Sunday, August 20, 2017

Danish Butter Cookies #SundaySupper

Homemade Danish Butter Cookies are so easy and delicious!

Danish Butter Cookies

The blue tins of sweet, vanilla and butter flavoured cookies were ubiquitous at school growing up. Since they were relatively cheap, peanut free and plain enough to suit most kid's palates, we would have these as our "snack" occasionally, and almost always as "dessert" on pizza or hot dog days. Kids would argue over whether the pretzels or the wreaths tasted better, trading for their favourite. But I'll let you in on a little secret.

I hate those cookies.

Call me spoiled, but "butter cookies" to me are nothing compared to my mom's shortbread. Sure, I like butter in cookies (looking at you, chocolate chippers), but if you call a cookie a butter cookie, it better bring the flavour. The tinned ones tasted of nothing but sugar - no vanilla, no butter... just dry-ish sweetness.

However, I used to work with someone who, like my childhood friends, loved those cookies. As a gift, I decided to make him a batch - but better, with lots of flavour from both butter and vanilla. I knew I couldn't really do all butter, since it would spread like crazy (and chilling the dough wouldn't let it go through my piping bag), so I mixed in some butter flavoured shortening. To amp up the butteriness even more, I tossed in a bit of butter flavouring.

Once the butter element was taken care of, it was time for the vanilla. Vanilla sugar was a no-brainer for me, since it's what I make every time I have a spent vanilla pod. Speaking of vanilla pods, the seeds of one, plus a dash of extract, went in next, until the dough smelled of nothing but butter and vanilla - or what I once heard referred to as "angel farts" (I can't remember who said that to me once, but it stuck).

Since I don't have (or want) a cookie press, to get the pretty designs, I stuck with a piping bag and large star tip.The dough was a bit too stiff for eloquent wreaths or pretzels, but rosettes looked pretty and they all baked at the same rate. Being two-biters, a few with a cup of tea (or glass of milk) makes a perfect mid-afternoon treat - and one I wish I remembered from my childhood!

This week's #SundaySupper is celebrating after-school snacktime - whether it's something you need to pack in the backpack (if your kids are like me growing up, after-school care was a fact of life, as was getting home at 6PM) or a treat kids can quickly fix after a long day, there are lots of ideas this week!

Cookies

 

Fall Flavors

Healthy Snacks

 

Savory Snacks

 

Sweet Snacks


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.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Triple Caramel Scones

Caramel lovers will rejoice when they bite into one of these tender, fluffy scones. Packed with caramel sauce, caramel extract and and crushed hard caramels, there's no escaping the decadence!

Triple Caramel Scones

We have a soft spot for scones around here. Since bread and muffins are more or less a bi-weekly event, the rare time a scone or biscuit hits the oven we truly savour it. The reason we don't enjoy them more often is the same reason why we love them so much - they are rich in fat and sugar, melting in your mouth while warm, and really - who just eats a scone by itself? Mandatory scone-operating procedures demand at least a little fruit, often a touch of butter (mmm, melting butter!) and a large coffee (or some caffeinated beverage), and usually they're part of a brunch spread. If they feature on the dessert menu, again you have the fruit component, but a little ice cream somehow sneaks in too.

But once in a while, how can you argue with something so sinful? Especially when it's homemade - at least that way you can control the quality of the ingredients you're eating, and if you like it less sweet, glazed or unglazed, or a special flavour the doors are wide open to you.

Since my dad and I are caramel fans, I decided that this time around, browned, gooey sugar would be the dominant taste. Of course, I didn't just use chopped up caramels - no, that would be just so pedestrian! Instead, I started with the nutty flavour of spelt flour and built on it with three hits of caramel - homemade caramel sauce replaced the traditional milk or sour cream, caramel extract added to the vanilla and finally crushed hard caramels added a touch of extra texture. I added a bit of Truvia for extra sweetness, but it doesn't really need it (especially if you're doing the ice cream or sweet coffee thing) - and if I get a chance to make these again I'll top it with a touch of finishing salt like Hawaiian Black Lava.

