Sunday 30 December 2012

German Burnt Almonds (Gebrannte Mandeln)

Burnt almonds are a traditional snack found on the streets of German cities in the holiday season. Crunchy, nutty almonds are coated in a layer of sugar and cinnamon to make this tasty treat which is dished out hot to warm up happy pedestrians. Although we're a far ways away from German Christmas Markets, these delightful almonds also make great finger food for parties certainly for say....New Years? They also make great Christmas gifts, wrapped in old fashioned paper cones and decorated with lovely ribbons. Watch out when making this one, although they have simple ingredients, like all candy it's relatively easy to burn so keeeeeeep stirring!

-1/2c. water 
-2 1/2 c. Sugar 
-2-3 tsp. Ground cinnamon
-4 c. Almonds 
-2 1/2 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
-1/4 tsp. salt

1) Grease 2 cookies sheets on which you'll pour out the almonds when ready. You'll need these close to your work area as the almonds must be removed quickly from the pot once ready.
2) Take a big, thick bottomed pot, add 2 cups of sugar, water and cinnamon, heat and stir on medium until homogenous and liquidy, add almonds.
3) Keep heating and stirring quickly and wait patiently until the syrup thickens and the almonds stick.
4) Once the almonds are sticking add the vanilla and remaining sugar, remove from heat and keep stirring until almonds are coated in the crispy sugary coating, pour out onto cookie sheets.
5) Let almonds cool about one hour before eating this will allow them to cool down and for the almonds to become hard again.
6) Add water to the pot and heat on low heat to melt all the sugar off and clean the pot, this step is optional but highly recommended, unless you want to spend eternity scraping the pot!

Friday 28 December 2012

Christmas 2012

Hello there everyone! I hope that everyone had a wonderful Holiday Season/ Christmas. Although I must apologize for the late post (blame the flu!) I'm hoping I can make up for it with a few photos of Christmas joy! It was busy busy so the photos aren't the best but I promise to do better next year. It was absolutely fantastic to have most of the family home and to be able to enjoy a hearty brunch together. As with every year, we gave each other all sorts of fun, useful and strange gifts so expect some new cooking tools folks! With that being said, best wishes everyone, hope your Christmas was lovely and I'll be sure to have some new recipes up for New Years!

Café au lait, the best way to start the morning...

certainly when followed by mimosas!

Some fresh mini-Panettone made for a lovely accompaniment to the traditional eggs and bacon...

Throw in some fresh fruit, brioche, homemade jam...

And a few sinful munchies as a snack!

And we were ready to face the gift pile!

Thursday 20 December 2012

Dark Chocolate Truffles

Christmas is here! And with only 5 days to go, most people are certainly cramming for last minute gifts. Need something classy and quick for the ungiftable who loves chocolate? (Because seriously, who doesn't love chocolate) cook up a batch of these beauties! Bundled up in nice wrapping or in a gorgeous tin, flavoured with your giftees favorite liqueur and coated in any kind of toppings, these truffles are sure to hit the spot! Give'em a try...oh and consider making a double recipe, you'll probably wanna keep some...

-340g. Quality dark chocolate
-2/3c. Heavy cream (35%)
-1 tbsp. Liqueur (Frangelico, Kahlua, Tia Maria work fantastically)
-3 Tbsp. Cocoa powder (or other topping, caster sugar, ginger sugar, powdered licorice, coconut, you name it!)

1) Prepare a baking pan by coating it with parchment paper
2) Break chocolate into small pieces, place in a heat resistant bowl made of glass or steel with a lid that kind of fits on top (doesn't quite have to be hermetic)
3) Heat cream until boiling
4) Pour cream into the bowl with the chocolate, cover immediately and let sit covered (no peeking!) for at least 5 minutes
5) After 5 minutes, stir until the ganache is homogenous, add liqueur
6) Place in refrigerator ~ 30minutes
7) Spoon out ball of ganache onto sheet with parchment paper, roll quickly in hand (prepare to get dirty) cool for ~15 minutes
8) Slice ganache balls in half if you think they're too big (upon reconsidering, I do it all the time), re-shape them (bumpy is still good!) and throw them in a tupperware in small bunches, a handful at a time.
9) Add cocoa to the tupperware and shake until coated, the truffles can now be tinned or boxed!
10) Enjoy!!!

