Happy Valentine’s Day!

If Valentine’s Day isn’t a perfect excuse for brunch, I don’t know what is. Especially when you look outside and see the snow blowing, there’s nothing more appealing than staying in your PJs and cranking up that oven to roast some garlic potatoes. Today’s spread included eggs benedict with spinach and smoked salmon, garlic roast potatoes, and a simple fruit salad. Of course, coffee and OJ are also a must. Now, let the food coma begin…

These english muffins are really easy to prep the night before (knead, proof, and shape), then set in the fridge to rest overnight, all set to be freshly baked in the morning. This recipe takes about 4 minutes per side on the stovetop, and then transferred to the oven to finish baking.

Tested out a new trick with these potatoes that worked out great! Quickly parboil the chopped potatoes while you heat up the oven to 400F with a baking tray inside. Then give the tray a nice coating of olive oil and stick it back into the oven to get the oil nice and hot. Drain the potatoes, and shake em up in a colander to rough up the surface a little. You can also sprinkle on a light dusting of flour for an extra crispy skin. Then plop the potatoes onto the hot pan, and stir to coat with the hot oil. Here, I also added some chopped garlic, green onion, and cayenne. Then just bake until crisp and golden, stirring every 10-15 minutes.

I took these two mid-process photos and forgot to take another when they were actually done, but you can get a good idea of the final colour of the potatoes in the leading photo. They turned out nice and crisp on the outside, and soft and creamy on the inside. I’d definitely try these again with some thyme or rosemary next time.

2015-02-14-Potatoes Prep and Mid

As everything is topped off with a hollandaise sauce, it only seems appropriate to finish up this post with an easy recipe. This will make about a cup of sauce, which is enough for 5-6 servings of 2 eggs each. It’s one of those things that’s really quite simple to make, but also quite easy to eff up. As long as you remember to whisk constantly and not let the eggs get too hot, all will be just fine!

Hollandaise Sauce

4 egg yolks
1/2 cup butter, melted
1 Tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
Cayenne, salt, and pepper to taste

Whisk yolks and lemon juice in a heat-proof bowl until thickened and doubled. Set atop a pot of simmering water and continue to whisk, warming up the eggs without making them into scrambled eggs. Make sure the bottom of the bowl has at least a couple inches clearance from the surface of the water. Once your eggs are warm, very gradually trickle in the butter, whisking vigorously to incorporate. Once all the butter is added and the sauce has thickened and doubled, take the bowl off the heat and add the cayenne, salt, and pepper. Should the sauce become too thick by the time you’re serving, simply whisk in a few drops of warm water and it’ll all come together nice and smooth.

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Cardamom Spiced Sugar Cookies

A quick post just to peek at what I’ve been up to. Also, to document a delicious and super easy spiced sugar cookie recipe, perfect for the holidays. I usually find rolling and cutting out cookies quite a tedious chore, but this one proved to be of minimal hassle. Note that I did not say hassle-free…I still really only make these for the fun of decorating them (which then makes it well worth it!)

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“We’re free” is in reference to the end of classes. Rest assured, I am not being held captive in some cookie dungeon.
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Why yes, that is a poop emoji. Only for my classiest of friends.

Cardamom Spiced Sugar Cookies
This recipe makes about 5 dozen, depending on size, and can easily be halved or otherwise scaled.

6 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp cardamom
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp allspice
1/4 tsp cloves
2 cups butter, room temperature
2 cups sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla bean paste, or extract

Sift the flour, salt, and spices, and set aside. Cream the butter and sugar until light and pale, about 5 minutes in a stand mixer. Add the eggs one at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl, until well incorporated. Mix in the vanilla. Add the dry ingredients and mix just to combine. Form into 2 discs and chill in the fridge at least 45 minutes, or chuck it in the freezer to save for future use.

Take out one disc and roll it out to about a 1/4 inch thick, then slide it on a board and place it back in the fridge for 15 minutes. Take out the sheet, and cut out your desired shapes. Place the cut out cookies in the freezer for 15 minutes before baking.

Bake at 325 F for 12-15 minutes, or until the edges start to see some colour and the undersides turn golden brown. If you like particularly crispy or soft cookies, go by colour and adjust baking times accordingly.

Note: Leave cookies to cool to room temperature before storing or decorating. Some suggest waiting a day before decorating, but I haven’t run into any problems doing them on the same day. Also, these were so delicious with the pretzels on top, so if you can incorporate some salty crunch into your decorations, I would highly recommend it. That said, I have also eaten many of these cookies naked and they taste fantastic as is.

