Archive for December, 2009

Greek Tart with Caramelized Pistachios, Walnuts, and Almonds

December 31, 2009


Last night Adam and I, along with his sisters, prepared a fancy meal for his parent’s 33 year anniversary. We went with a Greek theme, and had a really lovely meal. His two sisters prepared a meal of greek salad, chicken skewers, lamb, greek potatoes and rice. Adam and I brought three dips and homemade pita, wine, and this dessert.

I’d never made a tart quite like this before (ok, maybe I’ve never made a tart before, period), and I can definitely say this recipe will be added to my binder of good recipes. It’s quite easy to make, and the flavours are complex enough that it seems fancy. The addition of honey in the caramel base gives it a distinctly greek flavour, and the orange zest in the crust added a little something special. The only ingredient we wouldn’t regularly have on hand is rose water – and now that we’ve bought some it’ll take quite awhile to get through! (Rose water doesn’t go bad, does it?) Makes for a quick and fairly easy dessert to throw together. Yum.

Full recipe below:


Lemon Poppyseed Pancakes

December 30, 2009

Lemon Poppyseed Pancakes

On the last day of my mom’s visit to Toronto, we were finally home for a real breakfast. No brunch at my mother-in-laws, no high tea at noon making us want to keep breakfast light. We still didn’t have a ton of time, unfortunately, as she had to be at her flight stupid early due to the latest round of flight scares on Christmas Day. So I turned to my favourite cookbook of late for some pancakes.

I was immediately drawn to Light and Fluffy Pancake recipe, and was intrigued by the many variations Bittman suggested. A great recipe and an awesome variation. I can definitely say these are the fluffiest pancakes I’ve ever made. The whipped egg white gives it a really nice height, though it does mean you have to be pretty careful that the griddle isn’t too hot so that it doesn’t stay soggy inside. I was pleased that most of them cooked just right. A lovely not-too-heavy breakfast to see my mom off.

Lemon Poppyseed Pancakes

I give you Light and Fluffy PoppySeed Pancakes:


Black Forest Sandwich Cookies

December 29, 2009


Over the summer, there was a point where I had an excess of cherries. Far too many for Adam or I to just eat, and even after making these yummy  bars, we had lots and lots. I ended up making a nice batch of Black Forest Conserve – and while it was amazingly rich in chocolate-cherry flavour, I was never quite sure what to do with it. It ended up much thicker than I’d anticipated, so it didn’t really work as an ice cream topping as I’d originally envisioned. It was also far too sweet (in my opinion) to be used simply as a jam for sandwiches, though I suppose it would work for a fairly decadent scone/toast topping.

The first jar we opened largely went unused, and only recently did I think of a good idea for what to do with the rest of it: a layer for a cake, preferably chocolate. But… the trouble with making a big cake is that then? You have to eat it. And one cake in a house with two people is not the best plan. So, alas, this yummy not-quite-a-jam-but-not-an-ice-cream-topping has spent the past few months just sitting in storage, waiting to be used.

My mother-in-law to the rescue – she planned a Christmas Day Brunch (an annual tradition) and asked if I could bring a few types of cookies. I made her favourite again (Madeleines), and then had a vague chocolate-sandwich-cookie-with-conserve idea. I debated many options, but came up with something that I thought was quite good.

A big thanks to Deb over at Smitten Kitchen for this recipe for homemade oreos (which I must try again sometime with the intended cream filling):

Homemade oreos, dough form

No – I didn’t bake them this crowded. I made up a batch of the cookie dough, shaped it into cookie form and froze it before baking. It worked out quite well – when it was time to bake, I baked them from frozen just a few minutes longer than the recipe called for and then sandwiched the black forest ooze between two layers and done! The chocolate cookies served as a perfect combo for the black forest flavour, and the resulting cookies were full of pure yum.

The cookies themselves are quite crunchy upon first baking, which for some reason I wasn’t quite expecting, but the textures worked well together. After a few days (yes, we ended up with lots of leftovers – so much food at this brunch!) the cookies that were left got a bit soft as they soaked up the inner layer, but the soft version was just as enjoyable. I wouldn’t keep them more than a week (not that they’d last that long).

