Friday, 19 January 2018

Almond Tarts

These turned out really well.  I love anything almond and these tarts fit the bill!

FILLING
8 tbsp butter
8 tbsp sugar
2 eggs
2 tbsp almond flour
1 tsp almond flavouring

Strawberry or raspberry jam

PASTRY
2 cups all purpose flour
3/4 tsp salt
1 cup shortening, cut into 1 inch pieces


  • Line tart tins with plain pastry.  Place small quantity of jam or jelly in the bottom of each.  Top with filling.  Fill to level, sealing each over jam or jelly in order that they will not boil over.  Bake at 375 F for 12 to 15 minutes.  
  • FILLING: Mix with electric beater in order given
  • PASTRY:  Mix flour and salt.  Blend in shortening with a pastry blender until consistency of crumbs.  Gradually add 4 tbsp ice water; mix thoroughly.  Divide in 2 halves.  Roll each separately on floured board with rolling pin.  Cut with round cookie cutter and work into tart tins.

Wednesday, 17 January 2018

Watermelon Sunshine

It might be winter outside, but crank up the heat, put on some summer tunes and make this summery cocktail.  From Food and Drink Magazine

In a cocktail shaker filled with ice, add 1½ oz rum, ½ oz lime juice, ½ oz Simple Syrup (recipe follows), ½ cup (125 mL) diced fresh watermelon and 10 mint leaves, torn. Shake very hard and strain into a wine glass filled with ice. Top with 2 tbsp (30 mL) Strawberry Sorbet (recipe follows) and garnish with a strawberry and watermelon skewer.

Makes 1 drink





SIMPLE SYRUP

Combine equal parts sugar and boiling water; stir until sugar has dissolved. Store in fridge until chilled.


STRAWBERRY SORBET

In a saucepan, add ½ cup (125 mL) sugar and ½ cup (125 mL) water, bring to a boil, stirring, and then remove from heat. Allow to cool. To a blender, add 3 cups (750 mL) fresh strawberries, hulled and chopped, the sugar water mixture and 1 to 2 tbsp (15 to 30 mL) lemon juice. Blend until puréed. Cover and refrigerate until chilled. Pour into an ice cream machine and follow manufacturer’s directions.

Thursday, 11 January 2018

Orange Flavoured Shortbreads

My daughter really enjoyed these delicately flavoured cookies.  She also enjoyed the decorating aspect :) Our decorating didn’t come out as nicely as I hoped, but she had a great time doing it and that is what matters.

3/4 cup unsalted butter
1/2 cup icing sugar
1/4 tsp salt
Grated zest of one small orange
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup royal icing mix
2 tbsp orange juice
Decorative sugars


  • In a medium bowl combine butter and icing sugar.  Using an electric mixer, beat until fluffy, about 5 minutes.  Mix in salt and orange zest.  Stir in flour.  Bring dough together and divide in 2; flatten slightly and wrap in plastic wrap.  Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
  • Working with 1 portion of dough at a time, roll out 1/4 inch thick on a lightly floured surface.  Using small to medium size cutters, cut into desired shapes, re-rolling and cutting scraps.  Place 1 inch apart on a parchment lined baking sheet.  Repeat with remaining portion of dough.  Chill for 30 minutes
  • Preheat oven to 325 F
  • Bake for 13 to 15 minutes or until lightly golden at edges, rotating halfway through if using 2 pans.  Cool on pans on racks until firm.  Transfer cookies to rack to cool completely.
  • To decorate, combine royal icing mix and orange juice in a small bowl and beat to combine (if find a hand mixer does this beautifully). Using a piping bag and small round tip, decorate as desired.  While icing is still wet, sprinkle with desired decorative sugar.  Let dry completely before handling or stacking.

Sunday, 7 January 2018

Hibiscus Tea Cocktail

This is really more of a summer cocktail but after dealing with -25 to -33 temperatures for the last two weeks I decided I needed to tast summer.

