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.
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).
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.
I have been rereading Kerry Greenwood’s Phryne Fisher novels. I recently started Murder in the Dark, which is set in the Christmas season, and got to a chapter which starts with an epigraph about figgy pudding from “We Wish You a Merry Christmas.” The obsessive part of my brain kicked in, and I started researching figgy pudding recipes.
I like desserts with dark flavours. I love all things featuring mincemeat, love dark fruitcake, and am passionate about sticky toffee pudding (note to self: blog about STP sometime soon…). So, as I read the recipes, I felt that figgy pudding was right up my street. The recipes featured dates, raisins and figs. As I read on I realized that I actually had copious amounts of all of these dried fruits in my pantry. I also had a large amount of orange juice that needed to be used up, and I had been looking for a way to use it in baking.
This happy confluence led to me trying this recipe. Well, using it as a starting point. I love how she bakes it in individual ramekins. My batter ended up being quite large, so I baked it in a loaf pan. Other changes I made: I added more raisins, so some were in the pureed date and fig mixture and some were left whole; I used orange juice instead of water; I soaked the dried fruits in the orange juice for half an hour before I started cooking (and soaked the raisins that remained whole in more orange juice); I used white sugar instead of honey; and when I took it out of the oven, I spooned more orange juice over the warm cake.
It is delicious and fruity. There is a subtle cinnamon flavour that comes through as well. I had some heavy cream that needed using too, so I just poured some of that over the warm pudding.
The texture is lovely. It is tender and moist. It is a fantastic use of coconut flour, which is such a good binder.
I would happily serve this as a dessert. It is very comforting and perfect for when the weather is frigid. I plan to freeze some portions so I can enjoy it later. Maybe for breakfast. Maybe with custard. Or maybe with whipped cream… So I have lots to look forward to.
One of my favourite brunch places is Over Easy. Both locations offer efficient service, endless hot coffee and delicious food. Their servers are top notch. But, thanks to the pandemic, Over Easy has been closed for over a year.
My favourite menu item is their Eggy Hammy Cheesy. Their version is described as “a halved & toasted English muffin topped w/ Dijon, three cheese sauce, off-the-bone baked ham, melted aged cheddar cheese & 2 eggs sunny side up, served w/ home fries.” I order it without the English muffin, and it is amazing.
Last week, I made my own version of it.
I started by cubing some ham and then browning it in a pan. Then I toasted a Glutino English muffin and spread grainy Dijon mustard on each half. I fried two eggs in butter and placed one on each muffin half. I reheated a generous amount of cheese sauce made with white Cheddar and poured it over both eggs. Then I sprinkled the crispy ham across the top.
My version was very good, but obviously not the same. I look forward to having the Over Easy version some day soon, in the middle of a bustling restaurant. Fingers crossed.
Sometimes I get obsessed with a recipe and cannot stop thinking about it until I have bought the ingredients. I saw this lovely rosti recipe earlier this week and instantly my brain was filled with thoughts of toasted parsnips and potatoes. The recipe suggests serving it with sour cream laced with caramelized onions, both of which are staples in my diet, so it seemed like a no-brainer.
I made the rosti (with grated potatoes and parsnips and finely sliced onions) in my cast iron pan. When it was fresh, I topped a slab of it with two sunny-side-up eggs, and it was glorious.
Today, I am enjoying leftovers. I sliced the cold rosti, heated it in the microwave and ate it smeared with the caramelized onion sour cream. Bliss. A comforting dish to help you fight the dark days of late December.
I just made this omelette and it was incredibly tasty. Its execution was far from technically perfect (I should have used a different pan), but my mouth couldn’t tell the difference.
I had some leftover mushrooms that had been fried in butter with garlic, salt and pepper and some leftover caramelized onions. I also had already grated pecorino romano, so with very little effort today, I got to both gain fridge space and eat a fantastic breakfast. Win-win.
I had an amazing meal today. My goal was to finish up the last bit of kimchi in the fridge.
I sliced up some onions and fried them in a pan until they were soft. Then I added the kimchi and a little bit of water that I used to get out all of the deliciousness in the kimchi container.
I let the kimchi topping simmer while I fried up some hashbrowns in another pan and melted some butter for eggs in yet another pan. I also grated some sharp cheddar and chopped up some green onions.
When the hashbrowns were getting golden, I cracked two eggs into the pan with butter and quickly fried them sunny-side up, keeping the yolks runny. When they were ready, I put down the hashbrowns in a layer, topped them with a generous layer of the kimchi and onions, added a layer of cheese, slid on the eggs and then scattered green onions on top.
The result was fantastic. Very savoury and filling, but special enough that it would make a lovely brunch dish. It was a three-pan meal, but it was definitely worth all the dishes.
I was lucky to get a chance to spend a week in Greece last fall. Both of the hotels we stayed in offered breakfast buffets, and both offered rich, creamy Greek yogurt and pots of golden local honey. I made sure to have some every day.
After I got home, I kept up the ritual, but also thought about how I could add more nutrition to it. And this is what I have come up with: high milk fat plain yogurt + honey + hemp hearts + chia seeds + dried nuts or fruit.
Apparently, I am on a biscotti tear. I made these biscotti last night, using a gluten-free flour blend. They are packed with almonds and the batter is flavoured just with vanilla.
In this recipe, you roast the almonds before you add them to the batter. The cookies have a good crunch and, like the chocolate ones I made last week, they are not too sweet.
I am rarely content to leave a recipe alone, so I upped the almond content to two cups from one. Just so no one doubted that they were in fact almond biscotti. (This is generally my approach. If an ingredient is in the title of a dish, I am likely to go overboard with it.)
I made these so I would have a holiday treat to give to someone who is gluten-free. I have a feeling I will have no trouble disposing of the rest of them.