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Archive for the ‘Baking’ Category

Today, as I drove home I listened to a tribute to Stuart McLean of the Vinyl Café playing on CBC radio. It was a show about love stories, encounters, and friendships. It was all about companionship. One of the stories was about a couple who had magical chemistry, and they would send each other photos of them eating cookies. It reminded me of what role food plays in many of our lives. Not only is it what sustains us, but it is often something that brings people together. Often it is not necessarily the food itself, but the fact that it is shared, that makes it special.

I can remember even when I was a very small child looking forward to meals with our family in France. It was always special. Meals often took hours, but we didn’t notice the time going by.

When I was in undergrad, meals brought friends together, many of whom are still very near and dear.

When I lived in The Gambia, not a day went by without food being shared. I could never keep up with the enormous generosity of the village where I lived, until one day I learned that I could share the food that was brought for me. We would nurture each other.

These past few weeks I’ve had a lovely time in a clinical rotation, working with a special team dedicating themselves to providing the best possible care for their patients, at a level which I have rarely seen. Witnessing such dedication, I wanted to give back, so I made these delicious cookies to help fuel us through the day. I hope you will enjoy this recipe as much as we did, and that it serves as a backdrop to many tea parties, work afternoons, or any other pick-me-ups you might need.

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Ingredients – for approximately 40 cookies

  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 3/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1 cup unsalted and softened butter
  • 1 1/2 cups brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 Tbsp vanilla extract
  • 3 cups oatmeal – I use old fashioned rolled oats
  • 1 cup dried cranberries
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350, and line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or grease them
  2. Sift together flour, baking soda and powder, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg
  3. In a large bowl, beat butter and sugar until fluffy. I use a stand mixer but you can also beat it by hand. Add eggs and vanilla and beat for a few more minutes, until pale and well incorporated
  4. Add flour mixture to butter mixture, and mix
  5. Stir in cranberries, coconut and chocolate chips
  6. place spoonfuls of the dough in your hand and roll into a ball. Place on cookie sheet 1.5 inches apart and bake for 13-15 minutes
  7. Cool on wire rack

Hope you enjoy these little treats!

Sitelle

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While I love my organic vegetable box, I am apt to find myself overloaded with root vegetables come winter. And as much as I love eating carrots, beets, carrots, carrots, turnips, carrots, parsnips, and carrots yet again, I find they easily become boring mid-winter. I’m always looking for new ways to make them more exciting.

While planning a dinner for friends (and trying to use up my accumulated root veggies collection…), I remembered a simple, yet delicious dish my aunt and uncle served me most recently at Thanksgiving (thanks Liz&Dan!). They make a fabulous 7-veggie roasted root vegetable mix, combining the earthy combination of onions, celergy root, turnip, sweet potatoes, potatoes, carrots, and parsnips. To dress up the veg, they toss them not only in oil prior to roasting, but also balsamic vinegar, which results in a delightful glaze.

This dish is easy to prepare, but requires some time to peel and chop the root veg. My aunt and uncle usually leave out beets, as the vibrant red stains other vegetables, but beets are one of my favourites, so I tried this recipe with candy cane beets.  It worked out great if you can get your hands on some (no staining!) or golden beets would also be a good work around. I’m also a fan of roasted brussel sprouts, so included them in my mix.  Feel free to use whatever mix of vegetables you love. The leftovers are great reheated or served cold with some leafy greens.

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Balsamic-Glazed Roasted Root Vegetables

(serving size varies depending on the number of veggies you choose to include in the mix!)

Ingredients

Selection of root vegetables, peeled and cut into ~2 cm cubes:

  • Onion
  • Celery root
  • Turnip
  • Sweet Potato
  • Potato
  • Carrots
  • Parsnips
  • Beets (to avoid staining other veg, use candy cane or golden beets)
  • Brussels sprouts

Olive oil

Balsamic vinegar

Salt & pepper to taste

Mix of your favourite herbs, dried or fresh, finely chopped:

  • basil
  • thyme
  • oregano
  • rosemary
  • parsley
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Veggies ready to roast! 

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400 F.

Prepare root veggies by washing, peeling, and then chopping them into ~2 cm (3/4 inch) cubes. If using, clean and trim the Brussels sprouts and leave whole or halve if large.

In a large bowl, toss veggies with oil and vinegar and herbs to taste. Transfer to a large baking dish (e.g. 8×13 Pyrex) and bake for ~75-90 mins, or until vegetables are baked through and sides are browned. Stir roasting veggies every 20-30 minutes to cook evenly.

 

Bon appetit!

 

Catherine

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I am not a big sweet tooth, but there is something special about Christmas baking – the deluxe ingredients, the warm atmosphere, the special company.  As a child, I always knew Christmas baking season was upon us by the quadrupling of butter quantities in our fridge.  As per tradition, we would make the same six cookies: swedish pastries, candy cane cookies, pecan puffs, icebox, gingersnaps,  and shortbread. I continue to absolutely love these family classics, but for a cookie-exchange I wanted to try something new.

