This is my new creation–delicious Medjool dates stuffed with mini eggs and dusted with salt.
In the kitchen in my office, we have a counter where treats collect. One day, we had both mini eggs and dates, so I felt I had to stuff the dates with mini eggs. I pitted the dates and was busy stuffing mini eggs inside them when a colleague walking through suggested adding salt. Brilliant.
So the result is this delicious bite that features the creamy sweetness of the dates, milk chocolate with a candy crunch, and salt to tamp down the sweetness and boost the intensity of the dates’ other notes.
I like too that it is appropriate for Easter, Ramadan and Passover, all at once. Quite a happy accident.
Recently, my office just did something we hadn’t done in three years–have a potluck lunch together.
Because the World Cup was on, we made that our theme. We wrote out the names of the 24 countries that made the cut on slips of paper and then passed around a bowl for people to choose a slip from. My slip read “Serbia” and I knew immediately that I would make a version of cevapi, their spiced meat sausages.
I read lots of recipes, and settled on the flavour profile of this one. I used beef and lamb, with a ratio of about 2:1 beef to lamb. However, I did not add mint, onion, eggs, bread or water to the mix. I did add chopped parsley, lots of freshly ground black pepper, lots of chopped fresh garlic, salt and dried oregano, cumin and coriander. I also added some baking soda, which showed up in several recipes I read, liketheseones. I made a large batch of the meat mixture and used about half of it for the potluck, storing the rest of it the freezer.
I don’t have a barbecue, so I baked them in the oven for half an hour at 350 C with a sheet of parchment paper under them, and they turned out quite nicely.
I made these quick pickled onions to go with them. I followed the recipe, except I used sugar as the sweetener and heated the liquid in the microwave.
Both the sausages and the onions turned out well and they went beautifully together. The baking soda gives them a springy texture and helps them hold together. A week or so later, I made up the rest of the mixture and ate those with tzatziki and the onions. Absolutely delicious.
These would work well as an appetizer or a main meal. I love the idea of having some of these handy in the freezer. I will definitely be making these again soon.
I made this pumpkin cheesecake for my brother’s birthday. It turned out beautifully. It is delightfully smooth and rich. Topping it with whipped cream and caramel sauce is actually unnecessary, but does make it look more festive. To make it gluten free, I used gluten-free graham crackers for this crust.
This recipe makes a pretty large cake and, for science, I have tested it and found it is a good breakfast cheesecake. I am looking forward to enjoying it over the next few days.
I love mayo on hot, crisp French fries. Even better is mayo with a bit of zip. I had some leftover steak from a dinner out, so I decided I needed to have steak frites at home. So for dinner I had cold, beautifully cooked steak with hot fries and tangy mango, and some red wine on the side. A feast!
This is one of my favourite versions of horseradish mayo. My take on it is bursting with flavour, but the beauty of customizing your own mayo is that you can easily adjust it to your personal taste. If you find this too strong, dilute it by adding more mayo. I use 3 tablespoons prepared horseradish, 1 tablespoon grainy mustard, and 2 ½ tablespoons lemon juice to 1 cup mayo. (I actually prefer Miracle Whip, but YMMV).
A little goes a long way. I used it for fries, but it would be great on a fried egg sandwich or a burger, as well.
Yesterday, I was reading a blog post that offered advice on how to improve your life. The first step involved a little bit of introspection. One of the things you were supposed to determine was what single biggest thing would bring you joy, professionally or personally. I imagine that the author intended the reader to consider a longer timeframe than I did, but when I read that, I decided that the single biggest thing that would bring me joy at that moment was to make a cake, right then and there. So I made this.
And bring joy it did. It combines two of my favourite things–cardamom and cake.
This is a lovely, simple cake. It calls for a whole tablespoon of ground cardamom and melted butter. I baked mine in an 8-inch pan to help give it more height, so it took a little longer to bake. I chose not to put any sugar on top at all, leaving it naked. If you too are a cardamom fan, you should give it a try. This is an excellent breakfast cake (and an excellent end of the day cake, too).
Look at the colours in this cake! Red and white, perfect for Canada Day.
This cake is Smitten Kitchen’s Strawberry Brita Cake. It is a lemon-flavoured cake, made with only egg yolks, and topped with a meringue made from the egg whites. The lasagne-pan sized cake is cut lengthwise, and slathered in whipped cream and cut-up fresh strawberries.
