Thursday, 20 November 2014

Gina's Pizzelle...via Mario Batali

I don't know who Gina is but damn, her recipe for Pizzelle are amazing! They're light and crispy and best of all, they have anise in them, which I love. I first came upon this recipe a couple of years ago on Mario Batali's website. Growing up, I wasn't really a fan of pizzelle but as an adult I LOVE these simple, homemade, classic cookies.

This does require a pizzelle maker, which are readily available and range between $40-$70. Not too bad of an investment. I've been using my moms, who's had hers for 30 years now. I love how seasoned it is. Although the ones they make today are non stick as opposed stainless steel. Just make sure it's really hot when you add the batter.

So last night after dinner when it started snowing, I thought let me make snow flakes to go with the snow flakes falling outside. Lol. They do look like snow flakes, right? Perfect for the holiday season.

Gina's Pizzelle

6 eggs
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup vegetable oil
3 cups flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
3 tablespoons anise seeds

In a large bowl, combine the eggs, sugar, and oil and mix until well combined. Add the flour, baking powder and anise seeds and mix together. Set aside at room temperature for 30 minutes.
Heat the pizzelle iron until very hot. Pour 1 1/2-2 tablespoons of batter onto the iron, close it and cook until golden brown. Repeat until all the batter is used.

m xo

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Butternut Squash Galette

It's still officially fall even though you wouldn't know it by looking outside today. Although, I have to say I love this kind of snow. It looks so pretty coming down, all fluffy and white, but nothing has been really sticking to the ground except on the grass and trees. It totally gets me in the mood for the holidays. Anyways, I digress. It's fall and I love cooking and baking with all the squashes available.

This weekend was my brother in law Chris' 40th birthday (I know, so young) and my sister threw him a little cocktail party for a few friends and family and I made a couple different types of crostini. One of them was butternut squash and ricotta, which was dee-lish. So I had some cubed roasted butternut left over and of course a little ricotta and so I decided to make a galette.

This was super easy to throw together, especially with frozen puff pastry. This galette is a lovely balance of savoury from the ricotta and feta with a hint of sweetness from the squash. It made a wonderful lunch today. And would be amazing for a brunch. I also happen to have some smoked mozzarella left over from the rice balls that I made for the party too, which I put in the galette. And I have to say it's the only thing I would change in the recipe. It was good but was a little too strong for the butternut squash, so next time I'm going to use regular mozzarella.

 I'm going to freeze the leftover galette for the car ride to Montreal this weekend. Yummy!

Butternut Squash Galette

1 sheet of puff pastry, thawed
1 small butternut squash, peeled, cubed, seasoned with salt and pepper and roasted, about 1 1/2 cups cooked
1 cup ricotta
1/3 cup feta, crumbled
1/2 cup mozzarella, cubed or shredded
1 egg
1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 egg, lightly beaten, for the egg wash

Preheat oven to 375F.
Line a baking sheet with parchment. Roll out the puff pastry and cut the edges to form a rounded shape. Mix ricotta, feta, mozzarella, 1 egg, nutmeg, salt and pepper. Mound in the middle of the pastry leaving 1 1/2 inch border all the way around. Top with the butternut squash. Pull pastry up and over the edge of the ricotta and butternut squash, leaving the centre open. With a pastry brush, brush the pastry with egg. Bake for 40-45 minutes. Let cool completely before serving.

m xo

Monday, 10 November 2014

Lady and Pups, Spicy Sambal Meatballs

Ask, and you shall receive! Well, I asked.

I have been needing new and exciting chicken recipes (I know, my life revolves around chicken recipes. Pretty boring, right?) and look what shows up in my "in box" this morning!  This wonderful recipe for Spicy Sambal Meatballs!!

This recipe comes from a wonderful blog that I follow called Lady and Pups. Her photos of the recipes she creates are stunning! I want to make very single recipe she posts.

This especially caught my eyes because, first of all the meatballs are made with chicken thighs. Second, she poaches eggs in the sauce. And third, the sauce is SPICY!! She also stuffs a crusty baguette with these meatballs and poached eggs. It looked amazing!!

Alas, I did not make subs but we still enjoyed the heck out of them. I had to adapt her recipe a little because she calls for long, Asian, red chili's, which I normally find everywhere but for the life of me could not find this time. I bet it's because this recipe went viral, and they sold out... just kidding! So I subbed in jalapeños. And the sambal sauce called for more fish sauce but I ran out when I used it for the meatballs. If you don't have fish sauce, you can sub all the soy sauce for fish sauce.

