Sunday, October 25, 2020

Cranberry Honey Mustard

Looking for something a little different for the holiday condiments? Try this zesty, sweet Cranberry Honey Mustard on for size! Fresh cranberries are cooked down with vinegar, apple juice, honey and mustard seeds to make a richly flavoured spread or topping. Try it on leftover turkey or pork sandwiches or for making a vinaigrette for roasted veggies!

Since we Canadians had Thanksgiving a few weeks ago, cranberries were on deep discount all over the place! I bought a few bags on a whim, not entirely sure what I was going to do with them, but after almost being attacked by a frozen bag of turkey leftovers and remembering the days of sandwiches piled high with cranberry sauce, Dijon mustard and turkey I wondered, what kind of condiment could I make to celebrate that? 
Well, the Google gods must have been listening to my brainwaves, because when I searched for cranberry recipes yesterday morning, what came up but a honey mustard using up fresh cranberries that was perfect for canning? A quick scan of the ingredients and I was delighted to see that I had everything already, no extra shopping trip (with the lines to heck and back included) required. The hardest part was waiting for the mustard seeds to soften! Once those two hours were up, the blending and simmering went fairly quickly, though I strongly suggest a splatter screen if your pot is not super tall - the mustard thickens fairly quickly and as we all know thick bubbles splatter!

In terms of canning this, I wouldn't suggest any jars larger than 1/2 pint as the mixture is quite thick, I used 4 oz jars and they worked perfectly! What didn't fit into a jar I scooped into a plastic tub and stuck in the fridge, since my previous experience with mustard indicates that waiting 24 hours (yes, another waiting period!) makes the condiment taste richer and more well rounded. Mom has been eyeballing it for her sandwiches at lunch and I have an idea for a dressing to use over roasted Brussels sprouts with it in pride of place too!

Thursday, October 22, 2020

Vegetable, Sausage and Chicken Soup with @nakednutrition Naked Collagen

I am loving soup season! This vegetable-packed, gluten free soup gets pops of umami from turkey kielbasa and chicken thighs, a dash of sweetness from caramelized onions, butternut squash and chopped tomatoes and warmth from paprika and cumin. The broth is enriched with @nakednutrition Naked Collagen right before adding to the saute and simmering, giving it a great body and a boost of protein and calcium.

Well, I guess we have finally hit the wall and the cold has settled in for good. I have to say, I had high hopes last week when there was sun outside, but last weekend solidified Autumn for us. N and I went apple picking in the wind and grey skies, and I was glad that I had a stash of broth hanging out in the fridge as well as this rich, hearty soup that I made on Friday. 

Like most of my soup season creations, this one was more of a "clean out the freezer" conglomeration than anything! I had a glut of homemade chicken stock in the freezer from a few rotisserie birds and a half-link of turkey kielbasa, as well as some assorted veggies laying around. Inspired by the farro and butternut squash salad I made last Christmas out of Jacquelyn Dodd's book
Lush: A Season-by-Season Celebration of Craft Beer and Produce, I began with the onions, kale and squash and fleshed it out as I went, adding some potatoes from the pantry for good measure and some extra warming spices. 
Of course, you can't have a hearty, rich flavoured soup with a watery broth! Even though mine was a homemade, long-simmered concoction, I didn't have the chance to add the collagen rich chicken feet to the pot like I usually do. Instead, I turned to what is becoming my favourite fall supplement - Naked Nutrition's Naked Collagen Peptides. A few scoops whisked into the pot of stock enriched the body and bumped up the protein and calcium in the liquid, making the final soup hearty, stick to your ribs and packed with goodness (and flavour). No matter how cold it gets, I'm sure to have some brothy goodness on hand!
Do you embrace soup season? What are some of your favourites? 

Friday, October 16, 2020

Jerusalem Bagels #worldbreadday2020

Vegan Jerusalem Bagels are pillow-soft with a lightly chewy crust, accented by toasted sesame seeds. Sliced and frozen they are a perfect secret weapon mid week... If they don't "disappear" while still hot and fresh!

It is the 15th ever World Bread Day hosted by Zorra (@zorrakochtopf )! It has been a while since I last participated (university is no joke kids) but I am so glad to bring my bakes to the table again this year!

