Coconut Macaroons

Remembering the beauty of coconut

There’s been a hell of a lot of hype about French Macarons lately. They’re more ubiquitous than cupcakes were a couple of years ago. They’re in every fancy patisserie, part of every posh dessert menu and a staple of every food photography blog from here to Timbuktu. While I’m sure the people of Mali have bigger (proverbial) fish to fry, I still wouldn’t be all that shocked to see a food blog come out of Timbuktu. It would probably feature macarons, piled artfully on an ancient clay plate and shot against the rusty hues of a rapidly desertifying city.

Don’t get me wrong. I like macarons. A good one is delightfully light and flavoursome and they look downright adorable. Which is, of course, why they are so popular on the blogs. But I get bored easily. I don’t care if they are popcorn flavoured with a salted caramel centre (don’t get me started on salted caramel), I’m sick of them. The sad thing is, I haven’t even eaten all that many macarons, I’m just tired of seeing their cheery little non-faces everywhere I look.

All this over-saturation got me thinking about how, two years ago, I didn’t even know what a macaron was. I was familiar with the good old, two o’d macaroon. A crispy, gooey, light and heavy haystack of coconut, sometimes dipped in chocolate and sometimes left alone. The French version may be prettier and more refined, but cooking these you’ll never be prompted to write a 1000 word essay on how a spoiled batch of cookies ruined your whole Sunday. Therefore, they win!
Ingredients

  • 3 egg whites
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¾ cup white sugar
  • 1½ cups coconut
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla

Instructions

  1. Heat oven to 150℃ (300℉).
  2. Line 2 baking trays with parchment paper.
  3. Beat the egg whites with salt until stiff and shiny. Add the sugar gradually and continue to beat. Fold in coconut and vanilla.
  4. Drop by teaspoons onto the baking sheets, leaving room for expansion. Bake for about 20 minutes, or until golden brown.
  5. These are even better when dipped in melted chocolate!

Posted in Coconut, Cookies, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

Sweet Potato Ravioli with Cheese Broth

Who are you calling cheesy?

I love a recipe that makes something mind-blowing out of nothing. And this cheese broth is just that. Treasure from trash. The ravioli is awesome as well. It’s homemade pasta without the hassle of rolling it out yourself. Actually, these ravioli are probably better for their pre-packaged dumpling wrappers — a homemade dough would likely be heavier.

I got this recipe from the Frankies Spuntino cookbook, a little book from the namesake restaurant in New York. A few years ago, I was lucky to eat dinner at Frankies in Brooklyn and the meal still sticks in my memory as one of homey deliciousness. This recipe rehashes that sentiment.

Adapted from The Frankies Spuntino Cookbook
Ingredients
For the Broth

  • 60 grams rind from a good-sized chunk of pecorino romano or parmesan
  • 2 litres water
  • 3 large sweet potatoes, scrubbed
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • ¼ teaspoon Chinese five-spice powder
  • 48 round wonton wrappers
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 5-6 fresh sage leaves
  • 6-8 cups cheese broth
  • 4 scallions, white and light green only, thinly sliced or julienned

Instructions

  1. For the broth: add the cheese rind to the water and bring to a boil. Turn down the heat and simmer for at least two hours. Strain and reserve.
  2. Heat the oven to 180℃ (350℉).
  3. Slick the potatoes in oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Wrap them individually in foil, put them on a baking tray and bake until very tender, about 1 hour.
  4. When the potatoes are cool enough to handle, halve them and scoop the flesh into a bowl. Add the honey, five-spice and some salt. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed. Allow to cool a little more.
  5. Get out your wonton wrappers, a cutting board to work on, a bowl of water (for sealing the ravioli and a parchment lined tray.
  6. Put a teaspoon of filling in the middle of a wonton wrapper, then dip your finger in the water and run it around the rim. Fold the wrapper in half and pinch along the edges to seal. Repeat until the wrappers are used up. If you are not going to use all of the ravioli at once they can be frozen on a baking tray and then transferred to a ziploc bag when solid.
  7. When you are ready to cook, put on a large pot of boiling salted water.
  8. Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the sage leave and cook them for a minute or two until aromatic. Add the cheese broth, season with salt and pepper and bring to a simmer.
  9. Drop the ravioli in the boiling water and cook until they pop to the surface, about 3 minutes. Remove from the water with a slotted spoon and divide among serving bowls. Ladle a cup of broth into each bowl and garnish with scallions.

Posted in Ravioli, Sweet Potatoes | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

Creamy Rhubarb Cocktail

Shake your groove thing.

I’m a fan of the creamy cocktail. Perhaps they remind me of the Kahlua and milk I used to drink so avidly as a teenager. Or the creamy choco-tinis I graduated onto a little later. I think drinking alcohol disguised as dessert just makes me feel young again. Really young.

A few things have changed. These days I’m a bit of a one cream-laden cocktail girl. I strongly believe that if you are going to get queasy from drinking, it shouldn’t have anything to do with excess lactose consumption. Also, I’m not opposed to a little extra vodka — a drink should definitely taste like a drink.

These beauties are a particularly pleasing shade of pastel pink… perfection.

