Monday, August 30, 2010

Chocolate Cake with Cream Cheese Icing

For my Dad's birthday on August 17th, I wanted to create a cake that would be memorable...and boy, was a giant cupcake just the ticket!!! I bought the cake pan from Zehr's and used a recipe from Anna Olson's "Sugar" cookbook. It was absolutely DELICIOUS!!!!

1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup golden brown sugar, packed
2 eggs
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup water
4 oz (125g) unsweetened chocolate, chopped
2 tsp espresso powder
1 3/4 cups cake & pastry flour
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup sour cream
4oz (125g) cream cheese, room temperature
2 tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • Preheat oven to 350F. Butter and flour 2 - 9" cake pans (or in my case, one giant cupcake pan!), shaking out excess flour. cream butter and sugars together until fluffy. Beat in eggs and vanilla.
  • In a small saucepan stir water, chocolate and espresso powder over low heat until melted. Allow to cool slightly before beating into the butter mixture.
  • Sift together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt and stir into batter alternately with sour cream. Divide evenly between the two pans and bake 25 to 35 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted into the centre of the cake, comes out clean. Allow to cool 15 mins. in the pans, then turn cakes out onto a plate to cool completely.
  • Beat cream cheese until smooth, then stir in the sugar and vanilla extract. Ice both the centre and top & sides of the cake.
  • ENJOY!!!!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Spiced Spatchcock Chicken

We are part of the poultry share with "Cooper's CSA Farm & Maze" and nothing beats the fantastic flavour and texture of free-range, pasture-raised, hormone & antibiotic free chicken!!

In case you aren't familiar with "spatchcocking" it is simply a method of flattening out a whole chicken so that it can be grilled evenly!

2 tbsp EVOO
1 1/2 tsp turmeric
1 tsp black pepper
3/4 tsp ground allspice
1/2 tsp each ground cinnamon & salt
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
3lb (1.5 kg) whole chicken
Lime wedges
  • In a large bowl, combine oil, turmeric, pepper, allspice, cinnamon, salt and cayenne pepper. Set aside.
  • Using kitchen shears, cut chicken down each side of the backbone; remove the backbone. Turn chicken breast side up; press firmly on breastbone to flatten. Add to bowl and rub all over with the spice mixture.
  • Heat barbecue grill and place large piece of heavy duty foil over the grill (or if you have a drip pan under the grill, just oil the grill itself). Place chicken bone side down on the grill and close lid, turn once two-thirds of the way through cooking time of 45 minutes, until juices run clear when thigh is pierced (or when thermometer reads 165C).
  • Transfer to a cutting board and let stand for 10 minutes before carving.
  • Serve with lime wedges and ENJOY!!

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Dilled Potato and Grilled Corn Salad

We celebrated Greg's 39th birthday last Sunday with the family and I wanted to create an easy side dish that I could prepare in advance (so I could relax and enjoy the strawberry daiquiris by the poolside!) I was flipping though a magazine and came upon this simple and delicious recipe!

4 corn cobs, husked
3 tbsp EVOO
2lb potatoes, peeled and diced
4 green onions, sliced
2 tsp grainy mustard
1/2 tsp Kosher salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
2 tbsp chopped fresh dill
  • Brush corn with 1 tbsp of the oil. Place on a greased grill over medium-high heat; close lid and grill until tender and slightly charred (turning often). Approx. 10 to 15 minutes. Let cool. Cut off kernels and place in a large bowl.
  • Meanwhile, in a large pot of boiling salted water, cover and cook potatoes until tender, approx. 15 minutes. Drain and add to the bowl.
  • Add onions, mustard, salt and pepper; sprinkle with vinegar and toss well. Let cool
  • Add remaining oil and dill and toss to coat.

Grilled Tomatillo and Jalapeno Salsa

The tomatillos are also plentiful over at the farm and since I made Salsa Verde using them last year, and added them to my tomato sauce to thicken it up, I decided to make a batch of salsa using Cooper's jalapenos, garlic, oregano, tomatoes and tomatillos!



2 lbs tomatillos

4 cups chopped, peeled plum tomatoes

1 1 /2 cups chopped onions

1/2 cup finely chopped and seeded jalapeno peppers

2 tbsp finely chopped garlic

2 tbsp granulated sugar

2 tsp kosher salt (or canning/pickling salt)

1 tsp ground cumin

1 cup white vinegar

2 tbsp chopped fresh oregano (or 2 tsp dried)

