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Archive for the ‘Almonds’ Category

The last few months have been crazy – as a clinical clerk (senior medical student), I’m often required to be at the hospital well before sunrise.  I’ve needed a hearty breakfast to keep my energy levels up, and critically, one that easy to prepare in a semi-asleep state!  For years I was under the illusion that granola was tricky to make – thank goodness my roommate helped show me the light.

Homemade granola is simple to prep and far more delicious than any grocery store variety I’ve ever purchased.   I love how I can control what I put into it (no longer do I need to put up with raisins…) and how little sugar goes in compared to the bought variety.  This recipe is Jamie Oliver’s and its incredibly versatile: simply mix and match the nuts, seeds, and dried fruits to what’s in your cupboards and to your favourite flavours.

 

Toasted Granola

Toasted Granola

(makes enough to fill a large jar)

 

Ingredients

2 cups quick cook oats

1 heaped cup mixed nuts (hazelnuts, almonds, walnuts, cashews, brazil nuts), coarsely chopped

1/2 cup mixed seeds (sunflower, poppy, pumpkin, sesame)

3/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 1/2 cups dried fruit (raisins, cranberries, apricots, cherries, prunes), coarsely chopped

5 Tbsp. maple syrup

5 Tbsp. olive oil

 

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 F. Mix all the dry ingredients except the dried fruit in a large bowl.  Drizzle with the maple syrup and olive oil and stir to coat evenly.  Transfer granola to a sheet pan (optional: use parchment paper). Toast for 25 to 30 minutes, stirring the granola with a wooden spoon every 5-10 minutes to ensure it cooks evenly.  Remove granola from the oven when it is golden and fragrant. Mix in the dried fruit and let it cool down.

Once cooled, transfer to an airtight container.  Delicious served with milk or over a dollop of yogurt.

Bon appetit!

– Catherine

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Cran almond and feta salad

Since I’ve lived in two very different yet both remote locations these past two years, I’ve learned that a yearning for delicious food and the absence of many of my favourite items makes for some intense cravings. Last year, I would have done just about anything for something other than palm oil and broken-grade rice; this year I would do just about anything for something other than a tasteless carrot or bitter celery.

As a member of the local volunteer fire department and ambulance service, I’m learning about standing up for myself in conversations dominated by men. This past weekend we had a pot-luck at the firehall, and I knew the food would be heavy on “man food”, which I’ve determined through my engagement in the department to mean meat-heavy (always) and often sauce-based dishes or casseroles. The food is usually delicious, but it lacks in the veggie dimension. I hate to follow the entrenched rules and bring light food as is expected of a woman, but at the same time the extreme lack of the vegetable and fruit food group made my final decision to bring a salad a no-brainer. I knew it would just reinforce stereotypes, but that’s something I can handle.

Here’s the recipe for the delicious salad we brought along to the potluck!

Cran Almond Feta with Vinaigrette

Ingredients – 6 servings

1 head lettuce (anything except iceberg if you can help it), washed, dried, and torn into pieces

1/3 cup dried cranberries

1/2 cup sliced almonds

1/2 Tbsp butter

2 Tbsp maple syrup

2/3 cup crumbled feta

1/2 cucumber, quartered then sliced

Vinaigrette

2 Tbsp grain dijon mustard

11/2 Tbsp cider vinegar

4 Tbsp olive oil

1/2 shallot, minced

1 tsp crushed tarragon

salt and pepper to taste

Directions

Heat butter in a frying pan over medium heat. Once melted add the maple syrup. Once hot and mixed, drop in the almonds and cook, stirring every minute or so, until they brown. Allow them to cool and make sure the clusters are not too big by separating them with your fingers.

Wash the lettuce and cucumber and prepare. Place lettuce in a large salad bowl, and sprinkle the cucumber over top, along with the feta and the cranberries, and then the maple-candied almonds. Cover until ready to serve.

To make the vinaigrette, mix the mustard and vinegar well. Add the oil and stir vigorously until it combines. Add the shallot, tarragon, salt and pepper. Pour over salad when ready to eat!

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Wishing you and yours a very happy new year!

The past year has flown by.  It’s been a busy year – finishing up my Master’s thesis, travelling in Tanzania, starting medical school – and I have been very fortunate.  While I’ve had fewer new cooking adventures (to be remedied in 2013), I have certainly enjoyed many old favourites with friends and family!

