Thursday, 27 March 2014

Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls with Cream Cheese Frosting

This winter has a firm hold on us, eh? It's almost April and we have yet to have more than a few days where it's above zero- here in London, we keep going from almost-spring weather back to -10 highs. I'm tired of it! Give me the warmth- I'd take anything above 0.


Sometimes it's hard to get out of bed when it's grey and cold outside. But, having some warm, delicious cinnamon rolls made by your awesome friend sure help matters. Sarah made these rolls last year (they were devoured) and had promised to make them again this winter. I was more than excited to not only help myself to her baking, but also to show off her work here! She ended up making two batches, the first of regular sized buns, then a second with little mini ones (which are adorable). Whatever the size, these buns are beyond amazing, especially when warmed up in the microwave.

Also! The addition of pumpkin makes these rolls about as healthy as you can get them without deviating too far from the comforting dessert that this season makes us crave. Because of the pumpkin, very little butter is used in the recipe. Which means you can eat 2 big buns and not feel guilty. Or so I believe.

Sarah made these rolls with the traditional cinnamon/sugar filling, but really you could put anything in there. It actually could be quite good with a mozzarella/sage filling if you want to go savoury. I'm imagining how that would taste now- maybe I should get Sarah to make just one more batch...

However you do it, next time you're looking for a decadent treat that tastes like a warm hug feels, try out this recipe! You won't regret it.


Sarah's Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls
Makes 24 big rolls, 50 small rolls (depending on how small you go)

Ingredients
Rolls:
• 1/4 cup warm water
• 2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
• 3/4 cup evaporated milk
• 3/4 cup granulated sugar
• 2 cups pumpkin
• 3 tablespoons butter (melted)
• 1 egg, slightly beaten
• 2 teaspoons cinnamon
• 6-8 cups all-purpose flour

Filling:
• 1/3 cup butter (melted)
• 3/4 cup brown sugar
• 1/2 cup granulated sugar
• 1 1/2 tablespoons cinnamon

Frosting:
• 2/3 cup cream cheese (softened)
• 1/2 cup butter (softened)
• 2 cups powdered sugar

Directions
1. Combine water and yeast in a large bowl. Add a pinch of salt. Allow to stand until the yeast starts to bubble (5 to 10 minutes). Stir in the evaporated milk, sugar, pumpkin, melted butter, egg and cinnamon. Add in 4 cups of the flour and stir to combine. Continue adding the flour (1/4 cup at a time) until the dough comes together and pulls away from the side of the bowl. Knead the dough until smooth and elastic (5 to 8 minutes).

2. Form the dough into a ball and place in a greased bowl. Cover and let rise until about doubled (about 1 1/2 hours).

3. In a small bowl, melt the butter. In another bowl, combine the brown sugar, granulated sugar, and cinnamon. Grease two 9” x 13” baking dishes with butter (or non-stick cooking spray).

4. Punch the dough down, then divide into 2 equal portions. Working with one portion at a time, roll the dough out on a floured surface to about a 12” x 16” rectangle. Spread half of the butter on the dough, and sprinkle half of the filling mixture on top. Starting at the long side, roll the dough into a log. Cut the log into equal slices. Transfer the slices to the baking dish. Repeat with the remaining ingredients.

5. Lightly press the rolls down, then cover and allow to rise until almost doubled (about 45 minutes).

6. Preheat oven to 350°F. Bake the rolls until golden brown (about 30 minutes). Allow to cool.

7. To make the frosting, beat together the cream cheese and butter. Add in the powdered sugar and beat until light and creamy. Frost the rolls while still warm.

Monday, 3 March 2014

Cranberry Pistachio Salted Caramel Bars

I can't get over how fast 2014 is flying already. I know it's the year of the Horse, but how can it already be March???? Time flies when you actually have things to do I guess!

Apart from working, the fam and I just came back from Jamaica- which was awesome. So warm. It was a bit hard coming back, though. We got so used to just rolling out of bed in our pjs and walking outside. Back here in Canada, it takes at least 5 minutes to just get dressed to weather the cold!

