Friday, March 17, 2017

Tangy Turmeric Pickled Eggs

Before I get into this - let me just say that these are not your grandfather's pickled eggs. I used to find the sheer idea of pickled eggs absolutely repulsive. That is, until my boyfriend decided to make these and I (reluctantly) tasted one. I must add that I'm not that much into pickles, and I'm really not into eggs -- but I am certainly into curry. Holy wow, this is some next-level food.

Also, how BEAUTIFUL are they!? I mean come on. That colour! This was my first time experimenting with dark and moody food photography, and I must say that I am impressed. It definitely helps to have a beautiful subject. When we decided to throw some green beans in at the last minute, as the boy is crazy about all things pickled, I was extra happy about the colour contrast that they created.

- eggs before their turmeric bath -

Curried Pickled Eggs


1 dozen eggs
3 cups vinegar
1 cup water
3 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt
2 tbsp turmeric

1 tbsp dehydrated onion
1 tsp cumin seed
2 tsp corriander seed

2 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp powdered ginger
1 tbsp whole peppercorns

Bring a wide pot of water to a boil. Gently place eggs in water, careful not to crack them. Cover and remove from heat. After 10 minutes, run under cold water and peel. Place into a clean jar with a tight fitting lid.

With a mortar and pestle, roughly crush onion, cumin & corrainder together. Pour vinegar and water into a medium saucepan. Whisk in sugar & spices. Bring to a gentle simmer over medium heat. Simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool to room temperature.

Pour over eggs & refrigerate for 24 hours. Eggs will be ready after 24 hours, and can be kept up to a month, their flavour becoming more prominent with age. Delicious served in a big bowl of ramen!

Friday, March 10, 2017

Irish Stout Cake

Today, you're in for a serious treat.

Thanks to another wonderful collab with Stokes Stores, I'm sharing one of my secret recipes from Savoury Sweets BakeryThis cake is rich, it's chocolatey, and it's got Irish stout beer in it - making it the perfect way to celebrate St Patrick's day!

This cake comes together in one large bowl and requires nothing but some measuring cups & spoons & a standard metal whisk. Note: do not substitute any ingredients. Baking, unlike cooking, is a science. This cake requires real buttermilk & real beer in order for a physical reaction to occur. These ingredients together help in creating a fluffy, slightly dense crumb. Vegetable oil is my oil of choice for baking as it has a neutral flavour and keeps the cake moist. Though you may taste the beer in the batter, the final product only has a hint of stout, but a whole lot of complex chocolate flavour.

Four Layer Chocolate Stout Cake 

1 cup buttermilk
1 cup vegetable oil
1 cup Irish Stout beer (such as Guinness)
2 3/4 cups sugar
3 eggs
1 cup cocoa powder
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
2 1/4 cups flour

Use butter or margarine to generously grease four 8" cake pans. Cut out a circle of parchment paper to place on the bottom of each. (Don't skip this step, or you'll have a messy time removing them from the pan once they're cool!)

In a large bowl, whisk together buttermilk, oil & beer. Add sugar & eggs, whisking until homogenous. Whisk in sifted cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda & salt. Add flour, a little at a time, whisking slowly after each addition. Only mix until flour is combined - do not over-mix!

Bake at 350F for 25 to 30 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in centre comes out clean.
Allow to cool. Remove from pans, wrap in plastic wrap, and transfer to freezer for an hour.
Make ahead tip: You can bake and freeze up to 3 weeks in advance.

Molasses Buttercream

454g butter
250g icing sugar
2 tbsp fancy molasses
1 tsp vanilla extract

In an electric stand mixer, paddle 454g of butter until fluffy, intermittently scraping down the sides. This should take about 7 to 10 minutes on medium-high speed. Your butter will turn a very pale, nearly white colour, and will increase in volume as you add air into it. Add the sugar, a little at a time, mixing on low with each addition. Once all the sugar has been added, add the molasses and vanilla. Beat on high for 2 more minutes, until everything is well combined and buttercream is fluffy.


The easiest way to assemble a cake is to use the "naked cake" method.

PRO TIP: Use a carboard cake board that is 2" larger than your cake. Place this underneath your cake for easier clean up and transport.  Put a little dollop of cream underneath the bottom of the cake to secure it to the board/tray so that it doesn't move around as your decorate. 