The one ingredient she says to try not to sub, is the Thai shrimp paste, so I went out specifically for it. It shouldn't be too hard to find.

Oh, and I also doubled the tomatoes because I was worried the sauce would be too spicy, and in fact was perfect because I think the jalapeños that I used were really hot!!

The next time I make this dish though, I'm definitely making subs.

Spicy Sambal Meatballs

(Original recipe from Lady and Pups)

Lemongrass Chicken Meatballs

5 skinless/boneless chicken thighs
4 stalks lemongrass, soft/white parts only
2 garlic cloves, grated
3 shallots, minced
1 tablespoon ginger, grated
1/4 cup fresh mint, chopped
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
3 tablespoons fish sauce or 2 tablespoons soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon black pepper

Flash freeze the chicken thigh for 2 hours or until firm. Cut into pieces and grind in a food processor until finely minced.
Trim off the tough ends on both sides of the lemongrass, then cut and mince as finely as you can, otherwise it would be like biting into pieces of wood.
Mix the ground chicken, finely minced lemongrass, shallots, garlic, ginger, mint, cilantro, fish sauce or soy sauce and black pepper.
Shape into balls and bake in oven until lightly browned. At this point you can make these ahead of time and refrigerate until the next day (thats what I did).

After they were baked

Spicy Pineapple Sambal Sauce

1/2 cup pineapple, fresh or canned
The zest and flesh of 1/2 orange
5 jalapeño peppers, sliced
4 small red chili
7 cloves garlic
1 tablespoon soy sauce
2 teaspoons Thai shrimp paste
4 teaspoons white vinegar
1 1/2 teaspoons brown sugar
1/4 cup olive oil
2 cups canned peeled tomatoes

In a blender, puree the orange zest and juice, pineapple, jalapeños, red chili's, garlic, soy sauce, shrimp paste, vinegar, and brown sugar until smooth. Let it run a few minutes. Don't rinse the blender yet.

To Finish

4-6 eggs

To assemble dish:

In a large non stick skillet, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Brown the partially cooked meatballs until nicely browned on all sides. Remove and set aside.
Add the pineapple/ chili sauce and cook until the mixture is reduced by a 1/3. Puree the tomatoes in the same blender and add to the sauce along with the meatballs. Simmer until the sauce is reduced by 1/3 again.
Make little wells in the skillet to make room for the eggs. Carefully drop the eggs then cover completely and simmer until the whites set and egg yolks are runny. Turn off the heat and serve immediately.

m xo

Wednesday, 5 November 2014

Jamie Oliver's Couscous Stuffed Roasted Chicken

Yes I know, another chicken recipe! I have been trying to get creative with chicken because as you may know, my husband is watching what he eats and all he wants every night is chicken. He could just have baked chicken breast EVERY single night and be perfectly ok with it. I, on the other hand, could not! I need variety and am constantly looking for ideas. And then I remembered this whole roasted chicken recipe from Jamie Oliver that I made a few years back, stuffed with couscous. It was delicious!

And whats even better, I got a few meals out it. Caesar salad with chicken, the next night. Lunches for us, the rest of the week. And then I made a beautiful, rich broth with the bones that I'm planning on making a soup with, the end of the week.

The couscous stuffing is so fragrant and delicious in this, that I'm thinking next year for Thanksgiving, I might switch up my usual bread stuffing. It also felt "lighter".

I used a big bird for this, almost 4 pounds, so it look almost 2 hours to cook. Adjust your cooking time to the size of your chicken. And use a thermometer to make sure it is done. The internal temp should be 160F.

Couscous Stuffed Roasted Chicken
Adapted from Jamie Oliver's cookbook, Jamie's Kitchen

1 whole chicken
1 cup couscous, I used whole wheat
Zest and juice of an orange
Zest and juice of a lemon, reserving the lemon halves
2 handfuls of pistachios, or any nut,  roughly chopped
2 handfuls of dried blueberries, or any dried fruit
1 large handful of fresh mint and parsley, plus a little extra to throw on top, roughly chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more to coat chicken
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
1 teaspoon coriander seeds
1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
2 cardamon seeds
1 teaspoon black peppercorns
1 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven 375F.
Put your couscous, orange and lemon zest and juice, dried fruit, nuts and fresh herbs in a bowl. Add 2 tablespoons olive oil and half a cup of warm water and mix everything together.
With a mortar and pestle or spice blender, pound all the spices with the salt until you have a powder.
Stuff the bird with the couscous mixture. Block the cavity with lemon halves that you have squeezed the juice from. This will keep the couscous from falling out of the chicken.
Rub the chicken with a little olive oil and all of the spice mixture. Throw on the rest of the fresh herb mixture.
Roast the chicken until a thermometer reads 160F. Let it rest for 10-15 minutes before carving.

