Citrus Salad

Citrus Salad

I’ve fallen out of the blogging beat lately. As I mentioned in my last post, long hours at the office have left me feeling drained. And uninspired. I kept trying to come up with a spectacular dish or dessert to share, but I was too tired to even think of anything. It eventually dawned on me that at times like this what I need to do is focus on simplicity.

And so I made myself this simple citrus salad. It’s perfect because 1) it’s really, really easy to make 2) it’s delicious and 3) the vitamin C will give me the boost I need to tackle more complex projects, like a sandwich.

Citrus Salad

Citrus Salad

  • 2 large oranges, sliced
  • 2 pink grapefruits, segmented (for a tutorial on segmenting check out this post at A Thought for Food
  • 2 tbsp orange juice
  • 2 tbsp wildflower honey
  • a handful of pistachios
  1. Mix the orange juice and honey together. Toss the orange slices and grapefruit segments with the pistachios and dress with the honey mixture.
Enjoy!

Felix & Norton Cakes (Review)

Have you ever been so busy at work that you become completely non functional at home? That’s what’s happened to me in the last few weeks; 10 to 12 hour work days (not including my long commute) have left me completely drained. So when Monsieur Felix and Mr. Norton showed up at my door with a new product for me to review I was more than happy to dig in.

Felix and Norton is a Montreal based company that has been enticing Canadians with decadent cookies since 1985. They pride themselves on using high quality ingredients and providing customers with products that lead to what can only be described as pure joy. I’m sure you know that I usually make my own desserts, but there are times when even the most avid baker needs a little help. And in those times, it’s good to know that there are options out there at a reasonable price that are made with high quality ingredients. Felix and Norton cookies have long been a favourite treat, so I was very excited to try their new cakes. Made with 100%, pure Belgian Chocolates and no preservatives the cakes are actually layers of Monsieur Felix and Mr Norton cookies filled with buttercream or whipped cream and chocolate chunks.

These decadent cakes come in two flavours: Ebony & Ivory and Ménage-a-Trois (shown above). Ebony & Ivory is made of three layers of chocolate cookie with layers of white chocolate butter cream and whipped cream. The Ménage-a-Trois is made of three layers of chocolate chunk cookies, and layers of milk and dark chocolate butterceam. I found the first bite of the Ebony & Ivory to be a little too sweet for my taste, but my palette must have adapted because soon I was gobbling the whole thing up.  My clear favourite was the Ménage-a-Trois, the combination of the dark and milk chocolate creams with chunks of white, milk and dark chocolate is just heavenly.

The cakes cost 14.99$ and serve 6. They are available at IGA’s across Quebec in the bakery section, along with Felix and Norton’s  line of “bake your own” cookies.

Disclosure: I was provided with these cakes in exchange for writing this post. All opinions are my own. 

Happy Friday

Happy Friday!

I hope you all had a great week. It’s been very busy for me, and I’m really glad the weekend is almost here. There is a snow storm coming, and I’m ready to cuddle up on the couch and relax.

I don’t have a recipe this week, but I do have  some really exciting news; I am going to Eat Write Retreat thanks to a sponsorship from Canadian Beef!  It’s an amazing opportunity and I am incredibly grateful. I can’t wait!

Tourtiere

Tourtiere

The people at Canadian Beef are once again offering a scholarship to Eat Write Retreatthis year. I tried to win one last year, but sadly the random selection gods were not smiling on me. I’m giving it another shot this year with an extra beefy recipe.

This recipe for Tourtiere, a French Canadian meat pie, is adapted from this recipe by Martin Picard. If you’ve ever seen The Wild Chef you know Martin is a little special, and if you’ve seen this episode of The Layover you know he takes Celine Dion very seriously. But to really appreciate Martin Picard, you need to eat at Au Pied de Cochon, his restaurant where traditional French Canadian meals are turned extraordinary (mostly through the addition of copious amounts of foie gras). I managed to get reservations to the PDC Cabane a Sucre for this season and to get myself ready I decided to try this recipe.

Tourtiere

The original recipe called for pork, but I swapped the pork shoulder for blade roast and the ground pork for beef. The results were very, very good. Using two kinds of beef creates a nice combination of textures, and the different cooking methods for each adds layers of flavour. This is not a recipe that can just be made on a whim, it’s really a two day affaire. I made the crust and the filling on Saturday, then assembled the pie on Sunday. I hope all the beefy goodness is enough for the random selection gods.

