01/4/16

Adieu and Bienvenue

It’s amazing the way the time passes. Just a few short days ago, we bid 2015 farewell. And now we’re into the swing of 2016.

No pointed resolutions for me this year. No list of goals no score against a rubric.  No report card.

I’ve been meditating on these words from William Saroyan’s The Daring Young Man on the Flying Trapeze for these few preliminary days of the year, and so I think that that’s what I’m going to stick with.

“Try to learn to breathe deeply, really to taste food when you eat, and when you sleep, really to sleep. Try as much as possible to be wholly alive with all your might, and when you laugh, laugh like hell. And when you get angry, get good and angry. Try to be alive. You will be dead soon enough.”

That last sentence, while true, is a little bit fatalistic for this rose-coloured glasses wearer, I’m feeling some resonance in the rest of the sentiment. And so, I toast to embracing opportunities and, rather than just living, to be wholly alive with all our might. I hope we all have a great year!

Maple Ice Cream

(Recipe adapted from my friend Trish, the ice cream expert!)

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3/4 Cup maple syrup

1 1/2 Cups milk

1 1/2 Cups table cream

2 tsp vanilla

1/4 tsp salt

2 eggs

pecans (optional for sprinkling overtop)

Directions

  • Pour the maple syrup into a medium sized saucepan, and set it over medium-high heat. It’s only 3/4 Cup, but it will bubble up a lot, so stick with a medium sized pan. Boil the syrup for 5-10 minutes until it has reduced by around 25%, leaving you with ¬2/3 Cups of reduced syrup.

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  • Stir the milk, cream, vanilla, and salt into the saucepan and bring the mixture just up to a boil.
  • While the milk, cream, and syrup are heating, crack the eggs into a mixing bowl, and whisk until they are light and fluffy.

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  • Temper the eggs by drizzling in about a ladleful of the hot dairy into the eggs, mixing like mad all the while. Because the eggs have been brought up to a closer temperature to the syrupy milk, they’re less likely to scramble when you pour them into the saucepan.
  • Heat future ice cream, stirring constantly, until it thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon.
  • Chill for at least two hours (overnight is even better).

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  • Pour the mix into your ice cream maker, and freeze according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
  • If you are going to use the pecans, add them to the ice cream maker in the last few minutes of churning, or stir them into the ice cream once it’s been poured into the container in which it will be stored. (Living with someone who has a nut allergy, I just sprinkled a few on top of my scoop but left the ice cream untainted so that we could share.)

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I feel as though a number of the last recipes posted up here have included maple syrup, but it’s just so good! This ice cream came out so sublimely silky smooth and delicious. This is the flavour I am most likely to order at an ice cream shop, so I’ll be sure to be making more maple ice cream in the future.

04/9/12

The Salad Mr Hated Everything About

A few days before Easter I got a phone call from Mr’s mum. She was looking for a recipe for a curried chickpea salad; something she could whip up a batch of and keep in the fridge for a few days while bringing portions of it to work for lunch. I told her I was sure I could find something and that I’d make a batch for Easter supper, so we could try it out, and she would have some left to start off taking it for lunch.

I was pretty happy with how it turned out, as was Mr’s mum and the other Easter guests. The chickpeas take up the spicy, tangy vinaigrette really well. Next time, I would suggest a little more curry, because I would like the flavor to be a little more prevalent, but that’s just me.

There was one person who was downright unenthused about our curried chickpea salad, Mr. He’s the apple of my eye, but decidedly not a fan of chickpeas; nor does he enjoy curry. In his eyes this was pretty much salad gone wrong. Luckily, the Easter feast provided a lot of other options for him, so he could abstain from the chickpeas and the curry without missing too much of the meal.