Place one chilled layer of cake on your board or on your serving tray. With a spatula, scoop a generous amount of buttercream onto the layer. Smooth it out with a decorator's spatula or a butter knife. Top with second layer & repeat. Once you reach the top, smooth buttercream over the surface. Voila! Serve as is - a beautiful, naked cake - right on trend!

Feeling rather festive? Let's make it green using my watercolour effect!

Smooth out the sides of the cake with a flat spatula. Use some green food dye to tint the rest of the buttercream, but do not mix it in completely - allow streaks, these are good! Spread it carefully onto the sides of the cake, smoothing once the entire cake is covered.

Decorate with green sprinkles, if desired.

PRO TIP: For extra smooth sides, run a butter knife under hot water and run it lightly over the frosted edges. 

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Za'atar Pita Pizza

The idea of za'atar pizza came to me one evening when I was craving both a pizza and a za'atar. I opted at first for za'atar, as it's faster, it was late, and I was feeling rather lazy. I mean, Wednesday night at 7pm isn't exactly the optimal time to start making a pizza dough, you know? I looked over at my package of already made pitas, and glanced at my beautiful pizza stone. Queue overhead lightbulb! That was the moment that Za'atar Pita Pizza was born.

The idea is quite simple, perfect for a quick weeknight dinner. Minimal prep, minimal clean up. Spread on the za'atar, chop up a couple of veggies, crumble some goat cheese, set my pita on a pizza stone and heat it up until the toppings are nice and warm and the cheese is melty. Homemade delicious pizza, with mediterranean flair, in less time than it takes for delivery? Sold!

Pita bread notes: 
This works best with a thick pita bread (also called pitta, or flatbread depending on where you live!) The ones that I buy are either called lebanese-style or greek-style. The paper-thin "regular" pitas don't work as well as they end up getting quite brittle and then soggy in the middle. If you can't find specialty pita, na'an bread will work equally well. You can easily find na'an at any Provigo/Loblaws/City Market if you're in Canada, or at Trader Joe's if you're in the U.S.

Topping notes:
Feel free to mix and match your toppings. I like olives & radishes on mine, but maybe you prefer bell peppers & onions. Use what you have on hand - keep it simple and easy!

LOVE sumac & za'atar? Check out some of my other deliciously sumac-y recipes.

Za'atar Pita Pizzas
makes two small pizzas

2 thick-ish pita breads or na'an breads (see note above)
4 tbsp za'atar spice blend*
4 tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup crumbled goat cheese or feta (omit if you're keeping it vegan!)
handful chopped kalamata olives
4 thinly sliced radishes
handful fresh arugula

*Homemade Za'atar Spice Blend
3 tbsp dried sumac
4 tbsp fresh or 3 tbsp dried thyme
2 tbsp sesame seeds

Preheat oven to 375F. Combine za'atar spice mix and olive oil in small bowl. Spread evenly onto pita breads. Top with all toppings except for arugula. Place on parchment-lined baking sheet (or on preheated pizza stone, if you wanna get all fancy up in here). Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, until cheese begins to melt and crust begins to turn golden. Remove from oven, top with arugula & serve hot.

match my style :: plates (stokes) :: pizza stone (sparqhome) ::

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Double Latté Love

Many posts ago, I shared my recipe for a homemade pumpkin spice latté that was knock-your-socks off amazeballs. Well, what if I told you that I've found a way to make it even better? After much research (a.k.a., drinking many lattés) I've come to the conclusion that Starbucks' secrets are the following: a whole lot of foam, and a delicious array of flavour syrups.

Now, you can have both of these, easily.

First off, let's talk a bit about the foam. A latté just isn't a latté without a fluffy pillow of foam piled high on top. Well, thanks to my latest collaboration with Stokes, I have discovered the holy grail of pillowy foam makers. This compact countertop machine heats and froths milk in seconds! Seconds! I've owned it all of 4 days, and I'm already addicted.

A note about soy froth: soy milk will not froth up like regular milk - UNLESS you're using a special formula made for frothers. Luckily, this stuff exists in Canada - you just have to know what to look for. Soy Nice has three options: Barrista Blend, Soy Nice for Coffee Original and Soy Nice for Coffee - Vanilla. If you want froth, these are your best buds. After a LOT of experimenting, these were the only non-dairy products that we found that behaved like regular milk does. Note: I have not been paid for this review - this is my 100% honest opinion. (But, hey, Soy Nice, if you're reading, I wouldn't mind some free stuff *wink wink!*)

Now, about those syrups. Sure, you can go out and find flavouring syrups and spend tons of money for a bottle of sugar and artificial flavouring... OR you can make your very own at home in under 15 minutes. Yes, you! The best part is that there's nothing artificial about it - just a couple of simple natural ingredients that you probably have lying around in your pantry, just waiting to become the star in tomorrow morning's cup of joe.

