Strawberry Rhubarb Cake

Quebec Strawberries | What She's Having

Strawberry Rhubarb Cake | What She's HavingI wish I had a Polish recipe to share today, but this Strawberry Rhubarb Cake will have to do. It’s adapted from an Anna Olson recipe that’s one of my go to’s. The cake is moist and the tart strawberry rhubarb topping balances out the sweetness.

Strawberry Rhubarb Cake

(Adapted from Anna Olson)

Strawberry Rhubarb

  • 1 cup strawberries, cleaned, hulled and sliced
  • 1 cup rhubarb, chopped
  • 30 g sugar
  • 2-3 dashes Old Fashioned bitters (optional)

Cake

  • 120 g unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 100 g sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 250 g all purpose flour
  • 2 ½ tsp baking powder
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ½ cup milk

Streusel Topping

  • 60 g sugar
  • 40 g flour
  • 3 Tbsp unsalted butter
  1. Prepare the fruit: In a small bowl, stir the strawberries, rhubarb, sugar and bitters together. Let the fruit macerate for 20 minutes. Pour the released juices into a small saucepan and cook over low-medium heat until reduced by half. Return the juices to the fruit.
  2. Grease a 9 inch springform pan. Preheat the oven to 350.
  3. Make the cake batter: In the bowl of an electric mixer on medium speed, cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy (about 3 minutes). Beat in the egg and vanilla until well combined.
  4. Sift the flour, baking powder and salt together. Add the flour to the butter mixture in three additions, alternating with the milk.
  5. Make the streusel topping: Combine all the ingredients in a small bowl. Using your fingertips, rub the flour and sugar into the butter until crumbly.
  6. Spread the batter in the prepared springform pan. Top with strawberry and rhubarb then streusel topping. Bake for 45 to 55 minutes until a tester comes out clean.
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Nutella Cookies

Nutella Cookies

 

I don’t think Netflix knows who I am anymore. Maybe we are drifting apart or maybe there is someone else (using my password), but the things Netflix suggest I watch just are not right for me. It’s top pick for me is Mid Somer MurdersI mean, I know I just crossed int a new age demographic but COME ON, NETFLIX!

Heading into my 35th birthday I didn’t think I had a problem with turning a year older. It’s just a number, right? I have no real desire to be back in my twenties, but at the same time I’m not quite ready to start eating fiber and watching The Mentalist. I guess the problem is the disconnect between how I feel and the perception of what it means to be 35. I realized this on the night of my birthday when I was asked my age. For a fleeting moment I considered lying.Why would I lie if I’m ok with my age? I told the truth, though it was difficult to say it out loud. I probably should have lied because the look on the guys face basically confirmed that 35 is very different from 34. I’ve crossed into new territory.

So, armed with an array of moisturizers I’m facing this new world. Most days I can handle it. And for days when someone unintentionally does something that makes me feel old I have this Nutella Cookie dough in the freezer to help me dull the pain.

This recipe was adapted from the Momofuku Milk Bar recipe for Peanut Butter Cookies. I made some changes to the amount of granulated sugar and butter because to compensate for the difference between peanut butter and Nutella. The cookies were great, crispy edges with a chewy center. They did spread quite a bit; putting a little more flour would probably fix that though I haven’t tried yet. I’ll update this post when I do.

 

Nutella Cookies 

Makes 36 cookies

 

Hazelnut  Brittle:

  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup hazelnuts, raw and skinned
  1. Line a sheet pan with Silpat.
  2. In a heavy bottomed sauce pan make a dry caramel by heating the sugar over medium-high heat. Stir constantly until the caramel is a dark amber colour.
  3. Immediately take the caramel off the heat and stir in the hazelnuts. Pour out onto the silpat in an even, thin layer.
  4. Let cool completely then set aside.

