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Friday, January 30, 2009

Cranberry Buttermilk Loaf

Today is my day off and I have a list of things to do, but do not feel like doing any of them. Perhaps the weather is getting the best of me. I would rather sit at home curled up and read a book and if you know me that is not my norm, as staying still for too long drives me crazy. I will try and put some energy into cooking this afternoon as I need to make some dishes for a BBQ and for Superbowl, as well as have some African inspired dishes I'd like to try making soon. I started this mo rning by making a cranberry buttermilk loaf, which is a nice change from banana loaf. The buttermilk keeps it moist and light, and the cranberries provide a nice tart flavor. You could add almonds if desired to give it a crunch texture or even add ground up flaxseed. It is delicious with my morning coffee.

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp cardamom
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup buttermilk
2 T melted butter
1 egg
1 cup fresh/frozen cranberries whole

Mix together flour, baking soda, powder, salt and spices. In a seperate bowl whisk together the sugars, buttermilk, butter, vanilla and egg. Gradually add the dry ingredients to the wet and add cranberries after that.

Spoon (too thick to pour) into greased loaf pan and bake in a preheated oven at 375 for 50-60 minutes.

Caught red handed!

Delicious Loafs

Lemon Poppy Seed Loaf
Banana Nut Loaf

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Vegetable Curry

A few posts ago I mentioned that I had made a few dishes for the freezer so that I would have dinner prepared after work, and not have to decide on what to make. One of the dishes was this delicious crockpot vegetable curry I found at Karina's Kitchen.

The photo did not turn out well despite trying different settings, my flourescent kitchen lights and the dark winters have not been kind to photography. I have had some success with the Manual settings and using high ISO with some photos. But for some reason this particular dish was bent on being camera shy. Regardless, the dish itself tasted really nice, none of the flavors were over powering making for a really well balanced dish. Next time I would add more raisins as I loved the texture and flavor they provided.

Add to crockpot the following ingredients:

2 T olive oil
5-6 cloves garlic, minced
1 red onion, diced
2-3 tsps red curry powder,
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp fennel seed
2 stalks of celery, chopped
2 large carrots, peeled, sliced or chopped
1 large potato, diced
2 apples, cored, peeled and chopped
1/4 cup raisins
1 19-oz. can chick peas, rinsed and drained
3 cups vegan broth

After 6 hours add the following:

1 cup light coconut milk
salt and black pepper, to taste
A squeeze of fresh lime
Chopped fresh cilantro, to taste

Pour the oil in the bottom of the Crock Pot or slow cooker. Add the garlic, onion and spices. Stir to coat. Add the rest of the ingredients in the first list. Stir briefly to combine. Cover and cook on low heat for six hours or until the vegetables and potato are tender. I stirred the curry once during the afternoon to make sure all the veggies were moist and mingled.

Before serving, add in the coconut milk, a touch of agave, seasoning and lime or rice vinegar. Add some chopped cilantro. Cover and heat through an additional 15 minutes or so. Serve over rice or couscou sor with chapati or naan bread.

Other Recipes

Chicken Roti

Monday, January 26, 2009

Carrot Cake & 1st Birthdays

Carrot Cake Decorated with Truck, Cookies for Dirt, Cookies for Logs, and a Pond which later became a watering hole for a Mini Chefs Alligator.

Happy Birthday Sam! My youngest nephew turned ONE on the weekend. To celebrate he had some of his friends over to play. I was pleased as an Aunt to help mom out and make his first birthday cake, a yummy carrot cake, at the request of mom. Carrot cake is one of my favorite cakes and I would take it over chocolate or vanilla any day. I like mine packed with ingredients so I added raisins, coconut and crushed pineapple, but omitted the nuts for the little tykes that were not yet allowed to eat them. My sister had a great idea to make it a "dirt" cake. She iced the cake with vanilla icing and crumbled oreo cookies on top for dirt then placed a bulldozer on the cake to look like they were picking up the dirt. She also had cookies for logs and a small pond. It was very cute and fitting for a boy.