Rosewater Panna Cotta with Raspberry Gelée

Rosewater Panna Cotta with Raspberry Gelee

Life is all about attitude. Whether the glass is half full or empty can really shape your life. When it comes to Valentine’s Day I had two choices; I could mope about another year without a date or I could make and enjoy some pretty heart shaped desserts. I chose pretty heart shaped desserts.

Rosewater Panna Cotta with Raspberry Gelee

Panna cotta is one of my favourite desserts. It’s incredibly easy to make, and the variations are infinite. In honour of Valentine’s Day, I chose to add a little rosewater to the cream. And of course it needed a touch of red so raspberry jelly layer had to be added. The result is a perfect combination of creamy and fruity layers, with just a hint of something floral.

Raspberries

Whatever your plans for Valentine’s Day, I wish you lots of love a little something sweet!

Rosewater Panna Cotta with Raspberry Gelée
• 2 cups frozen raspberries
• 1/3 cup sugar
• 1 tsp gelatin
• ¼ cup cold water
• 2 cups cream or milk
• 2 tsp rosewater
• ½ cup sugar
• 2 tsp gelatin
• ½ cup cold water

1. Grease the molds with an unflavoured oil. In a medium bowl, sprinkle the 1 tsp gelatin over the ¼ cup water. Set aside. In a medium saucepan bring the raspberries and the 1/3 cup sugar to a boil, then simmer for 10 minutes to release the juices. Strain, and stir the raspberry juice into the gelatin until the gelatin has completely dissolved. Pour into molds and let set in the fridge for at least one hour.
2. Once the raspberry gelée has set, make the panna cotta. In a medium bowl sprinkle the 2 tsp gelatin over the ½ cup cold water. Set aside. In a saucepan bring the cream and sugar just to boil. Add the rosewater. Stir into the gelatin until just combined. Let the cream mixture cool slightly then pour into the molds over the gelée. Let set for at least 2 hours.
3. To unmold, run a sharp knife along the edge of the mold then invert onto plates

 

Enjoy!

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Sandwich Cookies

peanut butter chocolate chip cookies

While watching a recent episode of Criminal Minds I learned that people identify most with the music they listened at the age of 14. I guess that explains why I know the lyrics to so many Ace of Base songs. And why I think Meatloafs I Would Do Anything For Love (But I Won’t Do That) is one of the greatest car singing songs of all time. 1994 was a good year in music. Remember this classic? (please note the Habs jersey in the video)

peanut butter chocolate chip cookies

Despite some awfully cheesy songs , I really do identify with the music from that year. I spent hours listening to The Cranberries, Melissa Ethridge. I think I had that Lisa Loeb song on repeat for a good 6 months (taped off the radio of course, with the inevitable announcer’s voice cutting into the song). And I’m still looking for a man like the one Salt-n-Pepa kept singing about.

peanutbutterlove

This all got me thinking about the types of food I identify with and when those connections were made. My taste in food, like my taste in music, has changed over the years. Some foods I’ll always love though, and those loves were forged way before my 14th birthday. Grilled cheese sandwiches, my moms pancake soup, stuffed vine leaves (random, I know).

Cookies and Milk

And, of course, cookies. As a kid I would have told you that the classic chocolate chip cookie could not be beat, but I would have been wrong. All you need to take chocolate chip cookies to the next level is a little peanut butter, another childhood favourite. If you want to make them out of this world, just sandwich some chocolate and peanut butter filling between two cookies. I made these for the Super Bowl under the guise of “go big or go home”, and they did not disappoint. The cookies should be a little chewy, so be careful not to over bake them or they’ll get too crisp. The recipe makes about 36 cookies, or 18 sandwiches. Recipe adapted from Bon Appetit.

Super Bowl Sunday: Buffalo Chicken Meatballs

Buffalo Chicken Meatballs

I confess, have no real interest in the Super Bowl. In the past I would watch for the commercials, but a few years ago a Canadian broadcaster picked up the rights to air the game here. So in Canada we see Canadian commercials, no Soup Nazi, no Ferris Bueller, just the same stuff we see every day. Thank goodness for youtube!

