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Posts Tagged ‘cinnamon’

As I write up my blog about the most recent, and one of my most exciting culinary adventures in a while, I realize there are a few things I want to share with those who read this blog, including why I’m so excited about this recipe, and who I’m dedicating it to. It’s a bit more personal than normal (aka longer to read), so if you’re looking for the recipe fast, then just scroll down a bit past the photo!

First of all, as I look back on my relationship with food over the years – going from child to want-to-be-chef to medical student, it’s funny to see how my relationship with food has changed. I realize that I was very lucky to have parents and friends who took such great care to feed me healthy food me despite my wishing that I had more access to junk food when I was in primary school. I remember spaghetti squash days as those when I would have done almost anything to have a less healthy meal instead. I’d have traded almost anything for a fruit roll-up, or some dunk-a-roos. Now, though, here I am becoming a healthcare professional, and really (naively) hoping that one day, many of the patients I see will be able to have access to healthy food, will have spaces in which to cook it, and time and knowledge to do so. Not to mention the desire to cook and to eat healthy food, or at least have someone around them with the desire and all the other necessary prerequisites, who would share it with them. I know it’s an ideal and a very naive wish, but hey, it’s what I wish for.

Second, as this recipe is my own creation, I’m publishing it for Catherine, my wonderful friend and co-blogger, for her birthday this year!  I know I’m early, but I’ve already promised to publish this recipe to a number of friends, and I’m sure Catherine would love to know that the recipe I’m sharing in her honour has already been enjoyed by many! This recipe is perfect for Catherine: it’s one that keeps on giving (one spaghetti squash can feed many mouths, or can make many lunches!), it’s delicious, healthy, and it’s fully realistic to make while busy with clerkship. All you need is the ingredients, 10 minutes to assemble, and an hour in the oven.

I hope you enjoy this spaghetti squash surprise!

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Ingredients – for 1 full spaghetti squash, or approximately 6 servings

-1 spaghetti squash, cut in half lengthwise with seeds scraped out
-2 Tbsp olive (or other) oil
-1 onion, diced
-1 clove garlic, minced
-1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley or 1 tbsp dried parsley
-1 tomato, diced
-lb lean ground beef
-1/2 cup dried cranberries
-zest from 1 lemon, finely grated
-1/4-1/2 tsp hot chilli flakes or cayenne
-1 tsp cinnamon
-1 tsp ground cumin
-1/4 tsp salt or more to taste

Topping:

-1/2 cup breadcrumbs
-1 Tbsp butter

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 F.

Dice the onion, mince or crush the garlic, chop the tomato and the parsley, zest the lemon, and throw all of these ingredients in a medium bowl with the meat, chilli flakes, cinnamon, cumin, salt, and dried cranberries. Add 1 Tbsp olive oil and mix well.

Meanwhile brush or coat the two spaghetti squash halves with the other Tbsp of oil. Fill each of the spaghetti squash halves with the meat stuffing, packing it down so it all fits. If it overflows a bit, it’s fine.

Place the spaghetti squash halves in a deep baking dish with 1 inch of water in the bottom of the dish. Cover with aluminum foil. Cook for 50-60 minutes, until the squash is soft. Once cooked, you might find there is a lot of juice in the squash (depends on the squash) – you can just drain it by pressing the meat stuffing down into the squash and placing the squash at an angle to let it drain out. This might not be necessary.

Before serving, melt the butter in a frying pan, and add the breadcrumbs. Top the squash with the breadcrumbs and keep in the oven until ready to serve!

Bonne appétit,

-Sitelle

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By March, I’m tired of winter food: the root veggies, onions, and garlic are at the end of their time, and the new spring crops are far from being ready, unless Maple Syrup falls in the category of a proper food!

Instead I’ve been leaning to dried pulses: beans and lentils, which seem to be timeless. This week, I’ve been inspired to create new dishes inspired by Latin American flavours. This dish came together on its own, from simple ingredients, and requires little effort other than remembering to soak the beans in advance. The result is a delicious bean stew, which can be eaten with tortillas, over rice, or even as a soup if you cook it in large volumes of water or broth!

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Ingredients – 4 servings

-1 cup dried kidney beans, soaked for 1 day or boiled, rinced, boiled again, and soaked for 3 hours
-2 Tbsp olive oil
-1/2 red onion, diced
-1 jalapeño, finely diced (seeds removed if you don’t like it too spicy)
-3 cloves garlic, minced
-2 tsp chili powder
-1 stick cinnamon
-1/2 to 1 tsp salt (to taste)
-1/2 tsp black pepper
-juice from 1/2 a lime
-1 tsp Worcestershire Sauce (omit if vegetarian, and add 1/4 vegetable bouillon cube to replace)
-1/2 red pepper, small dice
-2 Tbsp chopped fresh cilantro
-1L water

Directions:
Soak the beans in advance. When ready, heat the oil in a frying pan over medium heat. Sauté the onions until they become soft, then add the garlic, jalapeño, cinnamon stick and the spices. Sprinkle the salt over the top, and stir, until fragrant, about 2-3 minutes.

