Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Roasted Peach BBQ Sauce

Although the "official" BBQ season is in the books for another year (sigh), it's been warm enough this past week that the outdoor grills have remained fired up. On any given day, I can come home to a neighbourhood filled with the aromas of world-wide outdoor cooking - from our "two doors down" Jamaican neighbours making a killer jerk recipe to the Portuguese family across the street grilling herb and garlic fish and chicken and our "native" Canadian next door neighbours tossing on burgers and hot dogs for their family of five. Ironically, I've never been a fan of grilled food as a rule - chalk it up to a childhood of once too often charred protein from the backyard barbecue (and currently living in a household that adores emptying a whole canister of lighter fluid onto the charcoal before lighting it each time) - but I do love the smell of it cooking when it's done properly. 

That said, even dried-out (and hopefully NOT charcoal-black) grilling can be enhanced - even saved - by a good, balanced and flavourful sauce. Normally, you would never see me bring fruit to a savoury party willingly (I'm not talking "fruit vegetables" here), but I'm not opposed to sauces with certain fruity tones. You'd find me enjoying Spicy Plum Sauce (and it's apricot / pumpkin based Western version) on broiled pork chops or chicken breasts, pineapple marinades do wonders for tofu, shrimp and flank steak, and while I personally shy away from the whole "apples and pork" cliche my mom goes for it whole hog (sorry!).

Roasted Ontario Peach BBQ Sauce!

So when I came across this roasted fruit BBQ sauce in Brown Eggs and Jam Jars, by the fabulous Aimée Wimbush-Bourque, I knew I had to make it - not only for me, but for Mother Dearest who has an almost unnatural passion for fresh Ontario Summer peaches. I gave my batch a few twists along the way, amplifying the caramel sweetness of the peaches with roasted Vidalia onions and raisiny, long-aged black garlic. For a kick of savoury in with all the bittersweet notes, a whisper of smoked paprika and smoked salt kicked up the flavours of the fire, even if your BBQ is tucked away for another year!

Shared with  Waste Not Want Not Wednesday and Gluten Free Fridays

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Apple - Swirled Pumpkin Yeast Bread #SundaySupper

Well, Fall is here. Amidst the collective grumblings of parents, kids and kid-like adults, this beautiful season is beginning to lend its colours and flavours to the neighbourhood and table. I recently picked up a few of my favourite Winter squash - delicata - at the farmers market and can't wait for the crops of crispy local apples to start coming in. With luck, we'lleven have a chance to go picking again this year, after last year's harvest was wiped out by the previous Winter's ice storm.

Fall is also the opportunity to embrace the warmth and comfort of the baker's kitchen again, after avoiding any significant prolonged sources of heat for the past few months. I love diving headfirst into the brisk temperatures with pies, muffins and loaves - and this year there's nothing more Autumnal than this spicy-sweet yeast bread! I started with a pumpkin-packed whole wheat dough laced with warm spices, then rolled a ribbon of luxurious, unsweetened apple butter inside. The apple butter keeps the bread moist and tender for days on end, and is a fantastic addition to breakfast either toasted (with cultured butter or cream cheese!) or straight up. I've been enjoying it so much that I actually need to procure some more apples now - I have more Fall treats to try!

Apple Butter-Swirled Pumpkin Bread

#SundaySupper this week is celebrating the arrival of Fall as well, featuring all types of dishes suiting the cooler climate. What's your favourite Fall treat?

