Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Bacon wrapped salmon, pineapple habanero sauce, and seasonal stir fry- summer flavours

The heat of summer brings bold flavours, lighter menus, and the use of all the fresh, seasonal ingredients available in Ontario right now.

Asparagus is in season right now, so I try to use it as much as possible. I also managed to get my hands on some Canadian limes recently (thank you, global warming!), so I’ve been using them in almost everything these days too. The result was a gorgeous stir fry, with some new and interesting ingredients. Of course, all the well-loved stir fry ingredients, onion, carrots, and peppers, are all in season right now as well, so now is a great time to make great, locally-grown stir fry!

I also happened to have a pineapple (Costa Rican- not everything can be sourced from here, lol!), and some habanero peppers, and those two flavours happen to work very well together. I decided to make a spicy-sweet sauce, to compliment my stir fry and bacon-wrapped salmon.

If you are watching your fat intake, or just don’t eat bacon, this recipe can be done in exactly the same way, and the bacon simply omitted. As long as you’re organized before you begin cooking, all these individual elements will come together at exactly the same time for a perfectly cooked, delicious summer meal.

The Process- getting all the elements of the meal together with no stress

I start by blanching my asparagus. Simply bring a pot of water to a boil, toss in the asparagus spears (remember to snap off the woody ends before throwing into the pot!), and blanch for 30 seconds. Immediately remove the spears from the hot water, and put into an ice bath. This will allow the asparagus to stop cooking, and stay crispy and bright green until ready to use.

Have all your veggies cut and ready to go for the stir fry- it will make it much easier for you when it’s time to get going on that. Once you’ve gotten all the components of the meal prepped- including everything you need for the pineapple sauce, you can begin cooking.

The nice thing about the salmon is that it’s relatively fool-proof. Wrap the slices of bacon gently around the fish, and place in a preheated 400 F oven for 20 minutes. The fish will remain moist because the bacon protects it from the heat, and the flavours mingle together beautifully during the cooking process. While the fish is cooking, you have more than enough time to get everything else together.

I recommend starting the rice at this point, it should be done in just enough time for the meal to be ready. Right away, get started on the pineapple sauce. Once the sauce is at the simmer stage, and with 10 minutes left for the fish, start the stir fry. Stir fry cooks fast, but requires constant attention, so keep tossing it together until it’s complete.

For plating, start with a scoop of rice, followed by a pile of stir fry (leave the asparagus spears for the end, it adds an elegant effect on the plate- see photo!), a piece of fish, a drizzle of sauce, and two or three asparagus spears.

Pineapple Habanero Sauce

You will need:

2 cups finely chopped pineapple

½ white onion, finely diced

3 habanero peppers, finely diced

½ cup water

1 lime, juiced

2 tbsp honey

½ tbsp salt

Method:

  1. Place a small amount of oil into a medium-sized pan, and heat over medium-high heat.
  2. Sweat onion, pineapple and  habaneros with salt. Allow for the pineapple to cook down, the juices to escape, and the onions to almost dissolve.
  3. Add water.  Bring to a boil.
  4. Reduce heat to low, and continue to allow to cook down.
  5. Using a hand blender, blitz the pineapple mixture.
  6. Continue to simmer, and add the honey and lime juice.
  7. Cook until sauce resembles a thick, jammy consistency.

 

Bacon-wrapped salmon

You will need:

2 salmon portions, or 1 per person

2 pieces of bacon, or one strip per piece of fish

Salt and pepper, to taste

Method:

  1. Season fish with salt and pepper.
  2. Wrap gently in bacon.
  3. Place on baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake in 400F oven, for 20 minutes.
  4. Remove from heat, and rest for a few minutes before serving.