1 1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1 3/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
3 large eggs
1 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup buttermilk (1%)
2 cups shredded carrots
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 x 8oz can well drained crushed pineapple
1 cup sweetened shredded coconut
1 cup raisins (plump up by pouring boiling water over them and let sit for 15 min, drain)

In a large mixing bowl add all the dry ingredients and mix. Add eggs, oil, buttermilk, vanilla and beat until blended. Add in pineapple, coconut, and raisins.

Pour into greased 13x9x2 inche baking pan. Bake at 350 F for 50-60 minutes. Place cake on a cooling rack to cool. Frost when completely cool. Decorate as desired.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Rustic Apple-Cranberry & Rosemary Galette

Galette is a rustic french form pastry filled with fruits and baked. I usually see an abundance of these in magazines around summer and fall, and am always captivated by the sophisticated yet simplicity of these rustic tarts. As I prefer savoury over sweet most of the time, I have desired to make a rustic tomato and goat cheese or an onion and mushroom galette. But when asked to make a dessert for dinner I was more than happy to be able to try a sweet galette.

As it is winter I went with a classic apple and cranberry filling. I used simple cinnamon and sugar for spices. Next time I think I will add more flavor by adding ginger, coriander, nutmeg and cinnamon into the fruit filling. Although I did try to incorporate a bit of my love of savoury flavor into the dessert by adding fresh rosemary. Using herbs with fruit in desserts when paired correctly can provide a well balanced flavor.

The pastry crust recipe is adapted from LCBO Food & Drink magazine. I used this recipe because it added cream cheese to the pastry mix. I find cream cheese dough has a nice flavor, is easy to work with and usually produces a nice moist, yet firm crust.


1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup unsalted butter, cut in 1-inch pieces
1/2 cup cream cheese, cut in 1-inch pieces
1 tsp grated lemon rind
2 tbsp lemon juice
water as needed

Combine all ingredients except water in a food processor. Remove ingredients from food processor into a large bowl. Knead dough together with hands. Add a bit of water as needed (not too much or will be sticky) until ball of dough forms. Let sit covered for 30 mins.

On a lightly floured surface roll out the dough in to make approximately a 14" imperfect circle. Then lightly trace a circle in the middle of the dough where the fruit will be pilled. Depending if you want the fruit to be exposed or completely covered will depend on how big your fruit circle will be.


4 granny smith apples, peeled, cored and sliced
1/2 cup or more of fresh cranberries
1 T fresh minced rosemary
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp sugar

Place apples in bowl, spinkle with cinnamon, sugar and rosemary. Toss until well coated. Now arrange apples around inner circle of dough. Add in cranberries where desired.

Fold pastry up over fruit and press down lightly. Brush pastry with egg wash (egg white slightly beaten) and sprinkly lighting with sugar.

Bake in a preheated oven for 10 minutes at 450F. Reduce heat to 350 and bake for another 30 minutes.

Serve with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and garnish with rosemary.

If you do not want the pastry to cover all the fruit you could make the inner circle of fruit larger and would likely need more apples and cranberries. Can also add pears or any seasonal fruit.

Herbs and Fruit Pairings:
Rosemary with apples or roasted peaches and honey
Lavender with berries (strawberries, blackberries), lemon
Thyme with lemon, figs, strawberries, plums, apples

Monday, January 19, 2009

Lentil Vegetable Soup

For Christmas I was fortunate to get a lot of nice new cooking items, from prep bowls, knives, silicon baking pans, cookie racks, subscription to Bon Appetit to mention a few. I also recently purchased Ina Garten' s (Barefoot Contessa's) cookbook. I have been excited to start using all these new items. The prep bowls are really handy as I can cut all the ingredients up and measured everything out in advance, so that when I am cooking, things are ready immediately and I am not scrambling to chop something up or find a spice. This makes cooking simpler and makes for an easier clean up.