Apple-Currant Dutch Baby Pancake by The Weekend Gourmet
Apple Swirled Pumpkin Yeast Bread by What Smells So Good?
Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Bread by Party Food and Entertaining
Giant Brown Sugar Cinnamon Pop Tart by Pies and Plots
Sweet Potato Buttermilk Biscuits by Tara’s Multicultural Table

Appetizers and Sides
Butternut Squash, Cauliflower and Cabbage Soup with Lentils by Monica’s Table
Pumpkin Cornbread Muffins by Pancake Warriors
Pumpkin Spice Roasted Sweet Potatoes by Love and Confections
Roasted Veggie Tart by Books n’ Cooks

Main Dishes
Acorn Squash Stuffed with Roasted Veggies & Couscous by Momma’s Meals
Butternut Squash Lentil Curry Soup by Food Done Light
Curry Beef Pies by Jane’s Adventures in Dinner
Fantasy Rice by The Petit Gourmet
King Prawns in Red Sauce – Mauritian Style Creole Sauce by Peachy Tales
Pasta with Creamy Butternut & Bacon by Cooking Chat
Pork Chops with Apple Dijon Sauce and Arugula Salad by Crazy Foodie Stunts
Pork Chops with Glazed Apples and Vegetables by The Complete Savorist
Quinoa and Sausage Stuffed Acorn Squash by Feeding Big and More
Roasted Tomato Soup with Bacon/Tomato Grilled Cheese Sandwich by A Gouda Life
Salt Roasted Salmon over Roasted Butternut & Yam Soup by Lifestyle Food Artistry
Sheet Pan Roasted Chicken, Delicata Squash and Olives by Foodie Tots
Sweet Potato French Bean Lentil Salad by Food Lust People Love
Sweet Potato Alfredo Sauce by Sew You Think You Can Cook
Thai Curry Pumpkin Soup by Eating in Instead
Whole Roasted Chicken with Vegetables by Life Tastes Good

Desserts and Cocktails
Apfelkuchen by Curious Cuisiniere
Applesauce Cake with Peanut Butter Cream Cheese Swirls by Cindy’s Recipes and Writings
Apple Gingersnap Refrigerator Dessert by Recipes Food and Cooking
Autumn Bellini by An Appealing Plan
Autumn Spice Cookies by Desserts Required
Caramel Apple Napoleons by The Crumby Cupcake
Caramel Apple Pie Bundles by The Freshman Cook
Caramel Apple Streusel Muffins by The Redhead Baker
Caramel Apple Swirl Cheesecake No-Churn Ice Cream by Cupcakes & Kale Chips
Cheesecake Swirl Pumpkin Muffins by Hezzi-D’s Books and Cooks
Chestnut and Pear Cupcakes with Caramel Buttercream by Caroline’s Cooking
Dark Chocolate-Espresso Pumpkin Tiramisu by Brunch with Joy
Dutch Apple Pie by That Skinny Chick Can Bake
Pumpkin Cheesecake with Butterscotch Drizzle by Serena Bakes Simply From Scratch
Pumpkin Chocolate Bread Pudding with Salted Caramel Sauce by Grumpy’s Honeybunch
Pumpkin Crisp by Cosmopolitan Cornbread
Pumpkin Cupcakes with Cinnamon Buttercream Frosting by Fantastical Sharing of Recipes
Pumpkin Pecan Bundt Cake by Flour On My Face
Pumpkin Spice Peanut Butter Cookies by Palatable Pastime
Roasted Maple Pears by Amee’s Savory Dish
Spiced Pear Cake by Simply Healthy Family
Spiced Pumpkin Bread by Renee’s Kitchen Adventures
Sweet Apple Skillet Cake by Nosh My Way

Plus, A Guide to Apples plus Best Fall Recipes Ideas for #SundaySupper
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 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, September 22, 2015