My sister and niece made it for me recently, using a gluten-free flour blend. It was lovely and light. The strawberry flavour came through beautifully and the lemon in the cake was fantastic. I highly recommend it. Five out of five. Would eat again!
Of course, I was forced to take the leftovers home (tant pis pour moi…) and so I managed to have it for breakfast for a few days after. Living the dream.
I have mentioned before that I believe in eating Christmas treats out of season. One benefit of this, when it is a dessert that you like but is not popular with others, is that you don’t have to share it with people who are unworthy of it. Another is that you don’t have it in a season when most of us really don’t need more dessert options. You can eat it when you are able to truly appreciate it.
Recently, I decided to make this favourite of mine, fruit stollen. This recipe is a quick bread, rather than a yeast bread, which means it is fast to put together. The dough includes cream cheese, which makes it easy to work with. It comes from Anna Thomas’s lovely cookbook The Vegetarian Epicure.
I mostly follow the original recipe. I use orange juice, not brandy, to soak the dried fruit, and I double it. I also double the cardamom, using 1 teaspoon. I follow the original recipe for the fruit ingredients. It uses sultanas, currants and candied peel (1/2 cup, 1/2 cup and 1/4 cup for one loaf). The dough gets some of its richness from ground almonds. And I use a gluten-free flour blend.
The dough requires a bit of patience, but eventually the flour gets absorbed, and you are left with a pliable dough. You can then pat this out by hand, on parchment paper, to the size of your choice. The original recipe calls for an oval 8 x 10 inches, which you then fold over just off centre. This time, I made my oval slightly bigger. If you adjust the size, keep this in mind when baking it, as making it thinner or thicker will affect the baking time.
One other change I make is to add about a cup of marzipan to the centre. This bread is lovely as is and the marzipan is not needed, but it is does make it quite special. When it is finished, you dust the whole thing generously with icing sugar after it has cooled a little.
The flavours improve over time, making it better a day or two after baking. I enjoyed the piece above at my desk the day after it was made. The rest I have portioned out and frozen, ready for me to enjoy later this summer.
It occurred to me recently that the Distracted Boyfriend meme perfectly captures my approach to recipes. I find a new recipe that excites me, I obsess about it for days or weeks, I go out and buy all the ingredients and then, I see a brand NEW recipe that looks intriguing and delicious. And suddenly the recipe that I had been obsessing about loses some of its sparkle. So I just made this meme to capture this feeling.
I made tacos last weekend, using a boxed kit. It was all very tasty, but those taco shells are so tiny. So confining. I kept breaking them with my overly ambitious and optimistic attempts to fill them. I eventually gave up and just made piles of the filling.
Today, I used up the leftovers in this delicious salad. I had about a cup each of spiced refried beans and cumin spiced beef. I heated them in the microwave, and then dressed the plate, first with beans and then with the meat. I topped all of that with cheese (a mozzarella-cheddar blend). I microwaved that gently to melt the cheese. Then, I placed freshly chopped romaine lettuce around the edge of the plate. I topped the cheese with a generous helping of pickled jalapeno slices and dollops of sour cream. I slathered everything with green tomatillo salsa and then sprinkled chopped green onions over it all. Finally, I sprinkled two broken up taco shells across the top.
This was so delicious. There was lots of crunch from the lettuce and the taco bits. And the temperature contrast between the hot beans, beef and cheese and the cold lettuce and sour cream was great, too.
I think next time, I won’t bother buying taco shells. I’ll just use nacho chips. I used the packaged spice mix, but I can replicate that quite easily too. I also think chopped cilantro would be a fantastic addition on top.
I highly recommend this approach to tacos if you too are finding yourself hemmed in by very tiny hard shells.
I was on vacation in the Caribbean recently and had a ton of delicious food while I was there. One of my fondest memories is of dinner at a rib shack that included your choice of any three sides with an order of ribs. I chose coleslaw, beans and rice, and plantains. Ever since, I have been thinking about eating plantains again.
I bought a couple of green plantains about two weeks ago and have been patiently waiting until the skins turned black enough for me to fry them.
I made these today, as a side for spicy shrimp and rice. I used this recipe as a guide. I fried them in a stovetop wok in a mix of butter and oil. As they turned brown, I removed them to a plate lined with paper towel to drain. I generously salted them, and then I got to try them.
They were fantastic hot. I am taking some for lunch tomorrow, and will eat those ones cold. They were so tasty and so easy to make. I will definitely be making these again soon.