Green Tea Macarons

Green Tea Macarons

Shortly after I started food blogging I came across he concept of macarons. Macarons are a French pastry made with almond powder, icing sugar, egg whites, and sugar. (The short list of ingredients makes the macarons sound deceptively easy to make.) The macarons form a sandwich with a layer in between. I had some green tea buttercream and white chocolate ganache left over from making my green tea and white chocolate opera cake and I thought that they would make nice fillings for macarons. I decided to continue with the flavour theme and went with green tea flavoured macarons.

Asparagus Souffle

Asparagus Souffle

I have been wanting to try making a souffle for a while now. They have seemed a bit intimidating and I had been holding off but when I saw this recipe for an asparagus souffle I just had to try it. I had a lot of fresh local asparagus and this sounded like a perfect way to enjoy some of it. I cut the recipe back a bit as I only had 4 ramekins. I was not sure if playing with the ingredient ratios was a good idea given that souffles are supposed to be a bit challenging to make. This souffle is basically a puree of asparagus mixed into a bechamel sauce that is then folded into some beaten egg whites. I have made bechamel and beaten egg whites several times so the souffle actually came together fairly easily. The ramekins that contain the souffle are in hot water while cooking and this is called a bain marie. I was pleased to see that the souffles puffed up nicely while cooking and I pulled out my camera right away. The souffle deflated quite quickly as I was taking pictures. Souffles are even harder to photograph that melting ice cream! The asparagus souffles were super light and fluffy and moist and good! They did not end up with the dark green colour that I was hoping for but they were really tasty. I think that the next time I make them I will use more asparagus. I really enjoyed the souffle and I now look forward to experimenting with different flavours, both savoury and sweet.

Green Tea and White Chocolate Opera Cake

Gree Tea and White Chocolate Opera Cake, Small Slice

This months Daring Bakers challenge was an opera cake. The opera cake sounded pretty challenging having no less that five different components. The components included a cake, a syrup, a buttercream, a ganache and a glaze. The thing that I liked most about the challenge was that we were allowed to choose the flavours in the cake as long as the colours remained light. I decided to go with one of my current favorite dessert flavour combinations, green tea and white chocolate.

Mango Lassi

Mango Lassi

With the weather warming up and fresh ripe mangoes on hand I thought that it was a good time to try making a mango lassi. A lassi is a South Asian drink that is made from yogurt, water and spices. Lassis can also contain fruits and or berries such as mangoes, strawberries, etc. Some or all of the water can be replaced by milk to make it a bit creamier. The ratio of yogurt to water/milk controls how thick the lassi is. If you like a thinner drink use more water/milk and if you prefer a thicker drink use less water/milk. If you want a really thick drink try using Greek yogurt. Lassis are as easy to make as blending everything in a food processor. I though that I would continue with my cardamom experiments and added some to the drink. The mango lassi was nice and thick and cool and refreshing. I have a feeling that fruit and berry lassis will be helping me through the hotter days this summer.

Amaretto Shrimp

Amaretto Shrimp

A while ago I came across a recipe for amaretto scallops that sounded really interesting. I like amaretto but I had never even thought about using it in a non-sweet dish like with seafood. After a bit of searching I came across this recipe for almond shrimp with amaretto butter . I really liked the sound of the browned butter and almond sauce on shrimp and I just had to try it. This dish came together in almost no time at all. The amaretto shrimp was so good! I was a bit worried that the dish might be too sweet but it was nicely balanced and quite tasty. The slivered almonds added a nice contrasting texture and some extra almond flavour. I served the amaretto shrimp on some coconut jasmine rice to soak up all of the buttered amaretto sauce. I can't wait to make this again.

Asparagus and Mushroom Quiche

Asparagus and Mushroom Quiche

I have been wanting to try making a quiche for a while now. A quiche is essentially a pie made from eggs and milk or cream. You can add whatever else you like to a quiche. With spring here, how could I not add some fresh locally grown asparagus? I thought that some mushrooms would go well with the asparagus and I roasted them to give them some extra flavour. Of course I had to add cheese, and a lot of it.

I tried making my own pie shell but it did not turn out too well. It tasted good and it had a nice texture but it shrank when baked and I still haven't gotten the hang of making the top of a pie crust look good. I will need to practice making pie crusts more often.

Assuming that you have a pie crust, making a quiche is pretty easy. You just pour everything into the pie crust and bake. The quiche turned out really well other than the pie crust. It was nice and golden brown on top and the inside was nice and moist and good. I enjoyed the quiche and I look forward to experimenting with different flavours in the future.

