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!