Creating a meal for someone special is not only defined by the recipe you choose or the ingredients you select, but also the time you put in to preparing that meal.
I wanted to make something delicious for my special guy but didn't want it to just taste good, I wanted the time and preparation to be a reflection of how much I appreciate and love him.
I decided on something I knew was sure to satisfy his manly appetite and his sexy taste buds - goat cheese risotto. Hearty, flavourful, and as anyone who has made a risotto knows, requires a little more time and patience. However, don't let this discourage you, simply set aside a bit more prep time.
This is currently my favorite risotto recipe; goat cheese and sun-dried tomatoes compliment eachother so well in this amazing dish. If there is one thing I could change with this meal, it would be that I could fit more in my tummy. Alas, it's such a hearty meal, I get full too fast (sigh).
Oh ya, le boyfriend loved it too ;D
creamy goat cheese risotto (adapted from New Vegetarian Cuisine)
1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes
6 cups low-sodium vegetable stock
1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup chopped scallions
1 1/2 cups Arborio rice
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
2 ounces goat cheese
Bring the stock to a boil in a 2-quart saucepan; reduce the heat to low and keep at a low simmer.
In a large saucepan over medium heat, warm the oil. Add the scallions; cook, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes or until tender. Add the rice; stir until coated with oil.
Start adding the stock 1 tablespoon at a time. Allow each tablespoon to be absorbed before adding the next, but never allow the rice to become dry. When the stock has been half used, stir in the tomatoes, basil and pepper. Continue adding stock for another 12 to 15 minutes, or until the rice is creamy and the grains are firm but not hard (you might not need all the stock).
Remove the pan from the heat; stir in the goat cheese until melted.
Serve to someone you love...especially yourself!
Why, hello there handsome sandwich, so lovely to meet you. Even better to EAT you!
I love grilled cheese sandwiches. Lately, I've been buying grilled cheese and tomato sandwiches from the cafeteria at work when I forget, nay, am too lazy to prepare a lunch for myself. There is so much more to a grilled cheese sandwich than the name; so many opportunities to mix and match ingredients and create new flavours.
I had the inspiration to make a grilled cheese sandwich with sharp, old cheddar cheese, salty prosciutto and sweet Gala apple. To be honest, I was thinking about it and salivating my entire walk home from work one afternoon. I remember that walk like it was yesterday. It was torture.
This sandwich was certainly delicious, but I was wishing I'd added a little more sweet since the cheese and prosciutto were quite salty. The apple wasn't quite sweet enough on its own, he needed back-up. I often dip my grilled cheese in some (evil) ketchup, but this sandwich needed something more. So, instead of the ketchup I used my Mom's home-made cranberry chutney and man it was good! I think I'll try adding the chutney right into the sandwich on my next grilled cheese adventure.
Another combination that I adore is blue cheese and pear and I have an amazing recipe for a grilled blue cheese and pear sandwich with port reduction. But I'm saving that one for a later date. Suspense people!
prosciutto, gala, old cheddar grilled cheese sandwich
ingredients: (personalize the amounts to your taste)
2 slices bread (any type you like)
thin slices of Prosciutto
thin slices of Gala Apple
slices of aged cheddar cheese
Heat a fry pan on medium heat. Butter one side of each piece of bread and layer the prosciutto, apple and cheddar cheese. Add to fry pan, butter side out and fry until bread is golden and crispy and cheese is melted.
*Try adding chutney, honey mustard or apple butter to add a little more sweet to the sandwich.
These are the easiest biscuits I have ever made. These are the most delicious biscuits I have ever tasted. These little guys are so simple and tasty I can't think of much else to write about!
The only thing I would change next time I make these would be to shape the dough into a circle rather than a rectangle, as it instructs in the recipe, so they turn out looking like the more traditional biscuits I know.
I also should have spaced them a little further apart, but I'm not superficial, they were beautiful in my eyes.
