Monthly Archives: November 2014

Memories of Meals Past: Roasted Harvest Veggies

Plated and looking fiiiiiiiine!

Plated and looking fiiiiiiiine!

Today’s Memory of Meals Past (a memory I made tonight. What?!? It counts!) comes to you thanks to a recipe I found on Food52, a very cool foodie blog. I think it’s kind of au courant, especially on twitter. I find the tweets very savvy and on-trend. (Cool. Au courant. Savvy. On-trend. Are you sensing a foodie crush yet?)

The recipe? Roasted Sweet Potato and Apple with Pearl Onions and Crispy Sage. Except that I substituted regular onions for pearl onions, added in carrots, and changed the quantities of veggies. Because of course I did.

Frying me up a mess of onions.

Frying me up a mess of onions.

I chopped, I pan-fried, I tossed, I roasted. And waited. And roasted some more.

And then I turn on the broil function and sat in front of the oven on a wooden bar stool, watching the veggies to make sure they didn’t catch fire. I like my veggies and I did NOT want them going up in flames! I’m sure you’re wondering now why on earth they would.

Well…did I ever tell you the story about my accidental Brownies Flambe? It came up at a dinner party that my sister and I were at recently and apparently it made quite an impression. And here I thought I was the only one with the image seared into my memory. Anyway, one time I’ll write a whole post about kitchen disasters. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll walk away feeling better about yourself. Or at least your cooking ability.

Speaking of which, I do not understand how the people who wrote the glowing reviews for this recipe did not have moments of self-doubt. How on earth did their recipe turn out? Or are they just saying that it did, because it sounds so easy and really, who could mess up the whole toss-veggies-with-oil-and-roast thing? *cough*QueenOfSubstitutions*cough*) Are they just saving face? I don’t think so.

So what did I do wrong? Maybe I didn’t chop up the carrots and sweet potatoes into small enough chunks? Hmm. Let me go and review the recipe picture again. Hmm. I think that’s the only possible explanation. But…still. I really don’t think it’s realistic to cook sweet potatoes for an unspecified amount of time (long enough to quick-fry onions and crisp sage) and then add in an additional 10-15 minutes cooking, and have them be cooked through. That’s like maaaybe 30 minutes in the oven. Even if I chopped the sweet potatoes into cubes half the size of a pearl onion…well, I guess it depends on the size of the pearl onion.

Still Life in Harvest. Sans pearl onions.

Still Life in Harvest. Sans pearl onions.

Verdict: the recipe should have specified that the sweet potatoes should have been cubed into teeny, tiny pieces.

Regardless, once I’d made my adjustments to the quantities, and roasted the heck out of the veggies, it did turn out yummy. I might double the sage next time (I still have a bunch left from this recipe), and maybe figure out another herb to add (I’m thinking thyme), but generally, yum! I would never have thought to add in apples. I’ve packed some for the DH and I for lunches. I hope he likes it too!

Here’s a question: how do you roast your veggies? I LOVE LOVE LOVE roasted veggies, but have yet to find a recipe that I heart as much. Any suggestions? Let me know in the comments!

Next Post: Up with Quinoa. And carrots. And what’s the deal with rutabaga?  

On My Mind: Traffic, the Increasing of, and Baking the French Way

I feel so classy, serving Parisian cookies sandwiched with ganache on a Wedgewood platter. The DH would say snobby. Whatevs! It's tasty!

I feel so classy, serving Parisian cookies sandwiched together with ganache on a Wedgewood platter. The DH would say snobby. Whatevs! It’s tasty!

So I’ve been trying different ways to boost traffic to my site. I like to think that I have some tasty, easy recipes and hopefully write about them in an entertaining way, so I think I’ve got the content bit somewhat covered, although of course I always want to improve (and always have a to do list of improvements to make, particularly around website design). But I want to have a higher traffic even though I’m kind of happy with how things have gone over the few months since I started the site (thank you, google Analytics!).

I cross-post on instructables.com (changing content slightly), and on craftster.org as well. I submit photos to foodfoto.com and am part of bloglovin.com, as well as a member of the Food Bloggers of Canada. I’m planning on submitting recipes to contests as well. My goal? To win, of course! Because that would expose me to potential new readers and subscribers!

My latest thing is trying to be a host for an on-line bake-along. A friend introduced me to the Tuesdays with Dorie blog (a clever bit of cookbook marketing), and they’re doing a Baking Chez Moi cookbook release bake-along (at least as far as I understand it). They bake a recipe from the book Baking Chez Moi on Tuesdays twice a month and rotate the hosting of it. I want to be a host, oh, I DO!

Since the goal of this blog was to find the best recipes and refine my techniques, I thought this would be fun! And of course, increasing traffic? WIN! I also have a soft spot for French recipes, especially baked goods, so really, how could it go wrong? (I’m not tempting fate, I’m not, I’m not! No fallen cakes for me! *knock on wood*) I can’t post the recipe, but I’m sure you could find the book in the library once it’s released, or you could buy it yourself. I’m a library person myself, but I think I just might buy this book. An investment in my blog, maybe? Does that make it tax-deductible? *grin*  [Edit: I bought the book. It’s a gorgeous cookbook. Coffee-table worthy!]