  • Peel husks from tomatillos and rinse under running water. Pat dry and broil in oven on a rimmed baking sheet, for approximately 10 minutes (turning halfway through to ensure even charring on all sides of the tomatillos). Remove from oven and let cool. Chop coarsely and measure out 5 cups.
  • Meanwhile, prepare jars, lids in canner, as usual.
  • In a large pot, combine tomatillos, tomatoes, onions, jalapenos, garlic, sugar, salt, cumin and vinegar. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring often (because it will stick to the bottom me grrrr!) Reduce heat and boil gently, stirring often, for approximately 45 minutes or until mixture is thickened and salsa can be mounded on the back of a spoon.
  • Stir in oregano.
  • Ladle the hot salsa in to hot jars, leaving 1/2" headspace (adjusting headspace once air bubbles are removed). Wipe rim and centre lid on jar. Screw band down until fingertip tight. Place jars in canner and return to a boil. Process jars for 20 minutes. Turn off heat and remove canner lid. Let jars rest in the canner for 5 minutes before removing to a towel-lined surface. Check lids after 24 hours and reprocess any lids that have not sealed.
  • ENJOY!!!
*As a note ~ my jars are labelled mild because the fresh jalapenos from Cooper's Farm are quite potent and last year my batch of salsa was quite hot! Therefore, I skimped a lot on the jalapenos and the result was more of a mild salsa instead of the desired medium. My next batch will have a little more heat!!!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Maple Strawberry Smooch!

The strawberries grown at "Cooper's CSA Farm & Maze" are awesome and plentiful this year! As soon as they opened up their fields to u-pickers, the kids, some of our friends and I were over there filling our baskets!! Since I still have PLENTY of jam from last year, as well as Peppery Strawberry Salsa, I turned to my Bernardin book to see what else can be done with these luscious berries....and NOTHING sounded more decadent than this simple recipe for a dessert sauce ~ I can already taste it drizzled over ice cream, cheesecake, or in my morning oatmeal!!!

4 3/4 cups pureed strawberries (for this you'll need 8 cups of whole fruit and food processor to really make the berries smooth)
1 1/2 cups pure maple syrup
1 cup unsweetened apple juice
3 tbsp lemon juice
1 package of regular powdered fruit pectin (I used the 57g Certo brand)
  • Prepare your canner, lids and jars as usual.
  • In a large stainless steel saucepan, combine pureed strawberries, maple syrup, apple and lemon juices. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring frequently. Add the pectin, stirring constantly until dissolved. Bring to a full rolling boil and boil hard for 1 minute. Remove from heat.
  • Ladle hot smooch inot hot jars, leaving a 1/4" headspace. Remove air bubbles and adjust headspace. Wipe rim. Centre lid on jar and screw band down till fingertip tight.
  • Place jars in a canner, ensuring that they are completely covered with water. Bring to a boil and process for 10 minutes. Remove canner lid and wait 5 minutes before removing jars. Cool and store.

Sweet Cantaloupe Pickles

The cantaloupes this year are fantastic and we received two per CSA box last week (and since I have a double share, that equals 4!!) As much as we love cantaloupe, I didn't think that we could eat them all in time, so I turned to my trusted "Bernardin Complete Book of Home Preserving Book". This recipe is definitely a keeper and I can foresee us enjoying these sweet pickles either by themselves, over ice cream or with cake!! Just a note, you can prepare these pickles and simply refrigerate them ~ just make sure that you adjust the recipe accordingly to the amount that you feel you will eat in a couple of weeks!

1 cinnamon stick, broken into 4 pieces
2 whole cloves
1 tsp allspice
3 cups white vinegar
2 cups water
13 cups seeded, peeled cantaloupe (I cut mine with a melon baller, but you can also cube the pieces)
4 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • Tie cinnamon stick pieces, cloves, and allspice into a square of cheesecloth creating a spice bag.
  • In a large stainless steel saucepan, combine vinegar, water and spice bag. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat and boil gently for 5 minutes. Remove from heat.
  • Add melon to saucepan. Cover and set aside for 30 minutes.
  • Stir sugar into cantaloupe mixture and return to medium-high heat. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat and boil gently, stirring occasionally, until melon becomes transparent, about 45 minutes. Discard spice bag.
  • Meanwhile, prepare canner, jars and lids as usual if you intend to preserve the melons.
  • Pack cantaloupe into hot jars within a generous 1/2" of top of jar. Ladle hot syrup into jar and cover cantaloupe, leaving 1 cm (1/2" headspace). Wipe rim. Centre lid on jar and screw band down until resistance is met, then increase to fingertip-tight.
  • Place jars in canner, ensuring they are completely covered with water. Bring to a boil and process for 20 minutes. Remove canner lid. Wait 5 minutes, then remove jars, cool and store.