Tomato Pasta Soup #TheRecipeRedux

We're in the middle of a run of rainy, cloudy, damp, dark and generally blah weather here. Given that school's in session, it's not like I could be spending my days out in the garden anyways, but less than glorious weather manages to drain the energy out of the day faster than normal for me. By the time I get settled at home (after the tasks required for the next day's lessons and general housekeeping while my mom is away), I'm ready for comfort food and a good night's sleep. I'm still not far enough into the "cold weather blues" to crave super hearty stews though - while soup is still definitely an "in a pinch" go to for me, I've fallen back onto the brothier, chunk-filled variety that satiates without weighing down. Tomato-based vegetarian bowls are perfect examples of what I'm talking about - today's, for instance, is filled with brown rice rotini, red lentils, nutritional yeast and a punch of bright flavour from the Summer's garden scallions, carrots and (home-roasted) tomatoes. Taking the soup up a notch in elegance, Ontario-made red wine vinegar and home-infused Cabernet Salt sprinkle in and fit beautifully in the melange of flavours. Since I'm cooking for one, I portion and freeze the batch right after cooking and either add barely cooked pasta to each container or wait until reheat time and add freshly cooked pasta then. I haven't tried rice (just rice pasta), but suspect it would probably hold up better, especially the "Wild Pecan" brown rice I've recently fallen in love with.

Tomato Pasta Soup

This month for #TheRecipeRedux our group is serving up Fantastic Freezer Meals. Since it’s the end of the gardening season for some of us, storing that produce in heat-and-eat-from-the-freezer-meals is a great way to keep the flavour going all Winter long! Let us show off how convenient healthy freezer breakfast, lunches or dinners can be, and feel free to chime in with your own experiences - I'd love to hear what you do!

Tomato Pasta Soup

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Gluten Free Banana Muffins

Whenever I set about making a gluten free baked treat, I rarely aim to mimic the nuances of traditional wheat-based fare - simply put, no combination of ingredients will perfectly imitate "standard" baking chemistry and flavour. That said, I love that the flours still safely used by celiac sufferers are packed with their own unique flavours, and are generally even better tasting in treats that can capitalize on the slightly earthy, nutty notes of the alternative grains and seeds. Whether the main ingredient is fruit, caramel, nuts or chocolate, the flexible nature of combined flours and starches truly has the potential to elevate the final dish without overloading it one way or another.

In general, everyone I know is a fan of banana bread, and when it's converted into streusel-dusted muffins the result is almost guaranteed to be a win regardless of dietary restrictions (or lack thereof). Particularly during the work and school week, muffins beat out loaves of quickbread hands down for portability and bake-sale friendliness - packed in a lunchbox for one or loaded into a shoebox for bulk transport, they are far less likely to self-destruct on route and stay moist and tender much longer.

Now, any quickbread or muffin recipe is - as the name implies - supposed to be fast and easy to whip up. And when using "regular" flour and other ingredients, that's generally the case. But as you can see with a quick Google (or WSSG search) of Gluten - Free recipes, celiac-safe baking tends to be a little more complex - with few exceptions, simply swapping in a single gluten-free flour for regular all purpose is a recipe for odd-tasting crumbs, bricks, sponges or all of the above. Yes, there are ready-made store bought blends available, and some are decent, but the control freak in me likes the customization factor homemade mixtures offer. Since I knew I'd only be making muffins with it, whipping up a big batch of GF "Quickbread" Flour ahead of time was worth it for me - not only did it ensure these muffins came out perfectly every time, but it made the process just as fast as pulling out a big bag of regular white stuff. Ironically, these muffins were such a hit with the "regular diner" crowd that I had to make a second (double) batch to give to my three GF friends in secret! By topping the batter with quinoa flakes and raw sugar, the baked muffins had a little touch of "bakery pizazz", but it's totally optional - next time, I might do a chunky granola crunch instead!

Gluten Free Banana Muffins

Saturday, September 19, 2015

GF "Quickbread" Flour

In another fit of "make your own ingredients" madness, I decided to whip up a big batch of gluten free flour blend today. I used Cara Reed's recipe, more or less, tweaking here or there depending on what I could readily find and access in my pantry (let's just say it needs a bit of cleaning!). I've already used small batches of it to make killer muffins, and since it seems to maintain a soft, melt-in-your-mouth texture I've dubbed it my go-to "quickbread" or "muffin" flour mix. Stay tuned tomorrow for those muffins - that is, if our power doesn't go out again with the late Summer storms!