Triple Caramel Scones

Friday, August 18, 2017

“Faux”sage and Tomato Gnocchi Bake

Two Dutch ovens get filled with layers of a homemade soy-based "faux-sage", a two-onion ragú and homemade gnocchi before being topped off with fresh mozzarella cheese and baked to bubbling perfection.

Faux-sage Gnocchi Bake

To me, the ultimate comfort food is baked pasta. Whether it's my mom's lasagna, tortellini al forno, ziti or homemade mac n cheese, some form of the dish is sure to warm your insides and wrap you up in a blanket.

Like most things delicious, these pots of baked gnocchi sprang out of the need to use ingredients from the pantry and fridge. TVP is a cheap and ever-versatile protein, taking on whatever flavours you throw at it. Knowing that it mimicked ground meat or sausage really well when I made the Mini Tourtières, a few years ago, I decided to do the same thing and make a rich "meaty" ragu, adding the last bit of wine from an open bottle, two types of onions and some nutritional yeast for umami. Instead of the traditional ziti or rigatoni, I opted to cook up a batch of my gnocchi and use that for the starch.

Notice I said pots above. There was so much food that one Dutch oven couldn't handle it (and we have 7-qt models!), so I divided everything between our two. They bake up relatively quickly, and after a short rest it was time to dig in. Not a peep about "tasting weird" was uttered during the initial taste, and my mom was thrilled that it was vegetarian and filled with fibre - not to mention a perfect way to get a bag of gnocchi out of the freezer!

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Banana Muffins with Chocolate Hazelnut Crunchies

Adapted from 125 Best Vegan Recipes, these are moist and perfectly sweet muffins peppered with chocolate-hazelnut crispy bites instead of chocolate chips.

Banana Muffins with Chocolate Hazelnut Crunch

Bananas and chocolate are a match made in heaven - especially when that chocolate is dark and almost bitter and the bananas are almost caramelized in their over-ripe state. Add nuts in any form - the classic, of course, is walnuts, but anything really works - and you have a trifecta of deliciousness. 

My family tends to eat most of the bananas we buy - it is by and large my stepfather's favourite fruit, and one of the only ones my sister eats willingly - but occasionally we wind up finding out we overbought. Most of the time, the (then-spotty) bananas are peeled and stashed in my freezer, awaiting a fate of banana bread, but I wanted to try something a little different with a few on the counter. I had a copy of 125 Best Vegan Recipes kicking around with a banana- (and chocolate!) forward recipe, and since I had a freshly minted batch of Chocolate Hazelnut Crunchies on my hands I decided to use those in place of the chocolate chips called for. 

These muffins are the perfect mixture of "morning snack" and "dessert" - there is a delightful nuttiness from the spelt flour and almond milk that evokes the feeling of being healthy, but the sweetness of the fruit, agave and Crunchies definitely makes the decadence of these bites known. The crumb of these is moist and tender, without the gumminess that can sometimes occur when the phrases "whole grain", "vegan" and "banana" go together. They're not really things of beauty, to be sure - the relative wetness in this batter doesn't lend itself to super-inflation - but one bite and I guarantee you'll want another. 

Provided you like bananas and Nutella, that is - and who doesn't?

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Chocolate Hazelnut Crunchies

Chocolate Hazelnut Crunchies are a decadent topping for all your dessert desires!


Chocolate Hazelnut Crunchies

I hate when items I love are suddenly discontinued. Ones that immediately come to mind are usually things I grew up on but as an adult didn't really use, like Cherry Vanilla Coke and McDonald's pizza. However, my family and I are finding more and more of our staple foods have bit the dust (at least in Canada) and we're left to find alternatives - some are good (President's Choice Louisiana hot sauce, for example), others... really not (non-British baked beans(z)). Luckily, we tend to avoid most processed food as a matter of habit anyway, and I for one revel in making my own ingredients, "mixes" and condiments (obviously).

One of the more recent disappearances was from our local bulk food store - crunchy little balls of chocolate-hazelnut goodness intended for decorating cakes and cupcakes. They tasted like Nutella meeting Rice Krispies, and were awesome for not only cakes, but cookie dough and topping brownies too. We fell in love - and then poof! gone. Not just gone from the bulk store, but everywhere - not even Google can come up with a result for us.