Despite not being interested in the game itself I do have a system for picking a team, cutest quarterback will win. Today I believe that to be Tom Brady. Please note these are my personal opinions, if you happen to think Eli Manning is the bees knees I won’t argue with you.

The best part of the Super Bowl has to be the food. This year I decided to make something a little different, but not too different. Buffalo Chicken Meatballs, like wings but in ball form. There are advantages to the meatball over the wing. First, there is the messiness factor. Wings are greasy, slippery, and sticky all at the same time. In meatball form the messiness is no longer an issue, you can use a fork or if the meatballs are small enough toothpicks to pick them up like appetizers. Second, wings are strangely expensive. I really have no idea why they cost as much as they do, but ground chicken is a much less expensive option. Either way, you can’t go wrong with butter and hot sauce!

Just one note on the recipe. The original does not say to fry the meatballs, but when I took mine out of the oven they were a very unappetizing colour. I would call it dusty rose. So I fried them after baking. In my instructions below I’ve written to fry before baking, because that’s what every meatball I’ve ever read says. Feel free to fry afterwards.

Buffalo Chicken Meatballs

(adapted from Bon Appetit)

  • 4 tbsp vegetable oil, divided
  • 4 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1/3 cup sriracha
  • 1 pound ground chicken
  • 1 large egg
  • 3/4 cup bread crumbs
  • 1 celery stalk, minced
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  1. Grease a 9 by 13 inch glass baking dish with 2 tbsp of the vegetable oil, set aside. Preheat the oven to 450 F.
  2. In a medium sauce pan, melt the butter with the sriracha. Set aside to cool.
  3. While the butter is cooling, mix the chicken, breadcrumbs, eggs, celery, salt, pepper, onion and garlic powder together with your hands. Pour in the cooled butter mixture and continue to mix until well combined. Form into 3/4 inch balls.
  4. Pour the remaining oil into a heavy bottomed frying pan over medium heat. Brown the meatballs on all sides, but do not cook through.
  5. Place the meatballs in the prepared baking dish and bake for 15 to 20 minutes until the chicken is cooked through. Serve with BBQ Dipping Sauce.

BBQ Dipping Sauce

  • 1 cup ketchup
  • 1 tbsp sriracha
  • 2 tbsp molasses
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup cider vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • salt and pepper
  1. Pour all the ingredients into a small sauce pan. Simmer for 10-15 minutes, stirring to combine. Let cool before serving.

Enjoy!

Blueberry Boy Bait

Blueberry Boy Bait

Whenever we have an office potluck I bake something. And whenever I bake something the “moms” in the office always tell me I’m bonne a marrier (good to marry). They all seem to believe the idea that a way to a man’s heart is through his stomach. There is a catch to that though; for it to work I would have to actually feed someone, and I generally don’t walk around with baked goods at the ready in case I see a cute guy.

When the people at Gojee asked if I wanted to participate in a virtual potluck I first planned to make a quinoa salad, but then I realized this is my chance to serve up some baked goods on a much larger pot luck scale. The blueberries in my fridge made my decision on what to make real simple: blueberry boy bait.

Blueberry Boy Bait

This is a combination of a Smitten Kitchen recipe and one of my moms. Blueberry Boy Bait is actually a really simple cake to make, it’s basically a coffee cake like batter with a ton blueberries on top. It kind of reminds me of an upside down cake, without the upside down-ness, if that makes any sense. The original calls for a cinnamon sugar crust on the berries, but I like a streusel topping. You can use fresh or frozen blueberries, though I prefer the texture of fresh.

Starting on Thursday, January 26, check out other potluck dishes fellow gojee contributors shared. Go to gojee.com and enter “gojeepotluck” into I Crave.  You can also follow #gojeepotluck on Twitter.

Enjoy!

Spiced Kettle Corn

Spiced Kettle Corn

One of the great pleasures of winter, for me at least, is that it’s an opportunity to curl up on the couch and catch up on some TV/movie watching and general laziness. This weekend has been particularly cold, with windchills bringing the temperature down to minus 25 Celcius (around minus 8 F). Yesterday I braved the cold and got some errands done, my teeth chattering the whole way through. My bravery was rewarded with a great find at a thrift shop; for $40 I picked up a solid wood dresser that with a little love is destined to become a TV stand in my new place (I was channeling my inner Sarah Richardson).