Sitelle came to my rescue and suggested this divine recipe.  It combines two of my favourite flavours – ginger and dark chocolate, in a soft and sparkly cookie. The dark chocolate gives these cookies a richness and the candied ginger gives them spunk.  In one word, amazing!

The recipe comes from the Holiday 2015 LCBO Food & Drink magazine.

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Chocolate Ginger Sparkle Cookies

Makes ~40 cookies

 

Ingredients

8 oz (250 g) dark 70% chocolate, chopped

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 cup butter, softened

2/3  cup granulated sugar

2 eggs

1/4 cup vegetable oil

2 tsp vanilla extract

1/3 cup crystallized ginger, finely chopped

1/2 cup approx. coarse white sugar (or granulated sugar)

 

Directions

Melt the chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over a saucepan of hot, not boiling water.  Stir until smooth and let cool to room temperature.

Meanwhile combine flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt in a small bowl.  In a large bowl, beat butter and sugar until fluffy.  Beat in eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.  Add cooled chocolate, oil, and vanilla, and beat until well blended.  Stir in flour mixture until blended.  Stir in ginger.  Cover and refrigerate until very cold, at least 2 hours or overnight.

Preheat oven to 350 F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper. Place coarse sugar in a shallow  bowl.

Scoop 1-tbsp sized prices of sough and roll into balls.  Roll in coarse sugar to evenly coat dough and shake off excess. Place 2 inches apart on prepared baking sheets.  Keep remaining dough and rolled cookies cold while baking the previous batch.

Bake, 1 sheet at a time, for 8 or 9 minutes, or until cookies are puffed, starting to crack and edges are just set (the centres will still be soft).  Let cool on baking sheet for 2 minutes, then transfer to wire racks to cool completely.

Store cookies between layers of parchment paper in a cooking tin at room temperature for up to 5 days, or freeze for up to 2 months.

Bon appetit!

– Catherine

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My grandmother passed last month. Her passing was sudden and unexpected, so it took awhile to sink in that she was really gone.

In so many ways, she was a remarkable woman. She was incredibly strong, never one to complain. I never heard her say an ill word of anyone. She was a veteran, serving in the Royal Canadian Air Force. And she was fiercely proud of all her grandchildren, cheering us on in life.

She also was a personal inspiration, one of my first mentors in the culinary world. She cooked simply, and loved to feed others. When I visited my grandparents in Edmonton, I loved wandering through their vegetable garden. Arriving mid-summer, there would be the soft fronds of carrot greens and the tender leaves of beets. Zucchinis would be hidden among the broad leaves and the herbs would be fragrant. Her rhubarb was prized: always abundant and ruby red.

To satiate my family’s sweet tooth, she would always have cookies or squares or a pie hidden away in a cupboard. To this day, I associate gingersnap cookies with her kitchen – our family would often indulge in a few of these cookies as a bedtime treat with a glass of milk.

To make sense of her passing, I recently felt a need to bake gingersnap cookies. Her recipe is sharper than some, with a healthy dose of ginger. There is certainly a time and a place for chewy gingerbread, but sometimes a crunchy version is just what you need. And these cookies are definitely snappy.

My family always makes these at Christmas, taking extra time to roll out the dough and decorate them with sprinkles and silver balls. During the year, they are a fabulous icebox recipe: simply roll the dough into a log, freeze, slice the log, and pop the rounds into the oven.   The challenge is always to limit yourself to one or two…

Gingersnaps

Icebox Gingersnap Cookies

(~100 cookies)

Ingredients:

1 c. butter

1 ¾ c. white sugar

2 eggs

½ c. molasses

3 tsp. ginger

1 tsp. cinnamon

½ tsp. cloves

½ tsp. salt

1 ½ tsp. baking soda

4 ½ c. flour

Directions:

Cream the butter and sugar together in a large bowl. Beat in the eggs one at a time. Add the molasses, spices, and baking soda. Sift in the flour, and mix until integrated within the dough.

Preheat the oven to 375 F. Cut cookies using either the icebox or rolling pin method (see below). Place cookies onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Cook for ~10 minutes or until the bottom is golden. Transfer to a cookie rack and allow to cool.

To roll out the cookies:

Form the dough into a large ball. Cover in saran wrap and cool in fridge for 30 minutes. Roll dough out on a clean, floured surface using a large rolling pin to ¼ inch (0.5 cm) thick. Use your favourite cookie cutter to make your favourite shapes. If interested, use sprinkles, silver balls, or other special ingredients to decorate prior to baking.

To make icebox cookies:

Roll the dough into 2-3 inch (5-8 cm) logs. Wrap in wax paper and cool in the freezer for approximately 60 minutes. Using a sharp knife, slice the log into thin ¼ inch (0.5 cm) rounds.