And that said, on with the recipe! Today’s recipe, Palets des Dames, can be found in Dorie’s cookbook, Baking Chez Moi. Btw, the pictures in this book are gorgeous and make me hungry every time I look at them. But I’ll do a proper cookbook review with the next recipe I make from the book.

Lumpy is as lumpy does.

Lumpy is as lumpy does.

Palets des Dames, I made them! Feast your eyes on the un-iced buttery, cakey goodness! (There were more lumpy ones but I ate them. Je ne regrette rien!)

Pro Tip: Do not flatten the balls before baking them. They are way too buttery and  cakey and will  become all lace cookie like (I know there’s a French name for them, feille something or other, but the escapes me now [next day edit: tuiles! It came to me in my sleep]). But given my waste not, want not penchant, I plan to crumble them up even further, and stick them in the freezer to sprinkle over future ice cream sundaes.

But…I’m not really a vanilla person. I mean, chocolate? Is where it’s at. Also, I’m almost out of icing sugar; I might have stuck to the recipe exactly otherwise. Oh, who I am kidding – let’s substitute! I had some chocolate ganache leftover from this recipe, so I thought I’d ice them with ganache. That’s French, right? Perhaps with a silver dragee for an accent?

Or maybe I should sandwich them together with the ganache.

Ganache: a Good Thing.

Ganache: a Good Thing.

Mmm…cookies! I do love cookies. And chocolate, in case you hadn’t noticed. And tea, but especially a nice cup of Earl Grey with lavender notes. Which I shall drink right now with my Palets des Dames. Yum!

I wonder if the other bloggers stuck to the recipe exactly? I’m going to go find out! Do you tend to stick to a recipe when you’re trying it out for the first time? Let me know in the comments!

Next Post: Carrot Ginger Stew with Quinoa; something healthy to balance out my Parisian sugar rush!

Pumpkin Cinnamon Buns and Why Insomnia Makes Me a Good Cook

Ooey, gooey, pumpkin goodness!

Ooey, gooey, pumpkin goodness!

My breakfast this morning was a freshly baked Pumpkin Cinnamon Bun! I’ve been meaning to make a pumpkin version of the traditional sweet bun for a while now and I finally put it together last night, let it rise overnight, and baked it this morning. It’s not a Pumpkin Pie Cinnamon Bun, but I think it easily could be turned into one with the addition of some pumpkin pie spice. If you try it, let me know in the comments how it turned out!

I’m pretty happy with this version: there’s cornstarch in the dough, which makes it extra light and fluffy, and there a pumpkin-caramel sauce in the base of the pan for that extra-sticky yumminess that makes a cinnamon bun so good! I will say that there is a lot of butter in this recipe, but it doesn’t taste overly buttery.

Want to make some fall-flavoured cinnamon buns yourself? Bake on!

Pumpkin Cinnamon Buns

Dough

  • 1 c. warm milk
  • 1/2 c. and 1 tbsp. pumpkin puree
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tbsp.  yeast
  • 5 c. flour
  • 1/2 c. sugar
  • 1/2 c. corn starch
  • 1 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 6 tbsp. butter, softened

Mix all dry ingredients together in a mixer. Heat the milk and pumpkin puree in the microwave until warm but not hot and add to dry ingredients. Mix in eggs and soft butter. Let rise in a warm space for at least an hour. Then punch down and roll out on a floured surface.

Filling

  • 1 1/2 cups brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 tbsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 4 tbsp soft butter
  • pumpkin pie spice to taste
  • 1/2 c. pumpkin puree

Mix all the filling ingredients together until it forms a spread. Spread over surface of dough. Roll up dough length-wise, and cut into slices.

Pumpkin Caramel Base

  • 1/2 c butter
  • 4 tbsp. pumpkin puree
  • 1/2 brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp corn syrup

Cook all the pumpkin caramel base ingredients together in a saucepan (I used a frying pan because it was closer to me. Meh. Whatever works!) until all bubbly and melty and caramelly. A very precise science, obviously. Spread in the bottom of a lasagna pan (you can fit 8 in a lasagna pan. Then I had to use a pie plate as well. This recipe makes a bunch!) 

Place slices of rolled-up dough on the sauce, and let the buns rise for another hour or overnight. Bake in a 350 degree oven for about 20 minutes or until golden on top and cooked through. Drizzle with a mixture of icing sugar and milk while still warm. And bite into a nourishing and delicious cinnamon bun!

Post-rising-in-the-pan, but pre-baking-in-the-oven. They're puff-alicious!

Post-rising-in-the-pan, but pre-baking-in-the-oven. They’re puff-alicious!