Sunday 16 December 2012

Crystallized Ginger

Ginger has long been known as a natural remedy for nausea (and everything else under the sun if you read health food articles) the one thing I do know about it though, is that it's absolutely delicious! Used all over the place in Asia, ginger has crept in to some of our most traditional holiday recipes be it in fruitcakes, mulled wine or anything else. One particularly delicious treat (with a kick!) that's worth giving a try is crystallized ginger. If you've ever had it, you probably love it, or have at least developed some kind of Stockholm Syndrome relationship to it...if you haven't had it? You should definitely make it! Although being a bit of a pain to make, this confection is absolutely worth it and is great to put into gift baskets with an old fashioned feel! People who haven't tried it might be surprised by its deliciousness, I know I was when I first had it when I was (briefly) in Japan! Anyway, enough rambling, let's get to it!


-700 gr. Ginger (peeled)
-5c. Granulated white sugar
-4 tbsp water

1) Prepare a landing pad, ie a glass pyrex, plates or a cookie sheet on which you'll be able to pour lava-hot ginger directly from the pot.
2) peel about 750, 800g of ginger with a spoon, it works really well...seriously...try it
3) Cut the ginger into thin slices with a knife, not necessarily paper thin but not wedge-like either, you want a good promise say 1/8 of an inch?
 4) Throw ginger in a pot, making sure to clear a substantial amount of head space, sugar overflows make nasty, nasty fire hazards and are a pain to clean! Cover the ginger with sugar and mix the water in, heat on low heat until the sugar is melted then continue for about 5 minutes
5) Bring the heat up to medium and cook. First the sugar will turn syrupy, then the water will begin to evaporate and finally crystals will form, stir constantly and quickly scraping the sides to prevent it from sticking, once the sugar sticks to the ginger and not to the pot and it has become dry as a bone, pour the ginger out onto its landing pad before it burns.
 6) Let cool and enjoy! Consider wrapping it in bags and giving them out to make some new best friends, watch out, this stuff has kick to it!

Fun stuff? If you candy ginger (boil it in water, drain, rinse+repeat 3 times, reserving the liquid and then preserve in simple syrup) you can use the drained juice to make a sort of ginger concentrate for cooking, baking or adding to soda water to make ginger ale:

Wednesday 12 December 2012

Coconut Peanut Fish Soup

 This warm and hearty soup is a strange lovechild of international cuisine. Combining the hearty, thick peanut and coconut of a traditional Brazilian soup recipe with the spiciness and blends of flavour of a Thai tom-yum soup results in this tasty soup! Easy and quick to make, it's sure to warm you up!

I used dried cilantro...shhhhhhhh...

 Serves two as a side or one as a main dish
-1 small yellow onions
-2 cloves garlic
-2 dried chilies
-3/4 c. coconut milk
2 1/2 tbsp. pure peanut butter (Just peanuts and oil)
2-3 tbsp. tomato paste
1 filet of tilapia or other white fish
2/3c. liquid (shrimp or fish broth would be excellent but water can do!)
1/2 a point of anis, powdered
1/2 tsp olive oil
Juice of half (or a whole) lime (to taste)
Fresh cilantro, salt and pepper to taste

1) Dice onion, crush garlic, coarsely chop chilies and cook with oil in the bottom of a pot
2) Once the onion mix is soft and fragrant, add coconut milk, peanut butter, tomato paste, anis, salt, pepper, lime juice and liquid of choice cook on medium-high heat until homogenous and slightly thickened, at least 5 minutes
3) Add all other ingredients except for coriander, continue cooking until fish is cooked through but not tough, don't hesitate to taste it to check
4) Garnish with fresh coriander and serve!

Friday 7 December 2012

Maple Pecan Pie's one of THOSE recipes. You know, the recipes you make that everyone asks for? You know that dessert that people steal pieces of as soon as it's cooled to stash it in their bedrooms? Yeah this is one of those. This is my reworked take on "Abby's Famous Pecan Pie" filling recipe which won a whole wop of awards in the south combined with my mum's crust recipe. Of course, it's been reworked a tad to incorporate some Canadian-ness ie I played with sugar levels and added maple syrup (why wouldn't I!?). Why haven't I posted this earlier? Aside from the fact that I considered keeping it for a cookbook, there also my shame, the shame that I still can't make mind blowing pie crust like my mum can. So, for now....I will simply drown my sorrows in slices of pie...delicious, gooey, sweet, salty, nutty, melt in your mouth PIE. Seriously, you should make it. Like now.

Also, thanks Alison for the original filling recipe!

Oh the other reason I didn't post earlier? NO PICTURES! It gets eaten too fast...that's why this slice is so small, it was the last one.