Triple Ginger Cookies

December 28, 2009

A few weeks ago I had a great Saturday of relaxation and baking. After a relaxed trip to the local farmer’s market followed by a nice brunch with friends at home, I was in the mood to bake some cookies. Emily hung out and helped (and took some awesome photos with her awesome camera – Yay Emily!). We tried to stick with things we had everything on hand for, and these ginger cookies fit the bill. We happened to have all three types of ginger on hand (even the crystallized ginger!), and I’m so glad we did. Definitely the best ginger cookies I’ve ever tasted. They  puffed up nicely and were soft, not crunchy like the standard ginger snaps. A really great cookie for a cold winter day, especially when paired with a cup of tea of cocoa. They did keep quite well too, staying soft and yummy for quite awhile after baking.

We made no changes to the Epicurious recipe, so no point posting it here. Full recipe can be found here.

Longing for Summer: Lemon Curd

December 20, 2009

IMG_4648It’s December. Time for cold weather and lots of winter-y dishes – soupscrisps, and of course, cozy warm cocktails. So when this Lemon Curd recipe popped up on David Lebovitz’s blog, I knew I had to give it a try. Lemon is an any-season food, right? Sure.

I’d been hoping to pick up some of these mystical Meyer lemons I keep hearing about, but nothing yet. No, I’ve not looked that hard. Apparently they are sold at Whole Foods, and my mother-in-law regularly picks them up at a local supermarket, but *my* local supermarket doesn’t stock them, so I’ve yet to get. I couldn’t wait any longer – this evening I had to make me some Lemon Curd.

Luckily it was just as easy as David Lebovitz promised, and oh my yum.


Give it a go:


Product Recommendation: Fifth Town Soft Ripened Skipping Stone Camembert

December 20, 2009

Not the best photo, but... YUM!

Or really, any of Fifth Town‘s cheeses.

We stumbled upon this particular cheese producer at our beloved Green Barn Market at the Artscape Wychwood Barns. They may have been before, but this is the first we spotted them. Every type of cheese they  had out was amazingly tasty. We ended up purchasing a soft ripened goat’s milk camembert they’ve dubbed “Skipping Stone.” YUM. We went with this one as it’s a limited edition seasonal offering – but I would’ve gladly walked way with the Lemon Fetish feta as well – which had the slightest hint of lemon and it wasn’t too salty, as I find some fetas to be.

The good news is they are available in more places than just the market – many of which are easy to get to like any Alex Farm location, Healthy Butcher, Pusateri’s, and Whole Foods. Check out their full list here.

A Hanukkah Dinner at No. 71

December 13, 2009

Frying up some beet latkes.

Despite the fact that Cari and I are growing more and more comfortable with large dinners, 95% of the family dinners we have with my side of the family are at restaurants, my parents’ house or my aunt and uncles’ house.  Hanukkah has become the one time of year that we get my parents, sisters (and brother-in-law), aunt, uncle and cousins over at our house.

This year, for the first time in our three years of hosting Hanukkah, we actually managed to get the whole group (12 of us in all) together.  Usually between other Hanukkah/Christmas parties and trips, there have been one or two people who have been unable to attend.  We had an ambitious menu planned, some of which worked out – some, not so much.

Our Menu:

  • Challah
  • Leek & Zucchini Soup (Thanks, Aunt Lynne!)
  • Salad (Thanks, Melissa!)
  • Macaroni & Cheese with Peppers and Dill (Thanks, Laura!)
  • Gingered Carrot Latkes (link)
  • Cumin-Scented Beet Latkes (link)
  • Butternut Squash Latkes with Sage and Pine Nut Yogurt Sauce (link)
  • Spicy Cauliflower Latkes with Za’atar Aioli (link) (Thanks, Mom!)
  • Steamed Broccoli with Lemon Zest
  • Assorted Pastries (Thanks, Mom!)
  • Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream Cake (Thanks, Heidi!)
  • Fruit Salad (Thanks, Rachael!)