But not all is lost. Due to my love of recreating elements of recipes I see on TV, and pre-made mixes I find in the stores, I decided it was time to make my own version. While definitely not as "perfect" as the storebought ones, these had, IMHO, a better flavour and if your chocolate stays at cool room temperature after mixing and panning, a more defined crunch. I accidentally left one of two trays out overnight (it's warm and - more importantly - humid here right now) and the chocolate soaked into the cereal, taking away some of the character crunch. still delicious, however.

Stay tuned for a recipe using them coming right up - and its perfect for that mid morning snack too.

Bonus Tips: 
  • Sprinkle these on the Chocolate Hazelnut Beet Brownies to make them extra special!
  • Keep these in the freezer, they won't melt and the nuts won't get rancid that way.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Tofu Colombo Curry

3 pounds of zucchini go into a BIG pot of this curry, along with marinated tofu, two types of potato and a Scotch Bonnet for heat. Get out the milk, this is spicy! 

Tofu Columbo Curry

Yup, it's another curry!

With the absolute glut of zucchini coming out of the garden at the moment, we've been on the search for recipes using lots of it. There are only so many times I can wheedle my way into baking treats with it - poor Mom is the only one who can eat them at home - but savoury meals my mom can eat for lunch? No problem.

With the pile of squash growing ever higher on our kitchen table, I did what any modern-age person would do - turn to Mr. Google. After sifting through lots of zoodles, fritters and desserts, as well as a fair amount of ratatouilles (which I would have made, had our eggplants and peppers been ready), I wound up in an unlikely place, looking at an unlikely recipe - a pork-based, multi-part curry with potatoes, habaneros, eggplant and - yes - zucchini.

Like I said, our eggplants and peppers aren't ready yet this year. Not only that, but my mom hasn't eaten pork in a year or so, preferring fish or vegetarian options. Chicken has largely been off the menu lately as well, after recent shopping trips found us victims of the edible, but unappetizingly spongy woody-breast chicken. Still, the other ingredients appealed to me, and what I knew my mom would enjoy as well. She agreed when I described the combination to her, and she sounded intrigued, asking if I could swap the pork for tofu, and dropping the hint that she "doesn't like habaneros".

Lucky for me, I had the slightly fruitier, yet still fiery Scotch Bonnets in the freezer instead! I nixed the eggplant in the original recipe as well, and piled in the zucchini, as well as doubling the starchy mixture of both Yukon Gold and Caribbean sweet potato - there was a goodly amount of protein and veggies going on in there, not to mention spices, so I wanted to make sure there was enough bulk to temper it all! I pulled on some of the other goodies I had in the garden for extra flavour, namely my Egyptian onion (which tastes like scallions and/or shallots depending on the part you use) which made the bulk of the marinade, the garlic and the thyme which perfumed the body of the stew. While a whole Scotch Bonnet goes into the tofu marinade, you have the option to mince a second and add it all to the pot, or simply stab one and let it slowly infuse before removing it for a more subtle heat. I opted for the latter, although there was so much stuff in the pot I could have gotten away with the second one for sure.

Note on the spice blend - you can certainly buy Poudre de Colombo, if you can find it at your grocery store or order it online, but my town is simply not blessed with stores that carry it. Thankfully, it's super simple to whip up, and the fresh-toasted flavour is simply unbeatable. If you do use storebought, make sure to toast the rice flour separately and add it to the pot at the same time.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Beef and Sweet Potato Stew #SundaySupper

Beef and Sweet Potato Stew is slowly baked in a Dutch oven until unctuous and rich.

Beef and Sweet Potato Stew

Whether we like it or not, the Summer vacation season is drawing to a close. While we here in Ontario didn't get much in the way of Summer weather (monsoon season, maybe!), it was lovely to have any amount of time without needing jackets and winter boots. As the weather progressively cools, especially at night and definitely while a thunder and windstorm rages outside, tucking into a hearty bowl of soup or stew just feels like the right thing to do.

