Monday, October 24, 2016

Rhubarb Ginger Sauce

Rhubarb is the one vegetable I look forward to the most all winter. Even though we haven't even touched the cusp of the freezing, icy season yet, it's been cold enough that we've called the growing season over and done with. After harvesting the last bits and pieces of my backyard project this year, we pulled out all the plants, leaving me nothing outside to look at but a bare, desolate plot of land. Luckily, some of that final harvest was prime for the cooking and eating, not the least my rhubarb and homegrown hot peppers!

Gingery Rhubarb Sauce

Rather than make yet another jam or pepper jelly, I decided to go closer to the BBQ sauce route with my produce. Along with balsamic vinegar and two types of unrefined sugar, this rich, sticky-sweet-tart-spicy condiment cooked up fairly quickly for a "sleeper hit" canned gift for the holidays. We enjoyed (multiple) "quality control" taste tests throughout the short cooking process, as well as for a week or so afterwards with the leftovers. Once we started using it, we kept finding ways to mix it into meals - it made its way into homemade burgers, onto roasted broccoli and spooned onto plain boiled rice for a bit of a kick. It may not be the beauty queen of the pantry, but it's definitely one of the workhorses!

Shared with Gluten Free Fridays

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Home Canned Pizza Sauce #SundaySupper

If you had asked me a few weeks ago, I'd never have been able to tell you there was a whole month dedicated to pizza. Then, thanks to #SundaySupper, I discovered that National Pizza Month was actually established in 1984. As a result, Americans have been using the month of October to celebrate their love of pizza, and what a love it is! Over 3 billion of these cheesy treats are sold yearly in the USA alone, and if I know anything from my experience teaching, a school's pizza day is one of the highlights of the term.

I love a good pie as much as the next person (albeit my tastes lean more towards the more sauce / no mozz and tons of veggies side), but as a family we reserved pizza take out for birthday parties and maybe one or two times a year when we had a late night for a school function. After going to cooking school (and living on my own for the first time), I came to appreciate the power that a well-made sauce had to elevate everything from slow-risen, whole grain flatbreads to even the simplest pizza dough. I started off by sauce-making experiences with the most basic, single-serving and - gasp - ketchup based mixture, which is still perfectly delicious in it's own right. With my home ec classes, I step up the sauce creation a little bit, using a tomato paste-fortified mixture laden with a few key spices and herbs, which gives our pies a perfect kid-friendly flavour with just enough authenticity to show them there's something beyond the jar or the 27-cheese monstrosities they can order for delivery.

Pizza night will never be the same after tasting your own homemade pizza sauce! #yum #vegan #vegetarian #cooking #healthyfood #foodie #instafood #homegrown #canning #preserving #growyourown #garden #vegetables #yummy #healthy #food #foodstagram #vegetaria

This year in my canning melee, I decided that I would try my hand at making pizza sauce 100% from scratch, with real tomatoes and garden-fresh garlic and herbs. I had Jami's recipe as a guide, which gave me the tip of freezing and thawing the tomatoes first to remove excess liquid (one of the reasons I have gallon bags of tomatoes hanging in the freezer as we speak) and the whole thing came together easily once everything was in the pot. I won't say it was quick, because as with most homemade tomato sauces the slower and lower they cook, the better, but I will say that the time was more than worth it. Not only does the sauce can and freeze well, but I can vouch for the fact that the sauce that didn't make it into jars turned into a divine dipper for garlic pita and everything bagel chips.

This week, the #SundaySupper team is pulling out our best pizza recipes to fill your belly with deliciousness. We’ve got everything from traditional pizzas to dessert pies, and some pizza inspired sandwiches and salads.  Join us on Twitter tonight at 7pm where we’ll be talking all things pizza and sharing our best pizza recipes.










Sunday Supper Movement

Join the #SundaySupper conversation on twitter on Sunday! We tweet throughout the day and share recipes from all over the world. Our weekly chat starts at 7:00 pm ET. Follow the #SundaySupper hashtag and remember to include it in your tweets to join in the chat. To get more great Sunday Supper Recipes, visit our website or check out our Pinterest board.

Would you like to join the Sunday Supper Movement? It’s easy. You can sign up by clicking here: Sunday Supper Movement.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Pumpkin Date Bars #creativecookieexchange

It's Fall, so it must be pumpkin season!

Unlike most of my family, I am not a devoted fan of pumpkin pie, cake, cookies or muffins. The flavour of the squash, as well as its scent while baking, are rather off-putting to me on their own, and the flavour, to quote some adorable rodents, is "squishy nothing".