If you intend to make and refrigerate these pickles for immediate use, ensure that they are eaten within a few weeks of preparation.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Curry Pickled Cauliflower

In our CSA basket we received cauliflower for several weeks and when I looked in my fridge, I noticed that I had 1 large head and 2 smaller ones waiting to be used. Since I wasn't intending to use them this week, I decided to preserve them. In my "Complete Book of Pickling" by Jennifer MacKenzie, I found this recipe which is absolutely delicious! I forsee me using this pickled cauliflower heated up in boiled potatoes for a quick aloo gobi, or in muffaletta sandwiches, on an antipasto tray or in couscous, it is that versatile!

2 large heads of cauliflower (about 5lbs)
6 cloves garlic, halved
1 tbsp finely chopped gingerroot
1 cup granulated sugar
1 tbsp pickling or canning salt
2 tsp curry powder
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1/8 tsp ground turmeric
5 cups white vinegar
2 1/4 cups water
  • Prepare canner, jars and lids as usual.
  • Trim off all leaves from heads of cauliflower. Cut cauliflower into 1 1/2" florets, trimming off thick stems. You should have about 18 cups. Set aside.
  • In a large pot, combine garlic, ginger, sugar, salt, curry powder, cumin seeds, turmeric, white vinegar and water. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring often until sugar and salt is dissolved. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for 5 minutes until mixture is flavourful. Increase heat to medium-high. Add cauliflower and return to a boil, pressing occasionally to immerse cauliflower in liquid as it softens. Remove from heat.
  • Using a slotted spoon, pack cauliflower into hot jars leaving 1" headspace, and adding 2 pieces of garlic per jar. Pour in hot pickling liquid, leaving 1/2" headspace. Remove air bubbles and adjust headspace as necessary by adding hot pickling liquid.
  • Wipe jar rims and add hot lid disc on jar. Screw band down until fingertip tight.
  • Place jars in canner and return to a boil. Process for 10 minutes. Turn off heat, remove canner lid and let jars stand in water for 5 minutes. Transfer jars to a towel-lined surface and let stand for 24 hours. Check lids and reprocess any jars that aren't sealed.

*If you purchase your cauliflower from a farm that doesn't use pesticides, like I do, make sure that you prepare a salt water bath in the sink to soak the cauliflower and rid it of any creepy-crawlies! 3/4 cup of kosher salt to 16 cups of cold water. Stir the salt into the water and then immerse the cauliflower florets for approx. 30 minutes. Drain and rinse the cauliflower prior to adding to the recipe.

Garlic Scape & Basil Pesto

Luckily for me, garlic scapes are really hardy - I still had 4 bunches in my refrigerator! These coupled with some good quality olive oil, grated Parmesan Reggiano and fresh basil from the farm, and you have a winning pesto that is fantastic on pasta, chicken, mixed into a salad dressing, on top of naan bread for pizzas, or mixed in to boiled potatoes!!
4 bunches of garlic scapes, chopped into 1" pieces
2 cups Parmesan Reggiano
2 cups fresh basil leaves
Salt & black pepper, to taste
  • Place garlic scapes in a food processor and process until smooth (you will probably need to stop every now and then and scrape the sides of the processor bowl to ensure that all the scapes are minced). Add the basil leaves and process until smooth.
  • With the blades running, pour the EVOO in to the processor until the pesto is of a consistency to your liking. Once this is achieved, add the Parmesan Reggiano, salt and pepper and process until fully combined.
  • When you put the pesto into jars, be sure to top with some extra olive oil to ensure that no air can reach the pesto and cause the basil to go dark, or for the pesto to spoil.
  • Refrigerate jars until ready to use!

Cauliflower and Cilantro 'Rice'

This simple and delicious recipe comes from a nutritionist who is also a member of "Cooper's CSA Farm & Maze's" CSA program. It is an easy side dish that gives the satisfaction of a couscous or rice, but is much lighter because it's not carb-rich!

1 medium head of cauliflower, chopped fairly small
2 tbsp olive oil
2 cloves finely chopped garlic
Juice of a half a lime
¼ cup chopped cilantro
½ teaspoon chipotle chili powder (regular chili powder will also work fine)
Kosher Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • Put all of the cauliflower in a food processor and pulse until it resembles rice grain or couscous – you may need to toss it around in the food processor a couple of times.
  • Heat the olive oil on medium in a pan with chopped garlic just until the garlic is fragrant. Add the cauliflower bits, lime juice and chili powder and cook on medium high heat until cauliflower is “al dente”. You’ll need to keep it moving so that it doesn’t burn. If you like it a bit softer or stickier you can add some veggie or chicken broth as this will “stick” the cauliflower together a bit better.
  • Once it’s cooked to your desired texture, toss in the cilantro and season with salt and pepper.
This is also really nice cold on a salad or put into a veggie wrap!

Corn Zucchini Relish

That time of year has finally arrived and I am in full-swing with my canning 'operation'!!! The corn this year is fantastic and in abundance; that and zucchini is always abundant so this recipe is perfect (and extremely tasty too!)