I don't normally cook with beef, since we don't really eat it here - chicken and fish are the main animal proteins on the menu, but beans and tofu are starting to take greater precedence due to health and budget concerns. At any rate, during a freezer purge we came across a package of flank steak originally, we think, intended to become this delicious thing - which, I just realized, I posted 10 years to the day of this stew. No, the beef was not that old... we clean out the freezer regularly I promise! Flank steak doesn't usually scream "stew me", but it had to be used (we loathe throwing away food), and I figured that with all the other "stuff" going into the pot it would be a small enough component that could fly under the radar if tough.

I needn't have worried, since this stew was stellar. The onions, mushrooms, split peas and sweet potatoes added a good deal of body and richness to the mixture, elevated by a couple glasses of red wine. The seasoning was minimal, and fairly standard, except for a pinch of cinnamon to elevate the mineral quality of the beef and the sweetness of the root veggies. The garlic mellowed into the gorgeous sweetness it does so well, thanks to the hour and a half in the oven. Speaking of the oven, that was by far my favourite part of making this - your simmering time is all in the oven, freeing up the stove or letting you wander off worry free.

Like all good stews, this is better the next day, and it freezes well for meals later in the month. If the first month of school is anything like I remember, you might be making good use of meals like this for the evening repast! The #SundaySupper gang is sharing their best "back to school" dinners this week, check them out and be sure to say hi!

Beef and Pork

Pastas, Soups, Rice and Stews

Poultry

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

Friday, August 11, 2017

"Locked and Loaded" Cookies

Caramel bits, chocolate chips and hemp seeds pack these whole-grain oatmeal cookies, creating treats so decadent you'll never realize they're made without butter, oil or eggs! 

Locked and Loaded Cookies

It's scary how close it is to "back to school" time! Granted, I'm in school now (taking my Sociology degree) but my teaching life doesn't begin until after Labour Day (phew). However, for those of you who are parents, like many of my friends, this crunch period is full of questions like "how many binders do I need?" "does he really need a 64-pack of crayons?" and most importantly, "what do I pack for lunch?".

Since my sister and I grew up with parents who needed to work full time during the Summer we were sent to day camp throughout July and August and always had a packed lunch. The rules for camp lunches and snacks were identical to school - no nuts, no peanuts - so nothing really changed. However, I know that if we were left to our own devices at home, we'd be scarfing peanut butter or Nutella on toast for lunch, and my mom always made killer peanut butter and chocolate chunk cookies that fit perfectly into the afternoon snack void. After a holiday like that, lunchbox treats had better be mighty fine to compete!

These guys not only compete, but score. I call them "locked and loaded" because of just how jam-packed of good (and good-for-you) things they are! Instead of butter, which for some reason we had run out of (I know, sacrilege in a baking household), I used a combination of cream cheese (which is now my "secret addition" to cookies) and SunButter for a rich nutty flavour and aroma. I almost never have eggs in the house (I don't eat them myself) so in went the flaxseed for binding the whole wheat batter. Finally, it was "raid the pantry" time - I managed to empty the last bits from bags of large flake oatmeal, hemp seeds, chocolate chips and caramel bits for good measure.

As with any whole grain cookie, especially one containing oats, a rest in the fridge is the way to go to properly hydrate everything, but once baked - boy were these fantastic! Tender and slightly chewy thanks to the cream cheese and caramel, snack-worthy but not super sweet (especially since I used dark chocolate) and just slightly nutty tasting, a single cookie satisfied any craving I might have had. The real magic came through after freezing them, though - you have got to try these frozen. Everything is just that much better, especially when its still 30C out. I haven't tried ice cream (or Frozen Yoghurt) sandwiches with them, but why not?

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Pineapple Habanero Jelly - Toast Topper #83

This spicy - sweet spread is made with homegrown habaneros and canned pineapple juice - its so simple! It's low sugar too... And full of Island flavour! 

Pineapple Habanero Jelly


This is another one of those spreads that bridges the gap between sweet and savoury. Now, normally I keep my fruit all by itself - I hate chunks of apple, pear, orange or grape in salads, can't stand prosciutto and melon, and stay as far away from grilled peaches on burgers as possible.