 

 

Stir Fry

You will need:

2 tbsp vegetable oil

½ onion, finely sliced

1 carrot, finely julienned or sliced thinly

1 red pepper, finely julienned

1 stalk of celery, finely julienned or sliced thinly

1 lime

1 clove garlic, minced

1 tsp minced fresh ginger

4-6 asparagus spears, blanched

3 tbsp soy sauce

2 tbsp sesame oil

Method:

  1. Heat a large pan or wok on high heat. Add vegetable oil.
  2. Add onion, carrot, celery, red pepper, garlic, and ginger. Continuously toss everything in the wok, making sure everything gets evenly cooked. Allow to cook down until the veg is soft and fragrant.
  3. Slice lime in half, squeeze the juice into the stir fry, and then throw the lime halves in as well to add additional flavour (do not plate with limes, they are just for flavouring while cooking)
  4. Add soy sauce, continue to toss.
  5. Add blanched asparagus spears. Toss until evenly coated and warmed through, about 2 minutes.
  6.  Remove from heat, and finish with the sesame oil.

Strip loin steaks and hedgehog mushrooms- the perfect combination

I bought some beautiful strip loin steaks the other day, and later found some hedgehog mushrooms. These two ingredients were the inspiration for this easy, warm-weather meal.

If you haven’t tried hedgehog mushrooms, give them a try. They have short seasons and are usually only available in spring or fall. They’re similar to chantrelles both in colour and flavour. They’re a visually appealing mushroom, so minimal effort is needed to prep them- let the mushrooms be the star of the show! Like all mushrooms, they must be well cleaned and dried before cooking, so make sure to get all the dirt out of their crevices before you begin.

To showcase my beautiful hedgehog mushrooms, I prepared them two ways- a mushroom cream sauce to compliment my gorgeous steaks, and tossed with thinly sliced red peppers and cherry tomatoes for an earthy, simple side.

Because strip loin is already tender and flavourful on its own, it needs very little work done to it to make it perfect. I pan-seared my steaks, but they also work very well on a BBQ. In either case, all you need to do to get these steaks ready is brush them lightly with oil, and season with salt and pepper. Make sure your grill or pan is really hot and clean before you begin searing. Sear for about a minute on each side, just until a nice crust has developed on the surface of the steak. If grilling, flip once or twice and leave the steaks on the grill until the desired doneness is reached. For cross hatching marks, rotate the steaks 90 degrees on both sides, so that the grill marks create a cross hatched impression. My basic rule of thumb for testing the meat is to check its firmness. An easy way to do this is to use the palm test- make a light fist with almost no pressure, and use your other hand to press on the palm of your fisted hand. That feeling is the equivalent to a rare piece of meat. A tighter fist produces the feeling of a medium piece of meat, and the tightest fist you can make is the equivalent to a well done steak.

I prefer my steaks to be very rare, so I only sear the outside and then allow them to rest, producing a bright red interior. However, if pan-searing and seeking a more well-done steak, pop the seared steaks into a 350F oven for a few minutes to continue cooking. Just remember, steaks need a good 15 minutes at least to rest, and in that time they do continue cooking. Remove the steaks before you think they’re done, so they will be perfect by the time you eat them.

Because I used a pan to sear my steak, I deglazed that same pan with a bit of white wine and some chicken stock, and allowed the liquids to reduce until the pan was nearly dry again. This is the pan I used to make my mushroom cream sauce. Of course, if you are grilling your steaks, you can make this sauce using a clean pan, and just begin at this next step. Start by melting a bit of butter over medium heat, and sautéing ¼ onion that has been finely diced. Add the mushrooms, along with a pinch of salt, and allow the onions and mushrooms to cook down for a few minutes. If you missed the deglazing step, now would be a great time to throw in about a tablespoon worth of white wine, and just allow the alcohol to cook out and all the flavours to combine for a few minutes. Add the cream, and lower the heat, allowing the whole thing to reduce to the desired consistency. The end result is a creamy, chunky, rustic mushroom sauce that will complement your dinner perfectly.

The other mushroom side doesn’t take long at all, so do it right at the end. In a clean pan, heat butter over medium heat. Add mushrooms, finely sliced red peppers, and cherry tomatoes, along with a bit of thyme and some salt and pepper. Sautee just until everything has cooked down lightly, about 5 to 10 minutes.

Steak and mash are natural partners, and I happened to have three big potatoes that needed to be used. A good trick for perfect, fluffy mashed potatoes is to mash them without any butter or cream being added, and then whisk the butter and cream into the mash for a smooth finish. A finely minced garlic clove will punch up the flavour to create garlic mash, although this is completely optional.

