Friday, July 27, 2012

Peach Caprese Salad

I have been wanting to post a really great Raspberry Curd that Claire and I made for more than a week now, but I had a very sad mishap with my camera. I think it might be dead forever due to some contact lens solution spilling on it :(... The only upside to this was that I had no choice but to go out and upgrade to an iphone. The camera on it is decent enough to get me through until I can buy a real camera, and it also functions as a phone! I have to say I've had it for two days and its even better than I hoped. I missed my skytrain stop this morning because I was so engrossed.  All these pics were taken on it.

In the meantime here is a quick post about a perfect summer salad that I have been eating for the last 4 nights straight (and for lunch too!). I got the inspiration from Joy's crostini over here. Caprese Salad is something my parents make every summer, and once I tasted this version I couldn't stop eating it. Seriously, the sweet flavour of peaches mingling with the slight acidity of balsamic vinegar and tomatoes, the bright basil and the neutral soft cheese to balance, is off the hook.

My suggestion for the best possible salad, is to get the most ripe and juicy peaches and tomatoes you can find in your store. They make the salad. Don't settle for something too firm, is what I'm saying! You might be skeptical about savoury stuff on a peach (a grind of pepper and a sprinkle of salt) but it works, trust. 

Peach Caprese Salad Recipe:

3 ripe peaches
3 ripe tomatoes
8-10 basil leaves
2 balls of soft boccocini cheese
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
coarse sea salt

Slice the peaches and tomatoes thinly and lay out on a platter. Chiffonade the basil (ie. roll all the leaves up like a cigar and then slice through). Rip up the soft cheese and sprinkle throughout the salad, then add the basil. Sprinkle the vinegar over top, and top with a healthy amount of sea salt and a grind or two of pepper. Let it sit in its juices for a few minutes, then enjoy! 
Tastes like summer.

I enjoyed it as a side with some great homemade burgers and a glass (or two) of white wine in my garden last night. Weirdly Matt put the salad IN his burger. He said it was good?
Matt put his salad IN his burger. Something to try?

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Chocolate Stout Cupcakes

The other day I had a craving for something chocolatey and delicious, so I started thumbing through my friend's cupcake book and came across these. And I knew it was meant to be because I had ALL the ingredients. This. Never. Happens. I'm always out of something or other, or am missing the secret ingredient, in this case stout. But I had it all! Including a homemade stout from a friend. Serendipitous indeed.
Ok, technically I did not have all the ingredients since it is a vegan recipe, so I substituted 1% milk for the soy milk. Hilarious? I think so. 
The recipe was easy and straight forward, mix your wet, your dry and then mix them together. What I really enjoyed is that it has a crumb topping that you sprinkle on before baking, so once they have baked and cooled, they are ready to eat. No icing required. 
Crumb topping, so easy! Just a 1/4 c of flour, cocoa, sugar combined with oil.

Ready for the oven

Chocolate Stout Cupcakes 
from vegan cupcakes take over the world by moskowitz & romero


Crumb Topping
1/4c all-purpose flour
1/4c cocoa powder
1/4c granulated sugar
2 tblsp canola oil

1. Sift together flour, cocoa and sugar. 
2. Slowly drizzle in oil, mixing with a fork, and crumbs will start  to form.
3. Once all oil has been added, toss and stir the crumbs with your fingers, to make as many as possible. (If the mixture is already clumpy before all the oil has been added, don't add it all).
4. Set aside. 

3/4 cup milk
1 tsp   apple cider vinegar
1 cup plus
2 tblsp all-purpose flour
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 cup stout
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup canola oil
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1. Whisk together milk and vinegar in a large bowl. 
2. In a separate bowl sift the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Mix. 
3. Add stout, sugar, oil, and vanilla to milk misture and beat until foamy. 
4. Add dry ingredients to wet in batches and mix. 
5. Pour batter into liners, filling them 3/4 of the way. Sprinkle with crumb topping, so that they rest on top. 
6. Bake 20-22 mins at 350 C, or until a toothpick comes out clean. 
7. Once cooled you can sprinkle with confections sugar for extra pizazz, or eat as is.  