Pineapple - at least its juice - is the one exception. Maybe it comes from being Canadian and growing up in the culture of Hawaiian pizza (you know, the pineapple and ham ones), but I loved pineapple soaked flank steak and chicken growing up and adore using the juice to make sweet and sour stir fry sauce for a quick dinner. Whenever I go for pineapple juice (I still can't deal with chunks of fruit in my dinner) I always make sure to add spice - anything from jalapenos to today's habs are a perfect counterpart to the sweet-tart pineapple juice, and depending on how long you let the mixture sit the effect can be drastically different. Used immediately, the result is one of two distinct flavours in one dish - there is definitely "pockets" of fire in a sweet ocean. Let it sit as little as an hour, though, and you get a more homogenous whole, every bite hot and sweet and sour at once. While each method is delicious in its own right, if I'm marinating or making a sauce I will try to steep the peppers ahead of time.

With all that said, this jelly has the fire from habaneros tempered with an extra jolt of sweetness thanks to sugar, and the pineapple gets a boost in the tangy department with a touch of vinegar. While you can certainly start dolloping it on cream cheese-smeared crackers or bagels as soon as it sets, I actually prefer it at least a month or so after processing in a waterbath so all the capsaicin has a chance to disperse through the jar. Of course, this ages beautifully, so if you make it with your garden's habaneros now, by the time you break it out for holiday parties it will be mellow and mild... until the kick at the end!

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Cherry-Vanilla Rhubarb Butter - Toast Topper #82

Cherry-Vanilla Rhubarb Butter is sweet, luxuriously thick and a perfect marriage of tangy, fruity and floral flavours.

Cherry-Vanilla Rhubarb Butter

I love vanilla in preserves this year. In my mind, a touch of good quality extract makes the spreads not only sweeter, but lends a more rounded sweetness that sugar alone can't provide. With the goal of clearing out as much rhubarb from the freezer as possible this year, I decided to make something that relies on noting but simmering and evaporation to create a spreadable delicacy: butter.

This recipe originally started out as simply "rhubarb butter" in one of my church cookbooks, and called for 5 cups of sugar for the 4 pounds of rhubarb. Now, I know rhubarb is tart, but five cups? I couldn't do it. Instead, I decided to build flavours that invoked the feeling of sweet without drowning the works in sucrose.

Vanilla was an easy option - I'd used it with rhubarb in the Heavenly Jam and the Rhubarb Pie with great success. My second inspiration came from my Chocolate Rhubarb Preserve, where I had used some tart cherry juice for flavour and a hint of fruity sweetness. The combination is one of my all-time favourites - I love cherries and vanilla together, and rhubarb is fantastic on its own. With the extended cooking, the separate elements slowly coalesced into a dark, sticky whole with all of the flavour from each ingredient. To keep the vanilla true, I added it at the end, and for the greatest (and most even) carmelization I roasted the butter rather than simmered it on the stovetop. By the time four hours were up, I had a perfectly passable spread for breakfast or dessert!

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Alice's Banana Muffins

My version of Alice's banana muffins that are featured in the book What Alice Forgot, topped with Natures Path Dark Chocolate Macaroon Love Crunch.

Alice's Banana Muffins

Okay, so my finger slipped and I accidentally published an unfinished blog post late yesterday - sorry!! In the spirit of that, here are some different banana muffins - these ones were inspired by the book What Alice Forgot, in which the main character is known for her fantastic banana muffins. Alice's muffins were banana-walnut, but we generally prefer our banana muffins and bread without chunks of walnuts (or any, if you're me or mom) so I left the crunch out of batter and added it on top instead.

I know what you (or at least those of you who read this far, after seeing the title) are thinking - another banana-based quickbread? The Web is flooded with them (this blog included), most almost identical to each other - why should I try this one? Well, all I can say is they're the perfect "entry level" muffin for those who are looking to either reduce their sugar intake or increase their whole grains, love the flavour of buttery bananas with little adornment (the only spice is nutmeg) and want something a little - just a little - different to snack on. If you're like us, anything banana is a push into "delicious" comments from guests, and since this makes 12, brunch might not be a bad idea!