-3/4c. Light Corn Syrup
-3/4c. Dark Brown Sugar
-1/4 c. Maple Syrup
-3 Eggs
-1/3 c. Butter, melted
-1/2 tsp. Salt
-1 1/2 tsp. Vanilla
-1 1/4 c. Pecans

-1 c. Flour
-1/2 tsp. Salt
-1/3c. Vegetable shortening
-3-4 tbsp. of near freezing water

Preheat oven to 350 degrees 
1) Melt butter and combine with sugar until partially melted, lightly beat eggs and combine with all other filling ingredients except pecans
2)Begin work on the crust (the colder all your ingredients are, certainly the water, the better) combine salt and flour
3) Cut the shortening into the flour mix using a pastry knife until the lumps are about the size of peas
4) Pour the near freezing water into the flour mix one tablespoon at a time combining with a fork and pushing the moistened section aside until it has all been barely moistened and cling together in a mass
5) Flour a counter, roll out your pie dough and fit it to a pie dish, this is often easiest if you roll it around your rolling pin and then unroll it onto the pie dish.
6) Cut surplus crust, patch where there are holes with the extra dough, make pinprick holes through the dough using the tongs of a fork so that it doesn't rise
7) Pour filling into the crust and immediately place into the oven, bake 45 minutes until center is set

Tuesday 4 December 2012

Berry and Cream Stuffed Bananas with Dark Chocolate

This recipe is extremely easy and absolutely ready in a jiffy! It came about as just a simple way to add colour to my brunch table, surprise surprise, it was a great success! The contrast between the tang of crisp fresh berries and the smooth, velvety richness of cream gets me every time. In this case we add the bittersweet flavour of dark chocolate to the not overwhelming sweetness of perfectly ripe bananas leading to a decorative yet tasty delight!

-1 bunch of ripe bananas (about 4-5)
-1 box of raspberries (about half a lb, I think ours are 270g)
-1 box of of blueberries

For Whipped Cream
-1/2 c. whipping cream
-1 tbsp. sugar
-1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

For Chocolate Syrup
-1/2 c. Dark chocolate in chunks (preferably around 70%, the good stuff!)
-~3 tbsp. milk or cream

1) Assemble whip cream by whipping all ingredients together at high speed until thick enough to hold its form, set aside in the refrigerator.
2) On low heat, melt the chocolate and dairy together, feel free to add more liquid if required, you're aiming for something thick enough to be rich and decadent but thin enough to drizzle.
3) Slit bananas lengthwise from end to end and then halve or even cut into thirds, once this is done, fracture their spines by cracking them open just enough that they remain open enough to be stuffed.
4) Stuff bananas with whipped cream, followed by berries and then drizzle with chocolate!
5) Serve this easy treat to your happy guests!

Thursday 29 November 2012

Lime and lentil soup

Lime and lentil soup a tad odd yes? It is, but surprisingly tasty! This is part of one of my recipes from the series: "Made from random stuff in my kitchen" and this one I must say turned out rather well! The rich earthy flavour of lentils and cumin is offset by the smooth sourness of the limes and the citrusy flavour of roasted coriander. These powerful flavours then go well with a whole mix of veggies and the slight tang provided by a touch of tomato! This is a good, out of the ordinary, easy and tasty soup, just the kind of thing you might want around for the snowy days that are just beginning, it even has the added benefit of clearing your sinuses!


-2 Yellow onions
-2 Bunches green onion 
-3 Cloves garlic 
-6 Carrots 
-1c Brown lentils
-½ tsp. Whole cumin seeds
-2 tsp Whole coriander seeds
-1 Lime zest and juice
-2 tbsp. tomato paste
-1 Large handful of spinach
-1 Cube vegetable broth
-~8 cups water
-1 tsp. Olive oil
-Salt and pepper to taste

1) Let lentils soak at least 1 hour before cooking, once ready boil for 20 minutes in 2 of the cups of water
2) Slice yellow onions and carrots, crush garlic, heat olive oil in the bottom of your soup pot, and add these vegetables, cook until onions have softened
3) While the vegetables cook, heat whole coriander and cumin until browned and fragrant, grind in a mortar and pestle, coffee grinder or with a glass bottle or rolling pin on a cutting board.
4) Add spices to vegetables alongside lime and mix thoroughly, add 4 cups of water to the mix as well as the tomato paste, salt, pepper and half the lime juice (Taste and add more if you like it, if you plan on serving it the day you prepare it, half a lime might be best, if it sits you can put the juice of the entire lime, it mellows overnight) as well as the broth cube.
5) Drain the lentils, reserving the liquid  in a bowl, add the lentils to the soup and lentil liquid to taste
5) Cook the soup to meld flavours at medium heat for at least 10 minutes before adding sliced green onions and spinach as well as the liquid the lentil's were boiled in and extra water to taste.