Gourm(eh?) continues to exceed expectations. It’s hard to believe that a small project for me and Sitelle to share recipes has turned into a blog that has received over 30,000 hits!  We look forward to sharing many more in 2013 – including a few more Canadian specialties.

To start off 2013, I wanted to share the five most popular recipes from 2012.  Bon appetit!

– Catherine

5. Lotus Land Linguini

Creamy lotus land linguine

This pasta from rebar was initially cooked to fulfill a peanut craving.  The lotus land linguini turned out to be a fun and tasty dish enjoyed by all – the leftovers were perfect as a picnic lunch the next day on a wintertime outing to Peggy’s Cove!

4. Whitewater Cinnamon Buns

Waiting for the cinnamon buns to finish rising

Waiting for the cinnamon buns to finish rising

These cinnamon buns from Whitewater Cooks were nice and cinnamony, and perfect for a late morning brunch!

3. Spicy Steamed Fish, Gambian Style

Gambian platter

Sitelle shared many of the recipes she picked up while living in Gambia – and this one looks divine!

2. Christmas Cookies

Swedish Pastries (Thumbprint Walnut Christmas Cookie)

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Slice-and-Bake Icebox Cookies

Icebox Cookies

Christmas baking is a favourite family tradition, and these two cookies are my great-grandmother’s secret recipes.  They continue to be loved year after year!

1. Benachin

Bowl of benachin

Another of Sitelle’s Gambian dishes was our most viewed of 2012, and this is certainly a dish meant to be shared with company!

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I mentioned we’re working on emptying our pantry, and the result is big baking extravaganzas every so often when the weather cools off enough to justify heating up the oven.

Ice cream sandwiches have been a favourite easy dessert of mine for a long time now. They can easily be made according to your schedule: you can make the cookies or buy the cookies; you can make the ice cream or buy the ice cream, or use any permutation in between. Just as long as you have a bit of time to soften the ice cream and then give it a good freeze again, you’re in for a treat!

Ingredients – 8 ice cream sandwiches

16 cookies (plus a few more for snacking on during prep if you’re that type of cook)

1 batch ice cream or one tub (maple-walnut or your favourite flavour from the store)

Directions

Let ice cream soften a bit (leave it out for 10-15 minutes depending on how cold your freezer is). Place cookies in the freezer in the meantime.

When cookies are frozen and ice cream is softened, use a spoon to scoop some ice cream onto one cookie, and slap another cookie onto the other end! It’s that easy. Place in a tupperware container and re-freeze for another hour or so, so they don’t squish everywhere when you serve them to your guests/friends/children!

Bonne appétit.

-Sitelle

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This cookie recipe is somewhat notorious among our friends: somehow, in second year, they acquired the nickname “broccoli cookies” – not because they are made with any part of broccoli, nor because they are green, nor because they do not taste good. On the contrary – they got their name being made almost entirely with whole-wheat flour, which makes them healthier than their all-purpose flour counter parts but are absolutely delicious. They’re super easy, and fast to make. With a cooking time of 8-9 minutes, there’s no excuse not to make them!

Originally the recipe was a classic from the Joy of Cooking – Chocolate chip cookies. Now it’s been altered somewhat, right into the cookbook, in pencil of course. It may just be the page where the book naturally falls open to, at least half of the time.

Ingredients

1 cup whole wheat flour
2 Tbsp all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 egg
pinch or two salt if butter is unsalted
2 tsp vanilla extract

1 cup dark chocolate chips
1 cup chopped blanched almonds

Directions

Preheat oven to 375F. Mix the dry ingredients together in a small bowl. In a large bowl mix the butter, sugar and egg until well combined. Add salt and vanilla and mix well. Combine dry ingredients into wet ingredients. Mix with hands. Add chocolate chips and blanched almonds.

Form teaspoon-fulls of dough into balls and place on baking trays lined with parchment paper. Cook for 8-9 minutes, then carefully remove with a spatula onto cooling racks. They are pretty soft, so they can break if you’re not careful!

Hope you enjoy these simple delights!!

