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.

Gingered Peach Shortbread Bars


You think I would have learned after my adventure with a basket of peaches last year. Yet, here I go again with another overflow of peaches and posts.

I like peaches, I really do. Sweet and juicy, the fuzz is a bit much for me after a bit, but fragrant and so completely summer, none the less.

With the smell of my last basket of peaches wafting throughout the dining room, I knew that this last layer had ripened to perfection. With simplicity and inspiration… and a need for sweetness during 3 o’clock coffee, this peachy goodness found it’s way to our plates.

& With a few left in the basket on this eve of back to school, perhaps a new trend will develop?
Fuzzy, juicy and local peach for the teacher? Or will it be the jam?

PEACH SHORTBREAD BARS

1 Cup All Purpose Flour
1/3 Cup plus 1 Tablespoon Corn Starch
1/3 Cup Confectioners Sugar
3/4 Cup Vegetable Shortening, frozen or very cold, broken into pieces
Pinch Cinnamon

5 Peaches, about 2 cups chopped
1/4 Cup Granulated Sugar
1 teaspoon Freshly Grated Ginger

Crumb Topping
1/2 Cup Flour
1/4 Cup Sugar
1/4 Cup Earth Balance (Butter)

Preheat the oven to 350ºF.
Combine the flour, corn starch, confectioners sugar, shortening and cinnamon together in a food processor and pulse until the mixture resembles a coarse crumb which can be molded when pinched.
Press the dough into an 8″x8″ square baking dish and bake for 12-15 minutes or until just golden around the edges.
Remove and cool slightly.
Meanwhile, halve the peaches to remove the stone then quarter before adding to a sauce pan.
Cover the peaches with the sugar and cook over a medium heat to release their juices and loosen the skins.
Remove the skins and discard if able and desired.
Mash the peaches with a potato masher, fork or hand held blender to roughly purée.
Add the grated ginger and sprinkle over the additional 1 tablespoon of cornstarch, stirring well.
Return to a rolling simmer, continuing to cook until thickened.
Cool while you combine the crumb topping.
In a small bowl mix together the 1/2 cup flour, 1/4 cup sugar and 1/4 cup Earth Balance with a fork until everything is evenly combined, moist and crumbly.
Pour the peaches over the prepared shortbread and sprinkle over topping.
Return the pan to the oven and bake for an additional 15 minutes.

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.

Brown Sugar Scones


In response to a quick visit from an old friend coming for tea, I naturally made for the kitchen. I’d set aside my quest for a recipe to use up the copious amounts of extra coconut I had from the Perfect Party Cake and thought that the best morning treat with tea would have to be scones.

My friend is a super baker, so as I thought for a bit about tea from porcelain and creative flavour combinations, yet still I settled on simplicity and tradition.

Scones are standard pantry fare using most ingredients typically on hand. One of those ingredients for scones and pastry alike is chilled shortening. For this, I like to keep mine in the freezer, so it’s ready and waiting to keep whatever my cold hands have in mind for it to make light and flaky.

The scones are lightly sweetened with brown sugar and maple syrup, making them slightly caramelly. Quick to put together, the batter is easy and forgiving.

BROWN SUGAR SCONES

2 Cups All Purpose Flour
1/2 Cup Whole Wheat Flour
1/4 Cup Dark Brown Sugar, loosely packed + 1 Tablespoon
1 1/2 teaspoons Baking Powder
1/2 teaspoon Baking Soda
1/2 teaspoon Salt
1/2 Cup Vegetable Shortening
3/4 Cup Soy Milk
1/2 Cup Maple Syrup

Preheat the oven to 400ºF.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a large bowl, combine the flours, baking powder, baking soda, 1/4 cup of brown sugar and salt.
Add and cut in the shortening with either two knives or a pastry cutter to a coarse crumb texture.
Add the milk and maple syrup and stir well with a wooden spoon until the dough comes together, finishing up by hand if necessary to form a ball.
Transfer the dough ball to the parchment lined baking sheet and flatten to 3/4″.
Cut the dough into 8 wedges and sprinke with the 1 tablespoon of remaining brown sugar.
Bake for about 20 – 25 minutes or until golden.

For something a little extra, you could try a drizzling of maple glaze or for a vegetarian version, a little of my latest addictions, David Lebovitz easy recipe for Dulce de Leche.

Montréal, March Break, Maple Syrup & Madeleines.


Mmmm.

Hopefully this is the post worth waiting for. Since being whisked off for a quick French get away, I ate my way through all of Montréal’s renown food samples.


Squeaking a flight through a crazy snowstorm, even for Québec standards, safe at home I brought out my sack of goodness from a small approvisionnement de cuisine shop, still wet from the cookie sized snowflakes that were tumbling down around me. In it, my newly treasured Madeleine pan…

Madeleines are one of my most favourite things. Yes, Proust would be proud. I love these delightful tea cakes so much I named my first born after them. Really.

I couldn’t have been more excited while tredging my better half through this snowstorm to make it back to a little shop I’d originally peered through the window of as this recipe serendipitously came together.

You see, most of Northeastern Canada and U.S.A produces everyone’s supply of maple syrup, and it’s at this time of year, when the temperatures are at their crazy best that the maple sap begins flowing. Thankfully for where I’m at, Québec is one of the number one producers of the stuff – so imagine my pure delight, as I was picking up a few morning groceries, to discover Maple Flakes, even being Canadian I haven’t seen this stuff in the flesh and it hits me that these are where the French Petite Madeleine meets French Canadian. I have certainly found what I have been trying my hand at veganizing these “invasions of the senses” for.

MAPLE MADELIENES

1/4 Cup butter (or to make it vegan, lactose free margarine), melted
1/2 Frozen banana, thawed and pushed through a sieve to puree.
1/3 Cup Soy milk
3 Tablespoons Orange Juice
1 Tablespoon Orange Zest
1 Cup All Purpose Flour, sifted
1/4 Cup cornstarch, sifted
1/4 Cup Sugar,
1/3 Cup Maple Syrup
1/4 teaspoon Salt

Sift dry ingredients together.
Add juice to the soy milk and let rest.
Melt butter/margarine and let cool.
Beat banana and sugar together until very smooth.
Add the soy milk and maple syrup and zest to the banana mixture and combine well.
Whisk in the melted butter then, gradually whisk in dry ingredients with the wet until combined.
Allow the batter to set for about an 1/2 hour in the fridge while you
evenly grease and lightly flour your Madeleine pan.
While the oven preheats to 375ºF, fill each shell 3/4 full with batter and let the batter rest in the pan, popping any bubbles that rise to the surface.
Bake until centers have puffed and the edges are crisp and browned; about 15 minutes.
Cool completely before drizzling over the glaze and sprinkling with maple flakes.

MAPLE GLAZE

1 Tablespoon Margarine
1/4 Cup Maple Syrup
1/2 Cup Confectioners Sugar

Melt the margarine in a medium saucepan.
Add the maple syrup and continue to heat until bubbling.
Whisk in the confectioners sugar until smooth.
Reduce heat but continue to simmer until thickened enough to coat the back of a spoon.
Remove from heat and dip, dunk or drizzle, since the glaze will begin to harden and crystallize as it cools.

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