Cari and I were also hoping to make cholent, a stew with beans and barley, but we had a major slow cooker mishap.  We also hoped to make sufganiyot, the traditional Hanukkah jelly doughnut, but the batter never rose.


Butternut Squash, with sage and garlic, about to bake for the latkes.

Everything else tasted great.  The definite highlight of our contributions were the various latkes we found through Epicurious.  We forgo the traditional potato latkes because we know we’ll get them a lot of the next week.

The carrot and butternut squash latkes were a big hit last year, so we decided to make those again, along with the beet latkes and cauliflower latkes (which were actually made by my mother).  We made most of them ahead of time, which worked fine except for the butternut squash, which got quite soggy when we reheated them.  In addition to the pine nut yogurt and za’atar aioli, we also made apple, green onion and jalapeno salsa.

A great dinner over all – thanks to everyone who contributed!

Crème Brûlée

December 8, 2009

I like to think I’m a good cook – and most of the time think that I am. But then I remember that I have some *amazing* cooks for friends. Not only do I have friends who have worked in restaurants and/or have had chef training, but I have a number of friends who are just genuinely interested in cooking. And that means that they, too, spend time to make elaborate dishes and generally come up with really, really tasty food.

Aaron & Diana Minster are the latter of such friends. Diana in particular has taken it upon herself to become a master baker. I knew her baking skills far surpassed mine when she brought an *amazing* chocolate cake to our thanksgiving dinner. Seriously, folks, it tasted like a cake made with the best fudge ever… incredibly rich and decadent, and no matter how good it was you couldn’t dare eat more than a sliver due to the sheer richness of this cake.

I knew we were in for a real treat when we went over to their house for dinner over the weekend. The entire meal was amazing – from the chickpea soup (which I will likely feature later when I make it myself), to the homemade ravioli (with an egg yolk inside! OMG SO GOOD), to the two awesome quiches, and finally, finishing with a crème brûlée. Can you tell we rolled home?

Diana tries a ton of different recipes before she chooses a favourite, and then adapts it to make it her own. Yeah, like a real cook. I’m more the type that will try something, think “Wow! Yum! I should share this!” type of cook. Sure, I tweak recipes sometimes and dont’ follow things exactly, but if I find something I think is great I usually just stick with it and call it a day. But I may have to convert to Diana’s way of doing things, because this crème brûlée was the result of many attempts, and I dare say she’s made it perfect. So so good!

I’ve yet to make it, but I did ask for her recipe. Hopefully I can make my own batch soon, and hopefully it turns out as good!

Her recipe (posted with permission):


Pad Thai

December 7, 2009

Pad ThaiPeople who love me know that I go crazy for greasy Asian noodle dishes, so it’s no surprise that Pad Thai is one of my all-time favourites.  Of course, Cari and I only attempted Pad Thai on a few unsuccessful occasions, when both of us had little clue as to what we were doing in the kitchen.

Mark Bittman’s How To Cook Everything Vegetarian, which Cari has posted about several times in the past few weeks, had a seemingly easy recipe for Pad Thai so I thought I’d give it a try.  I didn’t feel like buying a whole lot of the specialty ingredients, so I used ketchup instead of tamarind paste and soy sauce instead of mock fish sauce, but it still turned out pretty damn good if I may say so myself.  Next time I might play with the quantities of the sugar, ketchup and soy to get it a bit saltier.  I also like spice, so I’d probably end up using more chiles.  I also upped the quantity though, so I was doing a lot of approximating anyway.

Here’s the recipe:


Apple & Pomegranate Crisp

December 6, 2009

Apple Pomegranate Crisp

The other day when I made the stuffed butternut squash, I decided it was a good time to make a nice dessert too. I scoured our fridge and googled ideas based on what we had: Some pomegranates, apples, and a lot of butter. I came up with Brenda’s Apple & Pomegranate Crisp. It not only served as a yummy dessert for a few nights, but Adam even took it as breakfast on Friday.

I didn’t quite follow the recipe, but used it as inspiration since we didn’t have enough apples and had two pomegranates I wanted to use. So this is what I came up with: