Monday, May 23, 2016

Studded Spiral Cinnamon Brioche

It's been a while since I've posted... blame the warmer (read: gardening) weather coupled with end-of-the-year school stuff, and spending time at the computer just doesn't hold the same allure! Besides the usual annual demands for time, I was stuck with a slowly dying laptop which I (finally) replaced this past weekend! Hopefully, this will mean things are back to their slightly-less-sporadic posting... I still have lots to feed you!

Studded Spiral Cinnamon BriocheIf you know me at all, you know that the best way for me to blow off steam is to cook or bake something. Between the rhythm of preparing, mixing and cooking, the ability to be creative, the control over the situation and the smells that emanate while doing so, I don't see any better solution on the pharmacy shelf! I must come by that trait honestly, since my grandfather would do the same - and, like me, he found bread to be the answer to all. 

Of course, just because bread is the ultimate tamer of hunger and nerves doesn't mean it always has to be a plain old loaf of white or wheat! With the end of a carton of eggs and a container of Scented Cinnamon Honey Butter sitting in the fridge (it's the new "cinnamon toast" staple here), I was thinking about a rich, exotically inspired loaf. Of course, I went back to the Middle East for inspiration after finding a neat spiraled Tahini Bread , this Noon Rogani loaf and this flaky pastry along with my stepsister-in-law's donation of baklava to a family dinner. My mom (my bread-eater) prefers pecans to any other nut, and for me using them in the filling for my version of a spiral bread was only natural, as was using good ol' Canadian dried cranberries and the same local honey I made this batch of butter with. To keep the filling in, I turned to this handy tip from King Arthur Flour and used the whites left over from my yolk-based egg wash. A spring-form pan coated with semolina helped the bread keep its shape while adding a light crunch.

Cutting into the loaf, the most incredible aroma wafts out and boldly declares that it is anything other than the ordinary. It was perfectly moist and tender, remaining so for days, and when toasted was the perfect foil for the Toast Toppers in the fridge. 


Studded Spiral Cinnamon Brioche

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Aquafaba Meringues

I know it's coming around to the Summer "bikini season" when the treats in our staff room start getting less rich and more on the "pseudo-virtuous" side of things. While nothing that appears in our small haven away from the children could truly be classified as a nutritious choice (except the veggie tray which appeared - once - and was subsequently ignored), lighter tasting treats like raspberry coffee cake and "low fat" biscotti are cropping up to tempt our palates. With the seasonal change, it was the perfect time for me to try out a recipe that I've had saved away for a while now - vegan meringues.

Now, a few years ago, the concept of a "vegan meringue" was only contemplated by molecular gastronomes, if not considered outright laughable. However, a combination of genius, science and experimentation by several people eventually resulted in the Aquafaba (literally, "Bean Water") Meringue recipe. Since then (early 2015), subsequent other uses for the starchy cooking liquid have been tried and shared on the Vegan Meringues - Hits and Misses Facebook page - including a spiced Bundt cake that I'll be sharing soon!

Whether it's the (minimal) protein content, the starch, magic or a combination of all the above, the liquid you normally drain away from canned chickpeas and other beans whips up perfectly into a light and fluffy foam that stiffens into glossy meringue with the addition of cream of tartar and sugar - resulting in light-as air, fat free, gluten free, vegan cookies. In my opinion, using aquafaba is actually easier than using egg whites (you don't have to be as uber-careful about fat, and it's impossible to overwhip them), not to mention any "common" allergy issues would be null as well.

"Cake Batter" Aquafaba Meringues
"Cake Batter" Flavoured Funfetti Meringues

The question I first asked when thinking about using aquafaba was whether or not the finished meringues, etc would taste like beans. Well, thankfully, nothing I've made with it (regardless of the bean type) has tasted remotely of the legume it surrounded - if anything, it's exceptionally bland, taking on any and all flavourings like a sponge. The first time I whipped up AF meringues, I used the standard chickpea brine, adding pure vanilla and mint extracts and vanilla sugar, while the "cake batter" variety got a pinch of nutmeg and sprinkles with the flavour extract. Black bean aquafaba made its way into brownies (not unlike the ones from this book) and the liquid left over from cooking up some Tongues of Fire beans made a perfect carrot loaf cake. I can't wait to play some more!

Shared with Gluten Free Fridays 
 
Aquafaba Meringues
Vanilla-Mint Meringues

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Tunisian Garlic Chickpea Soup #SundaySupper

While the weather is definitely starting to warm up (albeit slowly!), around here we're still in the throes of ever variable climate conditions day to day. This past week, for example, I went from wearing a fuzzy winter jacket, mittens and hat to a light sweater and back to a spring coat - and inside vs. outside temperature is even more variable due to the heating / cooling systems in different buildings.

