Tuesday, February 18, 2014
Wednesday, February 12, 2014
Monday, January 20, 2014
Tastes change over the years. I appreciate the joys of jam these days, especially the homemade variety. And while for the most part I still prefer my peanut butter solo, peanut butter with jam is a welcome addition. I gave up on the peanut butter and mustard long ago. Over the past year, I've made a fair share of jams, marmalades, and preserves. Strawberries, raspberries, plums, peaches, and oranges have found their way to the stovetop with some sugar and water.
Three very ripe Bartlett pears in the fruit bowl inspired me to make pear butter. A cursory look online gave me the basics and from there, my version of pear butter was born. I like that you have a little extra leeway in the spices department here. Fruit butters have a warmth to them, which is probably why I've associated them with Autumn. I think that's about to change.
Of course, I paired my pear butter with peanut butter. I can easily see myself breaking the 'peanut butter only' toast habit I have with this stuff around. It's also fantastic swirled in plain yogurt and topped with granola.
(Adapted from a recipe on Allrecipes.com)
Makes roughly 1 1/2 cups
3 large Bartlett pears, cored and cubed
1/2 cup water
1/2 teaspoon orange zest
Juice from one orange
1 teaspoon five spice powder
1/2 cup turbinado sugar
In a medium saucepan, add pears, water, orange zest, cloves, and orange juice. Bring to a low boil and let pears soften and cook, about 12-15 minutes. Place a fine mesh strainer over a mixing bowl and pour the pears into the strainer. Stir and puree and push through the strainer. Remove the cloves and any larger pieces of pear skin. Return the puree and strained juice back to the saucepan. With the pan over low heat, add the sugar and five spice powder. Stir to mix ingredients. Stir occasionally so fruit doesn't burn on the bottom of the pan. Cook on a low simmer for 20 minutes or until sugar dissolves and puree starts to thicken.
Remove from heat and store in a container in refrigerator.
Tuesday, December 31, 2013
The proverbial 'last straw' that made me want this year to end happened this morning while I was cleaning out the cats' litter box. I clipped the edge of the box with the container of cat litter, causing a wave of litter to fly up into the air and into my eye. Special. Precious. One benefit of wearing contacts is that most of the litter stuck to my contacts. One downside is that I had to throw them away...and they were a fresh pair that I just put in a couple of days ago.
It's been a year of just scraping by, constant worry and anxiety, and a lot of rough nights with too much tossing and turning and too little sleep. I know I don't bring that crap into this blog and that's because this isn't the environment for it. This is my space to not think about everything else for a few minutes. This is the space to enjoy good food, recipes, and maybe bad jokes. Or my version of them.
So...back to food. Do me a favour and don't go back a year to see what I wrote about because this is pretty similar. Well...there is ricotta involved. Last night, I found myself turning on the oven at 10:30pm with a craving for something crunchy and thinking about the pita I had cut up for pita chips. That's when the craving had to be filled. Pita chips are very popular these days, from Stacey's to Waleeds. But if you are so inclined, make your own. They're ridiculously easy, you can make whatever variety you want, and they are inexpensive. I can buy two bags of pita at my local grocers for 80 cents. Yes, less than a dollar for a dozen pita.
You can go the healthy route, making them with cooking spray or tip them a little over the indulgent side and drizzle them with olive oil. If you want to go really, REALLY indulgent, you can deep fry them. That's what I love about Waleeds pita chips. But since we're on the cusp of the new year, with good intentions, resolutions to be healthier, eat better, et al...let's stick with an option on the healthier end of the scale.
Whatever your evening brings...popping open the bubbly, dressing to the nines and dancing the night away, or spending the night in and watching the ball drop in Times Square...here's to a healthy, prosperous, and joy-filled 2014!