Bagels are known for being time consuming and messy to make in this house - the use of the mixer, stove and oven along with the baking sheets and cooling racks and floured counters... it's a lot when you just want some carbs in the breadbox! That said, bagels are insanely convenient for the school year lunches, breakfasts on the go, and lazy Saturday mornings. When I stumbled across "Jerusalem bagels" on Coco's Green Deli, I was intrigued - ring-shaped, topped with sesame but without the glossy and chewy exterior from boiling, could they possibly compare to my beloved Montreal bagels, or even my usual homemade ones?
Well, the short answer is yes! While different from the boiled bagels, these soft, pillowy breads are the perfect (and fast) addition to the weekday routine. The dough is soft and slightly sweet thanks to the soy milk and sugar, while whole wheat flour adds a touch of nuttiness and a boost of fibre. I also added a scoop of Naked Rice protein to the dough since N will occasionally eat them without any Toast Topper or even peanut butter (shocker, I know!) and the protein and fibre will help keep him full and energized for a few hours. The dough is also great for making dinner rolls to pair with soup or chili, but whatever you do, don't skip the seedy topping! It doesn't have to be sesame seeds - but flax, chia, poppy, heck even sunflower seeds add a boost of crunch and a warming nuttiness that really keeps them from being too sweet and rich.
Interestingly enough, when I made these on parchment paper, I didn't like them as much as I did when I baked them on SilPat - possibly because the silicone insulates the dough and keeps the softness throughout the whole bagel. However, both are good - you just have a bit of a thicker bottom crust on parchment.
Thanks again to Zorra for hosting WBD 15! 

World Bread Day, October 16, 2020 

Tuesday, October 13, 2020

Golden Braid of Bern #BreadBakers

Called a "Golden Braid of Bern" in my mom's cookbook, this buttery braided Zopf is a Swiss treat made with a blend of whole wheat, rye and all purpose flour plus a touch of honey. Spread a slice with cultured butter or top with a slice of aged cheese for a delicious side to any meal!

The fall is a weird time for me. While I love (love) the colours all our trees turn in October, apple picking, pumpkin patches and pies, I really and truly hate the cold. N rolls his eyes at me because for me, "cold" is 17C and below - what can I say? I'm definitely not doing my Scottish and Indigenous heritage proud with that logic!

That said, the cold weather also opens up the possibilities of baking for me - I don't have to worry that cranking up the oven will overheat the house and cause our A/C to cry (or die like it did this spring), and when soup and stew are on the menu a hearty loaf alongside is never a problem. The other great thing about bread baking in cooler weather is that the rising time is slowed down, which allows a better flavour to develop and the flours to hydrate more. The result is some of the best bread I bake all year!

This loaf is one I wish I had started baking a lot earlier in my career as a food blogger, but the reality was Zopf wasn't on my radar at all until N mentioned a bread that his Swiss colleague missed from home. I immediately paged through my mom's Reader's Digest Recipes from Around the World, hoping to find a recipe that matched the description I was hearing: rich, slightly sweet, braided and with a little spice of some kind. On the very last page of the "Switzerland" section, I spotted it - Zopf, haughtily titled the "Golden Braid of Bern". Perfect.

Now, being the nerd I am, I didn't just take the recipe and go. I researched actual Swiss recipes for the loaf, and found out that traditionally there is an actual "Zopf flour" that is used in the recipe. The closest approximation I could find was a mixture of white, whole wheat and rye flours, which I have noted in the recipe below. In addition, I used honey instead of white sugar to improve the flavour, and mayonnaise instead of the eggs - a trick that I initially used because I had run out of eggs, but now continue to use because it works and incorporates a bit better in my opinion (you can certainly use 2 eggs, I find the mayo tenderizes the crumb a bit more). A tiny amount of cardamom and ginger add a delicate fragrance without creating a "spice bread" and work really well with the butter permeating the whole loaf. 

When the loaf is baking, your home will be filled with the aroma of toast (it's the best way I can describe it) as the whole grains and butter heat and fuse together. The hardest part is waiting for it to cool before slicing a chunk off, but then again I would be remiss if I didn't tell you that N has torn a piece off while it was still a bit warm from the oven! The flavour is well suited to salty and tangy flavours, such as cultured butter, cream cheese, or aged Cheddar and sliced smoked ham. I've also heard that slightly stale slices make amazing French toast - that is, if there is any left to get stale!

This week the Bread Bakers group is making brown breads, perfect to serve alongside the heartier meals of the Fall and Winter seasons. Check out the blogs below and say hi!

Monday, October 12, 2020

Honeyed Cornmeal Shortbread

This Honeyed Cornmeal Shortbread is the perfect mix of chewy and crisp with a great texture from the cornmeal and caramelized honey. Try something different for your Thanksgiving dessert!

Happy Canadian Thanksgiving to all my readers! This year, we have spread our celebrations out over most of the month, given the growing family (my stepsiblings welcomed two new littles in August!) and the various schedules we all contend with. For us, it's an excuse to just keep churning out the treats (and get rid of them without eating a whole batch). 