But enough about me complaining of the weather. On to the food! Today I have an awesome recipe that I made back in December but haven't gotten around to posting until now. It's adapted from lcbo's food and drink and I gotta say, it's probably one of the best things I've baked in a while! Shortbread base with a hint of oats, pistachios and cranberries that basically sing Christmas, and just enough decadent salted caramel to bring it all together. I seriously cannot sing enough praise about this bar. I had to exercise all my restraint not to just sit down and eat the whole batch. This one is definitely going to go on the yearly Christmas Goody List. Props, LCBO!


The only change I made was I used ground oats instead of wheat germ, since I didn't have any at the time (read: I forgot to get it at Bulk Barn). Other than that, the recipe can be found on LCBO's site here: Cranberry Pistachio Salted Caramel Bars. For those of you who haven't heard of LCBO's Food and Drink, check out their site! They have a bunch of amazing recipes.


Wednesday, 13 November 2013

Showdown Chili

London officially has snow on the ground. We got about 10cm the other day, so not enough to result in any snow days, but enough to have it feeling a lot like Christmas. I wish it was December so I could start celebrating! Starbucks has its Christmas drinks and cups out as well, and I admit to already having a few peppermint mochas.

Though, the snow does make walking the dogs a bit more eventful. Since their hair is so curly, they often get back into the house with huge snow growths on their legs. Zoe gets them really bad and ends up waddling all the way home (which I find hilarious, but then I have to bundle her up in towels and blankets and cuddle her until she defrosts. Which isn't a hardship, really). Today, Sarah got their jackets out and, though I lean more towards big dogs and not dressing your pets up, I gotta say that they looked pretty damn cute.


And what's better to have after a walk on a cold, winter-ish day than a bowlful of chili? I love having a steaming bowl of hot goodness when it's cold outside- nostalgia and comfort and deliciousness. It's even better when your friend buys you a slow cooker for your birthday! So this was my chance not only to make a hot, scrumptious meal, but also to break in my new kitchen toy. The chili recipe I chose to make has been on my to-do list for ages. Has anyone tried recipes from Bite Me? I've done nearly every recipe in their book. I absolutely love it.


Now, as with most chili recipes, you can make it as hot or as mild as you want to. I went more on the mild side this time, as my friend is not a huge fan of so-hot-I-sweat food. However, it's as easy as adding a few more pinches of chili powder or a few more jalapeños if you want to make it hotter. I made my chili in my new, shiny slow cooker, but it'd be just as easy to simmer the stew in a pot over the stove for a good few hours on low heat. Either way, the result is a delicious, belly-warming chili that is bound to get you through the cold days.



Showdown Chili
Adapted from Bite Me
Serves 8 big bowls

Ingredients
• 1 medium red onion, chopped
• 1 tbsp chili powder
• 1 tsp dried oregano
• 1 tsp ground cumin
• 1/2 tsp each salt and pepper
• 1 red pepper, chopped
• 1 green pepper, chopped
• 2 cups sliced white mushrooms
• 1 medium carrot, peeled and chopped
• 2 garlic cloves, minced
• 1/2 can of pickled jalapeño peppers (depending on how spicy you want it)
• 1 can diced tomatoes with juice
• 1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
• 1 can of your favourite baked beans
• 1 3/4 cups canned chickpeas, rinsed and drained
• 1 1/2 cups canned red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
• 1 cup mild salsa
• 1 cup vegetable broth
• 1 tbsp cocoa powder
• 1 tsp packed brown sugar
• 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
• 1 cup canned cream style corn
• shredded mozzarella cheese for topping

Directions
Put everything into your slow cooker and cook on low for 3-4 hours, stirring every so often, until everything is stew-soft and awesome.

For stove top: in a large pot, heat 1 tbsp of olive oil over medium heat. Add onions, chili powder, oregano, cumin, salt and pepper. Cook until the onion is translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the peppers, mushrooms, carrots, garlic, and jalapeños. Cook, stirring, for 5 minutes. Stir in diced tomatoes and all the beans, salsa, vegetable broth, cocoa powder, brown sugar and cayenne. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to low. Cover and simmer for 40 minutes, stirring every so often. Add corn and serve in bowls with cheese.

Thursday, 19 September 2013

Curry Tuna Wraps

Happy Thursday everyone! Can you believe how fast September flew by? I feel like my roommates only just started school days ago, but it's already been two weeks. I graduated last June, so I'm the bum of the house; no job or school, just my medical school applications to do. But! I will be off to Europe in October soon. My friend and I are going to backpack through Italy, France and Spain for 3 weeks. It'll be awesome. I can't wait to try all of the food- pasta, pizza, bakeries, coffee. Ah, it's going to be great.