GF "Quickbread" Flour
Makes 9 cups
2 cups brown rice flour
1 cup quinoa flour (I've used half millet or teff flour here too)
3 cups sorghum flour
1 ½ cups potato starch (not potato flour)
¾ cup tapioca starch / flour
¾ cup arrowroot flour
pinch ground ginger (this helps with final texture in batters... don't know why but it does!)
  1. Whisk all ingredients together. Store in an airtight container.
Amount Per Cup
Calories: 511.0
Total Fat: 3.1 g
Cholesterol: 0.0 mg
Sodium: 8.2 mg
Total Carbs: 113.3 g
Dietary Fiber: 7.0 g
Protein: 9.8 g

Monday, September 14, 2015

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Dip with @Truvia Brown Sugar Blend

OK, admit it. If you're a cookie lover (or a sweet tooth in general), you love those stolen moments while you're baking (and nobody's watching) when you can lick the batter off the spoon, your fingers, and maybe even the bowl. Trust me, you're not alone - when my sister and I were growing up, you could pretty much guarantee you'd need to make a batch and a half of chocolate chip cookies in order to get the 30-odd a single recipe indicated. If it was shortbread season, we'd be lucky to see 3/4 of the dough make it onto the cookie sheets before us two "master taste testers" and Mom nibbled our bway into it. Cookie dough has always had a certain flair for being better than the baked rendition, but with the waves of e. Coli, listeria and salmonella that keep cropping up in everything from lettuce and cantaloupe to flour, meat and cheese, the raw stuff is getting less and less safe to enjoy en masse.

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Dip

Enter the glory of Cookie Dough Dip. Designed to be eaten raw, it can range from simply a cookie recipe made without eggs (but still packed with butter, sugar and flour) to recipes like this Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Dip that I adapted from Chocolate Covered Katie. This style of cookie dip is not only egg free, but is made without dairy, nuts, oil or gluten as well - all while getting hefty boosts of fibre and protein from the oats, beans and WowButter and rich tasting (but lower sugar) sweetness thanks to Truvia®'s new Brown Sugar Blend. I brought a batch of it to work today, and shortly after lunch found myself accosted by several co-workers demanding to know if it was real cookie dough in the container! Luckily for all of us, licking a spoonful of this is more likely to treat your tummy well instead of tie it into knots.

About Truvia®:

Truvia® Natural Sweetener is born from the sweet leaves of the stevia plant, and is the natural sweetener of choice when people want to reduce calories.  Since stevia leaf extract is 200 times sweeter than sugar, only a small amount is needed to deliver a clean, sweet taste.

According to a recent survey, consumption of total sugars averages 21% of daily energy intake in the Canadian diet – a startling statistic for anyone watching their waistline.  Fortunately, the Truvia® Brown Sugar Blend provides the texture, moisture, and taste that we all love about brown sugar, but with 75% fewer calories.  This delicious blend of Truvia Calorie-Free Sweetener and brown sugar is simple to bake with - simply use half as much Truvia® Brown Sugar Blend as you normally would brown sugar.

Here are a few other key highlights that make the Truvia® Brown Sugar Blend unique:
  • Bakes and browns just like brown sugar
  • Specially-packaged in a one-pound resealable bag to make it easy to store after use
  • Suitable for individuals with diabetes
  • Gluten-free and non-GMO
  • One-half cup contains just 210 calories (regular brown sugar contains 830 calories)
Lookie what we have here! As if I needed an excuse to #bake #food #truvia #brownsugar #baking blend @truvia

The folks at Truvia® not only were kind enough to send me a bag to play with, but also provided some extra (to-die-for looking) recipes using the Truvia® Brown Sugar Blend for What Smells So Good? readers to enjoy! With bake sale season kicking off, I know I'll be looking into a few of these soon myself - if I don't keep making and eating this dip, that is!