Once all the elements of the meal are ready, plating is simple. Start with a scoop of mash, followed by a generous helping of veg, and place the steak lightly on top of both, to showcase it as the star of the show. Because the mushrooms were also my stars, they are spooned carefully over the meat, but if a bit of the sauce falls onto the mash and veg, all the better!

Strip loin steaks

You will need

2-4 good quality strip loin steaks

¼ cup vegetable oil (for brushing)

Salt and pepper

Method:

  1. Heat a pan or grill until it is very hot.
  2. Brush the steaks with a small amount of oil, and sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper
  3. Sear steaks for one or two minutes on each side, and then continue to cook until desired doneness is reached.
  4. Allow to rest for 15-20 minutes before serving

 

Hedgehog mushroom cream sauce

You will need:

1 tbsp butter

2 cups hedgehog mushrooms (or chantrelles), chopped lightly

¼ onion, finely diced

2 tbsp white wine

1 tbsp chicken stock

¼ cup 35% cream

1 stalk of thyme, leaves removed

Method:

  1. In a medium-sized pan over medium heat, melt ½ tbsp butter and cook onion until translucent.
  2. Add  white wine and chicken stock, allowing to reduce until very little liquid remains in the pan.
  3. Add the mushrooms and thyme, and cook for a few minutes until the mushrooms have cooked down slightly.
  4. Add the cream, and reduce heat to low.
  5. Add the rest of the butter, and continue reducing until desired consistency is reached.
  6. Season with salt and pepper.

 

Hedgehog mushrooms, sautéed with red pepper and cherry tomatoes

You will need:

1 cup hedgehog mushrooms

½ red pepper, sliced thinly

8 cherry tomatoes

1 stalk of thyme, leaves removed

1 tbsp butter

Method:

  1. In a small pan over medium heat, melt butter.
  2. Place mushrooms, thyme, red pepper and tomatoes into the pan with a pinch of salt, and sautee lightly for about 5-10 minutes.
  3. Remove from heat and serve immediately.

Rainbow trout with shell pasta, veg, and white wine butter sauce

Rainbow trout (also known as Steelhead trout) is a beautiful, tasty North American fish related to salmon. It is found in fresh water lakes and rivers, as well as in the Pacific Ocean. Unlike its farmed counterparts, wild-caught rainbow trout has a pinky-orange colour (more orange than the pink farmed stuff) and a nutty flavour that works well with a variety of accompanying flavours. It is low calorie and rich in protein, as well as omega-3 fatty acids DHA and EPA.

DHA and EPA omega-3 fatty acids are thought to prevent heart disease, and also play a key role in memory and cognitive function. This means rainbow trout is an excellent option for pregnant women, and adults wishing to reduce their risk for Alzheimer’s disease. In other words, it is excellent brain food.

Because rainbow trout is related to salmon, it can be cooked in much the same way. In this recipe, I chose to steam my fish with the accompanying pasta and veg, in order to lock in as much of the beautiful flavours as possible.

When I’m cooking at home, I tend to utilize whatever I have on hand at the time. I had a bunch of produce that needed to be used up, and a small bit of shell pasta left that was the perfect amount to use as a side to my trout. If you have any vegetables in the fridge that are going to go bad soon, this is the perfect way to use them up.

It doesn’t really matter which vegetables you add to your dish, but the more colour and variety you can incorporate, the better! I used a green pepper, one and a half red peppers, some broccoli, and some cherry tomatoes for a bit of pop. The goal with veggies like peppers is to slice them as thinly as you can, and also keep them all about the same size so they cook at the same rate. This entire meal doesn’t take very long to cook, so if the slices are too thick they will not cook properly. With vegetables such as broccoli, just try to cut them down to about the same size as the pasta, to keep everything bite-friendly and uniform. I threw the cherry tomatoes in as-is, so they would blister a bit in the cooking process and pop in the mouth when eaten.