-Sitelle

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When I consider all my favourite Christmas cookie recipes, they all have nuts. Just a few tablespoons of almonds, walnuts, or pecans transforms a pretty regular cookie into something absolutely decadent. These candy canes are my mother’s favourite, and she has been known to hide them from my sister’s friends who devour them.

My grandmother Ford had the brilliant idea of transforming almond crescents into candy canes. Instead of rolling them into the traditional half-moons, she rolled them into candy-canes and painted them with all colours of stripes. These cookies are so much fun to eat, and delicious too with their nutty aroma and hint of cinnamon. Candy canes are slightly finicky to make – rolling the dough into candy canes requires a light and persistent roller, and they break easily when you cover them in the cinnamon sugar – but worth every second of effort!

I should add that all these beautiful cookies were a family effort – my sister mixed the dough and my mother was the chief Candy Cane roller.

Candy Cane Cookies
(makes about 4-5 dozen cookies)
 
Ingredients:
1 cup butter
1/3 cup berry sugar
2/3 cup finely ground almonds*
1 1/2 cup flour
1/4 tsp salt
*****************
Red and green food dye
*****************
1/2 cup berry sugar**
2 tsp cinnamon
 
Directions:
Cream the butter and sugar together. Mix in the almonds, salt, and flour, kneading as necessary to incorporate all the flour. Refrigerate the dough until chilled thoroughly (about 1 hour).

Preheat oven to 325 F. On a clean counter, roll a small amount of dough into a thick pencil-width, between 2.5- to 3-inch long shape. Fold the top quarter of the dough down to form the candy cane’s hook.  Transfer to a baking sheet, keeping cookies at least one-inch apart.  With toothpicks, paint the candy canes with stripes using red and green food dye.

Bake the cookies for 14-16 minutes, until the edges just begin to turn golden brown.  Allow to cool slightly on the tray, before carefully rolling them individually in the cinnamon and sugar mixture. Transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely.

 
Bon appetit!
– Catherine
 
*You can buy ground almonds, but they tend to stale quickly. For a fresher taste, you can grind blanched almonds pieces either by hand or in a food processor.

**Berry sugar is super fine granulated sugar, often used to make jam. If you can’t find it , regular white sugar works just fine.

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Dare I admit that over the Christmas holidays, my family and I baked seven pounds worth of butter?  We made many a family favourite from tourtière to my grandma’s delicious coffee cake recipe.  And of course, we made half a dozen types of Christmas cookies to enjoy.

Now I know a recipe is an old family tradition (handed down from mother to daughter over many generations) when the first ingredient is melted fat and the only instruction to be found is “bake in moderate oven”.   These icebox cookies have indeed stood the test of time. My mother has since modified a few of the ingredients (we have long substituted butter for melted fat), but the stains on our family recipe is testament to the deliciousness of these Christmas cookies.

The batter is a cinch to make and makes about 8 or 9 dozen cookies altogether.  The simplicity of icebox cookies lies in its baking: Once the batter is mixed, the dough is first rolled into logs and frozen in the freezer, and then, quickly sliced and baked.  Our family will often bake one or two rolls, saving the third for a special occasion a few months later.  With red and green candied cherries complementing the toasted almonds, these buttery, crispy cookies are an absolute delight!

Icebox Cookies

(makes over 100 cookies)

 

Ingredients:

2 cups unsalted butter

3/4 cup white sugar

3/4 cup brown sugar

3 eggs

4 1/2 cups flour

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp salt

1  1/2 cups finely chopped almonds, toasted in oven with butter

1/2 cup each green and red candied cherries

 

Directions:

Cream the butter and sugars together. Beat in the eggs one at a time, until the batter is light and fluffy. Mix in the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.  Fold in the toasted almonds and candied cherries.

Spread three large pieces of wax or parchment paper on your counter.  Divide the cookie dough into thirds and roll each section into a log.  Chill for at least two hours or freeze for up to three months.

Preheat your over toe 350 F. Unwrap log, and place on a cutting board.  Using a sharp knive, thinly slice into 1/4 inch (or about half a centimetre) rounds.  Place on a greased cookie sheet about an inch apart. Bake until pale golden, 6-10 minutes depending on the thickness of your cookies, rotating the sheets halfway through.

The cookies will crisp as they cool.  Perfect with a glass of milk or tea!

– Catherine

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