Curried Chickpea Salad

(recipe adapted from Quick and Dirty in the Kitchen)

1/2 Cup sultanas

2 – 15 oz tins chickpeas

1 red bell pepper

2 tsp apple cider vinegar

2 Tbsp lime juice

1/4 Cup olive oil

2 tsp curry powder (I’ll increase to 1 Tbsp next time, I like a little more heat)

2 tsp maple syrup

1/2 tsp salt

1 punnett alfalfa sprouts

Directions

  •  Soak the sultanas in some hot water so that they will plump up.
  • Drain the tins of chickpeas and rinse them well.
  • Dice the bell pepper.
  • Put the three aforementioned ingredients together in a large resealable bowl.
  • Add the apple cider vinegar, lime juice, olive oil, curry powder, maple syrup, and salt to a bowl and whisk together the vinaigrette.
  • Drizzle the vinaigrette over the chickpea, sultana and pepper mixture, and seal the bowl. The longer you let it sit the more married the flavors will be.
  • Add the alfalfa sprouts just before serving, so that they don’t get soggy, tossing to coat.
  • Serve!

I think it would be awesome to experiment with the add-ins of this salad: cut grapes instead of sultanas, cubes of avocado, diced cucumber, maybe serve it over some greens… the options are limitless!
Just remember to try to keep your salad balanced. The vinaigrette has maple syrup for sweet, curry for spicy, apple cider vinegar for sour, and salt to even it out.  Chickpeas make the salad earthy and fulsome, but the sultanas add some sweet chewiness, and the sprouts give it a little crunchy bite. Add whatever you please to the mix, but if you try to keep a balance of flavors and textures in mind your salad will be all the better for it.
Because Mr doesn’t like chickpeas, nor curry, this is what Mr’s Mum has to say about the salad (because she is the one who had the idea): “I like the variety of flavors in the salad, and think that it will be good with lots of different add ins. Works for me!” The avocados were her idea!
This time last year: Potstickers
And the year before: Chicken and Pepper Panini
02/2/12

Cookie Cutter Addiction

I seem to have developed a rather large collection of cookie cutters. Cookie cutters are a collection that kind of works for me, I think, being all cooking and baking interested and all.

Some of my favorites are the hippos (big one and wee baby one), the dinosaur, and the elephants.

So I made sugar cookies, orange cardamom sugar cookies to be precise, because sugar cookies are just perfect for some cookie cutter fun. In the name of science, I decided to see just how expansive my cookie cutter collection has become. I made a whole batch of cookies and got to use each cookie cutter once! It started getting to the point where I was running out of cookie dough, so I had to cut a couple of cookies out of other cookies (concentric hearts, little chick cut out of a big bird).

I’m starting to worry that this collection is too big…

but there so many cute ones out there!

Orange Cardamom Cookies

(adapted from Gourmet December 2007)

2 1/2 Cups flour

2 Tbsp orange zest

2 tsp ground cardamom

1 tsp salt

1 Cup butter

1/4 Cup sugar

1 egg

2 Tbsp whipping cream

1 tsp vanilla

Directions

  • In a large bowl, combine the flour, orange zest, cardamom and salt.
  • In a second, smaller bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until they are fluffy. Next, incorporate the egg, whipping cream, and vanilla.
  • In batches, add the dry mixture to the wet mixture and mix until the dough forms.
  • Cover your dough in cling film and refrigerate for an hour.
  • Next, roll the cookie dough out 1/8″ thick, and cut out shapes with cookie cutters, reserving scraps and rerolling to make more cookies.
  • Put the cookies onto baking sheets, and bake in  350° oven until the edges are golden brown (~9-12 minutes).
  • Optional: after the cookies have cooled, decorate them with Maple Brown Sugar Icing (recipe to follow).

What I really liked about these cookies was that there is really not that much sugar in them (until you cover them with icing), but you get a really nice flavor from the orange zest and cardamom. I’ll definitely be making these again.

Maple Brown Sugar Icing

(from Dandelion’s recipe on Group Recipes)

2 1/2 Cups icing sugar

1/2 Cup brown sugar

1/2 Cup butter

1/8 tsp salt

1/2 Cup maple syrup

1 tsp vanilla

Directions

  • Beat sugars, butter and salt together until fluffy. This is easiest using a machine mixer.
  • Continue beating, and drizzle in slowly both the maple syrup and vanilla.
  • Ice whatever your heart desires!

This icing is so tasty! The color isn’t awesome, but I think it would take some color by way of food coloring really well if you were decorating something like a cupcake.

Mr says: These cookies have a super good combo of subtle flavors. There isn’t one that really jumps out at you, but everything works really well in combination.

This time last year: Deeply Chocolate Ice Cream