Cookie Dough

  • 200 g  unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 200 g granulated  sugar
  • 2 Tbsp. corn syrup
  • 260 g Nutella
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 tsp. vanilla
  • 225 g flour
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4  tsp. baking soda
  • 2 1/4 tsp. salt
  • Hazelnut  Brittle, ground into the size of short-grain rice (I put the brittle  in Ziploc and beat it with a rolling-pin)

 

  1. In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter, sugar and corn syrup together on medium high-speed for 2 to 3 minutes. Mix in the Nutella, followed by the eggs and vanilla making sure to combine well. Scrape down the side of the bowl.
  2. In a medium bowl mix the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt together. With the mixer on low, add the flour mixture. Mix just until the dough comes together. Add the hazelnut brittle pieces.
  3. Using a small ice cream scoop or tablespoons, drop tablespoon-sized portions of dough onto a cookie sheet. Chill the dough for at least 2 hours before baking. Do not bake at room temperature.
  4. Once the dough has chilled, preheat the oven to 375F. Bake the cookies for 8 to 10 minutes.
  5. Cool the cookies completely in the pan.

Enjoy!

 

 

Rosemary Plum Galette

Plum Galette | What She's Having

 It’s been so long since I had a tan that when I woke up this morning and looked in the mirror I thought my face was dirty. I think this is what they call a “healthy glow.” 

Unfortunately my torso does not look so healthy. I am currently suffering from a fairly uncomfortable burn. I’m usually pretty good at protecting my skin, but yesterdays cool breeze and the fact that it’s September seem to have lulled me into false sense of security. So today I am hiding from the sun. 

It’s not all bad. I have time now to write this blog post, which is a very rare thing.

Plum Galette | What She's  Having

This is only the second galette I’ve made in my life. This first I made a little earlier the same day (you can see it in my instagram feed if you’re so inclined). I made them both as part of a pie dough experiment. I wanted to know if a higher percentage fat in butter would make a difference in the texture of a pie crust. I guess I was inspired by all the experimenting Janice does. I used the same recipe for two single crust pies, varying only the type of butter (80% fat and 84% fat). My scientific method might not have been perfect, but I found a few subtle differences that led me to prefer the 84% fat. First, the 84% seemed to roll out more easily. Second, it browned much more evenly than the 80%. And third, I found it flakier than the 80% crust. 

As I said, the differences were subtle. I wouldn’t hesitate to make a pie crust with 80% butter in the future, but if the 84% is available that would be my choice. 

The filling in this galette is inspired by Pastry Affair. I used the basic idea of almond and plum, but changed the flavouring and sweetened with honey instead of sugar. If you can get your hands on some local honey I highly recommend it. The flavour comes through after baking, which is not something I’ve found with mass produced honey. 

Pastry Crust

  • 1 1/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup cold unsalted butter (84% fat), cut into small cubes
  • 3 or 4 tbs ice water
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  1. In a large bowl, mix the flour and salt together. Add the butter. Using your hands or a pastry cutter, rub the butter into the flour until it’s slightly yellow in colour with pea sized pieces. 
  2. Mix the lemon juice with the ice water, then pour three tbs over the flour. Mix the dough just until it comes together, adding more water if necessary. Shape the dough into a disk, cover in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or overnight. 

Plum Filling

  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 3-4 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • 1/3 cup raw almonds
  • 2 tbs sugar
  • 2 tbs all purpose flour (divided)
  • 12-15 small Italian Plums
  • 2 dashes Fee Brothers Plum Bitters (optional)
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 egg, whisked
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • a handful chopped almonds (optional)
  1. Make the rosemary steeped honey. Over a double boiler, heat the honey with the rosemary until the honey is quite liquidy (5 minutes). Take the honey off the heat and let cool, leaving the rosemary to infuse. 
  2. Make the almond paste. In a food processor, blend the almonds, sugar, and one tbs of flour until the texture resembles course flour. Set aside
  3. Pit and chop the plums into halves or quarters. In a large bowl toss the plums with the bitters, lemon juice, and salt. Remove the rosemary from the honey, then add the honey to the plums. Stir in the remaining tbs of flour.