Make this recipe your own by adding ingredients like cheddar cheese or dried fruit or anything else that inspires you!
cream biscuits (courtesy of The Kitchn)
2 cups spelt flour
2 1/2 tsp sugar
2 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp kosher salt
1 1/2 cups heavy cream (divided)
Preheat over to 425F and place a layer of parchment paper across the bottom and up the sides of an 8"x8" pan.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients until combined. Stir in all but 1/4 cup of the cream. Dump onto a floured work surface and add the remainging cream to the dry bit left in the bowl. Scrape out and add to dough already on the work surface. Knead briefly (30 seconds) until the dough comes together.
Shape dough into a long rectangle and cut in half length-wise; then cut each piece into four pieces horizontally. Place the biscuits in the pan, leaving a little space in between each so they have room to grow. Bake for 15-18 minutes until golden.
These cookies are all about world peace, man.
About a month ago my eyes were opened to the horrors of the chocolate industry. I'm sure there are many people who are unaware that slavery still exists, sadly it does, and the chocolate industry is one area where it is rampant. If anything could make it more disturbing, it's that these slave's are typically children. Now I don't want to go on a rant here, so I strongly encourage you to do your own investigation, but I want to stir your emotions with this: up to 40% of the chocolate we buy and eat comes from cocoa plantations that use slavery as means to cut costs, or simply because the farmers are so impoverished they are unable to pay for workers. This really hit a nerve with me and I realized that even though I try to eat as healthy and organically as I can, even being mindful of where that food comes from, I was missing a huge element; the "who" that is inevitably involved in the production of food.
So I've made a choice to only buy fair trade, organic chocolate from now on. This seemed like an easy decision at first, but if you're someone that loves chocolate and loves to bake with it, this can be a challenge. You have to look a little harder for fair trade chocolate; a brand I like is Camino. Not every store carries it, but health food stores are a good place to look. Fair trade chocolate is much more expensive than the regular stuff. In reality it's more reasonably priced because the farmers receive a better salary, allowing them to support their families and pay for workers rather than resorting to forced labour. Furthermore, there was a time when chocolate was a luxury, I mean it's certainly not domestic to Canada, and I've gained the mindset that I need to treat it that way in my life. A big change from the mindset of "it's my right to eat these peanut butter cups!".
So my encouragement to you is this: remember the who in the food you eat.
I came across Sante's Hermit Cookies and could not resist the urge to bake these beautiful darlings immediately! Of course, I wanted to put my own spin on them. I used spelt flour, replaced the allspice with freshly grated nutmeg and added dried apricots and dark chocolate pieces in place of the currents. Kept the walnuts in there, cause, well I wanted them all to be friends. And the name, Hipster Hermit Cookies, just felt right.
These turned out awesome, and I will be using this recipe whenever I'm urning for a little something more that the usual chocolate chip cookie.
Thank you 101 Cookbooks for the inspiration!
hipster hermit cookies
1 1/2 cups organic spelt flour
2 tsp aluminum-free baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg (a little less if you prefer, the fresh stuff can be pretty potent)
1/2 cup unsalted butter
3/4 cup sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
3/4 cup dried apricots
1 cup walnuts
1/2 cup fair trade dark chocolate, chopped
1/4 cup milk
Preheat oven to 350F.
Sift the flour, baking powder, salt, cloves, cinnamon, and nutmeg into a medium bowl and set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer (or by hand), cream together the butter and sugar. Add the egg and vanilla. Blend well, scraping down the side of the bowl a few times along the way. Add the apricots, chocolate and walnuts. Add the dry ingredients in three batches, alternating with the milk. Cover and chill for one hour.
Drop the cookie dough (one level tablespoon at a time) onto ungreased cookie sheets, leaving an inch or so between cookies. Dampen your fingers with a bit of water and gently flatten the dough. Bake for 12 -15 minutes or until the bottoms of the cookies are deeply golden. Cool on a wire rack.
Ahhh weekend breakfast - my fave!
