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Posts Tagged ‘Baking’

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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Don’t let the time discourage you, but do read through carefully and plan accordingly!

Let me start by saying this is one the things I am proudest of baking, entirely from scratch!

Although I’m very busy, I find that it’s being busy with a whole variety of activities many of which are organized to keep everyone up here sane through the long, dark, and cold winter. People are very creative in the North, since there are few opportunities for leisure outside of the realm of your imagination. In the fall we took on the challenge of making our own sourdough starter. This week, we took on 36-hour sourdough cinnamon buns as a fun challenge.

On one of the coldest mornings in Hay River, I realized we had the rare chance of being home enough over the next two days to give these 36-hout cinnamon buns a try. As the recipe starts with a warning that these are very time-consuming (and coming from an author-chef who makes her own phyllo pastry) I was a bit worried because my time did have a finite limit (going to see Les Miserables) the following evening at 7pm. I had to try it, though, as this was my only window in the foreseeable future.

Inspired by the northern climate, I decided to add some creativity to this dessert with pecans, and exchange cranberries for raisins as they are more of a local product. The result was dangerously tasty.

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Ingredients:

 

Starter, Day 1: AM

-1/4 cup starter

-1/2 cup flour and equal parts warm water

 

 

Starter, Day 1: PM

-1 cup flour and equal parts warm water

 

 

Day 2: AM

Dough

-1/4 cup butter

-1/2 cup sugar

-2 eggs

-1/2 cup buttermilk

-4 cups all-purpose flour (approximately)

-1 1/2 tsp sel

 

Filling

-1/2 cup butter

-1 1/2 cups brown sugar

-3 Tbsp heavy cream

-2 tsp ground cinnamon

-1 cup dried cranberries

-1 cup chopped pecans

 

Glaze

-1/8 cup melted butter

-1/8 cup cream

DSCN4245_NRW

 

Directions:

 

Day 1, AM: feed the starter the flour and water. Cover loosely and let rest.

Day 1, PM: add to starter: flour and water. Cover loosely and allow to sit in a warm place overnight.

Day 2, AM: Allow the butter, eggs and buttermilk to warm to room temperature. Cream the butter and sugar for 3-4 minutes, and then add one egg at a time. Finally, add the buttermilk and mix well. After this, I added the starter, and mixed in 2/3-3/4 of the flour. I added a little more flour over time, until you have incorporated it fully, and proceeded to knead for about 10 minutes.

After that, let the dough rest covered with a damp tea towel for 20 minutes.

Add the salt gradually, and continue kneading for another 8 minutes until the dough feels very uniform. I recommend to keep the surface on which you’re working and your hands nice and floury while you work.

Place the dough in an oiled bowl, and mix it around so it is fully covered in oil. Cover with a damp cloth and allow to rise in a warm place until it’s doubled in volume – for me it took around 6 hours, but it can take usually between 4-8 hours.

While the dough is rising, melt the butter over medium-low, and watch it bubble until the bubbles get very small and the colour changes from a white to a faint golden colour. Remove from heat immediately. Add the remaining ingredients, return to heat, and cook for a few minutes over medium heat. Cool and beat the mixture until it is a good consistency for spreading.

Once the dough has reached twice its original volume, punch it down and roll it out to a large rectangle between two pieces of slightly floured parchment paper.

Remove the top parchment paper, and spread and push the filling evenly into the dough, leaving about 2 cm around the edge. Roll it up lengthwise tightly, and pinch the edges closed. Slice it into 16 rolls, and place into a baking tray lined with parchment paper. This is a bit of a delicate job, but I managed with my fingers and a knife.

Cover with a damp cloth and let rise again until nearly doubled, between 2-3 hours. Preheat the oven (finally!) to 400F and bake for 20-25 minutes. I had a drip-catching tray underneath, as recommended in the recipe, and that was really good to avoid oven fires or a smoky house.

Immediately out of the oven I brushed each with a mix of 1/8 cup melted butter and 1/8 cup cream mixed together. These were divine!

Good luck, it’s not the easiest recipe but it is amazingly delicious.

-Sitelle

 

 

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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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One of my favourite things to go home to after a long day of work is to have a cup of tea in a quiet house, especially when the snow has already begun and winter is fast approaching. Baking some cookies can do the trick too, which I did yesterday. Without any cookbooks or internet at my disposal yesterday, I was left to my own devices, which included a jar of peanut butter (no recipe on that label), some butter, sugar, flour, and… jam! I love thumbprint cookies with jam, so why not take the old PB&J sandwich to the next course, and turn it into a dessert? The result was delicious!

Now that the snow has begun, I just wish I could bake cookies every day when I come home.

Ingredients:

-1/2 cup brown sugar

-1/4 cup soft butter

-1 egg

-1/2 cup peanut butter (I like the “just peanuts” kind)

-1 cup flour

-1/2 cup quick-cooking oats

-1 tsp baking powder

-pinch salt

-strawberry or raspberry (my favourite!) jam

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375F. In a medium bowl cream the butter and sugar together, and then add egg and peanut butter. Stir until mixture is smooth.

In a large bowl, mix all the dry ingredients well. Add peanut butter mixture, and mix in with your hands. Grease a cookie sheet. Place small balls of batter on sheet and make thumbprint hole inside. Fill with jam.
Bake for 15-18 minutes or until cooked but still a bit soft. Cool on a baking rack and serve with a glass of milk or hot-chocolate!

-Sitelle

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