Assembly

  1. Roll out the dough into a circle approximately 14 inches in diameter. Place the dough on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. 
  2. Spread the almond mixture over the center of the circle, leaving about 2 inches uncovered. 
  3. Spread the plum mixture over the almond. 
  4. Fold the pastry over the filling. Using a pastry brush cover the pastry with the eggwash, then sprinkle the pastry with the tsp of sugar. Top the galette with sprig of fresh rosemary. 
  5. Let rest in the fridge for 20 minutes. 
  6. Preheat the oven to 425 F. Bake on a lower rack at 425 for 25 minutes, then lower the temperature to 400 and bake for 15 to 20 more minutes. 
  7. Let cool on a wire rack before slicing. 

Enjoy!

Carrot and Ginger Soup

Carrot and Ginger Soup - What She's Having

I have so much to be thankful for.

I was born in a time and place that allows me opportunities other women can only dream of.  While giving me everything they can, my parents raised me to be independent and to believe that I am capable. I went to public schools yet still had teachers that taught me not just to recite facts and count figures, but to think critically.I live in a city with crumbling infrastructure and systemic corruption, but it’s citizens are vibrant and creative, and they are quick to speak out against intolerance.

My life is far from perfect, but I am grateful for every minute of it.

Carrot and Ginger Soup

Yields 4-6 servings

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1 tbsp grated fresh ginger
  • 2 lbs carrots, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 1/2 lb white potatoes, peeled and quartered
  • 1 L chicken or vegetable stock
  • 1/2 L water
  • salt and pepper
  1. In a large pot on medium high heat, heat oil. Add onions. Cook stirring often until softened. Add the garlic and ginger. Cook until fragrant.
  2. Add the carrots and potatoes, followed by the stock and water. Season with salt and pepper.
  3. Bring to a boil then lower the temperature and simmer for 45 minutes. Once cooked use and immersion blender or food processor to puree until smooth.

Apple Jam

Apples - What She's Having

Generally speaking I’m a level headed person. I’m not a fan of drama, I make reasonable decisions. But sometimes I go a little over board. For instance, my decision to go apple picking when I already had 15 pounds of apples in the fridge was not well thought out. I ended up with a total of 30 lbs. A lot of them are still in the fridge. The rest have been snacked on, pied, buttered, sauced, and jammed.

I think apple jam is my new fall favourite. I was inspired by this recipe which came from Preservation Societiy‘s new book, Les Conserves Selon Camilla. The book is currently only available in French, but should be out in English next Spring. I’m eagerly awaiting the English release. So eagerly that I think I might just buy it in French and struggle through it.

Apple Jam What She's Having

The original recipe calls for rum, raisins and walnuts. I opted for bourbon, sour cherries and almonds. To be honest I think I probably cooked the jam a little too long, but it still tastes amazing. It’s like a warm hug for your taste buds.  The consistency is not like a typical jam. It’s basically chunks of fruit suspended in a thick syrup.

In terms of active time this recipe is pretty quick, but there is an overnight resting period that needs to be taken into consideration. Plan ahead.

Apple Jam

Adapted from Les Conserves Selon Camilla

Makes 5 125 ml jars

Ingredients

  • 12 medium sized apples, peeled cored and diced
  • 3 cups of sugar
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • seeds from one vanilla bean
  • 1 cup dried sour cherrries
  • 1/4 cup bourbon
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup chopped almonds

Method

  1. In a large heavy bottomed pot over medium heat, bring the apples, sugar, lemon juice and vanilla to boil. Once boiling pour the mixture into a bowl, cover with parchment to keep the apples submerged in their juices. Refrigerate overnight.
  2. In a small bowl, mix the sour cherries and bourbon together. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside overnight.
  3. After allowing the apples and cherries to rest, sterilize your jars.
  4. Pour the apples into a large heavy bottomed pot. Add the cinnamon and nutmeg then bring back to a boil over medium heat. Add the cherries and bourbon. Cook for 5 minutes. Add the almonds. Cook for 7 to 10 more minutes until the liquid forms a thick syrup.
  5. Let cool slightly then pour into sterilized jars. Seal the jars by submerging in boiling water for 5 minutes.

Enjoy!

Spicy Roast Chicken with Nectarine Salsa

Spicy Chicken with Nectarine Salsa - What She's Having

Cognitive dissonance: simultaneously holding two or more conflicting ideas, beliefs or values. 