Halibut with Lemon, Butter, Caper and Dill Sauce

Halibut with a Lemon Dill Caper Sauce on Fettuccine

A while ago I decided that I wanted to try to eat seafood more often. I thought that I would like to try having seafood at least once a week. At first it was a bit challenging but now I find that I am doing it effortlessly and in fact I am eating seafood more often. Seafood is so good that it is easy. I recently came across this recipe for sea bass with a butter, caper and lemon sauce which sounded really good. Can you really go wrong with butter, lemon and wine? I also liked the recipe because of its use of capers which I have been wanting to use more often. Dill is one of my favorite herbs and I thought that it would go well in the sauce. I thought that serving the sea bass on pasta would be nice as it would soak up all of the extra lemon, butter and dill sauce. When I got to the fish monger I was all set to get the sea bass when the halibut distracted me and I ended up walking home with that instead. This dish is pretty easy to make you just pan fry the fish in some oil and butter until it is slightly crispy on the outside and yet still moist and tender on the inside and then make the sauce in the same pan. The halibut with lemon, butter, caper and dill sauce turned out just as good as I imagined it would. I really enjoy the texture of halibut, especially when fried until just crispy on the outside. I had enough halibut to make the dish a second time and I was looking for a lighter meal so I served it on asparagus.

Mango Coconut Rice Pudding

Mango Coconut Rice Pudding

I still had some mangos left and I was not done experimenting with cardamom. A while ago I tried making a rice pudding for the first time and I really enjoyed it. I was thinking that this time a coconut and mango rice pudding would be nice. The last rice pudding that I made was flavoured with vanilla and cinnamon and I though that cardamom would work well with the mango and coconut. Working with the cardamom was kind of fun. For ground cardamom you have to bash the pod to open it and scrap the seeds out before you can go at them with a mortar and pestle. At first I was going to just mix the pureed mango into the rice pudding but then I thought that it might look nice if you could see the white coconut rice pudding and the mango puree through the glass. I also had a few macadamia nuts left so they went on top. Making rice pudding takes a bit of time but if you have a rice cooker with a porridge setting it is as easy as start it and forget it until it beeps. I really enjoyed the cardamom and coconut rice pudding with mango puree. It was a nice cool treat. I have also been liking the cardamom though it can be a bit strong so I will have to watch how much I use so as not to overpower the dish that it is in.



(Makes 2 servings)

Mango Crisp with Macadamia Nut Crust

Mango Crisp with Macadamia Nut Crust

Crisps are among my favorite desserts and although I have been enjoying apple and pear crisps I have been looking forward to spring and summer crisps. Not too long ago I came across the concept of a mango crisp which sounded really good. I had never even thought about using mangos in a crisp and I just had to try it. Now that the mangos are in season I got the chance to make one. I had also recently come across the concept of adding nuts to the crust of a crisp and I thought that adding some macadamia nuts to the mango crisp would be a good ideal. Continuing with the tropical theme I also thought that some coconut would do well in the crust. I had also been experimenting with cardamom and I thought that a touch of it would add a really nice fragrance. Crisps come together really easily and the hardest part is waiting for them to bake. The mango crisp with macadamia nut crust was amazing! I really liked how mango worked in a crisp. Mangos are naturally sweet and slightly tart and they held the crisp up all by themselves. The tropical topping was also really good! The hint of coconut and the crunch of the macadamia nuts added new dimensions to the crisp. Of course melting vanilla ice cream made the mango crisp even better!

Fresh Pea and Mint Pesto

Penne alla Pea Pesto

Spring has finally started to make its presence known at the farmers market. Last week the first of the asparagus showed up and this week it was the peas. Of course I picked some up. I was thinking that I wanted to do something to showcase the freshness of the peas and that a fresh pea pesto would be perfect. Mint always makes things seem more refreshing so I added some of that along with some lemon to brighten things up. Pestos often contain a nut and I though that almonds would be a nice change. For the cheese I went with a sharper pecorino to contrast the sweetness of the peas. Pestos like this are super simple to make, just blend everything in a food processor. I really like to serve pesto on pasta so that was my first stop. The pea pesto on whole wheat penne was really good! It was light, refreshing, sweet and savoury all at the same time. I still had some of the pea pesto left over and it went well on crostini for a snack the next day.