Or a pumpkin date square?  #baked  #dessert #food #cooking #baked #pumpkin #eggless #foodie #sweet

However, the merits of the squash are not all lost on me... when added to another flavourful ingredient - say, apple butter, maple syrup or dates - pumpkin puree becomes the perfect flavour vehicle, adding bulk and moisture without any untoward flavours of its own. In fact, over the years I've become well known in the family for churning out a mean apple butter-pumpkin pie, made with tofu instead of eggs for extra creaminess and far less risk of cracking with the heat of the oven (it's also my secret for cheesecake), and I've done similar combinations in my Home Ec classes where some of the kids are leery of the "traditional" custard filling.

This year, in addition to my (now) classic pie, I whipped up a bake-sale-worthy pan of these autumn-flavoured crumb bars. The base and topping is rich with butter and brown sugar, with a perfect texture from the oats and kinako, and reminds me 100% of my mom's apple squares. To temper the richness, I opted for a not-too-sweet filling of pureed dates, pure pumpkin ppuree, apple juice and a touch of stevia. Even without the stevia, the mixture was plenty sweet enough - and depending on your dates you might not need any added sweetness at all (I used Chinese red dates, which aren't super-sweet, but if you used Medjool you would definitely want to taste the filling pre-stevia).

It's time for this month's Creative Cookie Exchange! One of the best things about fall--in addition to sweaters and football--is all of the delightful seasonal themes that come to mind for baking. Pumpkin, apples, late summer and early fall harvest, Halloween, Thanksgiving…. They are all fun and delicious to play around with, so check out what we have for you this month!

You can also use us as a great resource for cookie recipes. Be sure to check out our Pinterest Board and our monthly posts (you can find all of them here at The Spiced Life). You will be able to find them the first Tuesday after the 15th of each month! Also, if you are looking for inspiration to get in the kitchen and start baking, check out what all of the hosting bloggers have made:

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Cranberry Blueberry Bran Bagels #wbd2016

It's been ages since I've put on the bagel-baking apron, but with the impending craziness that the holidays bring, breakfasts and lunches on the go are starting to become more the "norm" than the exception. There's nothing that can truly beat a chewy, boiled bagel freshly made at home - except perhaps a chewy, boiled bagel freshly made in Montreal! Making bagels also allows a little more room to "play" with ingredients, since you can make a big batch of basic bagel dough and knead in additions as desired.

Cranberry Blueberry Bran Bagels

That said, I totally knew what direction I was heading in when I pulled out the flour, vital wheat gluten and yeast, and it was 100% driven by my mom's passion for a certain muffin as well as the timely prevalence of cranberry everything in my local store. With a decent helping of vegan blueberry yogurt, the fact that the bagels contained a hefty amount of bran (both added and in the form of whole wheat flour) didn't translate into sawdusty toast screaming for a mountain of butter (or another  Toast Topper - although a smear of Blueberry Beet Butter or Roasted Peach Jam is a great addition). Given that I was going for the "bigger is better" dough approach, I was really glad I had a strong standing mixer - there is no way to get adequate kneading without one, and my 7-quart KA Proline took the dough to perfectly smooth and supple with no problem. Next step is to get grinding my own flours, now that I have a Mockmill at my disposal!

World Bread Day 2016 (October 16)

It's once again time for World Bread Day, an international celebration of the fact that we have the luxury to not only have enough food to survive, but to be able to enjoy the food on our tables. This event has been hosted by Zorra at Kochtopf for ten years now, and the round-ups are always worth a perusal! Here are some of the World Bread Roundups from the past.

Vegan Cranberry-Blueberry Bran Bagel Dough

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Cherry-Chocolate Wine Spritzer Cake

Those of you who have had beer bread know just how delicious - and dead simple - it is. Possibly the most basic quickbread in existence, the original recipe is nothing more than self-rising flour, sugar, butter and beer. Thanks to the carbonation and "yeasty" flavours of the brew, the bread is lofty and similar in flavour to a yeasted dough, but it needs the hit of butter for moisture lest it turn to sawdust after cooling. As a result, the loaves don't store overly well, and are best (IMHO) dunked into soup or stew.

Cherry-Chocolate Wine Spritzer Cake

All of the recipes with the carbonated liquid / self rising flour combination I've found to date are on the savoury side - I've seen ones with herbs, garlic, cheese, chiles, olives... but never taking on dessert or the sweet side of quickbread. I suspect most of this has to do with the fact that the recipes are subject to drying out rapidly, making them less appealing as a stand-alone treat. That said, when I found myself with a few bottles of wine spritzer left over from a birthday party, a bottle of Cheribundi Tart Cherry Juice and a handful of dark chocolate chunks, I thought I'd try it out anyways. The combination was inspired by a recipe found on Nosh My Way, and by adding just a smidge of honey to the batter along with the basic ingredients I was rewarded with a sweet, tender loaf cake with just enough outer crust to slice cleanly. Inside, the melt-in-your-moth crumb held chunks of melting bittersweet chocolate and dried cherry "jewels" that held onto enough moisture that the loaf never dried out. The best part? This drop-dead simple, decadent and rich-tasting loaf cake only has 3 tbsp of butter and is laced with whole grains to boot!