Coffee (cup)cake

Workplace celebrations are a perfect excuse to bake. I can test out a new recipe and don’t have to worry about having leftovers. This was a great recipe to try for my first coffee cake – simple, few ingredients, and rather quick.

Here’s what you’ll need and how it’s done:

Streusel:
• ¾ cup white flour
• ½ cup brown sugar
• 1 tsp cinnamon
• ¼ cup butter, melted

Cake:
• ½ butter, room temperature
• ½ cup sugar
• ¼ cup brown sugar
• 1 egg + 1 egg yolk
• ½ cup sour cream
• 1 tsp vanilla extract
• 1⅓ cups flour
• 1 tsp baking powder
• ¼ tsp baking soda
• 1 pinch of salt
• Several dashes of cinnamon

For the topping, mix the dry ingredients, then stir in the melted butter. Mix until well blended.

For the cake, cream together the butter and sugars. Add the egg and egg yolk, mix. Add the sour cream and vanilla, mix. Mix the dry ingredients together, then add them to the wet ingredients. Stir until just blended. Add the topping.

I added a layer of wildberry jam between the batter and the topping. Fresh blueberries would be another excellent option. Lots of possibilities!

Bake at 350°F for ~20 minutes for cupcakes / ~35 minutes for cake (8 inch pan), or until a tester comes out clean.

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The recipe has been adapted from Anna Olson’s book Back to Baking.

Fried salami sandwich & tomato and bocconcini salad

Yes, I know it’s been way too long. Moving, extreme heat, and slacklining have all distracted me from baking and blogging for quite a while! I now, however, have something wonderful and delicious to share…

Baked salami sandwiches and tomato salad. It’s more amazing than I can actually demonstrate via text and not terrific photos. You’ll just have to trust me on this one and try it out for yourself. The crunchy salami, warm goat cheese, and roasted pepper make the perfect combo for a sandwich, while the grape tomatoes, bocconcini, and basil provide for a light and refreshing side.

Here’s what you’ll need and how it’s done:

Sandwich:
• Hot genoa salami (sliced, 50-100g / person)
• Roasted red pepper
• Goat cheese
• Fresh focaccia bread

Heat a pan to medium-high with ~1tbs of olive oil. Add salami and chopped roasted red pepper. Fry up for 7-10 mins until it begins to get slightly crispy on the edges. While this is frying, cut up the focaccia and prepare it for the oven. When frying is done, place the salami and pepper on bread and crumble goat cheese on top (best to be generous – you can thank me later). Bake for a maximum of 5 minutes.

Salad:
• Grape tomatoes (1-2 pints)
• Bocconcini (pearls)
• Red onion (1/4 finely chopped)
• Fresh basil
• Olive oil
• Balsamic vinegar
• Salt and pepper

Cut tomatoes in half. Strain and add bocconcini pearls. Finely chop and add basil and onion. Make a small mix of olive oil (1-2 tbs), balsamic (1-2 tbs), salt, and pepper and add it to the salad.

This was such a fantastic combo that we’ll definitely be making again, and when we do I’ll take and post much nicer photos. Enjoy, enjoy!

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Halifax favourites

I didn’t even have a chance to prepare a Halifax favourites post before actually leaving Halifax – too busy wrapping up school & jobs. As time consuming as that was, I’m now done, back in lovely Ottawa, and have the time to share a few of my favourite spots in Halifax.

What’re your favourites? I’m sure there are many places I didn’t even get a chance to try, as my time there flew by so quickly!

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Some photo creds to Kevin James

Lemon is my favourite

Actually. Lemon really is the best. I’ll be honest, I’ve had zero time for making anything photo / blog worthy, as school is wrapping up and I’m close to graduation (!!). While school’s ending soon, I thought I’d do a quick round-up of some must-try recipes featuring lemon as a key ingredient. Obviously, I’m missing lots of options, so please suggest your favourites!

Meyer Lemon Loaf – Sprouted Kitchen

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Lavender and Lemon Cloud Cupcakes – Sweetapolita

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Lemon Poppy Seed Cupcakes with
Lemon Curd Filling & Blueberry Cream Cheese Frosting
 – Adventures in Cooking

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Blueberry-lemon Coffee Cake – Sweet Pea’s Kitchen

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Lentil & wheat berry salad

I’ve been trying to think of ways to switch up some of my staple meals in an effort to be a bit more healthy and eat more veggies. This salad is one that my mother made over the holidays and it was a hit with everyone that tried it. As you may know, I love recipes that don’t really need to be followed precisely. Once I got a sense of the basic ingredients for the salad and dressing, I customized this recipe for what I had on hand and what I wanted to eat.

Berry-Lentil-Salad

In the salad:

  • 1 1/5 cups lentils 
  • 1/2 cup cooked wheat berries
  • 1/4 yellow pepper
  • 1/4 cup broccoli 
  • 1/2 zucchini 
  • 2 stalks green onion
  • 1/4 cup grape tomatoes

In the dressing: 

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/8 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1/4 tsp cumin
  • 1/4 tsp curry powder
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon 

All of the above are pretty approximate, so definitely experiment and make the recipe suit your own tastes. As for the veggies, everything is finely chopped and the wheat berries are cooled before being mixed in. Once you get the contents all together, add the dressing, mix, and serve! 

On another note, I currently have a lovely loaf of whole wheat, seven grain, cranberry loaf rising and waiting for the oven. Another post will follow shortly!

Beef Wellington: A traditional English dish with a rather snooty-sounding name

[A guest post by my dear friend, Amit Ajwani]

Wellington shares its name with many famed things, one of them being a Duke. Adding to its snobby appeal, even its name is capitalized. This was a source of great segregation in the past.

“Mi lord, may’ive a bit more beef wellington please?”
“It is Beef Wellington, you fishwife. Make that mistake thrice and I shall have you killed.”

This sort of back and forth was common amongst the classes.

I typically shy away from costly and elaborate home-cooked meals for peasantry’s sake, so I never really knew what Beef Wellington was. I just knew that it was a classic and opulent English dish, and a likely candidate for one of the most sacred Christmas dinner traditions of all: oneupmanship.

In its essence, Beef Wellington is the finest cut of beef, the tenderloin, used for fillet mignon, seared in a hot pan and basted with English mustard, then wrapped in prosciutto (or foie gras, if you are an especially horrible person), a paste of tasty seasoned mushrooms called a duxelles, all rolled up in pastry, and baked as you would any baked thing.

Serving a Beef Wellington is nothing short of dramatic. You slice into what appears to be a dense loaf of bread, and it bleeds steamy pink meat juices. It’s magical, in an odd sort of way, like you’re a child again, experiencing wonder for the first time, combined with the feeling that something’s just been murdered.

“Mi lord, how’d the beef get in’ere?” an especially classless voice pipes up. “Issit witches agin? Mi lord, iffit’s witches, may be burns dem?” 

Read More…

The brioche collection

There’s a great bakery, Julien’s, by my place here in Halifax that’s got me hooked on brioche. Recipes for brioche have been jumping out at me in my RSS feed and elsewhere. Once this semester finally wraps up (only a few weeks left…!!!), I’ll be baking and baking and baking. I haven’t baked in too long and am missing it more and more every day. 

Nonetheless, for those of you with some free time, I know you’ll want to check out and try these delicious recipes for variations on brioche. 

Have you made brioche before? What’s your favourite recipe?

Wheat brioche bunsSprouted Kitchen

Buttery brioche sandwich rollsThe Café Sucré Farine

Brioche filled with chocolate ganache – Technicolor Kitchen

Brioche à la fleur d’orangerManger