The other key ingredient I used in this dip (in order to keep it school-friendly) is a peanut butter substitute called WowButter, made from soybeans. To me (and everyone else who's tried it), it tastes like peanut butter - especially in foods like sandwiches, sauces and cookies - but is 100% Peanut Free, Tree Nut Free, Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Trans Fat Free, and Cholesterol Free. A serving of 32g contains 7g of complete soy protein, 1200mg of Omega-3 and 4g of fibre too - making it a great choice for kids and kids at heart!

Twitter: @WowbutterFoods and @Truvia

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Kitchen Sink Bread (#BreadBakers)

I love days where I can get into the kitchen with a box of odds and ends, a bag (or four) of flour and a jar of yeast, using up a chunk of the morning or early afternoon to mix, knead, shape and bake a crusty loaf or two of hearty, nourishing bread to nosh on when I need a taste of wholesome comfort food. Bread is one of those perfect "all purpose" recipes - not just because it is infinitely variable in its composition, design and flavour, but because the first bite of a hand made slice can instantly transport you to another time and place. While my mom only ever made bread at the holidays from what I can recall, baking for her now somehow makes me feel closer to her and my grandfather (who was an excellent, and frequent, bread baker himself). I never try my hand at our holiday filled brioche or challah alone though - the magic lives within my mom still, and while she is slowly passing it along to me it will be a lifelong tutelage.

Kitchen Sink Bread (AKA Hearty Multigrain Bread)

Regardless, my work in the bread kitchen, even when it doesn't take any true effort, is always rewarding. While the recent purchase of a new oven (the temperature gauge on the old one finally went, and a replacement was unavailable) has thrown me a new learning curve in terms of rejigging baking times and temperatures (especially since the new one has True Convection), the loaves I've churned out so far have almost always been edible - if not delicious.

Sometimes the resulting loaves are worthy of a second make, as with this rather rough "throw it all in" dough that basically came about how I described my breadmaking above - the dumping of the dregs of various grain and flour bins into a bowl to form a hearty, semi-enriched dough just right for both toast and straight up with any number of Toast Toppers. The first round, I made one loaf packed with sweet, home-dried cherries, cranberries and blueberries and left the other one au naturale, but the fruity one went so fast that I made the recipe again, doubling the fruit so that both loaves got equal treatment (a fact that is reflected in the recipe below).

Kitchen Sink Bread (AKA Hearty Multigrain Bread)

Our #BreadBakers theme this month is Whole Grains, and with the plethora of them in this loaf I feel right at home with the host of other delights on offer! Check out everybody's goodies below and don't forget to say hi!

Blueberry Banana Oat Bread from Hezzi-D's Books and Cooks
Bublik - Russian Bagels from Sara's Tasty Buds
Bulgur Wheat Bread from Food Lust People Love
Cilantro and Garlic Oat Bread from Simply Veggies
Corn Pizza on Multigrain Crust from Cook's Hideout
Gluten Free Honey Oat Bread from A Day in the Life on the Farm
Kitchen Sink Bread from What Smells So Good?
Multigrain Country Bread from La cocina de Aisha
Potato Whole Wheat Dinner Rolls from Passion Kneaded
Rosemary, Garlic, and Parsley Whole Wheat Bread from Karen's Kitchen Stories
Tomato and Rosemary Einkorn Focaccia Rounds from A Shaggy Dough Story
Whole Grain Maple Oat Scones from Cali's Cuisine
Whole Grain Oatmeal Blueberry Banana Bread from Hezzi-D's Books and Cooks
Whole Grain Zucchini Macadamia Bread from The Schizo Chef
Whole Wheat English Muffins from Spill the Spices
Whole Wheat Date Nut Bread from Magnolia Days
Whole Wheat Naan from Spiceroots


#BreadBakers is a group of bread loving bakers who get together once a month to bake bread with a common ingredient or theme. You can see all our of lovely bread by following our Pinterest board right here. Links are also updated after each event on the #BreadBakers home page. We take turns hosting each month and choosing the theme/ingredient. If you are a food blogger and would like to join us, just send an email with your blog URL to

Monday, September 7, 2015

"Cheesecake" Chocolate Chunk Cookies

I think the start of school has infiltrated my brain - I can't seem to get out of the habit of anything and everything chocolate chip cookie-ish these days! Really, though, who can blame me - there really isn't anything I can think of that's quite as comforting and quintessentially "childhood" as a chocolate chip cookie (with or without a glass of milk).