Note that the logs keep beautifully in the freezer for up to 3 months. If not baking immediately, make sure to wrap the logs thoroughly to avoid freezer burn. When ready for delicious cookies, simply remove log from freezer and slice the cookies as above.

Bon appetit!

– Catherine

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With the sun shining and the temperature soaring into the high 20s, it’s hard to believe its already Fall.  I love the changing of the seasons, especially when the weather is so mellow.  As the sun glistens on my bike ride home, I soak in the rays while admiring the leaves starting to turns.  Even better, the farmer’s markets are bustling, bursting with produce.

Who doesn't love peaches and raspberries?

Who doesn’t love peaches and raspberries?

I’ve been home visiting my parents, and this past weekend we celebrated my mother’s birthday. She is a raspberry addict, so her birthday dessert just had to have an infusion of raspberries.  We had a beautiful basket of peaches that were perfectly ripe and also needed eating, so I decided to combine the two for a special treat.  I happened upon a recipe for raspberry peach crisp from Averie Cooks and it seemed like the perfect choice to combine the peaches and raspberries for our celebration.

The crisp itself was delicious, full of bold flavours that complimented rather than overwhelmed each other.  The raspberries’ tartness stood out beautifully with the smooth peaches, a delicious combination I’ll most certainly have to try again!  I loved the fresh flavours along with the ease of assembling – it took a mere 10 to 15 minutes.  And who doesn’t love a crispy oatmeal topping?

Raspberry Peach Crisp

Raspberry Peach Crisp

Ingredients

Fruit Filling

2 1/2 heaping cups diced peach chunks (about 5 medium ripe peaches)
1 1/2 heaping cups raspberries (I used fresh, but the original recipe says frozen is just fine)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch

Crumble Topping

6 tablespoons salted butter, cold
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup old-fashioned whole-rolled oats
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon

Directions

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease a 9-inch pie dish.

For the fruit filling: In a large bowl, add the peaches, raspberries, granulated sugar, and cornstarch.  Toss gently to combine and place in pie dish

For the crumble topping: Place the brown sugar, oats, flour, cinnamon, and salt in a bowl. Use a pastry cutter or your fingers to cut the butter into the dry ingredients until small pea-sized clumps form. Sprinkle the crumble on top of the fruit filling.

Place pie dish on a cookie sheet (in case there’s an overflow as it’s cooking) and bake for about 40 to 45 minutes, or until bubbly. Crisp is ready when it is bubbling vigorously along the edges of the pie plate and the topping is golden browned.

Cool on a wire rack.  Serve warm or cold with ice cream or whipped cream.

Bon appétit!   Catherine

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I don’t know about you, but for me there are very few things that beat waking up to the smell of muffins baking in the oven. Now that I live alone, I have to make-do with waking up early enough to make them before it can be enjoyed, but it’s still worthwhile, especially with such an easy, delicious recipe as this one. I can pop it in the oven, have a quick shower, and have delicious hot muffins when I’m done.

I came across the recipe on the back of the package of 10 Grain Bob’s Red Mill cereal, and have spruced it up to my taste. I’ve made it with both 10-grain and 7-grain mixes from Bob’s Red Mill, which I often have as hot cereal as well. I hope you enjoy, and I really hope you will surprise a loved-one with them one day!

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Ingredients: makes 12 muffins 
-1 1/4 cups sour milk/buttermilk (just add 1-2 tsp lemon juice or vinegar to milk, it will go sour!)
-1 cup 10 grain breakfast cereal (or 7 grain), I use Bob’s Red Mill (that’s where the recipe comes from)

-1/3 cup butter, room temperature (original recipe calls for margarine, so I’m sure it works well too)
-1/2 cup sugar
-1 large egg

-1 cup unbleached white flour
-1/2 tsp salt
-1 tsp baking powder
-1 tsp baking soda

-1/2 cup dried cranberries (I like to use the dehydrated kind that is unsweetened, but I’m sure craisins are delicious too)
-zest from 1 orange or 2 clementines
-1/2 cup pecans (optional)
-12 muffin tin liners

Directions:

Put milk and 10-grain cereal in a bowl and stir. Let stand while you prep the rest. Preheat oven to 400F. Line each muffin pan with muffin liners (this will help a lot!).

Cream the butter and sugar in a large bowl. Once creamed, add the egg. Mix well, then add the orange zest. In another bowl, mix the flour, salt, baking soda, and baking powder.

Add dry ingredients and milk/10 grain cereal mix to the big bowl, and stir well. Add the cranberries and pecans.

Pour into a muffin tin either lined with muffin paper (my preference with these muffins as they are a bit sticky) or greased and floured.

Bake for 15-17 minutes, then remove from the muffin tin onto a cooling rack and enjoy warm!

-Sitelle

PS I can’t believe Catherine and I have been adding to this blog for 4 years today! That’s a lot of recipes 🙂

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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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