Rosemary Roasted Peaches

peachesI came across this beautiful spread of Niagara peaches at the market this weekend, took home a few too many, and roasted em up with some rosemary sugar as inspired by this food52 post. I decided to forgo the salted caramel in the original recipe (I’m not a big can of caramels) and served them with a scoop of ice cream instead. Delicious. And so so simple.

Potatoes

I also picked up these colourful fingerling potatoes, and roasted them with some oregano picked from an organic farm I visited earlier this week. Also another incredibly simple dish made with great produce.

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Summer Baking – Tarts, Cakes, Macs, and More

It’s time to revive the blog! My last post may have been a year ago, but rest assured I haven’t burned down my kitchen just yet. I have, however, been spending an unhealthy amount of time watching Masterchef Australia, which has naturally led to spending a lot of time in the kitchen making all sorts of unhealthy (and on occasion, somewhat healthy) food. With that said, here’s a mishmash of some of the things I’ve been up to:

Nectarine, Mascarpone, and Gingersnap Tart

Nectarine, Mascarpone, and Gingersnap Tart
I
 had this one bookmarked for ages and finally got around to making it. It’s absolutely delicious as written, and a great summer dessert, but I may go for a slightly lighter filling next time, maybe even just a whipped version of this one.


Pistachio Sponge with White Choco Mousse and Yuzu Curd
Pistachio Sponge with White Choco Mousse and Lemon Curd
Taken straight off the Masterchef AU website. Except I made a lemon curd instead of a yuzu curd, because I’m not fancy enough for that yet. And I also don’t own an ice cream machine, but I do have a freezer and a whisk which did an admirable job. David Lebovitz has a great post here about making ice cream at home without an ice cream machine.


Lemon TartLemon Tart
This project started out as an attempt to make the Lemon Sabayon Tart with Pine Nut Crust from Thomas Keller’s French Laundry Cookbook, but although the pine nut crust was delicious, I undercooked the sabayon and ended up with a runny (but still delicious) goopy mess. There’s also a recipe alongside the tart for a honeyed mascarpone cream which is heavenly, and which I gladly ate by the spoonful while watching my lemon sabayon slowly ooze out of the pan. I found myself with some leftover lemon curd a few days later and decided to bake up a simple french tart crust to house a more stable filling, which thankfully resulted in a tasty treat (though I unfortunately ran out of ingredients to make that honeyed mascarpone cream I still dream about).

 

Mushroom Leek Risotto

Mushroom Leek Risotto
There’s a million and one recipes out there for risotto, but I ended up reading too many and having them all become a muddled mess in my brain, so I ended up forgoing a recipe altogether and stuck with a flavour combination I know and love. I did admittedly forget to check the salt levels of my broth until I was nearly finished cooking the dish, so I finished it off with water instead of broth and sprinkled in some toasted (and crucially unsalted) almond slivers. The light crunch and nuttiness of the almonds paired surprisingly well with the creamy risotto and rounded it out very nicely.


Warm Beet Orzo Sa

Warm Orzo Beet Salad with Feta and Arugula
I
 don’t know how it’s taken me so long to find out about Food52.com but so far everything I’ve seen has been fantastic. I’ve only recently gotten into beets, and although I prefer them raw, they’re great in this warm salad. The orzo is cooked in the beet-boiling water and together with the creaminess of the feta and bitterness of the arugula, it all makes for a great earthy salad that I’ll likely soon be making again.


Macarons

Cardamom Coffee Pistachio Macarons
and
Hazelnut Chocolate Macarons

And lastly, in classic ovenloven style, I’ll wrap up with some macarons. The pistachios and hazelnuts are mixed into both the shells and the whipped ganache fillings. I made a lot of unmeasured adjustments to these, but they turned out to be quite good so a recipe will (hopefully) be coming soon!

Banana Oat Muffins

banana oat muffins title

Well kids, it all starts with a craving. Then just mix in a google search and a quick trip to the store, and that’s how these banana oat muffins were born. They are quite delicious and extremely quick and simple to make. You probably already have most of the ingredients on hand, and it certainly wouldn’t be hard to come up with an excuse to make these. They’re also a great way to use up some of those over-ripe bananas you have sitting on your counter. Muffins are delicious at any time of day, and this goes for all “breakfast” foods, in my opinion (or if you need Amy Poehler to convince you, click here). It is easy to substitute ingredients or throw in a little somethin’ extra. I made this batch with toasted walnuts, chocolate chips, cinnamon, and applesauce in place of the oil. Hope you enjoy these as much as I do. Happy Saturday!

Continue reading Banana Oat Muffins