Archive for January, 2010

Buttermilk Waffles with Dark Maple Syrup

January 31, 2010

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At the farmer’s market on Saturday, we decided to splurge on some fancy maple syrup. We’d passed the vendor many times, but only recently ran out of our old batch of maple syrup, so it was time. I only had a vague idea that with maple syrup, the darker the better, but it was after the guy working at the booth showed his enthusiasm for the dark syrup that we knew it was worth the splurge. As he told us, once you get into the dark stuff, it will be what you compare all future maple syrup too. And boy was he right. It really was more maple-y, with a really deep flavour. And the best part? It wasn’t nearly as sweet – so you tasted the maple instead of just crazy sweetness. MmmmMmmmmMm. Oh yes, we will buy this again.

Of course, now we were required to make waffles for our Sunday breakfast. We whipped out the Joy of Cooking to try a repeat of a recipe we made last weekend. We had actually intended to post about just how awesome this recipe was *last* weekend, but… well, we ate it so fast we never got photos. At least now I can say which version of the two we made was better. And surprise, surprise: Extra butter = Better Waffle! Go figure, right?

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The Joy of Cooking gives a pretty long preamble of why butter in waffles is worth it. But you know what? I think anytime anyone tells you that something is just as good without the butter originally called for in a recipe, you can pretty well know that they are lying. Butter? It makes things taste good. Of course, this means you should probably eat less or cook different things now and then, but if you’re going to have waffles for breakfast, you may as well have damn good waffles for breakfast, yes?

I give you, Damn Good Waffles:

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Red Velvet Cupcakes

January 30, 2010

Done!

Yesterday evening, Adam and I had plans to meet up with some friends that were thwarted by work. Adam had a bit of a crisis at his office meaning he had to stay late and potentially work over the weekend as well. I reluctantly cancelled our plans (the Neumans had even gotten a sitter! Sorry, guys!) and tried to come up with something I could do to make his evening a bit better, and to give a great big THANK YOU to his coworkers who had jumped in to help, staying as late as needed to get it done. The plan? Red Velvet Cupcakes. I know Adam loves them, and I’d never made them before… and luckily we had everything that was necessary to whip up a batch (ok, except for a bit of butter, but the corner store is less than a block away… and we were light on the food colouring, but that’s minor).

I grabbed a recipe from Epicurious that was courtesy of the Magnolia Bakery, so I figured it had to be good. The recipe for one batch was supposed to make 2 dozen cupcakes, but… I don’t need 2 dozen, and only have one pan, so I just made 1 dozen humungous cupcakes, and pitched a wee bit of the batter.

I will say that this probably wasn’t the wisest of recipe to make when I was in a great big hurry. I wanted to get them done and delivered to Adam’s office before they finished up (though, of course, I didn’t know when that would be), and it was a bit of a time consuming process. Especially the frosting, which involved cooking a bit of roux (is it still called roux when there isn’t any butter in this step?) and letting it cool before completing the recipe. The completed texture was just right though – and it was a really nice frosting. The only change next time? A wee bit more vanilla.

Ready to go into the oven

The verdict? The cupcakes were good, but didn’t have the rich cocoa flavour that I’d expected. The texture was great though, and they puffed up nicely. The frosting was probably the highlight, which was a really nice buttercream-esque topper, which was a nice difference from the usually overly-sweet icings I have with cupcakes. Overall, a very good recipe. Next time I won’t make them so huge, but I’d recommend the recipe on the whole.

The worst part of all of this? After all of that effort, I missed his coworkers by about 5 minutes. So, I may be sending cupcakes with Adam to work on Monday morning! Or, ya know, if anyone wants to come over and eat cupcakes this weekend, that’s cool too!

I made no changes to the recipe, so I’ll just post links here:

Red Velvet Cupcakes

Creamy Vanilla Frosting (I made a half batch)

Apple Walnut Muffins

January 24, 2010

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Can someone tell me why we didn’t buy Joy of Cooking before recently? It’s so chock full of great cooking tips, information on any and everything cooking related, and most importantly, awesome recipes.

This afternoon, we made our breakfast for the week, Apple Walnut Muffins. We couldn’t wait until tomorrow to try one, so we split one this evening. Oh my yum. We may have a tie for the perfect muffin.

The recipe (courtesy of Joy of Cooking):

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Slow Cooker Irish Beef Stew

January 24, 2010

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Since Cari has recently started eating meat again, we’ve slowly begun to incorporate meat into our home cooking.  This morning we purchased the ingredients to make an Irish Beef Stew, threw everything into the slow cooker and had a delicious meal waiting for us for dinner.

What makes the dish Irish?  A bottle of Guinness and a decent amount of potatoes.  There wasn’t really much else to the dish: onions, carrots, garlic, beef broth, a bit of tomato paste, and some stewing beef.  We purchased some Kerr Farms stewing beef at Fiesta Farms which seemed to work well.  The dish required very little effort and based on the quantity should be able to feed us dinners for most of the week.