Sea Bass with Mango and Black Bean Salsa

Sea Bass with Mango and Black Bean Salsa

When I picked up the mangos on the weekend I remembered having seen some recipes for fish with mango salsa that sounded simple and good. I made sure to stop by the fish monger and I decided to try a new fish that I had been wanting to try for a while, sea bass. From what I could gather sea bass was a white fish similar to halibut and I thought that it would work with a mango salsa. Searching through my bookmarks I found a recipe for roasted tilapia with mango and black bean salsa . The black bean and mango salsa sounded fresh, healthy and tasty. This meal was really really easy to make. You just bake some fish and chop some mangos and peppers. What's more is that it was really good! The sea bass was pretty similar to halibut and it was nice and moist and tender and flaky. The salsa was an amazing combination of sweet and hot and the black beans added a nice creaminess. I flaked the leftover sea bass and used it and the leftover salsa to make fish tacos.


Mango and Banana Pancakes

Mango Pancakes

They had some really nice looking mangos at the grocery store this weekend and I could not resist picking up a bunch of them. I remembered seeing a recipe for mango pancakes at more than burnt toast that sounded good. The recipe called for coconut milk and an overripe banana for some extra layers of flavour. I had also been wanting to try experimenting with cardamom and I liked the idea of using some in the pancakes. The pancakes were pretty good! They were nice and moist and light and full of flavour. I could easily have eaten them by themselves but I added some extras. I topped the mango pancakes with some pieces of mango, sliced banana, chopped macadamia nuts and some pureed mango. Of course I had to work maple syrup into the dish somehow so I added some to the mango puree.

Roasted Asparagus and Red Pepper Farro Salad

Roasted Asparagus and Red Pepper Farro Salad

I have been hearing a lot about whole grains lately and I have been trying to eat them more often. One of my favorite ways to enjoy whole grains is to use them as the base of a salad. Last weekend I picked up some farro and I had to try using it to make a salad. I had some locally grown asparagus so they were a no brainer and went in. I decided to roast the asparagus to maximize its flavour and since I had the oven on anyways I tossed in some red peppers. I like to use beans in my whole grain salads and I thought that chickpeas would go well in this one. Of course I just had to add some feta. This farro salad turned out really well. I enjoyed the chewy texture of the farro. It was kind of like al dente pasta. I liked this salad so much that I made it again except with quinoa. The quinoa version had a lighter texture and tasted just as good as the farro version.

Roasted Garlic Vinaigrette

Salad with Roasted Garlic Vinaigrette

I recently came across the concept of a roasted garlic vinaigrette and it sounded really good! It just so happened that I had some roasted garlic and I decided to make the vinaigrette. I also had some roasted garlic olive oil that I used in place of the regular olive oil. The roasted garlic vinaigrette was really tasty! I enjoyed it on salads and asparagus this week. The asparagus was some of the first of the locally grown asparagus that showed up at the farmers market for the first time on the weekend.

Vanilla Bean Ice Cream

Vanilla Bean Ice Cream

Since it had been a bit warmer lately, I thought that it was time to bring my ice cream maker out of hibernation. Vanilla ice cream is my favorite ice cream and since I had picked up some vanilla beans a while ago and I had been impatiently waiting to make some. I started with my basic ice cream recipe and added a few extra egg yolks to make it even creamier. By the time the mixture was done cooking it was really thick like custard and I could have eaten it all just like that with a spoon. But my goal was vanilla ice cream and not vanilla custard. I used some vanilla sugar that I had made myself by placing the used vanilla bean pods into the container with the sugar. The vanilla bean ice cream turned out really well. It was nice and creamy and the vanilla flavour was nice and strong, just the way I like it. The ice cream was full of nice dark flecks of vanilla bean. I don't seem to have much luck taking photos of ice cream. It always seems to melt before I get a shot that I like.

Lamb Chops with Pomegranate and Red Wine Sauce

Lamb Chops with Pomegranate and Red Wine Sauce

A while ago I picked up some pomegranate molasses and since then I had only used it once to make some dukkah crusted pomegranate marinated cod . I really enjoyed the pomegranate molasses and I had been itching to use it again. Since I had also been enjoying lamb recently this recipe for lamb chops with pomegranate and red wine sauce grabbed my attention. The lamb chops and sauce came together in less than a half an hour. I made sure to cook the lamb until it was just medium rare and it was nice and tender and juicy. The sauce was tasty and the pomegranate flavour really came through. The honey balanced out the tartness of the pomegranate molasses and the acidity of the balsamic vinegar creating a really nice flavour combination. Of course the rosemary went well in the sauce and I could not resist using fresh to add just a touch of green to the sauce. I served the lamb with some steamed asparagus and apricot couscous.