m xo

Monday, 3 November 2014

Stir Fried Cauliflower Rice

I have been intrigued with this recipe for a while now. It's all over Pinterest. I guess it's the Paleo version of stir fried rice. Instead of using rice for the stir fry, you use grated cauliflower. And since I love fried rice, I decided to give it a try. It's great because it's all vegetables and you cut down on carbs. And goodness knows, I'm always looking for ways to cut calories!!

When I asked my husband how he liked the "stir fry"? He said it was good. He didn't even realize that it wasn't rice. I said it's cauliflower and he said he knew there was some cauliflower in it (because there were little bits of it) , but I told him there was no rice in it what so ever, he really couldn't believe it! And my sister really loved it! So I guess this is a keeper.

The trick to grating the cauliflower in the food processor is not to over crowd it, otherwise it takes a while to grate and then you have mushy cauliflower, which you do NOT want. Just do small batches at time. It really does resemble rice when it is grated properly.

Unfortunately, this the only photo I have...I forgot to take pictures along the way. Sorry.

Stir Fried Cauliflower

I head of cauliflower
2 tablespoons oil
3-4 green onions, diced
1 inch of ginger, finely chopped
2=3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 red pepper, sliced
1 small bunch of kale, thinly sliced
Soy or tamari sauce, to taste
2 teaspoons sesame oil

Coarsely chop the cauliflower into florets. In small batches, pulse the cauliflower in a food processor until it resembles rice. Set aside.
Heat a large pan or wok with oil over medium-high heat and add the green onions, ginger and garlic. Sauté until soft. Turn up heat. Add the red pepper and kale, stirring frequently for 1 minute. Add the cauliflower and soy sauce and continue stirring frequently until the cauliflower is hot and a little crispy. Drizzle with the sesame oil and serve.

m xo

Thursday, 30 October 2014

Braised Chicken, Fennel and Tomatoes

Well, as you may have noticed, I haven't been posting much lately. You want to know why? BECAUSE MY HUSBAND IS ON A DIET!!! And I have to say, I'm not liking it much. Not only because he has lost quite a few pounds and I haven't, but also because I'm not cooking what I really want to cook. I've been making a lot chicken dishes. I'm getting sick of chicken! And the thing is, he would be totally fine with the same chicken dish over and over. He is a creature of habit, as you know from my blog...remember, he eats the same thing for breakfast, day after day. And now he eats the same thing for lunch, day after day. It's me that needs variety and I am constantly looking for new ways to make chicken, which I have to say, hasn't been that easy. There are only so many different recipes on Pinterest!

This time I decided to braise the chicken with fennel and tomatoes. Braising the keeps the breasts moist. Easy. Tasty. One pot meal. Doesn't get any better than this.

Braised Chicken, Fennel and Tomatoes 

2 chicken breasts, boneless and skinless
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 fennel bulbs, thinly sliced
1 pint of cherry tomatoes, halved
3 green onions, sliced
1 jalapeño, sliced, totally optional
1 tablespoon capers
1 cup chicken stock
Salt and pepper
Parsley, chopped

Heat the olive oil in a pan over medium-high heat. Salt and pepper the chicken and add to pan. Let it brown on one side for about 3 minutes. Turn the chicken over and add the fennel, tomatoes, green onions, jalapeño and capers. Pour the the stock over, cover and reduce the heat. Cook until the chicken is done, which should tale about 10 minutes. Take off the heat and sprinkle with parsley. Serve.

m xo

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Plenty More...Parsley, Lemon and Cannellini Bean Salad

I have been waiting for my Plenty More by Yotam Ottolenghi for a few weeks. I pre-ordered it! I love this man! His recipes are so beautiful and inspiring. I want to make every single one of them. I'm always amazed at the different combinations of salads and dishes he comes up with. I have never been disappointed with any of his recipes.

