Monthly Archives: October 2015

Apple Pielettes & Other Domestic Stories

Sing a song of sixpence, a pocket full of (apple) pie!

Sing a song of sixpence, a pocket full of (apple) pie!

I came home today after work and started making the latest recipe for my online-bake-a-long group: the Apple Pielettes from Dorie Greenspan’s Baking Chez Moi. I decided that I wasn’t going to use the apricots, because I didn’t want to go to make a special shopping trip to buy them, and I switched out the raisins for dried cranberries. I got the butter out of the fridge for the pie dough, set aside the last three apples in the house…and then the DH came home. (*insert dum-dum-DUM music here*)

The DH likes to take apples to work because he likes to snack on them, so yesterday he had bought six apples at the local store: 3 for today, and 3 for tomorrow. When he realized that I wanted to make a pie with them, I think he was a bit torn: pie for midnight snack, or apples for snack tomorrow? (I obviously come down on the side of pie, because PIE, but to each his own.)

The long story short is that he went back out into the cold and damp Toronto night, walking to the closest store, to get some more apples, so that I could bake my pie. While he was gone, I made our lunches for tomorrow, as well as some potato salad for dinner tomorrow. In the middle of all these preparations, the DH came back looking all boyishly pleased with himself, and with a flourish, presented me not only with a bag of apples, but with a lovely fall bouquet of flowers. Wasn’t that sweet? (*imagine me with cartoon hearts in my eyes & thumping heart in chest, Pepe Le Pew-style*) And I just realized that I have no end to this story, so I am going to awkwardly segue back to the pielettes.

Speaking of pielettes (see what I did there?), they’re really just mini-pies, made in a muffin tin. Or in my case, a mini muffin tray, plus a tart tin.

Roll 'er out, and fill 'er up!

Roll ‘er out, and fill ‘er up!

I mixed up the dough and let it chill while I chopped the apples and added in the spices, vanilla extract, and cranberries. I used some homemade wine jelly instead of the apple jelly or orange marmalade that Dorie suggested, simply because that’s what I had in the fridge. And I thought the wine flavour would be a nice addition to apples and spice!

I rolled out the dough, and used a wine glass to cut out the bottoms of the pastries, and pressed those into the buttered mini muffin tin. Then I filled them up with the apple mixture, cut out the tops with a champagne glass, and put it all together. I sprinkled some pearl sugar on top, and popped them into the oven, and baked until the tops were golden and the apple mixture was all bubbly and juicy looking.

Pies in the making.

Pies in the making.

I let it cool (briefly. Do I look like I have patience?) and popped them into my mouth! Yum!

If I made these again, I’d likely increase the amount of sugar in the galette dough, as I found it a bit hearty while I was looking for something more sweet. I’d also double the amount of wine jelly I used, and add at least 4 times as much spice. That said, these would make a great addition to an appetizer party! They’re little morsels that can be eaten in one hand, and aren’t too rich, while still satisfying the craving for apple pie. I’m curious what everyone else thought of them!

As I write this, I’m munching away on one of the little pielettes. I’ve also added them to tomorrow’s lunches. And there are still a dozen apples in the fruit bowl, so all is well in our household again! (Plus pie! I mean, really, you can’t go wrong with pie.)

Next Post: Peanut Butter Cups. Or…a foodie book review! Or spice central. Decisions, decisions — a blog-writers job is never done! 🙂

Chocolate Chip Zucchini Loaf, Domesticity, & Why I Freeze My Zucchini

Still life in loaf.  Note the still melty chocolate chips!

Still life in loaf. Note the still melty chocolate chips!

I’ve been planning to make a post about pumpkin pie, as a way to use up the canned pumpkin that I previously posted about, but I couldn’t resist the call of the frozen zucchini in my freezer. So naturally I had to make a chocolate chip zucchini loaf!

Why do I have frozen zucchini in my freezer? Well, the DH bought some a few weeks ago and I hadn’t had a chance to cook it before it was losing optimal freshness. And since we all know that I hate wasting food, obviously I had to do something with it. So I grated it, placed 1/2 c. mounds of the grated zucchini on a cookie tray, stuck it in the freezer until semi-solid, and popped the resultant 1/2 c. servings of zucchini into a freezer bag. Bam! Pre-grated, pre-portioned servings of vegetables for whenever I need them!

Key ingredients.

Key ingredients.

Of course, now I need to actually see how the frozen veggies hold up in the baking. The Chocolate Chip Zucchini Loaves (two) are currently in the oven, and I’m resisting the temptation to peep and see how they’re doing. Watched loaves never bake, amirite?

What recipe did I use? This one! Naturally, I made some modifications:

  • I added a half cup of water, because while the recipe said that the dough would be thick, it didn’t say that it would be the consistency of thick cookie dough and unable to be stirred.
  • I cut out 1/2 c. of the chocolate chips, because the recipe calls for 1 1/2 c. chocolate chips. Cutting out the half cup is my attempt to make it healthier. Ish.
  • I also added in a half cup of chopped walnuts because I have a container of walnuts in my baking supplies cupboard that I want to use up. The DH went shopping at Bulk Barn a while ago, and came home with so. many. nuts. He was so enthusiastic over his purchases; it was so cute! Of course, we have now have large containers of walnuts, cashews, and I believe almonds too. So I’ve been looking for ways to use them up.) And healthy fats are always good.