Monday, August 7, 2017

Strawberry - Lemon Marmalade - Toast Topper #81

Strawberry-Lemon Marmalade is a bright burst of late Spring in a jar - and being made with Pomonas Pectin, it's a lower sugar, fruit-forward Toast Topper too

Strawberry-Lemon Marmalade

With the growing season as short as it is here, when the Spring and Summer fruit come in, we buy it up, en masse. What we don't immediately consume or can is either dehydrated or frozen, thawed out in the Fall and Winter to go with holiday desserts or morning oatmeal.

I delved into our Ontario strawberry cache a little early though, in search of a gorgeous, sweet-tart Toast Topper. I love lemon in basically anything, and since I'd made a few marmalades this year I thought I'd try my hand at a lower sugar variety. Normally with marmalades, the sugar is what causes the mixture to set - you're essentially making a candy. However, I wondered if it would be possible to do it with pectin - certainly not traditional, but I knew that I could incorporate the "peel" feeling of the usual kind, as long as I could find a way to make it tender before jamming.

Thankfully, Pomona's Pectin had a recipe on their site for exactly what I was looking for. I use Pomona's for essentially all my jams (exception is my Backyard Grape Jam - I'm not messing with that formula) so that I can control the sugar, and the batch size. They also pointed out that if you pre-simmer the peel in water before making the jam, you wind up with perfectly toothsome, yet tender, strands in each spoonful.

Since I'm a lemon lover, I amped up the amount of peel I used, but essentially everything stayed the same - just a smaller batch size. I came out with two half-pint jars of ruby red deliciousness (minus a spoonful or two - quality control), which I've squirreled away for those dark Winter mornings.

Maybe. If they last that long.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Millet Zucchini Bread

While being relatively low fat, this gluten free loaf is insanely moist, with a texture similar to a partial whole wheat loaf and the perfect balance of cinnamon, ginger and allspice. 

Gluten Free Zucchini Bread

Are you dealing with Zucchini-Geddon yet? We've been pulling in mounds of the stuff - and it's going into basically everything we can fit it into. However, there's only so much of it that we can saute, bread or casserole! When our dinner routine cries "uncle", I get the pass to use it in a sweeter avenue. I posted a spiced, whole grain zucchini loaf a week or so ago, and was planning another round with it, when I spotted this beauty on Gluten Free Baking. Elizabeth uses mostly millet flour in her loaf, which I was excited by - I never really get a chance to bake with it, always passing it over for my current favourite sorghum.


Gluten Free Zucchini Bread

So millet it was, and I have to agree that it's flavour is fantastic in this spicy quickbread. It has a great texture, and is mild and almost buttery tasting which amplifies the rich flavour of each slice. Being a higher protein flour too, the structure of the batter is definitely more sturdy than one made with, say, a rice flour base. All in all, a fantastic use for some of the zucchini glut - and with a little extra spice for kick, it was a hit during the mid-afternoon slump.

While the original recipe bakes for 40 minutes, mine took significantly longer - roughly 75. I cannot stress the importance of wringing out the zucchini enough - I squeezed the life out of mine, but since the air was fairly humid in the kitchen that day, the bread simply took longer. Start checking at 40 minutes, and go from there - the "poke test" will steer you right.

The other comment I will make is that the texture will be even better if you let the batter stand in the pan for 20 minutes before baking. The flours and guar will rehydrate and eliminate any risk of "grittiness" from the finished product. However, if you're pressed for time, forge on ahead - it's great either way! I can't wait to try this with cocoa powder for a chocolatey loaf too - how awesome would that be?

Friday, August 4, 2017

Lemon Sparklers

Glittering and very lemony cookies are always a bright addition to the dessert table. 

Sparkling Lemon Cookies

Who doesn't love cookies? Even in the middle of Summer, at a backyard cookout, I always see at least one tray of them alongside the inevitable pies. Cookies are alluring for many potluck guests because it's easy to make a lot at once, they're already individually portioned, they travel well and they are so versatile!

For a sweet, but not cloying, treat for our last BBQ, I whipped up these very lemony, very yellow cookies. They have a light, crisp texture thanks to using only egg whites, but they're tender enough to not break your teeth biting into one. Thanks to Truvia's baking blend, I was able to cut down the sugar significantly while keeping the right amount of sweetness and bulk in the dough, adding just enough sugar to allow the cookies to brown a bit on the bottom and taste, well, like cookies. The butter added a rich under-note for the lemon zest, juice and extract I used, buffering the acidity while allowing the citrusy aroma and flavour to shine through. The crowning jewel was the coating of yellow sanding sugar - crunchy and bright, and definitely sparkly, it makes sure these cookies get noticed!