I made this salad last night and it was delicious! It kinda of reminds of tabbouli with the amount of herbs in it, except that it is a lot more filling because of the quinoa and beans. It makes for a wonderful light lunch.

It calls for red quinoa, which I happen to have on hand but you can use regular quinoa if you want. Although the contrast on the beans is very pretty...See, I told you his recipes were pretty.

I will definitely be making more recipes from this book, so stay tuned.

Parsley, Lemon and Cannellini Bean Salad

2/3 cups red quinoa
2/3 cups flat leaf parsley, finely shredded
2/3 cups mint, finely shredded
3-4 green onions, thinly sliced
1 1/3 cups cannellini beans, drained
1/2 large lemon, skin and seeds removed, flesh finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 cup olive oil
Salt and pepper, to taste

Cook the quinoa in boiling water and drain. Rinse under cold water and drain. Set aside and let it dry out. Transfer quinoa to a large bowl and add the rest of the ingredients. Stir together and serve.

m xo

Friday, 24 October 2014

Blueberry Mango Chia Seed Pudding

This is a nice breakfast or a treat at night when you are craving "something sweet" but don't know what? I always crave something sweet after dinner, and this hits the spot!

I made this with blueberries and mangoes because that is what I happened to have on my counter but I have made it with mangoes and dried coconut before and it was equally as nice. You can use just about any fruit you have or like. Just make sure to make it the day before to let the chia seeds set.

Blueberry Mango Chia Seed Pudding

1 lb. blueberries or approximately 2 cups
1 cup chopped mango, fresh or frozen
2 cups almond milk or  regular milk
1/2 cup Greek yogurt
1 tablespoon honey or to taste
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon cinnamon, optional
1/2 cup chia seeds

In a blender, blend the blueberries, mango, almond milk, Greek yogurt, honey, vanilla and cinnamon. Pour in a large bowl and mix in the chia seeds. Stir until the chia seeds are incorporated. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight. The next day, the pudding should be thick and creamy. Serve.

m xo

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Raw Thai Almond Kelp Noodle Salad

So, this is a first for my blog. A guest in my kitchen!!

Barbara, a Holistic Nutritionist
Over the years as a hairstylist, I have been very fortunate to meet some wonderful, interesting people. I have known Barbara Ollerenshaw for a few years and she has truly inspired me because she recently went back to school and became a Holistic Nutritionist. I asked her if she had a dish she would share with me on my blog and this is one of her favourite dishes. A raw Thai noodle salad. This is a healthy answer for when she gets a craving for Pad Thai.  I love Thai food! I was intrigued!

This really is a nutritious dish! I've never had kelp noodles before and I have to say they were very similar to rice noodles except they were a little on the rubbery side but not in a bad way! If I didn't know they weren't rice, I probably wouldn't have noticed. The salad itself was so refreshing and flavourful. It was amazing! The fact that it is also good for you is an added bonus. Here are just few reasons it's good for you.   
Kelp, a sea vegetable is very nutrient rich. Calcium, iron, manganese and complex B's, to name a few. It also aids in the healthy growth of nails and hair. And who doesn't want healthy hair and nails? I talk to a lot of women in my chair and hair and nail growth is one of our main concerns. The kelp noodles are found in the refrigerated section of the health food store. Garlic provides enzymes to help with digestion and alkalizes the body. Ginger is an antibiotic, anti-inflammatory and stimulates digestion and liver.

I urge to try this recipe, even if it's just to try something that you haven't had before. Trust me, you'll like it! 

Raw Thai Almond Kelp Noodle Salad

massaging the kelp noodles

1 package of kelp noodles
Juice of 1/3 of a lemon
Himalayan salt

1/2 cup almond butter
1/4 cup olive oil
4 tablespoons tamari
1/2 cup lime juice, about 3 limes
1 tablespoon honey
1 jalapeño, or to taste
2 garlic cloves
1 1/2 inch of ginger, peeled

Salad Vegetables
Red pepper, slivered
Carrots, slivered
Cilantro, chopped
Salad greens
Green onions, chopped
Sprouted mung beans(crunchy pea) to sprinkle on top, optional

For the noodles:
Put the noodle in a strainer and rinse with hot water. Drain well and place in a large bowl. Sprinkle with the lemon juice and a bit of salt. With your hands, message the kelp until soft. Cover and refridgerate.