Pancakes are my staple weekend breakfast. They have the ability to wake me up in the most wonderful mood and cause me to joyfully leap out of bed and run straight to the kitchen to whip up a batch! I don't think there is any chance of me getting sick of pancakes, especially with all the different variations one can create. This Saturday it was, however, time for change.
I've never found the name of this recipe very appealing. Egg Pie. Sounds like prison food. I have no idea where this recipe originated from and I've never seen anyone else make this other than my family, growing up. I have an inkling that this is a pretty old fashioned, nay, vintage recipe. It's a shame it isn't more popular because it really is quite tasty and requires only three ingredients to prepare. Serve with some hearty toast, fresh fruit, and this is one stylishly retro meal!
The Egg Pie looks almost like a souffle when you first take it out of the oven; it's really quite elegant. I drizzled some lemon juice, sprinkled a little sugar on top and served with homemade jam, but there are few other variations you can also try.
Note: I tend to get a little greedy with the jam.
3 eggs, beaten until fluffy
1/2 c. milk (I used soy)
1/2 c. flour
Preheat oven to 400F.
Mix eggs, milk and flour together until smooth. Pour into a small oven proof fry pan (I don't have one of these so I use a cake pan) and bake for 20 minutes. Remove from oven and sprinkle with icing sugar, or drizzle with melted butter, lemon juice and sugar. My personal preference is lemon juice, sugar and a generous spoonful of jam.
I hope you're having a lovely Wednesday!
It was my Mom's birthday yesterday and to celebrate, my sister, Ann, organized a tea party!
Alas, there was no Mad Hatter, but she created an amazing menu with a variety of little tea sandwiches: devilled egg, cucumber with garlic butter, almond chicken salad, seafood, and (my favorite of the evening) pineapple cream cheese - a brilliant collection to say the least.
Tea parties are fabulous for any occasion. Tea is such a wonderful thing, it really embodies an energy of comfort and contentment. Add to that some lovely little sandwiches, a few sweets, cool comrades and you've got yourself one chillin' little tea party! There are all sorts of groovy ideas on the Internet for hosting a tea party; one thing I really loved about Ann's tea was she had collected all sorts of quotes about tea, all totally random, wrote them on little bits of paper and scattered them over the table. This alone created mass amounts of entertainment for everyone.
My contribution to the evening was Spiced Chai Latte Cupcakes with Cinnamon Swiss Meringue Frosting. These turned out incredibly, the flavour was like no cupcake I'd consumed before. The spices in the cake blended beautifully; the frosting had only a bit of vanilla and cinnamon for flavouring, but really pulled the whole cupcake together. My taste buds sang and proceeded to dance with one another. It was magical.
The only downer I encountered was with my very first attempt at piping icing, which turned out horribly. Piping FAIL. Using a plastic bag, like a zip lock bag, and cutting a small hole in one of the corners will work if you don't have an actual piping bag. However, this approach proved unsuccessful. I ended up just smoothing out the awkward globs on each cupcake with a spatula. And then decorated them accordingly.
Note to self: must invest in a proper piping bag.
I found this recipe here at Love and Olive Oil, which has a huge variety of cupcake recipes, amongst other tasties, so do explore! Oh and take note, the cupcakes (not the icing) are vegan-friendly!
Spiced Chai Latte Cupcakes with Cinnamon Swiss Meringue Frosting
makes 12 cupcakes
1 c. soy milk
4 black tea bags or 2 Tbsp loose leaf black tea
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
1 1/4 c. all-purpose flour
2 Tbsp cornstarch
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground cardamom
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/3 c. sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
for the frosting
1/2 c. sugar
2 large egg whites
3/4 c. unsalted butter, room temperature
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
Preheat oven to 350F.
Heat soy milk in a small saucepan until almost boiling. Remove from heat and add tea bags. Allow to steep for 10 minutes, then remove teabags, squeezing out as much soy milk as possible. Re-measure and add more soy milk to make exactly 1 cup. Whisk in cider vinegar, and set aside until curdled.
In a large bowl, sift together the flour, cornstarch, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and spices. Pour in soy milk mixture, along with oil, sugar, and vanilla and stir just until no large lumps remain.