When the onion begins to brown, add the water, and bring to a boil. Add the Worcestershire sauce and the lime juice and simmer on low for 1-2 hours, covered.

Increase the heat to medium and add the red pepper. Remove the cover, stirring and crushing a few of the beans. Allow to simmer uncovered at a mild boil until most of the liquid is either absorbed or boiled off. The beans stew should become a bit thicker, and there should not be more than a ‘sauce’ when it is ready. Finally, add the cilantro, and if you like the lime feel free to add another spritz or two of lime before serving!

-Sitelle

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As the wintry weather continues to approach (it’s scary to say approach since it feels like beyond the winter I’m used to), I’ve been craving comforting meals in the warmth of our apartment. It’s funny because although I’m living in one of the bustling metropoles of the Northwest Territories (there are four, I am told, in total), the town is small at 3000 people, and has a couple of stop-lights. I cannot find half the spices I want in the grocery store (not even things you’d expect, like dried thyme), yet the baking isle is stocked with as many varieties of flour as your usual grocery stores in Ontario, or more. I’ve been pleasantly surprised to find that many people here take the time to bake their own bread and make their own preserves with the slower pace of life here. The smell of baking bread is not uncommon in the neighbourhood, and people definitely take baking their bread seriously – hence the large variety of flour available.

Tonight, as I thought about the chili we’d be having for dinner, I decided it was time to bake a Sunday night dessert. It’s apple season, so I’ve been going wild with apple-themed things, and this is no exception. It’s an upside-down apple-cinnamon and brown sugar cake, the perfect consistency to have with a hot chocolate, tea, or early afternoon coffee. It was completely invented in our kitchen, since the one cookbook we have here does not have a similar recipe, and we don’t have regular access to the internet (only at the library and those few times at school when we have free time). So, this is the first new recipe born out of Hay River!

Ingredients

2 eggs, beaten, in a medium bowl

1/2 cup packed brown sugar

1/4 cup melted butter

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 1/2 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

pinch salt

2 apples, sliced

1/4 cup brown sugar

2 Tbsp cold butter, cut into small pieces

1 1/2 tsp cinnamon

Directions

Preheat oven to 375 or 400 if your oven is on the cold side.

Grease a medium rectangular cake pan (we used a pyrex oven dish, maybe 6 inches by 9), and sprinkle with a bit of brown sugar.

Beat eggs in a medium bowl. Add brown sugar and stir until dissolved, and then add melted butter.

In a large bowl, mix all the dry ingredients. Make a well in the centre, add the wet ingredients to the well, and carefully incorporate all ingredients together, removing any lumps that are formed.

Toss the apples in the cinnamon and half the brown sugar and mix the remaining brown sugar with the butter. Line the bottom of the pan with apples, and cut the remaining apple slices into small chunks and reserve them. Sprinkle half the brown sugar-butter mix over the apples. Cover with half the cake batter, and sprinkle the remaining apples and brown-sugar butter over top. Top with the remaining batter.

Bake on middle rack in oven for 30-35 minutes, or until a tooth pick comes out clean. Serve with vanilla ice cream if desired, and toffee syrup if you’re feeling particularly fancy – although it’s not necessary!

-Sitelle

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Surprise! Welcome to my Northwest Territories Kitchen. I’ve somehow found a new place to call home, amidst the tail-end of the boreal forest treeline, on the shores of the Great Slave Lake. I think this is going to be a great year for Gourm(eh) on my end – I’ll be exploring Canadian food from the Northern perpective, something I’ve always wanted to do. There are still a few weeks of fishing left (hopefully) before we break until the ice can hold us safely. The rose-hips are lonely without their leaves, just waiting to be picked and turned into jelly. The days are getting shorter at an unbelieveable rate – and although I’ll miss the sun, I’m really excited for the northern lightshow, with a mug of hot chocolate.

I’ve been here for a week now, and while I was hoping to share a traditional dish right away, I’m going to start with this tarte la francaise, in hommage to all the wonderful francophone people I’ve met in the community. Without an internet connection of my own, I’m dependent on the public library, and neighbours around me, who have generously offered me their internet connection. Tired of going up to see them for their internet, I decided to pay them back with a warm little apple pie tonight, like my Grandmother makes in Normandy.