For the dressing:
Place all the ingredients in a blender and mix until thick and fluffy. This makes more than enough dressing for this salad. Keep leftovers in refrigerator for another salad.

To assemble the salad, cut the noodles with kitchen scissors because they tend to be on the long side. Spoon a couple of tablespoons of dressing on noodles and mix together. Add the veggies and add a little more dressing and mix. The amount of dressing you use depends on the amount of vegetables you have for the salad but don't be afraid to use most of it. The vegetables and the noodles tend to soak up a lot of it. Sprinkle with cilantro and sprouted mung beans, if using. Serve right away.

m xo

Monday, 22 September 2014

Quintessential Pasta Dish...Spaghetti Aglio e Olio

This is one of those dishes that I think everyone should have in their repertoire. Spaghetti with garlic and oil. This is my comfort food. It's a popular late night snack after a night out. In the time that it takes the water to boil for the spaghetti, you sauté garlic and chili flakes in olive oil. Toss all together and top with chopped parsley. So easy. So good.

I have fond memories growing up, of my parents coming home with their friends after a night of dinner and dancing and my dad making this dish for everyone and the evening would start all over again. I mean, we always had pasta, garlic and olive oil in the pantry. We didn't have a lot of money growing, but we never lacked good family and friends!!

Spaghetti Aglio e Olio

250g spaghetti
1/4 cup olive oil
5-6 cloves of garlic, sliced
1 red, hot chili or chili flakes to taste
1/4 cup chopped parsley

Boil pasta in plenty of salted water until al dente. In the meantime, heat olive oil in a pan over medium heat and add garlic and chili pepper. Sauté until fragrant. When the pasta is ready, toss with the oil and sprinkle with parsley. Serve immediately.

m xo

Thursday, 18 September 2014

Cherry Tomato Crostata

You know, there was a time I was obsessed with Martha Stewart. I loved her and I wanted to be like her. I watched her shows and subscribed to her magazine. I only got rid of the magazines a few years ago, and that's only because my mother was cleaning out her basement and came upon them and didn't want to keep them any more. I don't blame her. I don't know when was the last time I looked through them. Probably 15 years ago.

Anyway, it was during this time in my twenties, that I decided I wanted to perfect the fruit pie. Crust and all. Especially the crust. You see, Martha was baking these beautiful pies that were made from scratch and used fruit that she grew herself on Turkey Hill in Conneticut. Go figure! So I was making and baking pies practically every week. And I think after a few months, I did perfect the pie...I also gained 20 pounds but whatever, I made beautiful pies.

So then I spent my thirties trying to lose the twenty pounds, which meant I stopped making pies. I still make a pie here and there but my crust is not nearly as perfect as it used to be. But I don't mind.

When I came upon this recipe for tomato pie, it called for a crust made from scratch. I debated whether to make it or use an already prepared crust from the frozen section in the grocery store. Ultimately the grocery store won. Martha would be very disappointed. Oh well.

I doubled this recipe because I had a lot of cherry tomatoes from my garden.

Cherry Tomato Crostata
makes one 9inch pie

1 prepared pie crust, thawed
2 pints cherry tomatoes
1/2 cup basil, chopped
1 teaspoon herbs de Provence (optional)
5 1/2 cups grated provolone or fontina cheese
1/2 cup mayo

Preheat oven to 375F.
Mix the cheese, basil and mayo. Spread the mixture over the bottom of the pie shell. Top with the cherry tomatoes and press down. Bake for 35 minutes or until the crust is golden and the cheese is bubbling. Cool for 10 minutes and serve.

m xo

Friday, 5 September 2014

Cucumber and Nectarine Salad

Sometimes all you need are a couple of ingredients to make a really good dish, especially this time of year. As you know, my garden is coming to end and I just picked the last of my cucumbers. I was really surprised how much my plant yielded this year. At one point, I had to bring a few to work to my co-workers because we couldn't keep up. We were having cucumber salads for lunch and dinner everyday, but I'm not complaining. They were delicious!

The farmers markets and the grocery stores are exploding with Ontario grown produce. I love it! I bought a huge basket of nectarines and made this dead simple cucumber and nectarine salad.

I peeled my cucumbers because the type that I grew had pinchy little things on them. I usually don't peel the English variety. I used nectarines but you can use peaches.