Now, I grew up with my fair share of storebought, crunchy/crumbly "Mister" type cookies in the cupboard, but I never experienced a real craving for any cookie unless our old, mouse-shaped cookie jar had a belly full of homemade, crisp-chewy chippers made on the weekend by Mom. I've said before (again and again) how there's no way I'll ever recreate that "touch" Mom had with her cookies - she says it's because I'm too trained in the ways of the kitchen and know too much about the science of baking to make them like her (AKA as per the recipe, verbatim), but that never stopped me from churning out a dozen (or more) iterations of the classic anyways.

"Cheesecake" Chocolate Chunk Cookies

This time around, and still thinking about semi-nutritious after-school snack (or in-class bribery) options for my elementary kids, I went the protein-heavy route. These decadent, slightly cakey, tender cookies get a rich, mildly creamy-tasting body (and a hefty dose of calcium and protein) from cottage cheese, whey powder and protein-fortified milk. For extra "nutty" or "toasty" flavour, I opted for nutritious chickpea and oat flour, both of which bake up into golden brown, gorgeous-tasting dough. A whack of chopped, high-quality milk chocolate added the "childhood" whimsy and taste I associated with corner-store indulgences growing up. It was like an afternoon with my neighbourhood friends in a freshly baked mouthful!

Okay, okay, I'll admit it - I couldn't truly bring myself to use the 2 / $1 candy bars we used to buy at the corner store when I was 10. I may have gone for something a touch more high-quality - not extravagant, just not chintzy. But you get my drift... milk chocolate = childhood memories = nostalgia = good times. Why not just eat the cookies, and think later?

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Truffles #SundaySupper

With the long weekend on our side, my family traditionally takes the extra day to prepare and plan for the busy school and work schedules ahead. We made lunches, packed knapsacks, made sure pens, pencils, paper and binders were accounted for and generally worked the weekend away. When it came time to thinking about dinner for that night, it was a case of "less is more". Usually, it was a piece of a casserole or baked pasta that was planned for later in the week, or if mom was truly done, pizza or Chinese takeout. That tradition carried right through my (and now my sister's) university days, and while we may have hosted one or two BBQ's here on the Labour Day itself generally we're in bed early enough that night to not be total monsters the next morning when the alarms go off.

Since treats (especially those with a helping of chocolate) are pretty much "required eating" this weekend, the menu calls for something quick, low-mess, low-fuss and no-shopping required. When we had a few scraggly, solid-brown bananas hanging out on the counter for a little longer than the heat deemed worthy, I knew I had to get rid of them one way or another. What can I say, the cheap side of me always outweighs the complete couch potato side! I decided to capitalize on the natural sweet, nutty flavour of ground tigernuts in place of almonds or oats, which also added a boost of fibre, iron, magnesium and electrolytes to the "dough"- and with no nuts, no added sugar and no grain flours it was a treat I felt practically virtuous serving to my family, while enjoying the rich, cookie-dough flavour inside the dark chocolate shell. I can't imagine not finding the original recipe on Healthy Sweet Eats now!

Chocolate Chip "Cookie Dough" Truffles

In honour of Labor Day, the #SundaySupper gang is sharing recipes requiring minimal effort while delivering maximum taste. Our dishes run the gamut as always, and you're sure to find at least one thing to tack on to your final "hurrah" of Summer without too much hassle!

