Limoncello


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


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
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, orange zest 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 plastic wrap.
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.

Celebrate Life With National Pineapple Upside-Down Cake Day



Who knew?

When I saw that reminder on Twitter, I couldn’t help myself but to think that I may not have been celebrating enough lately.
How about you?
Life a little busy? Preoccupied with everything?

I had a pineapple sitting, waiting for someone to enjoy it, so when I saw this, I just couldn’t help myself… plus I made it small. Perfect for date night or a celebration of one.

Every time I think of pineapple upside-down cakes, I think of my nana or some other 50’s era mom baking this for some backyard bbq but apparently this cake has been around for at least another generation than that. Either way, it’s quick, it’s retro and it’s fun.

Why not celebrate?


VEGAN PINEAPPLE UPSIDE-DOWN CAKE

1/4 Cup Vegan Butter, like Earth Balance – softened
1/2 Cup Granulated Sugar
3 Tablespoons Pineapple Juice
1 Cup Self-Rising Flour
1/4 teaspoon Salt
1 teaspoon Baking Powder
1/2 teaspoon Baking Soda
1/2 Cup Soy Milk
1 teaspoon White Vinegar
1/4 Cup Shredded Coconut, optional
1/2 Cup Fresh Pineapple, thinly sliced, about 1/8″thick
2 Tablespoons Brown Sugar

Preheat the oven to 350ºF.
Lightly spray one 9 inch or two 4 inch spring form pans.
Evenly sprinkle over the brown sugar and fan out the pineapple slices in one layer.
Sprinkle over coconut, if using.
Meanwhile, cream the butter with the granulated sugar, then add the juice.
In a pourable measuring cup, combine the soy milk with the vinegar and stir.
Sift together the flour, baking powder, soda and salt.
Alternate adding the flour mixture and the milk to the batter.
Pour the batter over the prepared pineapple pans, dividing batter equally, if using the two 4 inch pans.
Set pans on a cookie sheet and bake for 25-30 minutes for the 4 inch pans and 40 minutes for the 9 inch or until a cake tester comes out clean from the centre of the cake.
Cool, invert and release from the spring form pan.

Oh, and just to be interesting, I made these cupcakelettes for the kiddies. Same idea, only easier.
Sprinkle of brown sugar on the bottom of the mini- silicone “papers” with a thin slice of pineapple.
Topped with the same cake batter, I just lessened the timing and baked these for about 12ish minutes.
Way more kid friendly and so fun for party popping.

Countdown to Christmas: Dessert – Ginger Pear Tarts


Here it is, the big day. I hope you have all that shopping done.
You’ve planned for the appetizers, the sides and the main attraction…
I hope you’ve saved room for dessert.

I couldn’t resist something spiced and a little lighter than a cake or that never ending tray of sweet offerings that nibble me into a coma. The gingerbread was such a hit, I decided to use it as the base of the tart. It holds up pretty well as a crust and with a light cream there’s plenty of room for spicy, soaked pears.

Merry Christmas to you and yours. I hope you enjoy the Holidays, the food and your families!

POACHED SPICED PEARS

2 pears, peeled halved and cored; I used Abate Fetel
1 Cup Sugar
1 1/2 Cups Water
1 Vanilla Pod, split
1 Cinnamon Stick, 2″ in length
Zest Strips of 1 Lemon
2 Tablespoons Brandy

Combine the sugar and the water in a large saucepan over a medium high heat.
Add the vanilla pod, cinnamon and lemon strips.
Once the sugar has dissolved add the brandy and the pear halves.
If the pears are not submerged, just cook until softened then turn them over, occasionally basting, if necessary.
Remove when softened, about 20 minutes. Cool and store in the liquid until ready to use.
May be made two days in advance.

TOFU CREAM

300g Soft Silken Tofu
1 Tablespoon Lemon Juice
1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
4 Tablespoons Confectioners Sugar
1 Tablespoon Arrowroot Powder
1  (2-inch) Fresh Ginger, peeled
1/4  teaspoon Salt
1/4 Cup Pastry Flour

Grate the ginger and squeeze to remove the juice, should equal one tablespoon.
In a food processor, blend the tofu, ginger and lemon juice along with the vanilla, sugar, salt, flour and arrowroot powder.
Serve cold or baked.

GINGERBREAD COOKIE CRUST (half batch)

Preheat the oven to 350ºF.
Roll out the chilled cookie dough. Cut into rounds to fit your tart shells.
Dock with a fork to prevent excessive air bubbles and bake for 10 minutes..
While the tart shells cool, prepare the tofu cream and thinly slice the poached pears.
Dollop the cream and top with the sliced pears.
Return to the oven and bake for 15 – 20 minutes, until the tofu cream is set and firm.
Makes 6 four inch tarts.

Vote For Me & Your Favourite Party Food


I have to say that I was not only pleasantly surprised but pretty proud that vegan choices are shortlisted over at the Marx Holiday Party Food Contest.
I was contacted last night and told that my recipes had made the finals, just in time for everyone’s last Holiday weekend of food prep! Finally, I think that it’s so great that options are out there for vegans and other Holiday guests with allergies or diet restrictions. Plus with a grand prize of $400, we could see some really fancy truffle recipes in the new year! Yum!

Since it’s the season of giving, please go and vote for me. For every vote that I get, no matter the outcome, I will be donating double that in a dollar amount to our city food bank.

Last Minute Gifts – Grapefruit Pomegranate Marmalade


It’s a little more last minute than I wanted to post but after a Christmas Eve car crash delay (we’re ok), I’m back to wish all of you a wonderful Holiday and a very Merry Christmas.

Taking some of my two favourite Holiday ingredients I had on hand, I simmered up a pot of marmalade. For so long I always perceived jam and jelly making as being a day long mess but I’ve quickly come to realize that it’s really not that tough.

Sugar, temperature and flavour are just about the only things you need to remember.
Adding enough sugar to fruit and juice then boiling it to the 220ºF setting point is pretty much all you need to ensure a delicious gift.

If you couldn’t tell already, I absolutely love pomegranates. Come December, I typically buy out my local grocers stock and snack on half at a time instead of popcorn.
Combined with a zesty, sweet red grapefruit, I made a marmalade I’m sure any Scottish Gran would love.

Wishing you all a very merry and safe Holiday, I hope you enjoy your families… and your feasts.
Continue reading Last Minute Gifts – Grapefruit Pomegranate Marmalade