Speaking of the DH, he was doing some work while I was baking the loaves, and when the lovely fragrance of baking sweets started drifting from the kitchen, he popped his head around the corner and was all, ooooh, you’re baking! So now not only do I need to stop myself from looking in the oven, I need to stop him from checking if it’s done too. *shakes head and smiles fondly* I do love my domestic little moments, can you tell? 🙂

Nutty, chocolate-y yumminess!

Nutty, chocolate-y yumminess!

The result? Yum-city! (Oooh, speaking of which, I was in New York last week for a long weekend, hence the time lapse between my last post and this one. I was too busy eating New York bagels with cream cheese, street pretzels, Brooklyn-style oven-fired pizza, and various other delights. I also did the touristy visiting places things. But come on, the food!)

I would totally freeze other grated veggies like I did with this zucchini. The loaf turned out great! I’d likely decrease the cinnamon a bit next time, and perhaps reduce the water to a 1/4 c., as the loaf took about 1.5 times as long to bake as the recipe said. But regardless, it’s yummy! Time for a midnight snack, I think!

Next Post: Likely the pumpkin pie I was talking about. Or the homemade peanut butter cups I was talking about. Or the genuine Indian spice I was talking about. Or reviewing a book that the sister of a friend of mine wrote. So much food — so little time to post! 🙂 Any preferences?

Tiger Cakes & The Rare Case of Too Much Chocolate!

Close up shot of the little cakes. Note that all the chocolate chips sunk to the bottom of the cake. Eh. Still tastes good!

Close up shot of the little cakes. Note that all the chocolate chips sunk to the bottom of the cake. Eh. Still tastes good!

It’s post-Thanksgiving weekend here in Canada, and I feel like I ate my weight in stuffing this long weekend. I did manage to go on a bit of a hike yesterday, and came home all energized and feeling good (or at least less guilty about all that – very, very delicious – stuffing). And then I realized that today is another of my bake-a-long days. (Anyone else remember the stretchy-pants episode of Friends? It suddenly feels very relevant.)

Today the Tuesdays with Dorie group is making Tiger Cakes recipe from Dorie Greenspan’s Baking Chez Moi cookbook, little almond mini cakes with chunks of chocolate (which are supposed to melt into tiger-ish stripes) with a dollop of ganache on top. V. easy, v. delicious, and v. fattening; there’s more sugar and butter in this recipe than flour or ground almonds. And that’s before one adds in the chocolate!

The batter for these cakes is easy to mix up, and includes 3/4 c. sugar and 3/4 c. melted butter. And that’s before one adds in 1/2 c. of chopped chocolate. The recipe calls for finely chopped dark chocolate, but I replaced it with chocolate chips because I used the last of my dark chocolate stash for some other recipe. (Can’t remember which, but I believe it was delicious!)

Do they look like Dorie's? Close enough, I say! Don't know how she got those perfect crunchy exteriors, but oh well.

Do they look like Dorie’s? Close enough, I say! Don’t know how she got those perfect crunchy exteriors, but oh well.

Once the little cakes are baked and cooled, one is supposed to put a bit of ganache on top. I didn’t have cream in the house and didn’t want to buy a whole container just for this recipe, so where the recipe calls for chocolate and cream to make the ganache, I subbed in chocolate chips, milk, and a spoonful of generic-Nutella. A bit gloppy as opposed to smooth, but…close enough, I think!

The DH tasted the little cakes plain (right out of the oven and before they were cooled – we’re well matched! *grin*) and liked the flavour. I tasted them without the “ganache” and with, and I have to say, I actually liked them better without the extra chocolate. It’s a rare cake that isn’t improved by chocolate in my book, but this is one of them. I was actually very impressed with the almond flavour; I tasted the batter (raw egg and all – I’m so daring! *grin*) and did a double-take and checked whether I had put in almond flavouring or vanilla, as it tasted so almond-y.

Aside from recommending them without the extra ganache, the only other comment I have about these cakes is that I didn’t find them as easy to remove from the pan as I expected them to be. Ah well. I’ve packed a container of them for work tomorrow, in an effort to avoid the stretchy-pants fate. If they’re not here, I can’t eat them, right? Even if they are delicious. So delicious.

One more can’t hurt, can it? Maybe I’ll have just one more taste….

Next Post: Pumpkin Pie, using home-canned pumpkin! Or store bought. To each, his own, oui?

Housekeeping Notes: I just started an FB page for this blog, so now you can follow me on FB! Gorgeous pics (says I), delicious recipes, and I promise to also post my #kitchenfails so that you can have a good laugh. Now that’s worth following me for, yes? You can find me at www.facebook.com/approachingfood. See you in cyberspace?