Brew 1 cup Hibiscus Tea and let cool.  Add to iced cup with lemon juice freshly squeezed from 1/2 lemon, 1 oz gin, a drop of grenadine and top with sparkling water. Add raspberries and blueberries. Enjoy


Tuesday, 2 January 2018

Orange Croquembouche

This is a fun and elegant dessert.  The orange accents really enhance this dessert


PASTRY CREAM

1 cup (250 mL) milk
¼ cup (60 mL) sugar
½ vanilla bean
Finely grated rind of 1 orange
2 tbsp (30 mL) cornstarch
3 egg yolks
2½ tbsp (37 mL) unsalted butter
1 tsp (5 mL) grated orange peel
¼ cup (60 mL) whipping cream

CHOUX PASTRY

¼ cup (60 mL) milk
¼ cup (60 mL) water
¼ cup (60 mL) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
½ tsp (2 mL) sugar
¼ tsp (1 mL) salt
½ cup (125 mL) all-purpose flour
2 eggs

ORANGE CARAMEL

Rind of 2 oranges
1½ cups (375 mL) sugar
½ cup (125 mL) water
¼ cup (60 mL) light corn syrup
¼ cup (60 mL) unsalted pistachio nuts, finely chopped, for garnish


1.  For the pastry cream, combine the milk and half the sugar in a small saucepan. Split the vanilla bean in half and scrape the black seeds into the milk. Add the pod and the grated orange rind. Place the pot over medium heat. 

2.  Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, combine the remaining sugar, cornstarch and egg yolks, and whisk until smooth. 

3.  When the milk mixture comes to a boil, add it to the yolk mixture, whisking until smooth. Strain back into the saucepan and place over medium heat. Cook, whisking constantly until the mixture boils and thickens. Remove from heat and whisk in the butter, followed by the orange peel. Transfer the pastry cream to a medium bowl, cover the surface directly with plastic wrap and chill completely. Place the whipping cream in a separate bowl and reserve in the fridge. 

4. Centre the oven rack and preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside. 

5. For pastry, in a medium saucepan, combine the milk, water, butter, sugar and salt. Place over low heat until the butter is fully melted. Raise the heat and bring the mixture to a full boil. Remove from heat and add the flour all at once. Stir immediately with a wooden spoon until the flour is fully incorporated. Place the pan back on medium heat and cook, stirring all the while, for 1 to 2 minutes. The mixture is ready when it congeals in a lump and begins to stick to the bottom of the pan. 

6. Remove from heat and transfer the mixture to the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix the dough on medium speed for about 30 seconds to release some of the steam. Add the eggs 1 at a time, mixing until incorporated. 

7. Transfer the dough to a pastry bag fitted with a ½-inch (1-cm) round tip. Pipe mounds of dough about 11/8 inches (3 cm) in diameter, spacing them about 1 inch (2.5 cm) apart. You should have 40 to 42 in all. 

8. Dip a fork in cold water and press down gently on the top of each mound of dough. 

9. Place in the oven and bake until the puffs rise and begin to brown, about 16 to 18 minutes. Lower the oven temperature to 325°F (160°C) and continue baking until the puffs are completely dry and golden brown, about 20 to 25 minutes. For extra crispness, poke a small hole in the bottom of each puff with the point of a small paring knife. Return to the oven for another 10 minutes. Cool on a wire rack. 

10. For the orange caramel, remove the rind of 2 oranges (the orange part only) with a sharp paring knife (or a serrated peeler). You should have strips about ¼ inch (5 mm) wide. Bring a small pot of water to a boil and add the strips of orange rind. Simmer for 1 minute, then strain, discarding the water. 

11. Place the sugar in a small saucepan. Add the ½ cup (125 mL) water carefully so no sugar crystals adhere to the sides of the pan. Add the corn syrup. Place the pan over medium heat and place a lid or heatproof bowl over top. Bring the sugar mixture to a boil. Once all the sugar is dissolved, remove the lid. Add the orange rind and reduce the heat to a simmer. Continue simmering the orange peel for 10 minutes or until the peel is tender and translucent. Using a fork, transfer the peel to a parchment-lined sheet. 