The weather is really weird here in Ontario. We go from fall weather back to summer humidity over 24 hours. Today it's going up to 30˚C! I don't know what to cook half the time- fall-warming soups or summery salads? I probably should enjoy the warm weather while it lasts, because before you know it that Canadian winter will hit. This week, though, I decided to make a tuna wrap from Chef Michael Smith's book Fast Flavours. Does anyone else absolutely love that man? I think I have all of his cookbooks. They're so great; delicious recipes and huge, colourful pictures. And they're nice and thick, so you get a lot for the price. For those of you who like buying cookbooks but balk at the price, try looking online. Here in Canada, Chapters.Indigo.ca often has cookbooks for half the price online as they do in store.


But more on the food. I was totally impressed with this wrap. I don't often do wraps, don't ask me why, but this one has definitely become one of my favourites. Not only is it extremely easy to buy for and make, it tastes amazing. The curry definitely brings another level to the filling (I tried it without and while it's still good, the curry makes it amazing). The avocado and tuna bring in a lot of good fats. Add some spinach in there and you have quite the healthy meal! I used Miracle Whip with Olive Oil for the wrap. Regular mayo will work fine, but that olive oil mayo is so very delicious that if you haven't tried it, you are definitely missing out! I really recommend this recipe for those who like simple, quick meals that look and taste elegant. Like many of Chef Michael Smith's recipes, this one is a definite must-try!


Curry Tuna Wraps
Adapted from: Chef Michael Smith Fast Flavours (110 Simple Speedy Recipes)
Makes 4 wraps


Ingredients
• 2 cans of your favourite tuna, drained
• 1/2 cup Mayonnaise with Olive Oil
• 2 tbsp green relish
• 1 tbsp curry powder
• 1 avocado, cut into chunks
• 1/2 red or green pepper, chopped
• 4 large whole wheat tortillas
• Salt and pepper to taste
• A few handfuls of fresh spinach

Directions
In a medium bowl, mix the tuna, mayonnaise, relish, curry powder, red or green pepper, and salt and pepper. Gently stir in the avocado to combine.

To assemble, lay out the tortillas. Divide the tuna salad among the wraps and top with a small handful of spinach (not too much or you won't be able to wrap it!). Roll each wrap up tightly, folding the sides in as you do. Cut in half and enjoy!

Thursday, 27 June 2013

Daring Bakers: Crostate

Phew, this summer has been boiling, hasn't it? Here in Ontario, this season took it's time arriving, giving us cool weather all through May and half of June. The second that summer officially hit, though, it was like someone kicked Mother Nature in the butt and suddenly it was 28 degrees (Celsius, mind) with a humidex of 36. Jesus. Bless air conditioning.

I've been a horrible foodie and neglecting my blog. I have no real excuse. But I promise to attempt to redeem myself and nurse my poor Phenomenom back to health this summer! We have a bunch of food festivals heading our way, so I should have plenty of inspiration.

Today, I come back to the online foodie world with a recipe from the Daring Bakers. Rachael from pizzarossa was our lovely June 2013 Daring Bakers’ host and she had us whipping up delicious pies in our kitchens! Cream pies, fruit pies, chocolate pies, even crack pies! There’s nothing like pie! :)


I chose fruit pie and went tropical with a mango jam filling. It's a little twist that worked amazingly. This pie is fruity, refreshing and perfect for a hot summer day (especially if you scoop on some coconut ice cream!). Try it out yourself- you can use any jam, nut paste or curd (ugh, I was tempted to go curd- a rhubarb curd would be awesome, don't you think?).

The recipe was adapted by our host Rachael from Carol Field's "The Italian Baker".


Italian Crostate with Mango Jam
Ingredients
Filling: You'll need about 2 cups of jam/curd/nut paste for this pie. Use more or less, depending on your own pie. You can make your own, demand a jar of your friend's homemade stuff or buy it. As long as you like how it tastes, go crazy! I used this recipe for mango jam from AllRecipes.com (I put in saffron and found it a bit overpowering, so next time I'll probably leave it out).