What better time to cook then on a Sunday morning or afternoon. So before heading to a friends for dinner, cards and Sunday night football I made a couple dishes. The inspiration for most of my posts this week come from a recent outing to an Indian restaurant. Although most of the group I was with decided to try the Indian Buffet, which looked and smelled fantastic, I opted for something lighter. Instead I had a delicious bowl of Dhaal "Indian yellow lentil soup" with some amazing warm and fresh Naan bread. The soup had a great cumin flavor.

I decided that I wanted to make a few Indian style dishes. Although I did not make Dhaal, I did decide on making a lentil soup. Much of the foods eaten in India are vegetarian based, and lentils are very much a staple, providing a great source of fibre, iron, folate and protein. I adapted a recipe from Barefoot Contessa. The soup is so hearty it could easily be served as a stew over rice or with some crusty fresh bread. It made so much that I am pretty sure I will be eating soup for lunch at least for the next 2 weeks.

1 T olive oil
1 lbs green lentils (about 2 3/8 cups)
4 cups yellow onions, chopped
2 cups leeks, white parts, chopped about 3 large leeks
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 tsp cumin
1 tsp caraway seeds
1/4 tsp cayenne
2 cups large carrtos, large diced
2 cups celery, large diced
12 cups chicken stock
19 oz can diced tomatoes
1/4 cup tomato paste
salt and pepper

In a large bowl cover lentils with boiling hot water and let sit for 15 min. Drain.

In a large pot add the oil, onions, leeks, cumin, salt, pepper, garlic, caraway seeds and cayenne. Sautee over medium heat for 20 mins, until veggies are translucent.

Add carrots and celery and cook for another 10 minutes.

Add stock, paste, diced tomatoes and lentils. Bring to a boil then reduce heat and simmer with lid off for 60 minutes.

Lentil soup gets very thick, so add more chicken stock as desired.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Roasted Red Pepper & Tomato Pasta with Sausage

Well I wish I had an exciting story to tell as to why have not been blogging, but I've got nothing. I have still been cooking up a storm and the past weekend I decided to make a few dishes for the freezer to have on hand. I will get around to posting these delicious dishes in the next week. Considering the past week has been freezing (today is -35C with the windchill), I made dishes that would warm my chilled bones. I trust this comfort food - pasta- will warm anyone up, especially if you add extra chili flakes.

Roasted Red Pepper-Tomato Sauce

1 cup jarred roasted red peppers
1/2 cup lightly packed fresh basil leaves
10-12 black olives
2-3 large cloves garlic
1 T parmesan cheese
4 roma tomatoes
1/4 tsp red chili flakes
salt and pepper to taste

Place all ingredients in a food processor and process until smooth. Set aside.

Additional Ingredient

4 hot turkey sausages (whole)
1 zuchinni, chopped
1 small onion, diced
1 cup mushrooms, sliced (cremini or button)
1/2 cup red wine

In a large non-stick saucepan heat 1 T olive oil over medium heat. Cook the sausages whole over low-med heat (this way they retain all their juices). Once cooked set aside. When cool enough slice into 1/2" slices.

In the same sauce pan add 1/2 cup red wine to deglaze scraping up all the brown bits. Add diced onion and cook for 5 min. Then add zucchini, mushrooms and sautee for 5 min.

Add sliced sausage and tomato sauce to pan/pot. Heat over medium heat until desired thickness. Serve over whole wheat penne and sprinkle with parmesan cheese.

Makes about 4 servings.


Saturday, January 10, 2009

Pomegranate & Champagne = Pamosas

If cottage life has taught me anything it is that mamosas are a good way to start the day off right. They help get the cobwebs out from the night before and let you ease back into the day of lying on the dock. My good friends have been kind enough to invite us to their cottage over the summer and we are always impressed when we seem to polish off a few magnums of champagne and oj.

Over the December holidays I decided to try a lighter version of the traditional mamosa (oj and champagne). Using pomegranate juice was so much lighter and had a great flavor. This is a nice elegant drink to serve, much more than say cottage pint glasses of champagne and oj.

Add a few pomegranate seeds to a flute of champagne
add 1/2 champagne
add splash of more of pomegranate juice (as desired)