Even if it was consistently hot and sunny outside, it's almost guaranteed that soup will play a role in our weekly menu at home. For me, it's often a quick-fix dinner after a full day of work or a busy weekend of lesson planning or prep work. My mom, though, savours the pleasure of a warm potage at lunch (with homemade bread, of course!), and is as eager to travel the world via tasting as I am through cooking. Soup is perfect for taming even the most savage of beasts (hunger or otherwise), and I love this one in particular because it's a filling, protein and fibre-rich, flavourful blend with a built-in antibacterial forcefield from the hefty doses of herbs, spices and garlic!

While the ingredient list seems long, a lot of it is spices that are fairly commonplace. The starch I chose - sorghum - is one of my favourites in the flour world, and when I found a bag of the raw grain at my local Asian grocery I snapped it up and fell in love. The slightly sweet, buttery, nutty flavour the sorghum has pairs perfectly with the mellowed garlic and onions, while its texture reminds me of Israeli couscous or tapioca. That said, brown rice (especially a short grain variety) would play just as well here and regardless the whole thing is basically an excuse to eat a bowl of hummus for dinner!
 
Tunisian Garlic and Chickpea Soup


#SundaySupper is focused on "Spice is Nice & Some Like it Hot" this week - if you love spicy food of any kind (not just the "hot" spices), this event is one to check out! This week's host is Sarah of The Chef Next Door

Aromatic Appetizers
 
Distinctive Drinks
 
Daring Desserts
 
Masterful Mains
 
Seasoned Sides

Plus Homemade Ginger Ale and Spice is Nice Recipes from 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.

Friday, May 6, 2016

Harcha with Scented Cinnamon Honey Butter

I hear you: what-cha?

Luckily, if you like English muffins, johnnycakes or toasted polenta, the name of this Moroccan, skillet-cooked flatbread doesn't matter. What does matter is that it's easy, kid-friendly, infinitely variable and most importantly, delicious. 

HarchaTraditionally made with semolina, milk, cream or buttermilk, oil, and occasionally cornmeal, harcha can easily be a relatively Spartan carbohydrate staple for breakfast or with a meat or legume entree. However, adding a few extra touches - sugar, saffron, and vanilla - the crisp-crusted cakes are prime for a special breakfast or even dessert. This was the version I opted for when it came time to share the dish with my grade 1-6 classes, and while the just-textured-enough discs were more than delicious enough on their own, we upped the ante by dolloping an orange blossom water, cinnamon and honey butter on top. 

One of the best things about these (to me, anyways) is that they're yummy warm or room temperature, not to mention portable and 100% freezer friendly. Leave out the saffron, and they're totally budget-friendly too! Whether you adorn them to the nines or grab them hot out of the pan, there's no wrong way to taste Morocco at home.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Chocolate Cherry Truffle Cheesecake #SundaySupper

My mom has always adored dark chocolate, cherries and cheesecake - particularly in that order. Given the choice, she'd happily sit down to a relatively spartan slice of New York style cheesecake with cherry and chocolate sauce before a towering sponge cake, so this year for her birthday I figured I would combine her three sweet favourites. This Chocolate Cherry Truffle Cheesecake was born out of a 3AM brainstorm (the best ideas always come out of insomnia!) where I thought "why not make a cookie (rather than cookie crumb) base packed with dried cherries and cocoa, topped with a silky, dense, slightly tangy chocolate-laden cheese filling with a cherry swirl?". A quick consult with the birthday girl later, I found myself in the kitchen whipping together this intensely rich, but incredibly easy one bowl / one food processor cheesecake.

To make things easier on myself (and to ensure the base was completely cool and set) I baked the "cookie" the day before, letting it hang out in its springform home at room temperature overnight. The cheese mixture featured not only silky couverture chocolate and sour cream, but my favourite "secret ingredient" - silken tofu - as well. The tofu, unlike eggs, doesn't hold air when beaten, making the cheesecake incredibly creamy and dense with a far smaller chance of cracking - even without a water bath! Coupled with the extra step of partially cooling the baked cake in the oven, this dessert was as gorgeous as it was delicious.

Chocolate Cherry Truffle Cheesecake

The name of this dessert is no lie, either. Each bite of this cake feels almost exactly like eating a dark chocolate Lindor, with the occasional break of chewy cherry tang. It's so intense that a small piece is more than satisfying, and that's probably a good thing given the incredible decadence of the ingredients! According to Mom, the cake freezes well too - she just pulled the last piece out for dessert this week!

While my mom's birthday was over a month ago, Mother’s Day on May 8th is another perfect excuse to indulge in all things mom-worthy! This #SundaySupper we're sharing our favourite recipes Mom made throughout the years as well as the recipes they love to eat. Our hosts this week are Christie Campbell of A Kitchen Hoor’s Adventures and Wendy Leep Hammond of Wholistic Woman.

Starters (Appetizers, Beverages, Breakfast):

Salads, Side Dishes, and Sauces:

Main Dishes:

Desserts:

Plus What Mom Really Wants for Mother’s Day plus Mom’s Favorite from Sunday Supper Movement recipes.

Sunday Supper MovementJoin 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.