Italian Pie Pastry (Pasta Frolla)
•2/3 cup (160 ml) (150 gm) (5-1/3 oz) unsalted butter, room temperature
•1/3 cup (80 ml) (75 gm) (2-2/3 oz) sugar
•1 large egg, room temperature
•1 teaspoon (5 ml) vanilla extract
•grated zest of 1 medium lemon
•1-2/3 cups (400 ml) (225 gm) (8 oz) all-purpose (plain) flour
•pinch salt

Glaze
Note: This will make more than you need. Store leftover glaze in a jar in the fridge and reheat before using. It should keep indefinitely.
•1/4 cup (60 ml) (75 gm) (2-2/3 oz) apricot jam (or any jam, really. I used my mango jam)
•1-2 teaspoons (5-10 ml) freshly squeezed lemon juice

Directions
Pastry
1. Using a paddle attachment on a stand mixer or an electric hand mixer or whisk, cream the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy, 2-5 minutes. The amount of time you cream the butter will affect the final dough - longer means lighter which in turn means a softer, more fragile dough which is less easy to work, but I prefer the texture of the cooked pastry this way because it's lighter too. If you want to do a more intricate lattice, I'd recommend a shorter creaming time so you have a firmer dough.
2. Add the egg, vanilla and lemon zest, one at a time, mixing thoroughly after each addition.
3. Add the flour and salt and mix until the dough comes together but remains soft, about 1 minute using a stand or electric mixer or a wooden spoon if mixing by hand. Don't over-mix.
4. Wrap dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes to one hour.
5. When getting ready to bake, rest dough at room temperature for about 30 minutes.
6. Lightly grease a shallow 9"/24cm metal pie dish.
7. On either a piece of parchment or a lightly floured surface, roll 2/3 of the dough (2/3 is about 12oz/340g) out to a circle to generously line the pie dish. You can use parchment with a circle traced on it so you can roll it as quickly as possible, before the dough gets too soft to handle, then use the parchment to transfer it to the dish.
8. Transfer the dough to the pie dish, press in gently and roll the edges to form a good surface for attaching the lattice later. Prick all over the bottom with a fork.
9. Refrigerate the dough-lined pie dish for 30 minutes to reduce shrinkage during baking.
10. Preheat oven to moderate 350°F/180°C/gas mark 4.
11. Line pastry with parchment and fill with dry beans or pie weights. Bake until set, around 15 minutes.
12. Remove the weights and parchment and allow to cool. If using a springform or loose based pie dish, remove the side of the pan.
13. Preheat oven to moderately hot 400°F/200°C/gas mark 6.
14. Roll the remaining dough to fit the pie dish and cut it into roughly half inch/1.5cm-wide strips (or cut it into shapes, like I did).
15. Spread the filling over the par-baked crust.
16. Arrange the strips of dough in a lattice over the filling (see links below for some how-to guides - you can do an intricate intertwined lattice or a very simple overlay one like I've done), trim as needed and lightly pinch the ends onto the rolled edge of the bottom crust.
17. Place pie dish on a baking sheet and place in center of oven. Bake until lattice is golden, around 20 minutes. Meanwhile, prepare the glaze.

Glaze
1. Heat the jam and water in a small saucepan over medium heat until mixture comes to a boil. Alternatively, you can heat it on medium-high in a bowl in the microwave for about 2 minutes, stirring halfway.
2. Strain through a fine mesh sieve if it's chunky.
3. While glaze and pie are both still warm, brush over lattice crust.
4. Allow pie to cool completely before serving.

Thursday, 17 January 2013

Guava Curd Bars

Oh man, nothing like the first post of the year. Full of expectations and hope! I got a new flash for my camera for Christmas, which I'm still trying to figure out. I have a bunch of photography tutorials saved on my Pinterest, but I never seem to find the time to spend a whole afternoon learning from it. Probably because I'm usually sick of learning anything by the time I have a free moment, haha.

Did everyone have a good holiday, though? It sure went by fast. Holy crap, it feels like November was just yesterday. I've now started my last semester of my undergrad. It's a bit daunting and unbelievable how fast these past four years flew.

But enough of my personal issues, let's talk about food! I made these jam curd bars over the Christmas holidays, just following a simple recipe for oatmeal bars and stuffing it with the goods. I never thought to combine jam and curd before, but I had leftover lime curd and guava jam so I thought: 'why not? They're both tropical!'.