Cinnamon Bread

Cinnamon Bread: Slice

Cinnamon had been on my mind a lot and I knew that the only way ease my thoughts would be to indulge in it. I went through my bookmarks looking far a recipe that was full of cinnamon and found this one for a cinnamon loaf that sounded really good. This loaf is a plain quick bread with layers of cinnamon and a cinnamon topping. The recipe called for a full two heaping tablespoons of cinnamon which is more that I have ever used at once. This quick bread was a bit more work than most as it called for mixing the ingredients a bit at a time and pouring the ingredients into the loaf pan in layers. Despite the extra effort required it was still really easy to do. The smell of baking cinnamon is just amazing! The cinnamon bread turned out really good. It was light and fluffy and moist. The cinnamon layers were thick and full of cinnamon flavour and the cinnamon top was nice and fragrant and crumbly. Though the thoughts of cinnamon have receded for the moment, I am thinking that a rolled yeast based cinnamon bread is in my future.

Chicken Caesar Salad

Chicken Caesar Salad

I could not experiment with anchovies without making a caesar salad. The anchovies in most caesar salad dressings had kept me from trying to make my own dressing but I was tired of using store bought. Now that I had tried the anchovies and liked them it was time to make my own caesar salad dressing. When looking for recipes I came across two main different types: those that used a raw egg yolk and those that used mayonnaise. Instead of trying to choose which one to try, I tried them both. I used the roasted garlic croutons that I had made earlier in the salad. I also decided to add some chicken to turn the caesar salad into a light meal. Both of the dressings were really easy to make. The homemade caesar salad dressing was good! Easily as good as any restaurants dressing that I have had and better than most. I liked both dressings though I thought that the one with mayonnaise had more flavour. This was the first time that I used the anchovies without cooking them. Once again they were not overpowering and they added that something special to the dressing.

Roasted Garlic Croutons

Roasted Garlic Croutons

Now that I had made the roasted garlic oil I was ready to make the roasted garlic croutons. Up until now I have been buying croutons but they turned out to be pretty easy to make. Making croutons is a great way to use up any bread that is getting a bit too old. You can add various flavours to croutons by using flavoured oils or by tossing them with extras like herbs or grated cheese. I used some thyme and parmigiano reggiano to add a bit of flavour. The croutons turned out really good. They were nice and golden brown and crispy but not too hard. The roasted garlic oil added a ton of flavour to the croutons.

Roasted Garlic Oil

Roasted Garlic Oil: Jarred

I have seen a few herb or flavoured oils on the blogsphere that have sounded pretty interesting. I recently came across a recipe that called for some roasted garlic oil and I though that it was time that I give it a try. It turned out to be pretty easy to make. It was the same as making roasted garlic except that you use a lot more oil to absorb all of the flavour. You can also add hints of other flavours like thyme and peppercorn by adding them to the oil while it roasts. The roasting garlic smelled really good and the oil retained that aroma. The oil had a really amazing roasted garlic flavour. It was well worth the effort to make. The best part might be all of the roasted garlic that is left over that you can use for other things. :)

Spaghetti alla Puttanesca

Spaghetti alla Puttanesca

I have been wanting to try making a puttanesca sauce for a while but the anchovies had been holding me back. I recently came across this post for spaghetti alla puttanesca which served as a reminder and was part of the inspiration to pick up some anchovies. The primary ingredients of a puttanesca, the anchovies, garlic, capers and olives are all tasty by themselves and promised to make a really tasty sauce. The sauce came together in very little time and it was really good! I enjoyed the heat added by the chili pepper flakes and it went well in a sauce that was packed full of flavour. Once again the anchovies melted into the sauce adding that bit of something not quite definable and yet very good. One of the great things about sauces is that they can be used for more than just pastas. I served some of my leftover puttanesca on some pan seared tilapia for a quick meal. The leftover puttanesca sauce was even tastier the second day.

Curried Chocolate Chip Banana Bread

Curried Chocolate Chip Banana Bread, Slice

I have made a few banana breads lately and they were all leading up to this one. A while ago I came across the concept of using curried flavoured chocolate chips in a banana bread which sounded really good. I was not able to find any curried flavoured chocolate chips so I decided to go with just adding curry powder to the banana bread. I wanted to find a banana bread recipe that I liked before attempting the version with curry powder though. After making a few banana breads I was pleased with this recipe for a sour cream banana bread and so I was ready to try making the curried version. I was still a bit worried that I would be ruining a good loaf of banana bread but my curiosity pushed me forward.

I was not sure how much curry powder to use so I decided to start with one tablespoon. The curried banana bread smelled really good while baking and I could hardly wait for the bread to cool down before trying it. The chocolate chips were still slightly melted when I cut into the loaf. The curried chocolate chip banana bread was pretty good!! Even with a tablespoon of curry powder the flavour was subtle and did not overpower the flavour of the bananas or the chocolate. The curry added a nice layer of spiciness, but not heat, that made the bread nice and exotic. The next time that I make this curried chocolate chip banana bread I think I might try increasing the amount of curry a bit to see how it works.

