POMEGRANATE BLUEBERRY BRAN MUFFINS

1/2 Cup Pomegranate Juice
2/3 Cup Soy Milk
1/2 Cup Blueberry Soy Yogurt, or plain would do in a pinch
1/3 Cup Safflower Oil
1/2 Cup Brown Sugar, slightly packed
2 Cups Bran
1 Cup Self Rising Pastry Flour
1/4 teaspoon Salt
1/2 teaspoon Baking Soda
1 Cup Fresh Blueberries, washed & picked over for stems

Preheat the oven to 375ºF.
In a saucepan, bring the pomegranate juice to a boil and reduce by about half. (About 5 minutes total.)
Remove the juice from the heat and cool while you combine the milk, yogurt, oil and brown sugar in a large bowl.
Add the bran, flour, salt, soda and blueberries to the wet ingredients, then pour over the pomegranate juice, mixing just to moisten.
Lightly spray a large muffin tin and generously spoon in the batter.
Bake until firm and browned, about 20 – 25 minutes.
Let them cool slightly in the pan before turning out to a rack.

Makes 12 muffins.

Also Goes Great With Tea Coffee Cake


I know that Mother’s Day has come and gone, but I just had to share this perfect everyday, great with tea or Coffee Cake.

One of the many things that I’ve learned through my Nana and her baking is that men love coffee cake. It’s a crazy notion, but you can go ahead and quote me on this. So with all my motherly advice aside for now, I’d been eying this recipe handed down from my Nana. Originally called Sour Cream Coffee Cake, it’s moist and satisfying and it’ll wrangle afternoon peckishness like the dickens.

Seeing that I have a habit of buying up anything organic or that I’d want to see in stock at my local grocery store just to send a message, I was the new owner of some soy yogurt. I’m good with tofu but I won’t be eating the “soygurt” à la carte again. However, as an equal replacement for the original sour cream in this recipe, I know I’d buy it again.

Although a nice bundt pan would be pretty, my Nana is of the depression generation so you can put it in what ever pan fits. I used a square 8×8 and it worked out really well, just could have been bigger since, even with all the birthdays lately, this is about the fastest I’ve seen cake go around here in a long time.

NANA’S COFFEE CAKE

1 Cup Granulated Sugar
1/2 Cup Margarine, softened
1 Tablespoon Baking Powder
1 Cup Soy Vanilla Yogurt, plain is o.k. in a pinch, just add 1 tsp vanilla
1/2 Cup Plain Soy Milk
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 Cup All Purpose Flour
1/2 Cup Whole Wheat Flour

TOPPING
1 Cup Walnuts, broken
1/3 Cup Brown Sugar
1 teaspoon Cinnamon

Preheat the oven to 350ºF.
Toss the walnuts, sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl and set aside.
Cream the sugar with the margarine, then add the baking powder and continue to mix until fluffy.
In a measuring cup, combine the yogurt, soy milk and baking soda.
Add half of the yogurt mixture to the creamed sugar, then half of the flour, mixing until each is combined, repeating with the remainder.
Lightly spray and dust an 8×8 cake or bundt pan with flour.
Add half of the cake batter to the pan. Add half of the walnut topping. Finish with the remaining batter, then evenly sprinkle over the last of the topping.
Bake in the center of the oven for 45 – 50 minutes.
Cool completely in the pan before turning it out to a serving plate.

Bicerin



Or should I aptly rename it: An Introduction to My New Best Friend Michelle.
Michelle hosts the blog Sugar and Spice and sent me the most wonderful package.

You see, there’s this lovely event that takes place amongst some bloggers, so nicely organized by Stephanie at Dispensing Happiness. “Blogging By Mail” matches bloggers from around the globe to send a little something about where they’re from, their common culinary ingredients and their most favourite things. As my package was en route to Amrita in Singapore, Michelle was busy travelling from home to home town to jam pack the parcel she was preparing for lucky, little ol’ me.

Inside there were stuffed olives, beautiful fabric for me use in pictures, gouda, fruit snacks, ginger chews, note cards, Jordan Almonds and the cutest Heinz ketchup bottle, that I’ve always wanted but never had the courage to steal while on vacation in the States.:)

…And the chocolate, chocolate chocolate! As I pulled the items from what seemed to be my bottomless box of complete generosity, I found bars, sauce, biscotti, chocolate pretzels and it perfect breakfast match, coffee!!

As I drank my freshly ground Joe, I flipped through The Chocolate Deck, which Michelle also included!
It’s a deck of chocolate recipes so fantastically photographed by William Meppem and written by a former editor of Gourmet, Lori Longbotham. I was truly inspired by some of the recipes. Some for their beauty, others for their simplicity. Like this one; Bicerin.

Bicerin is described to have been a cafe favourite in Turin, Italy during the nineteenth century. Still enjoyed, it looked good and sounded better, plus with the help of Michelle, I had pretty much all the best ingredients to give my inspiration a go.

BICERIN
(as Adapted From Lori Longbotham)

2 Cups Plain Soy Milk
2 Cups Strongly Brewed, Hot Coffee
3 Ounces Bittersweet or Semisweet Chocolate, finely chopped
3 Tablespoons Sugar, or to taste
1/4 teaspoon Orange Flower Water, optional
or
2 Tablespoons Grand Marnier, optional

Over a medium heat, warm the soy milk to a low simmer and remove just before it begins to boil.
Meanwhile, in a heatproof pitcher, pour the hot coffee over the chopped chocolate and sugar, whisking until smooth.
Whisk the milk and Grand Marnier or orange blossom water, if using.
Taste and adjust sweetness, adding more if necessary.

Serves 4 – 6

Red Grapefruit Curd Filled Donuts



Heading out with the intention to create a citrusy tart flecked with the essence of rosemary or cardamom, I started out with a super red grapefruit curd for the filling. Anyone who reads here regularly, might have noticed I’m a bit of a red grapefruit junky. I’ll slip it into dishes where ever it fits. Heck, I even bathe in the stuff.

Being amongst the world’s best doughnut eaters, not that I would necessarily know, of course but what can I say? I’m Canadian. Those little slurps here and a spoonfully nibble there of the grapefruit curd, reminded me of a fresher, livelier version of the sweet lemony filling squeezed out as the best part of a filled doughnut. Petite tarts of fanciness were sent to the back burner as I set out to create a canuck worthy doughnut.

Updating that simple, lemony filling to this, little more grown up, less of a drive-thru flavour was supurb with a little dusting of sugar and a hot morning cup of coffee. It was so sinfully wonderful to have to admit that vegan food isn’t always healthy but certainly scrumptious.

As the January resolutions met their match, I realised I’m not the only one who’s given up a diet for some February grease. Helen from Tartlette and Peabody have teamed up for a donut fry fest; this, my friends should be good.

Continue reading Red Grapefruit Curd Filled Donuts

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