Wednesday 28 November 2012


This typical Middle Eastern dish makes for excellent, warming comfort food on a cold day. Spicy, warm and mindbogglingly full of flavour this dish seems to originate in Tunisia but is rather popular throughout swathes of the middle East going all the way to Israel where it has become pretty popular. The recipe was originally brought to my attention by my friend Sara who found it over on smittenkitchen, I toyed with quantities added some green peppers and changed the consistency and voila, my recipe was born! Keep in mind that the eggs are absolutely necessary to counter the acidity of the tomatoes, enjoy!

Serves 4
-1/4 c. olive oil
-3 Jalapeno peppers
- 2-3 Yellow onions
-1 Green Pepper
-4 cloves garlic, crushed
-2 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin (or to taste)
-1 1/2 tablespoons paprika
-1 Teaspoon coriander
-1 28-ounce can whole peeled tomatoes, undrained
-2 raw tomatoes, chopped, for texture (optional)
-Salt/pepper to taste
6 eggs
- feta cheese, crumbled to taste
-Fresh parsley or cilantro to taste ( Although not traditional, I rather like cilantro on it!)
Fresh bread or warm pitas for serving

1) Crush garlic, slice onions and chop pepper into large chunks, mince jalapenos (seed them if you would like to make it less spicey)
2) Heat oil until hot, add onions, garlic, pepper and jalapenos, cook until soft and fragrant
3)In a separate pan, toast whole cumin until fragrant, grind down with paprika and add to the vegetables
4) Add the tomatoes and their juice to the mix, simmer for about 20-30 minutes until reduced, thick and brown, season to taste and let simmer a few minutes
5) Break eggs into the vegetable mix and bury them in the tomato sauce being very careful not to break them (you can cheat by putting a lid over it as if making eggs sunny side up)
6) Serve accompanied by bread with a dusting of feta and parsley or coriander

Thursday 22 November 2012

Roasted Radishes

Most often eaten raw, I would not even have thought of roasting this wee root vegetable had it not been for my brother Joe and his fiancée Sara so I owe them a big thanks! This recipe might surprise even the most dedicated radish hater, delighting them with the surprisingly subtle flavour of roasted radishes. Not only are they healthy and tasty but the bright colour of radishes also makes for an extremely festive looking side!

Serves 2
-8-10 Radishes
-1 tsp. Garlic infused olive oil (Or just olive oil)
-1/4 tsp. Parsley
-1/4 tsp. Rosemary
-1/8 tsp. Garlic powder
-Salt/Pepper to taste

1) Preheat oven to 375 degrees
2) Trim and clean radishes
3) Coat radished is oil and shake them in all of the seasonings
4) Bake for 15-20 min. until tender, easy as that!

Wednesday 21 November 2012

Mixed Fruit and Hazelnut Sabayon with Whipped Cream and Pound Cake

Sabayon has been around for a (very) long time. While wikipedia claims it to be an Italian dessert from the 60's, I've come across whispers that trace it to a far earlier period, that of Auguste Escoffier. Referred to by some as the father of French Haute Cuisine in the Modern Era, I have no trouble believing the rumours that this delicious confection is actually one of his creations. Anyway, enough with the history lesson, I'll blab about Escoffier another time! This recipe is a lovely little way to use up extra bits of...well everything! Normally served just as an alcoholic custard with some fruits I decided to push it a bit further with whipped cream, nuts and pieces of cake. Granted, some might consider manipulating this classic as some kind of mortal sin in the world of Haute Cuisine, I think you'll find it absolutely sinful in whole other ways. Enjoy!

Serves: 6

For the custard:
-8 egg yolks
-2 tbsp Frangelico (or other hazelnut liqueur)
-1/4 c. sugar
-2 tbsp. cream

For the Whipped Cream:
-250 ml. cream
-1 tsp. vanilla
-2-4 tbsp. sugar (to taste)

For the rest:
-~20 Roasted almonds or Hazelnuts
-4 substantial slices of pound cake (a lighter cake like an angel cake could work too for a lighter dessert, I just had pound cake on hand)
-About 3/4 lb fresh berries (I like the taste of raspberries and blueberries together but be creative!)