For ease in cooking, make sure to have all the veg prepped and ready to go before you begin. Start by boiling the pasta to just al-dente (remember it will be introduced to more liquid and cooking later, so if it is fully cooked to begin with it will definitely become mushy by the time it is done). Once the pasta is cooked, heat a pan with a good amount of butter, and sautee the veg and pasta together for a minute. Place the fish filets flesh-side down (skin-side up) on top of the pasta and veg, and pour a generous amount of wine (about 3/4 cup or so if cooking for 2-4) into the bottom of the pan. Quickly cover the pan, in order to allow the fish to cook and absorb the flavours of the wine and veg. The fish will cook quickly, so check on it after a few minutes. Once it has firmed up, remove it from the pan and place onto a baking sheet while the pasta and veg finish. The skin should slip easily off the fish once removed from the pan, the only tricky part is making sure the fish doesn’t fall apart when it is being taken out of the pan. Make sure the wine is properly cooked out before serving the pasta, as the taste of uncooked wine is really unappealing.  Before transferring the pasta to the plates, grate some parmigiano and asiago cheeses into the mix, and finish with a bit more butter if necessary. This is all the pasta and veg will be dressed with, so be a little bit generous with these ingredients.

To finish my plate, I like to drizzle a bit of extra virgin olive oil over the pasta and the fish. Soft herbs like basil, parsley or sage work nicely as garnish and additional flavouring.

I also garnished my fish with a savoury granola, which adds a great crunch and a bit more flavour. This granola mixture is easy to make, stores well, and can be used on top of salads as an alternative to nuts, amongst other things. I like to make a batch and just keep it on hand, to use as needed. To make the granola, mince garlic finely (1 to 2 cloves is plenty) and mix with oats, salt, some honey for sweetness, and a bit of canola oil. Lay it on a baking sheet lined with parchment, and bake in a 350F oven for 5 to 10 minutes. Remember to keep an eye on the granola so it doesn’t burn. Once it has turned a golden brown colour, remove from the oven and allow to cool before using. Store in an airtight container for up to a month.

Rainbow trout with Shell pasta and vegetables

You will need:

2 filets of rainbow trout

1 ½ cups shell pasta, cooked  al-dente

1 green pepper, finely sliced

1 red pepper, finely sliced

1 clove garlic, finely chopped

1 shallot, finely sliced

1 head of broccoli, chopped into small pieces

8 cherry tomatoes

½ cup white wine

3 tbsp butter

Salt and pepper to taste

¼ cup grated parmigian and asiago cheese

To garnish:

12 leaves of basil, sliced

Drizzle of extra virgin olive oil

Savoury granola mixture (see below)

Method:

  1. In a pan over medium-high heat, heat the butter and cook the shallots and garlic for about 30 seconds until translucent. Add the peppers, broccoli, tomatoes, and pasta, and toss together.
  2. Place the fish skin-side up on top of the pasta and veg. Immediately pour the wine into the pan (trying to get it to the bottom and avoiding pouring over the fish), and cover the pan.
  3. Cook fish for 5 to 10 minutes. Transfer to a baking sheet when done, and remove the skin before serving.
  4. Continue to cook pasta and veggies for a few more minutes, sautéing well and making sure all the alcohol is cooked out of the wine.
  5. Finish with a small amount of butter, and season with salt and pepper. Grate cheese over pasta mixture, and mix well to make sure it’s evenly coated.
  6. Place pasta and veggie mixture onto plates, and drizzle with a small amount of olive oil and top with herbs.
  7. Place the fish over top of the pasta, and finish with a small amount of the granola mixture, and some more shaved parm if desired.
  8. Serve immediately.

Savoury Granola

You will need:

1 ½  cup oats

½ cup canola oil

2 cloves of garlic, minced

1 tsp honey

½ tbsp salt

Method:

  1. In a mixing bowl, combine all ingredients. Toss together to ensure all the oats are evenly coated.
  2. Lay out evenly onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
  3. Bake at 350F for about 10 minutes, until golden brown.
  4. Allow to cool, and store in an airtight container.

Roasted tomato, onion and cheddar bread with steak, Brie, and red pepper jelly

I don’t know if it’s the weather, or just my mood, but lately I’ve been in the mood for home-baked breads and rich snacking foods.

This particular recipe is actually a three-part recipe, as it includes the bread itself (which is amazing on its own!), a spicy red pepper jelly that is a fantastically flavourful condiment, and the compilation of these two products together with the steak and the cheese.