Friday, July 13, 2012

Raspberry Explosion Scones

I am in love with my garden, but one of the best parts is something a lovely previous tenant planted, the tangle of raspberry bushes along the back fence. I haven't ever pruned them, but I will try this fall. Nonetheless  they have finally started to ripen after a damp June and while I let the sprinkler water the garden I managed to collect about 2 cups of them! They are really tart probably because of the lack of sun, but so SO good! Since they don't last long I threw them into these really yummy scones to make them last the week. 
Raspberries being sandwhiched into the scone dough. 
They are called raspberry explosion scones because not only are raspberries mixed into the batter, but the scone dough is also rolled a bit thin so that I could sandwhich an entire layer of raspberries inside (thanks to Joy the Baker for the idea)! Its so good, and you really do get a lot of raspberry per scone bite. Although I admit they are a bit messy, still really nice warmed up for my breakfast each morning this week. 

Backyard harvest, raspberries, pak choy, kale, radishes and snap peas.
This picture is the other nights little garden harvest. And I have been sharing with the neighbours too.
I have to say this buttermilk scone recipe is off the hook, and my addition of orange zest is great with raspberries. Next time I may add coconut.

Raspberry Explosion Scone
Adapted from Joy the Baker

makes 8 scones

3 cups all-purpose flour

1/4 cup granulated sugar

3 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

3/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup unsalted butter, cold and cut into cubes

1/4 cup vegetable shortening, cold and cut into cubes (if you don’t have shortening you can certainly substitute unsalted butter)

1 egg, beaten

3/4 cup buttermilk, cold

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1 cup of raspberries, rinsed

1/4 cup buttermilk, for burshing

2 tablespoons granulated sugar

1 teaspoon orange zest.

Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 400 degrees F.

Mix the dry and wet ingredients together each in a different bowl. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and stir one time with a fork, then stir in a few of the raspberries. Gently knead the dough together, and turn onto a flat surface.

Roll the dough about 1/2 inch thick, brush with buttermilk, sprinkle with sugar and then spread the remaining raspberries on half of the dough. Fold the dough over, creating a raspberry sandwich of sorts. Slice into scones, and transfer to baking trays with parchment. Bake about 15 minutes.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Simple Tomato Tart

About to go into the oven

I made this quick tomato tart for my lunches this week. I have been trying to put a big effort into packing my lunch for the week, its just way more satisfying as the lunch options around my office are limited. Its also a good chance to be healthy. The thing is, it only works if I make a huge batch of something Sunday night to last me the week- otherwise I just scramble the whole week to find something. Anyways, this whole tart will easily last me for a week of lunches. 

This tart is really simple, I just used some frozen phyllo dough, defrosted it and piled on a bunch of ricotta, caramelized onions and fresh summer tomatoes. Tastes amazing! I think it would go even faster if you had puff pastry waiting for you in your freezer. 
Out of the oven. Sorry for my gross oven mitt.

I love summer tomatoes, and its so nice to finally be getting them here, even if they had to be grown in a hot house. I bought red, yellow and orange, and let the onions caramelize while I prepped the phyllo and tomatoes.

Recipe for Simple Tomato Tarts
by me!

  • 4-5 tomatoes
  • 2 sprigs of Thyme
  • 1 tablespoon of balsamic vinegar
  • 2 cups of ricotta
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 onions
  • 1/2 package of defrosted phyllo dough
  • 4 tablespoons of melted butter. 

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Slice the onions finely, place in a pan on medium heat and let soften and brown for about 4 minutes without any oil (this is a little trick for speeding up your caramelizing onions).
Defrost the phyllo (mine said you had to let it defrost in the fridge, but I needed to use it right away and used the microwave, it was fine). Melt your butter. Using a pastry brush lay out a layer of phyllo on your tart pan, brush with butter, add another layer and repeat until you have put abut 7-10 layers of phyllo. You need it to be fairly sturdy to hold all the delicious things you will put inside.
While you  work on the phyllo check back on your onions and add some oil or butter and salt... turn the heat to low and just let them get nice and brown and sweet.
Prepare the filling. Mix 2 cups of ricotta cheese with two eggs, salt and pepper to taste. Spread on phyllo, and then lay the onions over top. Slice your tomatoes and layer these on top next. Finally finish with a generous sprinkle of salt, fresh ground pepper and just a couple dabs of balsamic vinegar. 

Bake for about 50 minutes. I then turned down the heat and left it in the warm oven for a bit longer to let a bit of the juices from the tomatoes evaporate.