Fill cupcake liners with 1/4 cup of batter (liners should be 2/3 full) and bake for 20-22 minutes or until puffed and golden - be sure not to over-bake. Transfer to a cooling rack and allow to cool completely before frosting.
Put the sugar and egg whites in a large heatproof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water and whisk constantly, keeping mixture over the heat, until it feels hot to the touch, about 3 minutes. The sugar should be dissolved, and the mixture will look like marshmallow cream.
Pour the mixture into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment and beat on medium speed until it cools and forms a thick and shiny meringue, about 5 minutes. Switch to the paddle attachment and add the butter, one tablespoon at a time, beating until smooth. Once all the batter is in, beat the butter cream on medium-high speed until it is thick and very smooth, 6 - 10 minutes. Add the vanilla and cinnamon and whip for another 30 seconds until incorporated. Spread or pipe on cooled cupcakes.
Bread seems to have become a trend lately. A trend that I am more than willing to follow. No-knead breads have become especially popular and rightly so! How awesome is it that with little effort we can supply ourselves with fresh, wholesome, home-baked bread?! No fillers or preservatives and no lack of taste!
Now I can't stress enough how delicious this bread is. To put it in perspective for you, I could sit down with one of these loaves, a pound of butter, and eat. All of it. Fortunately for my thighs I'm stronger than that; at least that's what I have to keep repeating to myself as I stare down lustfully at a freshly baked loaf. It's also worth mentioning that it requires little effort to prepare, especially if you buy the sesame seeds roasted.
Spelt flour is a great alternative to wheat flour - which I rarely allow into my apartment, unless I'm feeling devilish. It's an ancient grain which can be substituted in many recipes that call for white or whole wheat flour and, although like wheat flour it contains gluten, it is much easier for the body to digest and many people with allergies to wheat can digest spelt.
I've read in a few places that you don't need to use as much liquid when substituting spelt flour for wheat flour because it's more soluble, but I've experienced the contrary and usually add a little more liquid as the finished product can be a bit on the dry side if I don't.
Now get yourself a nice big bag of organic spelt flour and start experimenting with recipes you would normally use white flour. Your tummy will thank you for it!
This recipe originally yielded one loaf, but the size of loaf pan it called for was very unusual. So with some mathematical assistance from Mom, we adjusted the ingredients in order to get two loaves, using two good ol' everyday loaf pans.
One last thing to point out, if you haven't worked with no knead breads, the consistency of the "dough" is not really dough-like at all. It's more like a thick batter. So don't freak when you end up with a mixing bowl full of goop cause everything is goooood!
Whole Spelt Bread
6 c. organic spelt flour
3/4 c. sunflower seeds
3/4 c. pumpkin seeds
3/4 c. flax seeds
3/8 c. roasted sesame seeds (if math isn't your forte like me, that's 1/4 c. plus half of another 1/4 c.)
3/4 c. warm water for dissolving yeast
3 c. water
3 3/4 Tbsp vinegar
1 1/2 Tbsp salt
3/4 tsp salt
3 packages dry yeast (or 6 3/4 tsp)
Roast sesame seeds and set aside.
Grease two loaf pans.
Dissolve yeast in 3/4 cup warm water.
Sift flour into a large mixing bowl. Add all other ingredients and mix until a smooth dough is formed. Pour dough into loaf pans and let rise for about an hour. The dough should rise noticably in that time.
Meanwhile, preheat oven to 480F. Bake for 15 minutes.
Reduce heat to 380F and bake for another 45 minutes. Take bread out of the oven and remove from the pans. Bread should easily come out of the pan, if not, bake a little longer (I use a knife around the edges to loosen and it comes out pretty easily). Put bread back in the oven and bake for an additional 15 - 30 minutes, checking frequently. I take mine out as soon as the 15 minutes is up. When you thump on the bread and it sounds hollow, your bread is done.
Remove bread from the oven, cool and enjoy!