Putting these little open-faced sandwich snackers together is the easy part; cook the steak to your liking (I recommend rare to medium rare), slice some thin wedges of a nice, creamy Brie, and top your sliced bread with the cheese, steak and red pepper jelly.

The Bread

This bread is one of the easiest and most delicious bread recipes you will ever come across. It actually isn’t a bread recipe at all, it is a muffin recipe that I put into a loaf tin. Its closest relation would be cornbread, although there is no cornmeal in it. As this is a muffin recipe, feel free to use the same measurements to make 12 regular-sized muffins. Just keep in mind, if you’re going to be making muffins the cooking time will have to be reduced to 25 to 30 minutes.

The vegetables and cheeses in this recipe are also very interchangeable.  I chose to use tomato, red onion and cheddar cheese in this loaf, but it can be done with peas and feta, corn and peppers- the possibilities are endless!

When making any sort of bread that contains a watery ingredient like onions or tomatoes, I first like to dry them out in a 375F oven for 15 to 20 minutes. This allows them to lose some of their water content, and develop their flavours a bit before being added to the mix. They will need to cool before being added to the batter, so be prepared for a bit of prep work with this recipe.

I prefer this bread to be a bit on the spicy side, so I like to add a bit of ground black pepper and ground cayenne pepper to the recipe. These ingredients are completely optional, so use them as you like. I blend the black pepper in with my dry ingredients, and dust the batter with the cayenne when it is in the loaf tin. Remember to give the loaf sufficient time to cool after baking. This bread will last for about a week if wrapped properly with plastic wrap, so it can definitely be done ahead of time.

Red Pepper Jelly

Red pepper jelly is a mixture of pureed red peppers, aromatic vegetables such as onions and carrots (optional, but I like the added sweetness), a spicy kick provided by red chilis, a sweetness added by normal white sugar, and the acidity of white wine vinegar. The jelly consistency is created using pectin, a naturally occurring thickener found in fruit that is the standard ingredient in most jellies and jams. When I decided to make red pepper jelly at home, I found myself without pectin and improvised using a common household ingredient, strawberry jam. The sweetness and texture of the jam were welcome additions to my red pepper jelly, and cut down the amount of white sugar I used. Because the ingredients are pureed together anyway, there is no need to worry about chunks of strawberry ending up in your red pepper jelly. No one will even know it contains strawberries, and you certainly don’t have to tell them!

Although red pepper jelly is a commonly found ingredient on most supermarket shelves, the homemade stuff is way better.  Not only are you able to adjust the taste to your liking, but everyone you share it with will appreciate the homemade touch. It is a delicious condiment, that works with a variety of ingredients- cheese, crackers, meats, and breads all work very well with this savoury-sweet jelly.

The jelly will keep well in the fridge for well over a month, but it is still a good idea to sterilize the jars first. This is done by immersing the glass jars (mason jars are standard, but you can also recycle any old glass jars that you have) in a pot of boiling water for a few minutes. Carefully remove the glass jars from the hot water, allow to cool, and fill.

Putting it all together

Rub the steak with olive oil, salt and pepper, and sear for a minute or two on each side in a very hot pan. Finish in a 350F oven for 5 to 10 minutes, depending on the thickness of the steak and desired doneness. Allow the steak to rest for a good 15 minutes before slicing thinly.

Slice the bread into approximately ½ inch pieces and toast it off in either a 350F oven or a toaster oven. I like to butter my toasted bread with a rosemary compound butter, which is simply a combination of finely chopped rosemary leaves and unsalted butter. This is another optional step, but I find the earthy flavor of rosemary adds a nice finish to everything.

Put a small wedge of brie onto each piece of toast, followed by a small slice of the steak, and a bit of the jelly. The brie should begin to melt slightly as soon as it hits the toasted bread, and the end result is a decadent, creamy, herby, spicy combination of flavours in one small sandwich.