If you're feeling inclined to light your food on fire also consider:
-1/4 c. alcohol with over 40% alcohol content 

1) Prepare all your ingredients, roast almonds, wash berries, cut cake into cubes
2) Whip cream, vanilla and sugar on very high with a mixer until fluffy and solid, you want it to be rather solid
3) In a double boiler or on very low heat, make the Sabayon by incorporating room temperature eggs yolks with frangelico, sugar and cream, if too viscous feel free to add a bit of milk or water.
4) Whisk  the Sabayon mix constantly for approximately 6-8 minutes until doubled in size, make sure to cook on low heat so as not to coagulate the custard
5) Layer ingredients into a Martini glass, starting with fruit, followed by Sabayon, more fruit, some cake then whipped cream and topped with nuts and whatever cake and fruit was leftover.
6) Flambé (optional)


Flambé...because everything is better when it's on fire!

Tuesday 20 November 2012

Pork Rosettes Cooked in Beurre Noisette with Buttermilk Portobello Coulis

Although I'm not the biggest meat eater, I do have a rather obsessive love of pork. Relatively quick to put together this meal looks suave and professional and is excellent if you have company coming in, tis' that time of year after all! The buttermilk used in the recipe is REAL buttermilk, not cultured buttermilk and is a natural by-product of butter, if you don't feel like making it, feel free to substitute for coffee cream, which is a bit richer and will lack some complexity, but can work if you're in a bit of a tiff. The dish itself is pretty rich and pairs well with simple vegetables and rice or baked potato, although the sauce isn't the most appetizing of colours, I guarantee that it's quite scrumptious!

-1 Pork Loin
-~340 g. Portobello mushrooms
-1/8 c. Cream
-1/8c.  Buttermilk
-1/2c. Pork or Chicken broth
-4 Tbsp. Butter

1) At least 1 hour before cooking, slice the pork loin into 1 inch slices, season each side of every shop liberally with salt and pepper, let sit, this will help tenderize the meat
2) Make beurre noisette with the butter, cooking the butter at medium heat until it just turns brown, foams and smells vaguely like hazelnuts.
3)Pour the butter into a glass gently and skim the foam on off the top, discard
4)Grease a cast iron or stainless steel pan with about 1/3 of the butter, quarter and saute the Mushrooms until softened, fragrant and flavourful
5) Remove mushrooms from pan, set aside in a warm place, wipe pan down
6) Grease the freshly wiped down pan with the rest of the butter, and heat to high heat, when hot, add the pork rosettes one by one.
7) Cook the rosettes for 2 min on high on one side, flip them slowly taking a 30 second break after flipping three to let the butter heat up again until all are flipped, cook on high for another 2 minutes before bringing the heat down to medium for 1 minute to finish the cooking.
8) Put pork on a plate and cover partially with a loose sheet of foil, this will continue the cooking of the meet without softening it
9) Heat the rest of the butter and the pork juices on medium-low until most of the liquids have evaporated, forming a crust on the pan.
10) Poor the broth onto the crust and rub it until you've successfully deglazed the pan, add the cream and half the mushrooms, reduce until thick and rich, season to taste with salt and pepper.
11) Pass the sauce with mushroom chunks through a blender or food processor at high speed for at least 30 seconds to achieve a smooth consistency
12) Serve 3 rosettes of pork per person with some cooked mushrooms and a generous dab of sauce on top the rosettes should be warm and tender with a rich creamy and woodsy flavour.

Friday 16 November 2012

Smoked Oyster Chowder

This rich and wholesome chowder is perfect for the cold weather coming in. Inspired by my grandfather’s recipe, chowders like this one are a perfect greeting for guests who’ve just come in out of the cold. Salty and full of protein this chowder is an ideal warm up.  If you’re feeling particularly decadent, swap ¼ of the milk out for cream,should probably clarify here though that I'm not liable for any nasty health decisions you make...

-170g. Smoked Oysters (Canned)
-1 Clove of garlic
-2 Onions
-2 Sticks of celery
-4 c. Milk
- Salt and black pepper to taste
-8 Soda Crackers
-1/2 tsp. Butter

1) Melt butter in the bottom of a pot, cook sliced onions, celery and crushed garlic until fragrant
2) Add oysters and their oil mixing very lightly so as not to break up the oysters
3) Add milk and salt, cook on low heat for at least 10 minutes, it is very important that the mixture not boil
4) In last 5 minutes of cooking, crush soda crackers into small chunks and dust and add to the soup, these will thicken and give a whole different consistency to the chowder. It sounds odd but seriously, give it a try!
5) Serve and garnish with generous amounts of freshly crushed black pepper