8 cups cooked corn kernels
2 cups finely chopped zucchini
1 1 /2 cups finely chopped onions
1 1 /2 cups finely chopped celery
1 cup finely chopped red bell pepper
1 cup finely chopped green bell pepper
2 cups granulated sugar
1/4 dry mustard
2 tbsp canning/pickling/kosher salt
1 tbsp ground ginger
1 tbsp celery seeds
1 tsp ground turmeric
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
2 1/2 cups cider vinegar
  • Prepare canner, jars and lids as usual
  • In a large pot, combine all ingredients. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring often until sugar and salt are dissolved. Reduce heat and boil gently, stirring often, for about 30 minutes or until onions and celery are tender and mixture is slightly thickened.
  • Ladle hot relish into hot jars, leaving 1/2" headspace. Wipe rim and place hot lid disc on jar. Screw band down until fingertip tight.
  • Place jars in canner and return to a boil. Process for 15 minutes. Turn off heat and remove canner lid. Let jars stand in water for 5 minutes. Transfer jars to a towel-lined surface and let stand for 24 hours. Check lids and reprocess any jars that are not sealed.

To cook the corn, boil it in a large pot of boiling water, in batches as necessary, for 5 minutes or until kernels are tender. Remove from water and drain well. Let cool completely. Using either a serrated or chef's knife, cut kernels from cob and measure. You'll need approximately a dozen (12) cobs of corn for the 8 cups required in this recipe!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Lemon Cauliflower Cheese

Another delicious vegetable that is in season right now is cauliflower! My family's favourite way to enjoy cruciferous veggie is baked with a lemon cheese sauce ~ it's delicious and simple to prepare, requiring few ingredients.
1 head of cauliflower, cut into florettes
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp all-purpose flour
1 cup milk
1 tsp lemon pepper (or 1/2 each of salt and pepper)
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp lemon rind
2 egg yolks, beaten
1/2 cup grated Cheddar cheese
  • Preheat oven to 400F.
  • Cook the cauliflower in a pot of boiling water until softened. Drain and place in a 9"x9" casserole dish and set aside.
  • Melt the butter in the pot over medium-high heat and whisk in the flour. Once combined, slowly add the milk as you are whisking. Keep whisking as you bring the mixture to a boil and it thickens. Reduce the heat to medium.
  • Add the lemon pepper, paprika, lemon rind and egg yolks, working quickly to avoid the egg and lemon splitting the mixture (causing it to get the appearance of scrambled eggs).
  • Add half the cheese and whisk until smooth.
  • Pour the cheese sauce over the cauliflower and top with the remaining grated cheese. Place in oven for 15 -20 minutes, or until cheese is golden brown on top.
  • Serve and enjoy!

Cool, Refreshing Cucumber Salad!

Right now the field cucumbers are in season and available in abundance! Our CSA basket from "Cooper's CSA Farm & Maze" contained 3 field cucumbers, so I created this simple and refreshing salad to compliment a smoked Cooper's chicken that Greg made. This salad can be made ahead of time and kept in the fridge for approx. 3 days, and the flavour only improves as the cucumbers and onions absorb the dressing!

2 field cucumbers, thinly sliced
1 red onion, halved and thinly sliced
1 cup vinegar (white or rice)
3 tbsp sugar
1 tsp dried, or 1 tbsp fresh dill finely chopped
Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Combine the cucumbers and onions in either a resealable plastic bag, or a container with a lid.
  • Whisk together the remaining ingredients to create the dressing, and pour over the cucumbers and onions.
  • Place bag in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours, or preferrably overnight to allow the cucumbers and onions to absorb the dressing.
  • Serve and enjoy!

I also enjoy adding the marinated vegetables to sandwiches or wraps!!

Monday, August 2, 2010

Honey Garlic Sauce

Greg had smoked a brisket and wanted a sweeter sauce for it since he rubbed it in peppercorns prior to smoking. I found this recipe on and it is a definite keeper!! No more commercially purchased sauces for us - this was easy and uses ingredients that you generally have on hand.

(makes 2 cups)
1 tbsp minced garlic
1 pinch red pepper flakes (I ended up adding more)
2 tbsp oil
1 cup chicken broth
1/2 cup honey
3 tbsp tamari or soy sauce
2 tbsp white wine or white balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp brown sugar
2 tbsp cornstarch
  • Whisk together broth and cornstarch until smooth. Add honey, soy sauce, vinegar and brown sugar. Whisk vigorously until combined.

  • Heat oil in a saucepan over medium-low heat. Add garlic and chili flakes and saute until the garlic is golden brown (approx. 2 mins). Whisk in cornstarch mixture and simmer until thickened (approx. 3 to 4 minutes).

  • ENJOY!