 

Roasted tomato, onion and cheddar cheese loaf

You will need:

1 cup plus 3 tbsp all purpose flour

1 tbsp baking powder

½ tsp baking soda

½ tsp salt

½ tsp black pepper ( completely optional)

2 large eggs

1 cup plus 1 tbsp 3.25% milk (homo milk)

¼ cup butter, melted and cooled

1 large tomato, seeds removed and diced finely

½ large red onion, diced finely

¼ cup cheddar cheese, shredded

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 375F.
  2. Place onions and tomatoes on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, and place in the oven for 15 to 20 minutes, just until slightly dried out. Remove from oven, and allow to cool.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, sift together the dry ingredients.
  4. Melt the butter, and allow it to stand while you continue the steps (in order for it to cool down)
  5. In a small mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs and milk.
  6. Add the egg and milk mixture to the flour mixture (this can be done with a wooden spoon, or a hand mixer or standing mixer on medium speed), and mix until fully incorporated.
  7. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, and continue to mix on low speed as you add the melted butter. Mix until everything is just brought together.
  8. Mix in the onion, tomato, and shredded cheese.
  9. Place batter into a loaf tin lined with parchment paper.
  10. If extra spice is desired, dust the top of the loaf lightly with cayenne pepper.
  11. Bake in the oven at 375F for 50-60 minutes, until golden brown and a fork inserted comes out clean.
  12. Allow to fully cool before slicing.

 

Red Pepper Jelly

You will need:

2 red bell peppers, diced finely

2 red chilis, chopped finely

3 tbsp white wine vinegar

1 tbsp granulated sugar

¼ cup strawberry jam

Method:

  1. In a medium sized sauce pan, bring the peppers, vinegar and sugar to a boil.
  2. Reduce temperature to medium, and allow to continue cooking for 10 minutes, stirring often.
  3. Add strawberry jam. Continue to cook for another 10 minutes.
  4. Using an immersion blender or food processor, puree the mixture.
  5. Allow to cool slightly before pouring carefully into sterilized jars. Seal jars and store in the fridge.

Orange cake and citrus-honey sorbet

I’ve been craving citrus flavours lately, which is the inspiration for this week’s recipes.

My orange cake is actually my easiest, standard go-to recipe for a simple baked treat. The great thing about it is, once you’ve gotten the hang of making this cake, the flavours are endlessly interchangeable.  For example, I’ve used this same recipe with coffee flavours, lemon and thyme, blueberry, and even an Irish cream version!

Not only is this cake very user-friendly, it requires only about 40 minutes worth of work, and basic ingredients. It is also easily doubled.

This cake goes well with tea or coffee, but goes especially well with my citrus-honey sorbet.

My citrus-honey sorbet combines all the fresh flavours of freshly squeezed oranges and lemons, and pairs it with the sweetness of honey for an unbelievable combination. If you don’t have an ice cream machine, don’t worry- this recipe can be done granita-style, by placing the sweet liquid in the freezer and giving it a whisk every 40 minutes or so. It takes a while to freeze, so keep in mind you will be waiting for your frozen treat for over four hours if using the freezer method.

 

Citrus-honey sorbet

You will need

5 lemons, juiced and zested

5 oranges, juiced and zested

¼ cup cold water

¾  cup sugar

½ cup honey

1 tsp of salt

Method:

  1. In a stainless steel bowl, combine zest, juices, water, salt and sugar. Pour mixture into a medium-sized saucepan, and heat over medium-high heat.
  2. Add honey as liquid begins to heat. Bring mixture to almost a boil, and then immediately remove from heat.
  3. Pour liquid back into stainless steel bowl. If you wish, you can at this point strain the mixture to remove the pieces of zest, or leave them for a more rustic feel.
  4. Allow to cool to room temperature, then place bowl into freezer for 40 minutes to 1 hour. After 40 min to 1 hour, remove from freezer, whisk mixture, and return to freezer. Continue until mixture is completely frozen (about 4-6 hours)
  5. Using an ice cream scoop, scoop one to two scoops into a martini glass or wine glass. Garnish with mint or fruit slices.