1 shortcrust pastry

1-2 tart apples, quartered, cored, and thinly sliced

1/4-1/2 cup whipping cream

2 Tbsp sugar

1/4 tsp cinnamon

pinch nutmeg

1 egg

Make the short crust pastry at least 30 minutes in advance, and refrigerate. Preheat oven to 400f. Slice apples finely with a sharp knife. Dip in a dilute lemon juice solution and drain so they don’t brown.

Once oven is ready, roll crust out to 3cm wider diameter than a tart dish (or a pie dish). Place in dish, and press edges down to have a nice thick outer crust. Prick the bottom of the crust with a fork. Freeze for about 10 minutes.

Arrange apples on cooled crust in a thin layer. Bake in oven for 25-30 minutes until apples begin to soften and crust becomes lightly golden on edges.

Meanwhile, whisk the cream, egg, sugar, and spices together, and refrigerate until apples are softened.

Spoon cream mixture over apples and bake for another 25 minutes or so, or until set and slightly golden.

Enjoy with vanilla-infused whipped cream or a scoop of vanilla ice cream!

Bon appetit,

-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
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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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The last of the apples I picked in September are starting to become snowy, so I decided to transform the apples into something baked.  I’ve been inkling for muffins, and since oatmeal muffins are near my favourites (must be the Scot coming out in me), I decided to search the Internet for some not-to-sweet apple oatmeal muffins.  In the end, I tweaked a recipe that boasted to be “very comforting and old-fashioned”.  I substituted almond milk for regular milk, upped the apple content, and added a few extra spices.  The end muffin was lovely – gently spiced, but not too sweet and it was nice and moist: a perfect breakfast or afternoon snack.

Apple Oatmeal Spice Muffins

(makes 12 large, 16 medium muffins)

 

Ingredients:

2 eggs

3/4 cup almond milk

1/2 cup vegetable oil

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 cup uncooked quick-cooking oats

1/3 cup brown sugar (+ 2 tbsp extra for a crumble topping)

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon baking powder (yes, that’s not a typo, tablespoon)

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon + 1/2 tsp extra

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

3 tart apples, peeled, cored, and finely chopped
 

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F and fill 12 muffin or tins with medium sized muffin cups.

In a mixing bowl, combine the dry ingredients (flour, oats, sugar, baking powder, salt, and ground spices). In a separate mixing bowl, lightly beat the eggs.  Whisk in the milk and oil, stirring until just blended.  Gently fold in the dry ingredients followed by the apples. Spoon batter into the muffin tin, dividing evenly among the cups.

Combine the reserved brown sugar and cinnamon and sprinkle over the muffin tops. Bake in a preheated oven for 14-16 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Transfer to a cooling rack.  A delicious breakfast or mid-afternoon snack!

Bon appetit!

Catherine

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The last time I made apple sauce was when I was about 10.  I was at my cottage for Thanksgiving.  My grandmother, having put the turkey in the oven, decided she needed some foliage to liven the table, so we went for a walk with a few of my cousins.  We happened across an apple tree along the side of the road.  Realizing that the only creature enjoying these apples were worms, we decided to pick a few. The apples, while fresh, were rather tart and slightly inedible.  Not to be deterred, my grandmother suggested we transform the apples into applesauce for our turkey dinner.  So we did, and it was delicious.

Last weekend, my department went apple picking in the Annapolis valley.  The sun was shining (dare I confess I got a sunburn in late September?) and the apples were crisp.  The trees were overflowing with ripe fruit, with countless varieties to choose among. I left with more apples than I knew what to do with.  While I’ve been enjoying an apple over lunch, I decided to recreate my memory of apple sauce.   Next up, perhaps a tarte tatin?

The apple sauce was a delight – especially with some blueberries and pecans mixed in.  I decided to sweeten it with Nova Scotia honey and spice it with cinnamon, ginger, and cloves.   I made it earlier this week, but after a bowl or two forgot about it.  When I tried it again 96 hours later, the apple flavours had really intensified.  So if you are more patient than me, I recommend letting it sit for a few hours before you dig into this snack.  Next time, I’ll make a larger batch and freeze half, so I can have delicious apple sauce on hand!

Apple Sauce

Ingredients:

Apples, peeled, cored, and coarsely chopped (about 1-2 per serving)

Water

Honey

Your favourite spices (I used  about 2 teaspoons total of cinnamon, cloves, and ginger for six apples)

 

Directions:

Place the chopped apples into a large pot, and add enough water to cover the bottom of the pot with 1/2 to 1 inch of water.  Bring to a boil.  Add a few tablespoons of honey (depending on the tartness of your apples and your desire for sweetness) and season with the spices.  Simmer over low heat until the apples have juiced up and are really soft, about 20-30 minutes.  Puree in a blender, until it reaches your desired texture.

Bon appetit!

-Catherine

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