Canning Pumpkin: From Gourd to Gourmet

homecanned pumpkin with textThings I have canned in the last year:

and now…PUMPKIN!

That’s right, I’m in the middle of making my own pumpkin pie, from scratch! I’ll share with you in a later post about the pumpkin pie, but here’s how to can your own pumpkin.

No preservatives, no added anything, just pure pumpkin!

Firstly, you need a pumpkin. I got this one when I went apple-picking with my family a couple of weeks ago. It was either going to be a jack-o-lantern or a pumpkin pie, and my tummy won the debate.

The pumpkin. I've heard that sugar pumpkins are good, but I just picked up one that wasn't expensive and looked cute. Meh. Good enough!

The pumpkin. I’ve heard that sugar pumpkins are good, but I just picked up one that wasn’t expensive and looked cute. Meh. Good enough!

You’ll also need a slow-cooker. Most people have one tucked away somewhere, otherwise they’re super-cheap on Craigslist.

Halve, and scoop out the seeds. Reserve those seeds for roasting.

Halve, and scoop out the seeds. Reserve those seeds for roasting.

Home-Canned Pumpkin

  • 1 pumpkin
  • water
  • a slow cooker

Cut of the top of the pumpkin. Scoop out the seeds and reserve for roasting. Scrape the insides of the pumpkin until no more gooey innards remain. Peel outside of pumpkin. Chop into small chunks. Place 1/2 the pumpkin in the slow cooker (it’ll likely take two batches to use up the entire pumpkin) with about 1 c. of water. Cook on high for about 8 hours, stirring every two hours. Once soft when pricked with a fork, blend using an immersion blender. Then, it’s ready to can!  

pumpkin peeled

To can, sterilize your canning jars. I just rinsed mine in water and popped them in the microwave for a minute. Then I filled up the jars with the pumpkin mixture, leaving about 1/2 cm room at the top of the jar. I screwed on the lids fingertip tight, and then placed them in boiling water for 20 minutes. Remove from water bath and let cool. You should hear the lids go ‘pop!’ at they cool and the seal sets. If the lid doesn’t pop, it’s not properly canned; but you can just put that jar in the fridge and use it up in the next week. If you follow this process though, you shouldn’t have any unpopped jars. And then you can store your jars in the cupboard and feel very pioneer-like! Or take a photo and post it on facebook. #authentic #preservative-free #hipsterforlife

Chop into pieces, and pop into the cooker, with some water. And yes, those are some pickled beets that you see cooling in the corner. My mum told me I was "a real farmer's wife"! Incidentally, I live in the city.

Chop into pieces, and pop into the cooker, with some water. And yes, those are some pickled beets that you see cooling in the corner. My mum told me I was “a real farmer’s wife”! Incidentally, I live in the city.

I’ve got my second batch of pumpkin in my slow cooker now, and the simmering pumpkin is making my home smell like pumpkin pie. I hadn’t realized that pumpkin, by itself and without any spices, actually has a distinct pumpkin smell. I reallllly want pumpkin pie now!

Boil to make sure they heat seal!

Boil to make sure they heat seal!

Which leads to me to my…

Next Post: Pumpkin Pie! And how to make it. Plus a fancy braided crust for that uber-Martha look. Bring on the (Canadian) Thanksgiving!

Memories of Meals Past: Carrot Muffins & Apple-Pear Butter

Fluffy, moist, and vegelicious!

Fluffy, moist, and vegelicious!

I had some carrots in the fridge that I wanted to use up, and I was craving something sweet but healthy, so last night I made carrot muffins using this recipe. I meant to post it last night but after baking until the wee hours of the morning, I thought I should actually get some sleep, so while it’s not a tbt feature, it is technically a memory of meals past. Good enough, I say!

In terms of the recipe, I swapped the raisins for dried cranberries, since I don’t keep raisins in the house (not a big raisin fan) but I always I have dried cranberries for baking. I also stirred in about 1/3 c. ground flax seeds, because I had them in the fridge and why not add some omega-fatty-acids? Good for the brain and all that! And then I added a pinch of ground cloves.

If I made it again, I would add some additional spices, and definitely some nuts. I had this warm out of the oven with some chilled homemade apple-pear butter (I used this recipe but subbed in some pears for some apples because why not), and OMG, my mouth was in Autumnal heaven! The flavours of fall all melded together and became so drool-worthy that my mouth is watering again as I type this, no joke.

I didn’t read the comments on the recipe beforehand, and if I had, I probably would have reduced the amount of oil in the recipe, just to up the healthiness quotient, but they turned out fantastic, so maybe I wouldn’t have after all.

I packed a muffin and some apple-pear butter for lunch today, and then ate them while sitting with a couple of cool cats. I offer pictorial proof.

Not catnip-flavoured? Not interested.

Not catnip-flavoured? Not interested.

Cat was curious but not impressed. But if you make these, your mouth will be! Just be sure to add in those additional spices. And if you do, let me know what combo of spice you favour for flavour!

Next Post: Peanut butter cups! Really! And wine jelly bonbons.