For example I’m upset that this cool cloudy weather is messing with my afternoon ice cream plans, but at the same time I’m super excited to wear my new sweaters.

Maybe that’s not the best psychological example, but it’s been over 10 years since I set foot in a psych class and this is how I understand the concept now.

The idea applies to more than just sweaters for me. I want to eat nothing but fresh fruits and vegetables from the Summer harvest, but at the same time I’m craving roast meets with warm comforting spices. Cognitive dissonance is an uncomfortable feeling and people tend to find ways to resolve it. For example by roasting chicken flavoured with warm and comforting spices and topping it with fresh fruit salsa.

Nectarine Salsa

  • 2 cups diced nectarines
  • 1 avocado, diced
  • 1 lime, juice and zest
  • 1/2 a small red chile, seeded and finely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 2 tbsp  extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tbsp fresh chopped oregano
  • pinch of sea salt and fresh ground pepper
  1. Mix all the ingredients in a medium bowl. Let the salsa sit for a while for the flavours to blend.

Spicy Roast Chicken Legs

  • 3 or 4 chicken legs
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 1 tbsp mustard
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp coriander
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder (or to taste)
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Pat the chicken dry with paper towels. Season all sides with salt and pepper and place in a roasting pan.
  3. In a small bowl mix all the remaining ingredients together. Brush the spice mixture onto the chicken. Bake the chicken, uncovered for 35 to 40 minutes, until the juices run clear and it is no longer pink inside.
  4. Transfer cooked chicken to serving plate and top with nectarine salsa.

Enjoy!

Blueberry Jam

Blueberry and Honey Jam - What She's Having

Ben Affleck is Batman now.

The internet is freaking out over this. People have actually tried to petition the White House to stop this. My problem isn’t so much with Ben Affleck, but with the fact that a new Batman is being created at all. The Christopher Nolan trilogy just ended a year ago, why are we already going back there? If the last Batman incarnation had been terrible I could understand a reboot, but it was practically perfect. And now Warner Brothers is going to go and put the Man Of Steel stink all over it.

Sigh.

But what do I know? My views super heroes were heavily influenced by a man I no longer speak to and  who doesn’t even like cooked fruit.

Blueberry Honey Jam - What She's Having

I, on the other hand, think jam is probably the greatest food ever invented. With pie coming in at a close second. This recipe is a little on the sweet side, I think 1/2 a cup of sugar could be safely taken out, but I didn’t have enough blueberries to test is that way.

Blueberry & Honey Jam

  • 4 cups blueberries 
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • pinch of salt
  1.  In a large heavy bottomed pot, crush the blueberries with a potato masher.  Add the sugar, honey, lemon juice and salt.
  2. Bring to a boil. Keep the berries at a rapid boil and stir continuously for 15 to 20 minutes.
  3. Pour into sterilized jars (I used 3 250 ml jars). If sealed properly the jars don’t need to be refrigerated.

Mini Banana Loaves

O & G Banana Bread

I wasn’t planning on posting these mini loaves. I made them on a whim last weekend, thinking they’d make a good snack to take to work. It turns out this is the greatest banana bread ever. Seriously.

I used the Olive & Gourmando recipe from The Art of Living According to Joe Beef. I’ve had the book since Christmas and have been eyeing this recipe ever since. I hesitated to make it because it seemed a little too involved for banana bread. I mean, it’s supposed to be a “quick” bread, right?  Turns out the extra steps were totally worth it. Unlike a typical banana bread, where baking powder is added to dry ingredients, this recipe calls for adding baking soda to sour cream before mixing it into the batter. On top of this unusual step, the recipe also called for microwaving the bananas to extract the juices and then reduce the juice by half. I don’t have a microwave so I heated the bananas over a double boiler, which worked very well.

The flavour was rich, the texture light and moist at the same time. Even days later these mini loaves tasted incredible. So I snapped a quick to prove to you that although this banana bread must be tried.

