Monday, 29 October 2012

Candy. Nature's Candy, that is.

Before: Shiny wedges of goodness! If possible wear gloves and an apron while chopping these babies - I should add "Natural Dye" to the list of things the beet does!

There are a lot of foods out there that people are calling Nature's Candy. Like dates, grapes - any kind of fruit, really. But in my opinion, roasted beets are the sweetest natural candy there is! Raw they kind of taste like dirt. Or wood. Or cardboard, maybe. But when tossed in olive oil and roasted they become the sweetest, softest little jewels you've ever seen!

Bonus, they're in season right now. They're also insanely good for you - a Super Food, if you will. They have zero fat, zero calories... they give you energy and have loads of vitamins... they've been known to guard against cancer and heart disease... and there are so many ways to cook them! Roasted though is the easiest I think, and a wonderful addition to any meal. Please try it. You'll be doing yourself a huge favor!

No need to peel - just wash well and chop into chunks. Toss with olive oil, salt and pepper and roast at 425 for about an hour!

After: Caramelized, soft and juicy.

They're gorgeous little rubies!

Sunday, 28 October 2012

5 Ingredient Chocolate Slab

I call this Chocolate Slab because I just can't find another word to properly describe this dessert. It's technically a cake, but it's flourless so it's not fluffy at all. It could be considered a brownie, but it's not as dense and heavy as all that. I almost want to call it fudge except that it's too light, and not so sweet. It's a chilled, smooth, silky and creamy dream!

So slab it is.
5 ingredients, flourless, and a real breeze to make! (I know I've said that before and maybe to some of you I was lying, but this REALLY IS a breeze!)

200 g (7 oz) bittersweet/semisweet chocolate, roughly chopped
200 g (7oz) unsalted butter
1/2 cup strong coffee
4 eggs
3/4 cup sugar

1) Oven to 375. Line the bottom of an 8-inch springform pan with parchment paper, then grease.
2) Gently melt the chocolate and butter in a bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water. When mostly melted, slowly stir in the coffee. Set aside to cool slightly.
2) In a mixer, whisk the eggs and sugar on medium-high until pale and doubled in volume.
3) Slowly stir in the melted chocolate mixture, and pour into your pan.
4) Bake 40 to 50 minutes, until the top is set and the cake feels firm. Cool, wrap it, and chill in the fridge for a few hours or overnight.
Serves 8 - 10.

The cake in the picture was topped with a thin layer of Dulce de Leche and Whip Cream - if you can handle 7 ingredients, go for it!

Thursday, 25 October 2012


Sauerkraut - Day 1. Will add "after" picture when it's ready!
Growing up in a family where both sides are Mennonite through and through, Sauerkraut is no stranger to me. I'm always surprised when I hear that someone has never had sauerkraut, or is a little afraid of it due to it's "fermented" nature. It's quite the lovely condiment. True, I'm not as adventurous with it as some - I prefer to keep it simple. On hot dogs, with sausage, on top of pierogies, next to baked beans. It adds a mild sour tang, and a fantastic little crispy crunch! Mmm!

In keeping with this year's culinary theme of "A Stocked Homemade Pantry" (I didn't even realize that was the culinary theme of my year until just now. I didn't even know my year's HAD culinary themes!), I decided to try fermenting my own sauerkraut. With cabbage from my very own garden! *Side note: In my opinion, if the items in your freezer/pantry/jam jars aren't local or from your own yard, what's the point? You can get grocery-store strawberries all year round, there's no need to preserve THOSE cardboard-y things.*

If you feel like trying, it's actually quite simple. You don't even need a real 'recipe'. Just basic instructions:

1) Thinly slice some clean cabbage, reserving a few whole leaves, and put it in a large bowl and sprinkle it generously with some kind of coarse salt - maybe about 1 1/2 Tbsp. per small head of cabbage.
2) Let it sit for 20-40 minutes - you're looking for some water to start leaking out. Massage the cabbage and squeeze every now and then to extract as much water as possible.
*At this point you may no think you have enough water to cover the cabbage. Don't worry, it'll happen!*
3) Start packing the cabbage into litre jars, pressing down on the cabbage with as much force as you can muster every few layers, to release more water. When the jars are pretty much full, put a whole leaf or two on top of the cabbage to cover it. Smack the lid on that sucker and put in a cool, dark place.
4) Every 5 days, slowly open the jar to release some of the pressure, and then really quickly close it again. Somewhere around day 21 you can start tasting it. When it's at a strength you enjoy, pop it in the fridge and consume at will.

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Squash Cake with Cinnamon Whipped Cream

Thanksgiving may be over here in Canada, but we still have American Thanksgiving AND Christmas ahead of us. If you're on dessert-duty for one of these occasions this year and you're thinking "Everyone loves pumpkin pie, but sometimes after a big meal even that feels too heavy" then here's the cake for you!

It's a French cake, in that there's no leavening agent (read: baking powder/soda etc.) - the rise of the cake comes entirely from beaten egg whites. Another reason this cake is unique is the Corn Flour. That's right, this baby is gluten free (hip-hip hooray!). A unique mix of corn starch and corn flour are the 'dry' ingredients in this cake, and it gives it a more smooth, pumpkin-pie filling type texture. Not so much with the fluffy and the crumbs, which in my opinion is a grand change!

This recipe is from one of my favorite cookbooks, French Taste by Laura Calder - you can find it here. Making it is a breeze and hardly takes any time at all. Orange zest and rum (I use dark spiced) perk up this cake and make it a real treat for dessert or breakfast ;) I've made this cake twice, once with pumpkin and once with butternut squash and I have to say: the squash is my favorite. It's a milder squash-y flavor and come on, look at that gorgeous yellow batter! Top it off with some cinnamon whipped cream and you've got yourself a new holiday favorite! Virtually guilt-free.

Monday, 22 October 2012


I really wanted to title this post "Leftovers" Frittata, because honestly that's what it is. But I figured a lot fewer people would read it if I did.

One of the things I'm learning about being frugal in the kitchen is the value of all the tiny portions of leftovers that some cooks might just throw away, and eggs.
A few tablespoons of leftover mashed squash, a spoonful of sauteed peppers and onions, a handful of chopped spinach - and voila! Frittata. The extras can be anything you happen to have left in your fridge. A cup of rice. Steamed broccoli. You could even strain leftover chunky soup and throw that in there too.

Once you have your leftovers gathered, whisk some eggs in a bowl. I'd say don't go fewer than 4, but it depends on your pan size and how many people you're trying to feed. Around 1 1/2 eggs per person. To the eggs add a generous splash of cream or milk (if you have some), a large grating of cheese (whatever kind you have!) and season well with salt and pepper.

Heat up an oven proof skillet and turn your oven to 375'. Over medium-high heat, add a dollop of butter - or even better, bacon fat! - and add your veggies once it's hot, just to give them a head start on warming up. Once they're reheated, switch the heat to medium-low and add your eggs. Let it bubble for a few seconds, just until a 'crust' starts to form on the bottom. Then pop that thing in the oven and bake for 20-30 minutes, depending how big you frittata is. It's done when it stops jiggling. Ta-da! A frugal lunch that is healthy and delicious!