So today I feel zero guilt in my plan to watch super hero movies all day, starting with Thor (how hot is Chris Hemsworth in that movie?) followed by Batman Begins and the Dark Knight.  The fireplace is roaring, and my super cozy wool blanket is waiting for me. As I get carried away into these fantastical worlds where the good guys always win, I will be munching on this Spiced Kettle Corn. Stove top popcorn is really easy to make, and doesn’t take much more time or effort than microwave popcorn. There is also the added bonus of controlling the ingredients that go into your popcorn and knowing there are no random chemicals leaching into your food. In this recipe I added a touch of cayenne and garlic powder to give the popcorn a spicy/savoury kick. I was a little worried about the garlic and sugar together, but in the end I found the flavours really worked together. You can substitute any spices you like in this recipe.

Spiced Kettle Corn

  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne (or to taste)
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/3 cup unpopped popcorn kernels
  • salt to taste
  1. Mix the sugar, garlic powder and cayenne together. Set aside.
  2. In a large heave bottomed pot that has a lid, heat the vegetable oil over medium heat. Add the popcorn and cover. When you hear the oil start to sizzle, stir in the sugar mixture then cover again. Shake the pot constantly to keep the sugar from burning. When the pops slow to once every two to three seconds remove the pot from the heat, keep shaking until the popping stops completely.
  3. Pour the popcorn into a serving bowl and season with salt.

Enjoy!

Chocolate Marshmallows

I’m sure many of your diets have switched away from rich holiday meals and desserts to something a little more reasonable for every day life. I’ve been trying to do the same, but my mind keeps wandering back to sugary treats. I think I may have an addiction. I have a hard time going more than a day without something sweet to calm the cravings. It’s hard to believe that not too long ago I cut sugar and gluten completely from my diet.

One of the sweet visions that I go back to regularly are these Chocolate Marshmallows I made in December. There is nothing quite like a homemade marshmallow. Although you can see the resemblance to store bought, looks are really all they have in common. Homemade are much more flavourful, their texture light and fluffy. Unlike store bought, I could eat them as is, no need for anything else.

It was quite the adventure making these, not that the recipe is difficult, I was just having a particularly klutzy weekend. I made a batch and was about to unmold it when somehow I dropped the whole pan on the kitchen floor, sticky side down (of course). There is no 5 second rule when it comes to sticky marshmallow, I had to scoop it up in chunks with my hands, the whole thing ruined.

I still wanted marshmallows, so I made another batch. This time the entire marshmallow making process went off without a hitch.

Unfortunately the photo session didn’t turn out so well. I took a few shots like the one above then started to take photos of the marshmallows in a mug of hot chocolate. It was a gloomy day out, so I had a whiteboard set up to bounce some light onto the mug. I have no idea exactly what happened, but while I was shooting, the white board fell over onto the mug, causing it to topple over and the hot chocolate to spill. There was hot chocolate everywhere; on the table, the carpet, even on my parents upholstered dining room chairs. Disaster. After scrambling to clean it all up I decided there was only one thing to do: sit down and eat marshmallows.

Marshmallows make everything better.

Chocolate Marshmallows

(makes approx 36 marshmallows)

  • 2 tablespoons gelatin
  • 2/3 cup water
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup clear corn syrup
  • 4 oz dark chocolate, melted
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder
  1. Line an 8 by 8 inch pan with plastic wrap and lightly grease the plastic.
  2. In a small sauce pan, sprinkle the gelatin over the water and let the gelatin expand. Add the sugar to the pan and gently heat while stirring until the sugar has dissolved completely.
  3. Pour the sugar and gelatin mixture into the bowl of an electric mixer. Add the corn syrup and then beat for 10 to 12 minutes until the mixture forms stiff peaks. Stir in the chocolate using a spatula to mix.
  4. Pour into the prepared pan spreading with a greased spatula. Refrigerate for about 1 hour until well set.
  5. Cover a work area with half the cocoa powder. Unmold the marshmallow onto the cocoa powder, then cut into squares using scissors or a pizza cutter. Cover each square with the remaining cocoa powder.
  6. Keep in a well sealed container at room temperature for 3-4 days. (if they make it that long)

Enjoy!