Irish Beef Stew (from Allrecipes.com):

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Almond Cake with Cranberry Orange Sauce

January 17, 2010

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Have you noticed I seem to have a few favourite sources for my recipes? Bittman’s How To Cook Everything Vegetarian,  Smitten Kitchen, all things Moosewood… they all make their presence very known in my kitchen. The above is no exception.

Adam and I hosted a dinner for another couple last night, and while we’d already figured out our main meal (Chicken Parmesan, homemade spaghetti, and Casa salad), I didn’t have a dessert. But then I opened up Smitten Kitchen and the perfect dessert for our Italian-themed meal was right there: Almond Cake with a Cranberry Sauce. Oh yes. And it turns out, this last minute dessert decision was the highlight of our meal.

I tweaked the cranberry syrup with a bit of orange zest which gave it a bit of a nice citrus punch. I should mention that the cranberry syrup was not a sweet syrup. I was actually worried upon first taste that it wasn’t going to be very good, but it really was a perfect pairing with the almond cake. I puddled the syrup underneath the almond cake, then topped it with some fresh whipped cream (didn’t have time to make the suggested crème fraîche, which as it turns out is very easy to make and I’ll need to make soon!).

The cake was wonderfully moist and not too sweet, with a nice crunch of toasted slivered almonds on top. The amaretto was a really wonderful addition, which provided a hint of something special. Highly, highly recommended. Oh and did I mention that it’s a very very pretty cake? I guess anything with a dusting of Confectioners’ sugar looks pretty.

I didn’t tweak the recipes at all, so rather than just re-post her recipes, I’m simply going to link to them here with a great big recommendation from me. Go make this cake. Soon!

Almond Cake Recipe

Cranberry Sauce Recipe

Hot, Sweet, and Sour Chickpeas with Eggplant

January 14, 2010

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Quick. Easy. Healthy. Cheap. Tasty. It’s rare that all five of those descriptors find their way into one meal, and I’m happy to report that this one does the trick. It does require a few unique ingredients, but we had most of them on hand already – so, yay!

This will definitely be a regular recipe for us on weeknights. So many great things about it! It really does have a nice spice, a bit of sweetness (maybe a bit too much – next time I might reduce the sugar a wee bit), and the sourness is a really nice touch. A truly great blend of flavours for an interesting dish worth making again.

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Homemade Fresh Cheese

January 14, 2010

Homemade Cheese

Remember back when I said that we would post more details of our New Year’s Eve dinner later? I figured now that we’re halfway through January, it was time to actually post about something from that dinner, so here we go…

One of the potentially more ambitious things we decided to do for this dinner was to make our own cheese. It wasn’t something we’d really considered before stumbling upon the instructions in our Bittman cookbook How To Cook Everything Vegetarian, but as soon as we saw it, we knew we wanted to try it. He made it look so easy! And ya know what? It really was. It’s something I’ll definitely do again, though with a few tweaks. Here’s the process:

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Beet & Walnut Salad

January 6, 2010

Beet & Walnut Salad

Same meal as the Butternut Squash Frittata, but I felt it deserved it’s own post. Very, very simple salad but full of flavour and no oil whatsoever, so definitely deserves it’s own post, right? Right. This recipe is courtesy of a brand new cookbook we just received from my new Armenian sister-in-law: Simply Armenian, which includes lots of recipes we hope to try soon.

Recipe:

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Butternut Frittata

January 6, 2010

If you hadn’t noticed, Adam and I tend to cook from the same cookbooks over and over again. You’d think we only owned 2 or 3. But really, we have two shelves in our kitchen dedicated cookbooks, many of which we rarely crack open.

This week, however, we have vowed to try a few new recipes. And as a result, today we found something new we’ll definitely make again: A Butternut Squash Frittata. A pretty simple dish without too many ingredients, but it packed a real flavour punch, and though it took over an hour to make, it was mostly hands off and very easy.

Squash Frittata

Recipe:

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New Year’s Eve: The Plan vs Reality

January 1, 2010

Yay for 2010! Gin & Tonics started our last evening of 2009

For the last few years, Adam and I have hosted New Year’s Eve parties with friends. Always a great time, and it really is nice to ring in the new year with good friends. And if you hadn’t noticed, we generally do enjoy hosting gatherings at our house. We’ve got the space, we love to cook, and we’ve got great friends that we enjoy hanging out with – so why not? Well, as great as the last few Dec 31st parties have been, this year we weren’t really up for a big party. We wanted something super low key – with just the two of us.

We considered other options, but it kept coming back to what we really wanted: A fancy meal. Some champagne. Snuggling on the couch. Just us. So that’s just what we did, and it was wonderful.

Seeing as we weren’t going to be hosting a big party and were saving some money there, we decided to splurge and make this meal like no other – full of indulgent food and things we ordinarily wouldn’t touch. We got ourselves a nice mini bottle of Veuve Clicquot Champagne, bottle of good truffle oil, a few black truffles, some sushi-grade ahi-tuna, and generally didn’t hold back on anything. We came up with the following plan for the day: (more…)