Now you just have to decide: coffee or tea? Cinnamon or lavender? Or, just be like me and have one in the morning, and one at night. Enjoy!

Flavour Syrup Recipes

Cinnamon Syrup
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
1 tbsp cinnamon
1 vanilla bean (or 1 tsp of vanilla extract)

Lavender Syrup 
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
2 tbsp lavender flowers

Bring all ingredients to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 8 to 10 minutes, or until sugar is completely dissolved. Strain & transfer unused portions to a clean jar and refrigerate for up to 6 weeks.

Cinnamon Bun Latté
Make this tasty treat even more indulgent by topping with whipped cream (or whipped coconut cream if you're keeping it vegan) & drizzle with extra cinnamon syrup.

1/2 cup hot brewed coffee (or 1/3 cup espresso)
3/4 cup milk, or Soy Creamer (not soy milk - see note above!)
2 tsp cinnamon syrup (or more, to taste!)
sprinkle cinnamon, for garnish

Pour coffee into a large mug and stir in syrup. Pour milk into frother (it should reach the lowest fill line) and turn on the heat setting. Allow to heat, and froth. Pour hot milk & froth over coffee. Use a small spoon to remove extra froth. Garnish with additional cinnamon or a cinnamon stick. Serve hot.

Vanilla Rooibos Latté with Lavender
The perfect evening drink with soothing lavender and naturally caffeine-free rooibos tea.

1 cup soy milk
1/2 cup soy creamer
2 rooibos tea bags
seeds from 1 vanilla bean
1 tsp lavender syrup
lavender petals, for garnish

Bring soy milk to a simmer with tea bags, syrup, and vanilla bean inside. Cover and allow to simmer for 5 minutes. Meanwhile, froth soy creamer. Transfer to a mug & top with creamer and extra lavender flowers for garnish.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Sweet Potato Macaroni (Sweet Potato Mac & Cheese)

Sometimes, you have a carton of milk in the fridge, and you truly believe that that carton is full. You start making a recipe, then, when it's time to add the milk in, you realize that somebody put it back in the fridge with nothing left inside. Even if that somebody who left the one drop of milk in the carton is you... you now have a problem: what to substitute in your already started recipe? Buttermilk in a roux? BUTTERMILK. IN. A. ROUX. Why haven't I thought of this before? It's deliciously cheesy tasting and low-fat at the same time. Win-win.

This recipe started out with a couple of sweet potatoes that absolutely needed to be used up, and my discovery of a big jar of macaroni at the back of my cabinet. A little roux, some spices, a little bit of green onion, and we're in business. Sweet potato macaroni and cheese - what are you waiting for?!

Sweet Potato Mac & Cheese
recipe inspired by Nigella Lawson

500g peeled and cubed sweet potato
1 1/2 cups uncooked macaroni
6 chopped green onions
1/2 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese

buttermilk sauce ingredients
4 tbsp butter
3 tbsp flour
2 cups buttermilk
2 tsp dehydrated onion
2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp mustard
1 tsp black pepper (or more, to taste)

Bring a large pot of water to a boil with chopped sweet potato inside.
Cook for about 10 minutes, until tender enough to mash.
Drain & transfer to a large mixing bowl.
Roughly mash until broken down. It doesn't have to be perfectly smooth - lumps are fine!
Fill the pot back up with water and bring to another boil. Add pasta and cook about 6 minutes, or until al dente. Drain and toss with sweet potato.
While you wait for the pasta water to boil, begin the buttermilk sauce by melting butter over medium heat, then whisk in flour.
Slowly add the milk, whisking constantly.
Add dehydrated onion, paprika, smoked paprika, mustard & pepper.
Continue to cook over medium heat, whisking frequently.
Once the sauce has thickened, pour over sweet potato and macaroni mixture.
Stir in green onions.
Preheat oven to 350F.
Transfer to oven safe dish (or multiple small oven-safe dishes for single-serve possibilities!)
Top with shredded cheese and extra green onions.
Bake at 350F for 10 minutes, or until cheese on top has melted.
Serve hot!