Savory Snacks and Sides:

Labour Free Main Dishes:

Sweet Treats and Drinks:

Labor Free Labour Day:
  • 10 Store-Bought Cooking Shortcuts by Sunday Supper Movement
  • 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 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, September 5, 2015

    Lentil Raspberry Chewy Squares

    Next to dates and apples, I don't think there's a fruit filling for squares that I like more than raspberries. I mean, blueberries are nice, strawberries adorable, but raspberries are consistently sweet, tart, refreshing and decadent all in one. Usually, I've had my raspberries spooned into the centre of thumbprint cookies or rolled into "newton" like bars, but on a rare occasion I'll find a recipe that breaks me out of that mould. I always think of linzer cookies when I bake with raspberries - the buttery richness of the almonds plays off the tang of the berries so well and is a typical addition to family Christmas trays. For everyday baking, though, they're just a tad bit too fussy for my tastes, especially when you really just want a taste after a day of work, and they're a little too rich for everyday noshing.

    Raspberry Lentil Chews

    Imagine my delight, then, when I found a recipe on Global News for oatmeal, almond and raspberry bars that not only promised the "chew" that I like in oat-based goodies, but an unexpected hit of nutrition (and extra nutty flavour) too! The team at Pulse Canada devised the original recipe around pureed lentils, which make a rich, creamy topping for the jam-on-oat base when combined with an egg, brown sugar and rolled oats. Once baked to golden perfection, even the most discerning palates won't notice anything "full of beans" about one of these on their plate (yes, I had to make the pun!). I opted to make the bars dairy free as well as wheat free, since when serving mixed company I try to reduce the allergens as much as possible and I was already including egg and nuts, but obviously go for real butter if it floats your boat. I haven't tried coconut oil, and am hesitant to add another competing "nutty" flavour to the subtle almonds and lentils, but if you do let me know how it turns out!

    Thursday, September 3, 2015

    Caramel Pear Jam (Toast Topper #63)

    With the cooler weather and school days approaching all too quickly, I start thinking about the warmer flavours that pepper the cuisine in the last part of the year. Fall brings all the rich, earthy notes of cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice and cardamom, the silky touches of vanilla caramel and dark butterscotch, the comforting mild sweetness of cooked apples and pears and the combinations of any or all of these that invoke the memories of evenings and lazy weekends in the family kitchen around a table of hearty food. The start of Fall for me always makes me think of my mom's ratatouille simmering on the stove, served over brown rice the first night, then repurposed into scrambled eggs and open-face "trencher" sandwiches for many breakfasts and brunches after. It was also the time of the year where homemade meatballs and spaghetti made their re-appearance at the table, when pancakes and French toast began to take precedence over crepes and waffles on Sunday morning, and hearty loaves of crusty bread would be roughly sliced and smeared thickly with peanut butter and dark honey or golden syrup for a breakfast treat or snack after a day of apple picking.

    Those food memories are fondly tucked into the back of my mind now, and while the days of inch thick peanut butter on toast dripping with syrup are more or less behind me the yearning for that decadent caramel flavour still comes around now and then. Taking those memory cues as a guide, I started to make apple and pear sauces with brown sugar and a pat of butter at the end, then eventually devised this spicy, darkly sweet jam that had the long-cooked flavours of caramel and fruit crisp but without the dairy and fat of "true" butter and far less wait time. Now, smeared over a (modest) layer of peanut (or the current household favourite, almond) butter on grainy country bread, the spread is even better than a sundae and twice as nutritious!

    By the way - this jam is not a one trick toast pony! For what its worth, a spoonful or two mixed with leftover rice (my favourite right now is "wild pecan" rice) and a little cashew or almond milk on the stovetop turns into heaven in a bowl for dessert, and smeared onto pancakes or even leftover tortillas with a scattering of chopped almonds makes for a decadent breakfast. How would you enjoy a spread like this?

    Caramel Pear Jam