As I said above, I baked these last night. I pulled out my bowls and flour and spices at 11 pm because I couldn’t sleep and wanted to make something yummy. I do a lot of cooking in the evenings, I find. A decade (or two, to be honest) ago, I used to be a morning person. But these days I’m a night owl to end all night owls. I actually have an official sleeping disorder — two, to be exact. Initial Onset Insomnia as well as Sleep Phase Shift Disorder. Which is why you’ll often find that I post at night. But I like being alert in the evening hours. It gives me a chance to make delicious things for the next day. Speaking of which, I’m trying out something new tomorrow. Stay tuned!

Plated and mere seconds away from being devoured by yours truly.

Plated and mere seconds away from being devoured by yours truly.

Next Post: Parisian-Style Baking and an On-Line Baking Group. Plus cookies. And chocolate. Because chocolate!

Linking up at Meal Plan Monday!

Triple Chocolate Tart with Homemade Peppermint Patties

Eating my triple chocolate torte...topped with homemade peppermint patties!

Eating my triple chocolate torte…topped with homemade peppermint patties!

One of my friends hosted a game night recently and as it was a potluck, I volunteered to bring a chocolate dessert. I couldn’t think of one that I’ve already made that I wanted to bring, so I looked around for something yummy to catch my attention. I found a couple of recipes online and modified them to my taste, and voila! Triple Chocolate Tart with Homemade Peppermint Patties was born!

I will definitely be making these peppermint patties many times in the future. They’re an easy melt-in-your-mouth treat to make (only four ingredients!) and keep in the fridge for those chocolate cravings. I love that I can make them and know that they’re colourant and preservative-free. These would make great Christmas/holiday/foodie gifts. If they last that long. *grin*

Let’s patty it up!

Rolling out the fragrant candy dough.

Rolling out the fragrant candy dough.

Homemade Peppermint Patties

  • 1 1/4 c icing sugar
  • 4-5 tbsp. melted butter
  • 1 tsp. peppermint flavouring, to taste
  • 1 1/4  c. choc (I used a mixture of milk chocolate bar and semi-sweet choc. chips)

Mix icing sugar with butter until a sort of dough forms. Add in peppermint flavouring and knead in. Roll out on parchment paper to desired thickness and cut out shapes with a cookie cutter. Transfer to a parchment paper covered baking tray and freeze for at least half an hour.

Melt chocolate in the microwave in short 15 s bursts. Dip frozen peppermint patties into chocolate and place back on parchment paper lined cookie tray. Put back in freezer until chocolate coating is solid.

Store in fridge. Makes 30 bite sized peppermint patties.

Choosing cute shapes for the patties is fun!

Choosing cute shapes for the patties is fun!

And then I placed them ever so carefully on this chocolate tart, which has a chocolate pastry crust, a dark chocolate flourless-cake-type filling, and a milk chocolate ganache topping.  As always, I made modifications: I left out the salt topping from the tart, and only used 3 eggs for the dough and 3 for the filling (as opposed to the 9 total it called for). I also added in icing sugar and more milk chocolate to the ganache on the top when it didn’t set the way I wanted it to.

But the final product? Ta ha! Looks pretty good, huh? Tastes pretty good too! As one of my friends said, it’s like molten chocolate cake! In torte form. With peppermint patties on top!

A slice of the torte at the potluck! Am glad people enjoyed it.

A slice of the torte at the potluck! Am glad people enjoyed it.

Next Post: I’ve been working on the long-promised Pumpkin Cinnamon Buns recipe and I think it’s almost ready!

Memories of Meals Past: Fancied Up Baked Mac n’ Cheese

Fancy lavender-and-thyme encrusted cheese dukes it out with cheddar. Your mouth comes out the winner.

Fancy lavender-and-thyme encrusted cheese dukes it out with cheddar. Your mouth comes out the winner.

Throwback Thursday on Friday, because ha! ha! My blog, my rules! (Also because I took a nap last night and fell asleep and woke up this morning.) So yeah. Memories of Meals Past it is!

In this case, a memory of Tuesday night’s dinner. Or rather a dish I made Tuesday night, meant for Wednesday night dinner, but snacked on at midnight. Huh. I’m starting to sense a theme in my snacking.

At any rate, this is one of the easiest baked Mac and Cheese recipes that I know, and the DH really likes it so I make it once every month or two. I’ve fancied it up with some thyme and lavender encrusted hard cheese we had lying around. I tried to find the cheese name but it escapes me. Anyway, it’s a fancy cheese! Also not my favourite hard cheese, so I had no qualms about sacrificing it to a mac and cheese. And then I sprinkled about a half cup of cheddar cheese on the dish surface simply because I wanted a more golden top.

Yum-city! I ate the edges first because they’re my favourite bit, all golden, crusty, chewy baked cheese. I think it would be easy to add some buttered bread crumbs on top for a more classic baked mac and cheese, and I will say, make sure to reduce the amount of butter unless you want to go swimming. Or need to raise your cholesterol levels. But other than that, enjoy!

Next Post: The can of pumpkin puree on my counter is sending a bat-signal to me. So pumpkin it is! Gnocchi or cinnamon buns is still up for debate.