O & G’s Banana Bread

  • 1/2 cup sour cream (room temperature)
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 4 ripe bananas
  • 1/2 cup unsalted  butter (room temperature)
  • 1 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 2 eggs (room temperature)
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp cardamom
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 F. Grease  8 mini loaf molds, set aside.
  2. Mix the sour cream and the baking soda together, set aside. 
  3. Over a double boiler, gently heat the banana for 5 minutes. Place the bananas in a fine mesh sieve and strain out the juices, you should get 1/4 to 1/2 cup of juice. In a small sauce pan  over medium reduce the juice by half, then return the juice to the banana and mash the bananas (don’t puree). 
  4. In a large bowl beat the butter and sugar together with an electric mixer. Add the eggs one at a time, then add the vanilla. Stir in the bananas with a spatula, then the sour cream mixture. 
  5. In a separate bowl, mix the flour, spices and salt together. Fold the flour into the banana/butter mixture. 
  6. Pour the batter into the prepared loaf molds. Bake for 30 minutes, until a tester comes out clean. Let cool in the molds for 15 minutes, then turn out onto a rack to cool completely. 
Enjoy! 

Apricot Scones

If you’re interested in molecular gastronomy, you need look no further than baking. When cooking the results can be spectacular, but they almost always resemble the original ingredients; a raw steak and cooked steak both look like steak. But when baking flour, sugar, butter and eggs come together to form something that is much more than the some of its parts. I believe that the first person to mix these together and bake a cake was a genius.

Baking is about about proportions; the right combination of ingredients will lead to something magical. Each ingredient plays a part. The flour mixed with liquids form gluten that traps air bubbles and gives baked goods their texture. The sugar sweetens but it also adds air to the batter, contributes to browning and stops the gluten from getting too tough. Butter tenderizes and moistens.

I know all these things.

Yet somehow I still manage to mess things up.

On Sunday I decided to make banana bread. I’ve made banana bread so many times I no longer even look at a recipe. I mixed up all my ingredients put them in the oven and waited. And waited. And waited. The bread never rose, the top never browned. After about an hour and a half (the bread should only have taken an hour) I thought back on my steps and realized I had forgotten the sugar. I kept baking because I thought maybe the sugars in the bananas would somehow save it. They didn’t. When the bread wasn’t cooked through after two hours I gave up.

I’ve made this mistake before and I’m sure I’ll make it again. I wasn’t fazed, just upset at the wasted ingredients.

This morning I got up with the intention of making scones. I found a recipe from a reputable source and gave it a try. I tried even though the voice in my head said it was off. “There’s too much sugar, too much flour, not enough butter” the voice said; I ignored it. “The oven isn’t hot enough” she told me; I didn’t listen. I added more liquid to compensate for the dryness, popped them in the oven and waited. When they came out of the oven they were like overly sweetened hockey pucks.

Another failure. Had a I lost my baking mojo?

I couldn’t let this second failure get to me.

I went through my boxes and found the scone recipe I’ve always used in a pile of papers. As I read it knew this was right. Just enough flour; very little sugar; and a hot, hot oven. I started again.

Thankfully, my baking mojo is not lost. I needed to trust myself, that’s all.

This recipe is a little different than the typical scone recipe, in that it has eggs. This makes them a little more cakey, less biscuit like, but still a little flaky and layered. I used dried apricot in the scones, but anything could be added, raisins, nuts, chocolate chips. They can also be flavoured any way you’d like; spices, lemon zest, rose water.. the possibilities are endless!

Apricot Scones

  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup sugar (plus more for sprinkling on tops)
  • 6 tbsp butter, cold and cut into cubes
  • 1 cup roughly chopped dried apricots
  1. Preheat the oven to 450 F
  2. In a small bowl whisk the eggs and milk together. Set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, salt and sugar. Add the butter to the dry ingredients, then using your fingertips rub the butter into the flour until there a few pea sized pieces of butter.
  4. Pour the milk into the flour and stir together with a fork until just combined, then stir in the dried apricots. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and shape into a disk, about 1 inch thick. Using a round cookie cutter or a glass, cut circles of dough and place them on parchment paper lined baking sheet.
  5. Sprinkle the tops of the scones with sugar. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes until the tops are browned.
  6. Serve with your favourite jam or fruit butter.
Enjoy!