Makes a lot
6 pita rounds
Non-stick cooking spray
Salt, pepper, garlic powder, cinnamon, sugar (You get the idea...whatever strikes your fancy)
Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees and line a cookie sheet (or two) with parchment. Set aside. Cut up pita rounds into wedges, as large or small as you like. Split pieces, laying them in a single layer on the cookie sheets. Spray pita lightly with non-stick cooking spray and sprinkle with whatever strikes your tastebuds. I love black pepper, garlic powder, Jane's Crazy Mix-Up salt, onion powder, and sumac. Not all at the same time, but I'll typically use two or three at once.
Bakes for 15-20 minutes or until chips start to turn golden brown. Depending upon your oven, it could take a little less or a little longer. Remove from oven and let cool.
Note: Sometimes I drizzle pita with olive oil before baking. A little goes a long way.
Monday, December 23, 2013
So...a proper post. A Christmas gift from me to you. But let me preface it and tell you that the recipe is not mine. It is an absolute find from the Food 52 website and if you make these cookies, I have no doubt you will be beyond pleased. You will hopefully also be as addicted to these cookies as I am, because seriously...the reaction to this cookie this must be the same reaction an addict has to crack. The first bite into one of these hooks you, makes you want more, and you find yourself reaching into the cookie tin again and again...hiding the tin in the back of the pantry. When someone asks where the cream cheese cookies are you feign ignorance, having no idea where they could have gone. You will quietly creep into the kitchen in the wee hours of the morning, enjoying one in the complete darkness...just so you don't have to share. These cookies rock.
Cream cheese cookies are so simple. So pure...no fancy add-ins, no fancy technique. Flour, sugar, salt, butter, and cream cheese. Almost as simple as shortbread. Chewy and tangy. If you read the comments for the recipe, you'll see lots of suggestions for tweaks. While they all sound good, I have never wavered from the original. Maybe someday I'll add a little lemon zest or almond extract, but for now, I'll keep my crack pure and unadulterated.
Merry Christmas, kiddies...if you've been good, I hope you get everything you've wished for and if you've been naughty, you had better hide before Krampus seeks you out.
Cream Cheese Cookies from Food52
Saturday, December 21, 2013
Another Christmas is almost here. Four days to get cards in the mail, plan the big Christmas dinner, wrap the presents, and bake up a batch or ten of cookies.
I haven't been hiding behind that mound of flour in the kitchen (too much), though I have been doing quite a bit of baking and think the last batch of cookies has just come out of the oven.
Truth is...my laptop died a couple of weeks ago. I've been doing most everything that takes use of a computer on my phone. What did we do before smartphones? What did I do before smartphones?
A proper post will be coming before you know it. Maybe even before Christmas. Stay tuned. Enjoy the Christmas lights.
Monday, November 25, 2013
While all these scenarios could use a tipple or two, I'm sorry to tell you 'a little boozy' refers to none of these things. What it does refer to is cranberry sauce. A grown-up cranberry sauce that looks nothing like that jellied mass that softly plops onto a plate as you push it out from one end of the can to the other. While there is a nostalgic part of me that still appreciates that jiggling mass, I will wholeheartedly embrace a relish the colour of garnets, tart and tangy with an abundance of orange zest, and just the right amount of amaretto to add sweetness and lushness.
This is the kind of cranberry sauce that goes from a perfect accompaniment at Thanksgiving dinner, to slathered on a turkey sandwich the next day, to atop a cracker with a really good aged cheddar, to spooned over vanilla ice cream with candied walnuts. Buy bags of cranberries now, freeze them, and make this all through the year.
...and let me say...Happy Thanksgiving. Boozy or not.
Boozy Cranberry Sauce
Makes about 2 cups
1 12-oz bag of fresh cranberries
2 Tbsp orange zest
1/3 cup orange juice, preferably fresh-squeezed
1/2 cup amaretto
1/2 cup water
1 cup sugar
Combine all ingredients into a large saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a low boil, then lower heat and allow to simmer until slightly thickened, about 20 minutes. This will thicken further after you've taken it off the heat. Allow to cool and refrigerate.