Cucumber and Nectarine Salad   

2 cucumbers, peeled and chopped
2-3 nectarines, sliced
1/4 red onion, sliced
3 tablespoons  rice wine vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
7-8 mint leaves, chopped

Combine everything in a large bowl. Let it sit for 15 minutes before serving.

m xo

Thursday, 4 September 2014

Chicken Saltimbocca

Saltimbocca means, "jumps in the mouth" in Italian. It's a traditional Roman dish made with thinly, pounded veal that is lined with prosciutto and topped with a piece of sage. I made it with chicken but you can also make it with pork. Your choice of meat needs to be thin because if it is too thick, the side with the prosciutto and sage would burn because it would take too long to cook. If you don't want to do it yourself, you can buy chicken cutlets. But I highly recommend you do it yourself. It's super easy and a lot more economical. What? Did I just say that?...We do become our mothers. Hahaha!!!

I was inspired to make this dish because the sage bush in my garden is huge! I want to use as much as I can from my garden. I can slowly see that everything is coming to end and that makes me very sad.

Chicken Saltimbocca

2 chicken breasts
4 slices prosciutto
8 sage leaves
Olive oil

Place chicken breasts on a cutting board and cover with cling film. Using a rolling pin or something heavy, pound out until they are thin. You can cut them into pieces if they too big. Pepper each side. Lay a piece of prosciutto on each piece of chicken and top with a sage leaf or two. Secure with a toothpick.
Heat olive oil in a pan and add chicken in a single layer, prosciutto side down and cook until brown. With a spatula, carefully turn over and cook until brown. It should only take a minute. You want the sage to be intact. Serve.

m xo

Wednesday, 3 September 2014

Italian Plum Cake

Boy, for someone who doesn't like to bake too much, I just noticed, I bake a lot!! I never realized how much I baked until I started writing this blog. I mean, as long as the recipe isn't too complicated, like this one, I quite enjoy it...or at least the results of it!

I wanted to bake something our 7th wedding anniversary. Although who needs an excuse for cake, right? And I love anything with fruit and with the little purple plums in season now, I couldn't resist.

I adapted this recipe from Nigella Lawson's, "Nigellissima" cookbook. It called for apples but I obviously used plums and instead of topping the cake with sugar, I crushed a couple of amaretti cookies and sprinkled the cake before baking. I also cut down the sugar by 1/4 cup. As much as I like sweets, I'm not a fan of overly sweet. This was perfect! I can't wait to have another piece in the morning with my coffee.

Italian Plum Cake
adapted from Nigellissima, by Nigella Lawson

8 tablespoons butter, softened
1 2/3 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
Pinch of salt
1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs
Zest of a lemon
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup milk, at room temperature (I used almond milk)
4 plums, pitted and sliced
2 amaretti cookies, crushed, or
1 tablespoon sugar mixed with 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Preheat oven to 400F.
Butter a 9 inch springform pan and line with parchment paper.
In a food processor, put the butter, flour, baking powder, salt, sugar, eggs, lemon zest and vanilla extract and blitz until it forms a thick batter. With the motor still running, pour the milk down the funnel.
Pour the batter in the prepared pan and smooth out. Arrange the plums in a pretty pattern on top of the cake batter and sprinkle with the crushed amaretti or the sugar/cinnamon.
Bake for 35-40 minutes until golden or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
Cool for an hour in pan before serving.

m xo

Tuesday, 2 September 2014

Caprese Salad

My garden is on its last legs. Even though the tomato, pepper, celery and cucumber plants are still producing, the plants are starting to wither, even with all the watering. I always forget, year to year, how quickly summer goes. It's amazing!

We have been having tomatoes, every night, in many combinations, including this classic salad.

Caprese is a traditional Italian salad made with tomatoes and mozzarella that I'm sure you've had many times. It's a standard in every Italian restaurant. This time of year, of course is the best time to have this. I added cantaloup because, well, as I'm sure you know by now, I have a sweet tooth and I try to incorporate any sweetness, any way I can.

Real simple here. Tomatoes, preferably heirloom, fior di latte, cantaloup and basil. Doesn't get any better than this.

Caprese Salad

Fior di latte
Salt and pepper
Olive oil

Layer the tomatoes, cantaloup, fior di latte and basil on a platter. Drizzle with a little olive oil. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

m xo

Friday, 29 August 2014

Peach Crostata

I bake because I want the end result. I love my sweets. I have a huge sweet tooth. That's no surprise here, It's not a secret. But the thing is, I'm not that great at it. It's really not my thing. I have no patience with the little details when it comes to baking. So it was no surprise when I made this crostata, brought it to a family function and my sister (the baker) started to kill herself laughing.