Orange cake

You will need:

1 cup butter, room temperature

1 cup sugar

Zest of 1 large orange

1 cup all purpose flour

1 tsp baking powder

½ tsp salt

1 tsp plain or vanilla yogurt (low fat or fat free is fine)

3 eggs

For syrup:

2 oranges, zest and juice

¼ cup water

½ cup sugar

Method:

  1. Sift together flour, baking powder and salt into a bowl. Set aside.
  2. In a large stainless steel bowl, cream together butter, sugar, and zest until light and fluffy.
  3. Slowly add eggs one at a time, mixing well and scraping down the sides of the bowl between additions.
  4. Add the flour in two separate additions, mixing only until incorporated.
  5. Fold in the yogurt.
  6. Place into a prepared loaf pan. Tap the pan firmly against countertop to get rid of any air bubbles from inside batter.
  7. Bake in the oven at 380F for 350-40 minutes, until golden brown and a knife comes out clean when inserted into cake.  While cake is baking, prepare the syrup (see below)
  8. While cake is still warm, pour syrup over and allow to cool inside loaf pan.

 

To make syrup:

  1. Combine all  ingredients in a small sauce pan. Bring to a boil, then immediately turn heat down to low.
  2. Allow syrup to continue reducing until halved.
  3. Pour prepared syrup over cake.

 

 

 

Lemon Thyme Loaf

I’ve been making lemon loaves all afternoon and, I must say, I love the lemony sweet smell coming from my oven!
These lemon loaves are not your grandma’s traditional lemon squares- the addition of thyme adds a refined taste and depth of flavour that blows any other lemony treat out of the water!

lemon thyme loaf, fresh out of the oven, garnished with candied thyme stalk

To add to the richness and luxurious flavour of this loaf, I’ve added a goat cheese-cream blend to the batter. If you don’t have goat cheese on hand, or are trying to keep cost down, substitute for 1 tbsp sour cream. I highly recommend trying this reccipe with goat cheese at least once, though, as it is a beautiful and unexpected addition to this recipe.

Baking requires organization and good time management, so make sure you’re well prepared before you begin. Sift together the flour, salt and baking powder into a bowl and set aside. Mix the goat cheese and cream in another bowl, and set aside. Make sure your oven is preheated and loaf pan is prepared. This way, once you have creamed the butter, zest and thyme, and sugar, everything can be quickly incorporated and baked immediately. While the loaf is baking, prepare the syrup so it will be ready at the appropriate time.

I hope you all enjoy my lemon thyme loaf as much as I do! Happy baking everybody!

I always keep the first loaf for myself and my team.. deliciously motivating! 😉

Lemon Thyme Loaf

You will need:

2 lemons, zested and juiced

1 cup unsalted butter, softened

1 cup sugar

3 eggs

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 tsp baking powder

½ tsp salt

1 tbsp thyme leaves, chopped finely

1 tsp goat cheese

2 tsp 35% cream

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 350F.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, cream together the butter, lemon zest, thyme, and sugar. Use the low speed on your mixer until everything is incorporated and fluffy.
  3. Add one egg at a time, mixing well on medium speed between each addition. Make sure to scrape the sides of the bowl as you go.
  4. In another bowl, combine flour, baking powder, and salt.
  5. In a small bowl, combine goat cheese and cream, making sure it is well incorporated.
  6. Fold in half of the flour mixture to the butter mixture, and then the other half.
  7. Add the goat cheese and cream mixture to the batter, mixing just to incorporate everything evenly.
  8. Pour into a prepared loaf pan lined with parchment paper, and bake for 40 minutes. After about 25 minutes, reduce heat to 325F and finish baking. The loaf is finished when golden brown, and a fork comes out clean when inserted.

Syrup for topping

You will need:

1 lemon, zested and juiced

½ cup sugar

2 tbsp cold water

1 tsp thyme leaves, chopped finely

1 stalk thyme for garnish

1 tsp sugar for garnish

Method:

  1. Heat all ingredients over medium high heat in a small saucepan.
  2. Reduce heat to low after about 5 minutes, and cook for another 5 minutes.
  3. Dip the thyme stalk into the syrup, immediately remove and coat with sugar. Allow to cool.
  4. While the loaf is still hot from the oven, pour the syrup over top of the entire loaf and continue to allow it to cool.
  5. Place thyme stalk on top of the loaf for garnish. Allow to cool thoroughly before slicing and serving.