I was pleasantly surprised with how they turned out! They're sweet, but balanced by the tanginess of the lime curd. I added coconut to the base and topping and it adds another tropical kick. I really enjoyed these. They make a good dessert or a power snack during the day. My mom's friend went bonkers for them- he absolutely loved it!


Guava Curd Bars
Yields 1 8x8" pan
Ingredients
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
1 egg
1/4 cup sugar (you can use brown, white or honey)
1 1/2 cups old fashioned oats
1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened coconut
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup guava jam (if you can't find guava, use your favourite jam! Marmalade would be nice in this too)
1/2 cup lemon or lime curd

Directions
Preheat oven to 350F. Grease a square 8x8" pan and set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, cream together butter and brown sugar. Once light and fluffy add the egg and 1/4 cup sugar until combined. Add in the oats, flour, baking soda, and salt until it's a big sticky mess.

Press 3/4 of the batter into the bottom of the prepared pan. Spread the curd and jam evenly over the base and crumble the rest of the batter over the top.

Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until lightly browned. Let cool completely before cutting. Enjoy!

Monday, 24 December 2012

Mexican Chocolate Bars

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and cheers! Can you believe it's already Christmas tomorrow? I feel like this month just flew by, though that could be because of studying, exams and essays. I don't know about you guys, but I'm more than ready for the holidays.


My mom and I have a tradition where we go to Toronto and see the Nutcracker at the National Ballet. We've been going for over 13 years now and every time we go have high tea (usually at the Royal York) before seeing the show. The only difference now is that mom and I return to our hotel room after and drink some wine! The show was great (once again) this year. Our Nutcracker was the same as last year and, man, he was even better. He could practically fly (and, phew, the legs (and ass) on him!).

What are some of your Christmas traditions?

These Mexican chocolate bars are adapted from a recipe found in the Holiday 2012 Food and Drink. They are absolutely delicious! Smooth, rich and with just enough spice to give you a kick that leaves you drooling for more. Decadence and spice- what more can you ask for in a Christmas treat?

My gluttony aside, I hope everyone has an amazing holiday, filled with good food, tasty drinks, and awesome company.


Mexican Chocolate Bars
Adapted from: Holiday 2012 Food and Drink
makes 32 squares

Ingredients
Crust
1 cup graham cracker crumbs
1/2 cup finely chopped toasted walnuts
1/8 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/8 cup dark hot chocolate powder
1 1/2 tbsp sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp grated orange rind
1 egg
1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted

Filling
1 1/2 cups whipping cream
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp allspice
1/2 tsp cloves
1 tsp chili flakes (feel free to put in less if you're sensitive to spice!)
1 cup bittersweet chocolate, chopped (I used chocolate chips)
1 egg, beaten

Topping
1/4 cup bittersweet chocolate
1 tbsp unsalted butter

Directions
Preheat oven to 350F. Line a 9-inch square pan with parchment paper. Set aside.

To make the crust, combine graham cracker crumbs, walnuts, cocoa powder, hot chocolate powder, sugar, salt and orange rind in a bowl. Add egg and melted butter and stir until combined. Put mix into the prepared pan and use your hands to press it down evenly. Bake for 10-15 minutes, or until the crust looks matte and is dry to the touch. Set aside.

To make filling, Pour whipping cream into a small heavy pot. Add cinnamon, allspice, cloves and chili flakes to the cream. Bring the mixture to just a boil over medium-low heat. Remove and let stand for about 20 minutes.

Heat oven to 325F. Place the 1 cup of chocolate into a bowl. Return the cream to medium heat and bring it to just a boil again. Immediately pour into the chocolate and let it stand 30 seconds, before stirring it until it's melted and smooth. Stir in the egg and pour the chocolate mix onto the prepared crust. Bake in the oven for 18-22 minutes or until set with a slight wiggle in the centre. Cool and chill for 30 minutes or until firm.

To make the topping, combine the chocolate and butter in a small heavy pot over low heat. Melt, stirring, until the chocolate and butter are smooth. Use an offset spatula to spread the chocolate in an even layer over the spiced filling. Chill for 30 minutes or until the topping has set. Pull up on the parchment paper to lift the bars from the pan and cut into small squares. Enjoy!