Mom always takes the reins on the "main" dessert during the holidays, usually an apple pie (I know, not pumpkin! None of us are that keen on pumpkin pie here, that's my dad's domain). However, while the turkey, potatoes and stuffing are cooking, it never hurts to have a snack or two! That's where these little squares of shortbread come in - they're sweet, without being too rich, and have a great corn flavour bolstered by the caramelized honey on top. The texture is a cross between traditional sandy shortbread and a chewy cookie, having a crisp exterior that still lends a chew.
The recipe I used is a modification of one we used at work for the holiday lunch - as always, I found I had to tweak it in order to make it "work", but hey, I'm not turning down a cookie! Drop cookies turned into pressed-out bars for more even cooking, and the honey on top was in lieu of a true glaze because I am lazy and didn't feel like messing up another bowl and whisk, but I would 100% do that again because of how wonderfully it caramelized and set. I also added a pinch of salt to the batter (the original recipe used none) and added the milk in batches to avoid a runny mixture. Baking time and temperature changed to my usual shortbread configurations, the low and slow preventing excess rise and cakeyness.

In all, these cookies satisfied our love for both cornbread and shortbread, and were a hit with the guests this weekend. What started off as an unlikely series of events wound up being something awesome that I will 100% make again, and I for one am thankful - as I am for each and every one of my readers. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving season everyone, whether you are celebrating the day today or next month!

Sunday, October 11, 2020

Boosted Hot Cocoa Mix with @nakednutrition

This Boosted Hot Cocoa Mix is rich, sweet and full of nutrition thanks to Naked Nutrition's Collagen Peptides powder and Naked Rice Protein. A jar makes a great gift for a loved one, or yourself!

I am by far a Summer person. Give me 30C weather, sun and balmy breezes all day and I am a happy camper. Once the weather gets cold, it seems like my whole body revolts and retreats into the confines of sweaters, coats (yes, even inside), blankets, hats and scarves. In addition, the cold weather often causes my rheumatoid arthritis (and associated Raynaud's phenomenon) to flare, making walking, typing, and cooking difficult (to say the least). Not only does the cold weather wreak havoc on my joints, but my whole family gets brittle nails and cracking skin once the cold sets in. Couple that with the ever-constant hand washing and sanitizer in the age of 2020 and it's a recipe for disaster! 

Thankfully I didn't take years of nutrition training for nothing - I knew that along with the medications, balms, strengthening polishes and lotions we needed to begin healing from the inside out. A few of my friends have been using various collagen "booster" products for a while now, and kept lauding their benefits. However, their products were full of things like sugar, coconut, dairy, or other additives - stuff my body can't tolerate. On top of that, the little packets they tote around are expensive and subject to somewhat iffy marketing practices. I personally prefer using products that are not only affordable, but as bare-bones as possible so that I know exactly what I'm getting. While it may sound a little extreme, I am not willing to make sacrifices when it comes to getting my health on track.
It's this mentality that aligns me with Naked Nutrition's supplements - they are up front about their ingredients and nutritional content, the source of their ingredients and (best of all) they are affordable, with simple packaging and fast delivery! I had the chance to try their Naked Rice protein powder earlier this year and my picky tastebuds fell in love with it, not to mention it's versatility in decadent cookies, croissants and gingersnaps. When the great folks at the company offered me the chance to try out their collagen powder, I was very interested, since I had done a bunch of research on it's benefits for arthritis and skin health and was willing to try anything to help! 

Naked Collagen impressed me right off the bat with it's nutritional profile and transparency. Each tablespoon has 9g of protein and 46% of daily calcium (if you've been reading my blog for a while you know I also have osteoporosis, so this is a biggie for me too) with only 35 calories. The collagen is sourced from grass fed beef hide and is free of dairy, soy, gluten, carbohydrates, colours, flavours or sweeteners, making it suitable for almost everyone (save vegetarians and vegans). The powder is fine and easy to scoop, making measuring easy and mess-free. I started adding a scoop to my oatmeal and was pleased with how well it mixed - leading to whisking it into soup for a little extra oomph. The collagen mixes completely with no clumping (note: for the oatmeal I mixed it with the oats first then mixed it all into the water on the stovetop, and for the soup I used a mini-whisk) and adds a slightly noticeable "body" to the liquid - not thick, per se, but richer, like a bone broth that's been simmered for hours has. 

Bolstered by that success, I decided to make hot cocoa with the Naked Collagen and Naked Rice as a little congratulatory gift to myself after finishing a term paper (they never seem to end!). Sitting down with the crossword and a big mug of it was the perfect end to my night, and I took that inspiration to create a few jars of it for holiday gifting and storing in my own pantry!