Tapenade

Tapenade Crostini

My next stop in exploring anchovies was a tapenade. A tapenade is a dish that is made from chopped olives, capers and olive oil at its base. Tapenade can also include other ingredients like garlic, herbs, lemon and of course anchovies. It is generally made from black olives and I took the opportunity to try some nicoise olives. The nicoise olives were smaller than the kalamata black olives which I am more familiar with. The tapenade was so full of flavour! Once again the anchovies melded into the dish and added a nice saltiness without making the tapenade taste like fish. The tapenade reminds me of a hummus or a pesto except that it is based on olives. Though I simply served if on crostini I wonder in what other ways it can be used. Maybe in pasta, or a sandwich or on fish...

Veal Scallopini with Sundried Tomato Sauce

Veal Scallopini with Sundried Tomato Sauce

I have been wanting to try anchovies for a while now and I finally got around to picking some up. I had bookmarked several interesting sounding recipes and at the top of the list was Anthony Sedlak's recipe for Veal Scallopini with Sundried Tomato Sauce from the show "The Main" on the Food Network. The sundried tomato sauce sounded so good! I really liked the idea of basing a sauce with sundried tomatoes and a full head of roasted garlic certainly helped. The sundried tomato sauce came together pretty easily and it tasted really good! It went well with he slightly crispy and juicy and tender veal cutlets. When I first opened the jar of anchovies I was greeted with a fishy smell but after cooking in the sauce the smell went away and there was no fishy taste. The chopped anchovies pretty much disappeared into the sauce and there was no flavour that I could identify as the anchovies in the sauce. I am however, sure that the sauce would not have been as tasty without the anchovies. Overall it was a good start to my exploration of anchovies. I served the veal scallopini with sundried tomato sauce on polenta with some steamed broccolini.


Peameal Bacon Sandwich

Peameal Bacon Sandwich

One of my favorite weekend lunches is the simple peameal bacon sandwich. Peameal bacon is pork loin that is cured and rolled in cornmeal. Unlike normal bacon it is not full of fat and your pan is not swimming in grease after frying it. Peameal bacon is nice and juicy and full of flavour. Luckily I live within walking distance of the St. Lawrence market where there are several butchers that make their own peameal bacon and there a several shops that sell peameal bacon sandwiches. Every time I go I am tempted by the sights and smells of the peameal bacon. A peameal bacon sandwich can be as simple as fried peameal bacon in bread, or you can add some mustard, or you can make a BLT, etc. I like to make mine with the works, with lettuce, tomato, cheese, mayo and sometimes pickles. It is a really tasty sandwich that never fails to satisfy. (Note: Those brown caramelized bits in the pan after frying the peameal are so full of flavour! I try to scrape them up and add them to the sandwich.)

Roasted Cauliflower and Poblano Pepper Soup

Roasted Cauliflower and Poblano Pepper Soup

The other day I came across some fresh poblano peppers which I had been looking for for a while. I immediately picked some up and I remembered seeing this recipe for roasted cauliflower and poblano soup which sounded really good. It turned out to be well timed as it has gotten cooler and a warm soup would be perfect. The recipe was pretty similar to the roasted cauliflower and red pepper soup that I had made a while ago and really enjoyed. I roasted the poblano peppers in the same way that I roast red peppers . The roasted poblano peppers were really nice. Unlike the roasted red peppers that are sweet the roasted poblano pepper were not sweet and had a bit of heat to them, but not too much. The soup turned out really good. It was nice and simple to make and roasting the vegetables first made the soup really tasty. I garnished the roasted cauliflower and poblano soup with some chopped cilantro and goat cheese.

Printable Recipe

Maple Creme Brulee

Maple Creme Brulee

Since I started food blogging I have been seeing creme brulee's a lot. They always looked really good but they sounded a bit intimidating. I am not really sure why I was hesitant about trying to make a creme brulee... maybe it was because I kept seeing recipes that required a blow torch. I recently picked up a large jug of good maple syrup and I was looking for some recipes to use it in when I came across some recipes for maple creme brulee that sounded good. The first recipe that I came across sounded pretty easy and luckily it called for broiling to caramelize the sugar on top rather than a blow torch. The creme brulee was really easy to make. I was a bit surprised that a recipe that contains just cream, eggs and maple syrup changed from a liquid to a semi-solid. The maple creme brulee was so good!! The maple flavour came through nicely and it was smooth, creamy and sweet. The caramelized sugar on top created a thin crispy layer that was a nice contrast in texture.