12. Increase the heat to medium and continue boiling the syrup until it turns a light golden brown, about 325°F (160°C) on a candy thermometer. Remove the pan from the heat and dip into a bowl of cold water for a couple of seconds. 

13. Using tongs, dip the top of 1 puff into the caramel and place, top-side down, on a Silpat baking sheet, or a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Dip the top and the side of a second puff into the caramel and place upside down, attaching it to the first puff. Continue with 2 more puffs, making 4 in all. Continue with remaining puffs, creating 10 servings in all. If the caramel becomes too stiff before all the puffs have been dipped, place the pot back over low heat and warm the caramel gently just to liquefy. 
14. Beat the ¼ cup (60 mL) of chilled whipping cream to stiff peaks. Gently whisk the cooled pastry cream just to soften it slightly and fold in the whipped cream. 

15. Transfer the cream to a piping bag fitted with a ¼-inch (5-mm) plain tip. Fill each puff with the cream, then turn over carefully so the individual puffs remain intact and are caramel-side up. 

16. For the spun sugar garnish, re-heat the caramel syrup just until it is fluid, but slightly thick. Dip a fork in the syrup and wave it quickly back and forth over a parchment-lined baking sheet to create thin sugar strands. If the strands are not forming, cool the syrup a little more. If the strands are very thick and lumpy, re-heat the syrup slightly. Continue dipping the fork in the syrup and “spinning” the sugar. Gather the strands together and place over the eclairs. The eclairs can be refrigerated for up to 4 hours before serving.  I made a traditional pyramid but they can be served individually as well
Serves 10

Wednesday, 27 December 2017

French Bistro Salad

A great salad that includes bacon and eggs!

DRESSING:
2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 tsp mustard (I like Dijon)
3/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

SALAD
4 large eggs
12 thick slices bacon
6 cups spring mix salad
1 cup shredded Gruyere cheese

  • For dressing:  combine lemon juice, mustard, salt and pepper in a blender.  With motor running, slowly add olive oil.   Remove and set aside.
  • For salad:  Poach eggs then place in ice water until ready to use.
  • Saute bacon until nicely browned and crisp.  Drain and set aside.
  • To assemble, toss spring mix with the dressing and divide evenly on 4 plates.  Sprinkle with bacon and cheese.  To quickly reheat eggs, immerse in simmering water for 30 seconds. Place one egg on top of each salad.

Thursday, 21 December 2017

Zucchini Alfredo

An old school sauce with zucchini noodles.  You can top with chicken breast or leave it a vegetarian meal.  From Food and Drink Winter 2017.  I don’t have a spiralizer so I just cut long thin slices of zucchini.

1 cup 35% cream
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp butter
1/2 tsp salt
2/3 cup grated Parmesan
Black pepper to taste
4 large zucchini
1 tbsp olive oil


  • In a medium saucepan over medium low heat, pour in 2/3 cup cream; stir in garlic, butter and salt.  Simmer for 5 minutes, allowing the sauce to slightly thicken while making sure it never boils.  Add remaining cream and simmer for 3 minutes more, then stir in cheese and simmer until sauce is noticeably thicker, about 2 to 4 minutes.  Taste to adjust seasoning and add pepper if need be. Set aside.
  • Wash zucchini and trim both ends to make them flat.  Place onto the spiralizer glider, making sure the centre of the zucchini is aligned with the circular centre blade.  Push the glider towards the from blades as you turn the handle and watch as your spiralled zucchinis materialize.  Keep a bowl nearby to collect noodles and clean out the pulp and cores as you go.  Toss with olive oil.
  • Heat a large frying pan over medium high heat.  Add zucchini and cook in several batches, stirring often until just cooked and tender, about 5 minutes.  Season with salt and pepper to taste. Add Alfredo sauce into pan with hot zucchini noodles, toss to coat and serve hot with a few grinds of fresh black pepper.
Serves 4