All that said, I think the best part about these cookies is that the dough freezes fabulously. As in, I made a batch of dough and bulk-froze it in February, baked it mid-July, and there was zero loss of quality. I know they say six months is usually the max freezer-life for cookie dough, but I'd be willing to push it seven to eight months easily.

If you love lemon as much as I do, you've got to try these!

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Honey Garlic Crackers

Gluten free honey garlic crackers are made with freshly ground black rice flour, potato flour and psyllium. Each bite is an explosion of garlic, honey and the earthiness of black rice.

Honey Garlic Crackers

Growing up, after school snack at Grandma and Grandpa's was always a plate of Triscuits. I loved those things (and still do) - provided they were the original, real-deal, full salt kind. Since then, I still love a snack of crackers, usually spread with a Toast Topper. Usually, my crackers are pretty plain and boring, but it never really occurred to me to just make my own. Sure, I've done crackers as Christmas gifts and the like, but for me? Never thought of it.

Inspiration struck in the form of a bag of black rice (not the purplish sticky kind often called Forbidden Rice, which I also have, but inky black Chinese black rice) and the dregs of a bottle of buckwheat honey. I love honey garlic tofu on rice, so why not make a honey garlic rice cracker? I busted out the Mockmill attachment for my stand mixer and got to grinding, then added a little potato flour and psyllium for cohesion, the garlic powder (fresh would be too wet and would burn) and the honey. From experience, I know that most doughs - gluten free especially - benefit from a rest, so I spent a half hour heating my oven while it hung out in the bowl. 

Rolling and cutting was somewhat challenging - unlike regular dough this doesn't "stretch" and is prone to breaking - but by rolling and cutting on the cookie sheet you eliminate the risky "transfer" between cutting board and tray. 

They smelled awesome while baking - almost like my favourite Chinese food place growing up - and once they were cooled I grabbed a taste. Excellent on their own, even better with more honey on top (what can I say, I have a sweet tooth), and even great with sour cherry jam! My mom had a few spread with peanut butter alongside a bowl of curry and gave it the thumbs up too. All that taste and full of the antioxidants and iron from the whole grain rice!

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Scotchy Peach Sauce

Can you GO wrong with peaches, dark caramel and scotch? Didn't think so!

Peach-Scotch Sauce

August has arrived, and with it, the glory of Ontario peaches. I realize that fresh peaches are available in every supermarket all year round, but not only are they prohibitively expensive, they're just not very good. In all honesty, I don't touch peaches in any form until I have a basket of Niagara freestones in my hand, and while either IQF or pouched fruit is infinitely better than canned, I still prefer to use them in preserves or pies, rather than having to eat them with a fork. Let's face it - Summer peaches are intended to be eaten leaning over the sink, or wearing a bathing suit with the immediate intention of jumping in the lake.

The downside to all this sticky, juicy goodness is that fresh, ripe peaches simply don't last that long. Even with three of us in the house eating peaches everyday, the huge baskets that we buy for a (relative) song at the market simply seem to never empty! Faced with the first few, almost-too-far-gone fruits, I knew it was time to get canning - and with the taste of the peach nectar almost like a fruity caramel, I wanted to see if I could, in fact, make a caramel-kissed preserve. I found a basic recipe on Martha Stewarts' website, which I decided to use even though I've struggled with some of her formulas before, and changed up the sugars to bring even more caamel-molasses notes to the party. Because nothing adds a touch of elegance like good-quality vanilla, I added a bit of my homemade stuff, and finally a shot of Scotch turned things in my mind from "caramel" to "butterscotch". While there is no dairy in the recipe (making either caramel or butterscotch a misnomer), it is definitely rich, and perfect to top ice cream (I suggest cherry or butter pecan) or plain yogurt if you want something lighter.

Please note, though - there is "raw" alcohol in this, so keep it from the kids (as if they'll see it at all!)