Sexy desserts- lemon sabayon, cranberry coulis, and a lady finger for a romantic evening

It’s not too soon to start thinking about Valentine’s Day, which is why I’ve created the perfect dessert for a romantic dinner.

 

Lemon sabayon with a cranberry coulis base and lady finger

 

My lemon sabayon, served in a martini glass over a layer of cranberry coulis and finished with a spongy lady finger, is not only pleasing to the eye, but packs a big punch of flavor without making you feel weighed down. The smooth airiness of this dessert is what makes it perfect for a date night dinner.

Sabayon is a blend of eggs, sugar, and lemon, cooked gently over a water bath. It is commonly used in tarts, but is absolutely delicious enough to eat on its own. Variations of the lemon sabayon include champagne or white wine. In this particular sabayon, I cut it with a drop of champagne, to cut down the sweetness and also add a bit of lightness.

The lady finger adds that bit of texture to the dessert, and makes the presentation more appealing. Finally, the coulis adds a bright pop of colour at the bottom of the serving vessel (in this case, a martini glass), while adding another dimension of fruity flavor.

I chose to use cranberries for my coulis, as I had an abundance of frozen cranberries left over from Christmas. Raspberries or strawberries work equally well for this fruit puree, and can be either fresh or frozen. For a more refined coulis, the pureed fruit must be sieved to remove seeds and solids. However, if you don’t feel like taking this additional step, all that will happen is you will create a more rustic coulis.

Lady fingers are super simple to make, take less than 10 minutes to bake, cool quickly, and are absolutely delicious when baked fresh. Once you have baked lady fingers, you will never want to buy them from the store again. They are the base for many creamy and custard-filled desserts, most commonly tiramisu and trifles. They can be made in large batches, stored in an airtight container for 2 weeks, and go well with a cup of coffee.

I recommend baking the lady fingers in advance, so they are ready to go when assembling the dessert. The coulis can also be made in advance, and stored in the fridge until ready to use. The sabayon must be made to serve, so try to make it as close to dinner time as possible.

When assembling the dessert, start with a small amount of coulis in the bottom of a martini glass, layer with the sabayon, and then place a cookie gently into the glass to finish it off.

 

Lady Fingers

You will need:

1 tbsp cornstarch

¼ cup all purpose flour

2 eggs, separated

2 tbsp granulated sugar

1 tsp lemon zest

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 425F.
  2. Sift cornstarch and flour together
  3. Whip the egg yolks with a tablespoon of sugar, until thick and creamy
  4. Whip the egg whites until foamy. Gradually add the remaining sugar and lemon zest, continuously whipping until stiff peaks form.
  5. Fold approximately a third of the egg whites into the yolk mixture, and then fold in the remaining whites.
  6. Fold in the flour mixture, being careful not to over-mix.
  7. Place the batter into a piping bag with a plain tip, and carefully pipe out the cookies onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. The fingers should be about 4 inches long.
  8. Bake immediately for about 8 minutes, until golden. Allow to cool completely before removing from tray.
  9. Makes 12-20 cookies.

Cranberry coulis

You will need:

1 cup cranberries

1/3 cup sugar

1 tbsp juice of lemon

Method:

  1. In a small sauce pan over medium high heat, heat cranberries, sugar, and lemon juice.
  2. Stir occasionally, cooking until berries have released their juice and cooked down, about 10 minutes.
  3. Remove from heat, puree using an emersion blender or food processor.
  4. *Optional- strain through a mesh sieve to remove seeds and pulp, or leave as is for a rustic fruit sauce.
  5. Transfer to fridge and allow to cool.

Lemon Sabayon

You will need:

Juice of 1 lemon, plus zest

3 egg yolks

1 whole egg

1 ½ tbsp dry champagne

Method:

  1. Combine egg, egg yolks, and sugar in a stainless steel bowl.  Whisk for about 1 minute.
  2. Add champagne and juice to the egg mixture.
  3. Place the bowl over a pan of barely simmering water. Whisk vigorously until the sauce is thick and pale yellow, approximately 10 minutes. Remove from heat and transfer to an ice bath, whisking for another few minutes. Serve immediately.