The recipe calls for using 3/4 of the dough to use as the base and the other 1/4 of the dough to make decorative ropes and top the crostata. Well as you can see from the photo, you can understand why my sister laughed. Hahaha. I can't blame her. It looked funny. I don't know what I was thinking with those ropes...Well, I'll tell you what I was thinking. I was thinking I was too lazy to get my rolling pin  and roll out the dough to make lattice, like you see on a lot of pies and crostatas.

But I will tell you, this crostata was delicious! Not overly sweet and easy to put together. Please don't let the look of it deter you from making it. The only thing I would do differently is sprinkle LOTS of powdered sugar on cover up the obvious!!! Hahahahaha!

Peach Crostata
makes one 9 inch crostata
use a pan with removable bottom

1 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons of flour
Pinch of salt
1/4 cup sugar
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
Zest of a lemon
1/2 teaspoon vanilla bean paste, or extract
2 eggs, room temperature
4 tablespoons butter, room temperature
1 cup peach jam
2-3 peaches, sliced

Preheat oven to 350F.
Place flour on a work surface and make a well in the middle. Sprinkle the salt, sugar and baking powder and add the lemon zest.

Crack the eggs in the well and using your finger, stir them in to break up the eggs and start incorporating the dry ingredients. Then add the butter and the vanilla and keep stirring until the dough starts to come together. Knead gently until it is smooth.

Take a 1/4 quarter of the dough and set aside for the lattice. Pat the remaining dough into the pie pan and push the edges of the dough about 1/2 inch up the side of the pan to create the crust.

Spoon the jam into onto the crust and spread evenly. Lay the peach slices on top. Take the remaining dough and decorate the pie however you like. Either roll out and make lattice or as I did and pinch off pieces, roll into ropes and place on pie. Bake for 25 minutes. Cool for an hour before cutting into it.

Happy Labour Day weekend!
m xo

Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Blossoming Zucchini Pie

I had a little helper today. My niece Ella again. Thankfully she loves being in the kitchen just as much as I do, so when she is around and can spare a few minutes away from her iPad, she comes over to help with the chopping and stirring.

Today we decided to make zucchini pie because I had a few zucchini laying around from my moms garden (we didn't grow any this year). She also gave me a HUGE bag of zucchini blossoms (flowers), so I decided to use them in the pie also. But this totally optional as I know that they are hard to find. I, myself have gone to the farmers market down the street from me on a few occasions and they were sold out. I need to get there as soon as they open, which is like 7:30 in the morning. And well, I never did that. The flowers aren't really nessessary for this, I just think they make it look pretty. Lol.

To prepare the flowers, if you are using them, cut the bottoms off and split the flower lengthwise to remove the little pistil in the middle. Depending on how many you have, leave 5-6 to decorate the top of the pie and chop up the rest for the filling.

I normally make a frittata in a pan, but decided to change it up a bit by baking it a quiche baking dish. I sautéed the zucchini and an onion and mixed it in with eggs, a bit of cream, some herbs and cheese of course. I used Compte because, well, thats what I had. You can substitute Gruyere or mozzarella.

This dish is really nice because it can be served at room temperature, which means it can be made ahead of time. Great for brunch!

Zucchini Pie

Butter, to grease baking dish
Bread crumbs, to coat dish
1 tablespoon olive oil
4 cups sliced zucchini
1 medium red onion, chopped
6 eggs
1/4 cup half and half cream
1/4 cup parsley, chopped
1 teaspoon herbs de provence
2 cups Compte cheese, grated
12 zucchini blossoms or flowers, totally optional
Salt for the zucchini

Preheat oven to 350F.
Butter and coat a 12 inch, round baking dish. Set aside.
Place the sliced zucchini in a colander and salt liberally. Let it sit for 30 minutes.
Heat olive oil over medium-high heat and add the zucchini and the chopped onion. Cook until soft. Set aside and let cool. In a large bowl, mix the eggs, cream, parsley, herbs de provence, cheese and half the zucchini flowers, if using. Add the cooled zucchini mixture and pour in baking dish. Place 5-6 of the flowers decoratively on top and drizzle a little olive oil. Bake for 40 minutes until golden or a knife inserted in the middle comes out clean.. Let it rest for 10-15 minutes before serving.

m xo