Adapted from Jamie Oliver    
Ingredients

  • 500 grams (1 pound) rhubarb, trimmed and chopped
  • 100 grams (3.5 ounces) white sugar
  • Juice from ½ an orange
  • 2 shots vodka
  • ½ shot Galliano
  • ½ shot heavy cream
  • ½ milk
  • Handful of ice cubes

Instructions

  1. Combine the rhubarb, sugar and orange juice in a small pan and simmer, with the lid on, for about 5 minutes. Remove the lid and simmer some more until you get a thick consistency.
  2. Transfer the rhubarb to a sieve placed over a bowl and drain. For the cocktail you want the juice, but you can save the pulp to eat with your morning yogurt.
  3. Put the vodka, Galliano, cream, milk, ice and two shots of the rhubarb liquid into a cocktail shaker. Strain into 2 cocktail glasses.

Posted in Drinks, Rhubarb | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

Penne Alla Vodka

This sauce is shaken and stirred.

This is a classic dish. You probably don’t even need a recipe for it, but here you go anyways. I prefer the sauce without the traditional red pepper flakes, but of course you can always add them in with the onion and garlic if you want some more kick. I’ve also halved the cream, again do what tickles your palette. It’s super delicious, and takes very little prep, perfect for a Monday night supper.

I was just watching The Life of Mammals about long-eared bats while eating this for dinner, hence the picture. How cool are its ears?

Ingredients

  • 500 grams (1 pound) penne
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 4 cloves of garlic, crushed and chopped.
  • 1 bottle tomato pasata
  • Salt and pepper
  • ¼ cup vodka
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • ¼ cup chopped parsley
  • Parmesan cheese for garnish

Instructions

  1. Put a large pot of salted water on the stove to boil.
  2. Melt the olive oil and butter in a heavy skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and cook for a few minutes, until turning translucent. Add the garlic and cook for another few minutes. Add the pasata and simmer for 15 – 20 minutes.
  3. When the water is boiling, add the penne and cook according to instructions. Drain and reserve.
  4. Add the vodka and cream to the sauce and allow to simmer for 2-3 minutes. Stir in the parsley. Stir in the pasta and coat generously.
  5. Serve garnished with cheese.

 

Posted in Penne | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

Raspberry Oatmeal Muffins

Let the jackalope bring the muffins -- it's totally his thing.

Back when I lived in Vancouver I used to go to Capers on the weekend and get a delicious raspberry oatmeal muffin. Now I have to bake them myself, without a recipe. Yesterday I got them pretty close to the originals, so I’ll post that recipe.

I was supposed to do a picture of a jackalope for the daily animal doodle, hence the picture. I bet you didn’t know that if you invite a jackalope to a party he will always show up with a jaunty bow tie and a plate of muffins. Now you do.

Also, I just got a new camera for my birthday. I’m trying to test it out. The muffins that the jackalope is holding were photographed by me. And then messed with to look grainy and green. So I’ve posted the original photo below. As you can see, I have a ways to go with my food styling. And I better get ironing my tablecloth. But they are in focus. That has to count for something.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 1 cup yogurt or buttermilk
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¾ cup brown sugar
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • ¼ cup melted butter
  • 1 egg beaten
  • Milk as necessary
  • 1 cup raspberries (frozen are fine)

Instructions

  1. Heat oven to 200℃ (400℉)
  2. Mix the oats with the yogurt and allow to stand and soften.
  3. In another blow, mix together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, sugar and cinnamon.
  4. Add butter, egg and vanilla to the oat mixture and combine well. Mix in the flour and stir until mixed, add milk if more liquid is needed.
  5. Fold in the raspberries.
  6. Fill muffin tins ¾ full and bake for 15-22 minutes.

 

 

My first food photography

 

Posted in Brunch, Muffins, Raspberries | Tagged , , , , , | 3 Comments

Buttermilk Mac and Cheese

Good old-fashioned fun

Even this far past childhood, mac and cheese remains one of my all-time favourite foods. Probably because despite the wrinkles and sag, the rest of me never progressed very far past childhood. You could call it stunted. I call it joyful. And nothing screams joyful like macaroni and cheese. Of course, with age come macaroni and cheese induced problems — cheese belly and night sweats and unintended inflation of the spare tire. Mac and cheese, like everything excellent, is best consumed in moderation.

I’m all for experimenting with food, but everyone should have a few basic recipes up their sleeve — you need a launching pad. This is, at the moment, my go to recipe. The buttermilk adds an awesome tang, and you can totally swap the cream for milk without much loss in flavour. You can use buttermilk for the whole thing, but I find that the sauce gets a bit watery this way.

Ingredients

  • 500 grams (1 pound) dried elbow macaroni or rigatoni
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 cup heavy cream, or milk
  • 1 tablespoon (or more) Dijon mustard
  • 4 cups grated aged cheddar
  • ½ cup breadcrumbs, fresh made or panko
  • Salt and pepper

Instructions

  1. Heat oven to 175℃ (350℉)
  2. Put a large pot of salted water on to boil and cook the pasta, according to package directions, until just tender. Drain and reserve.
  3. While the pasta is cooking, melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the flour and whisk in until well combined. Add the buttermilk a little bit at a time, whisking constantly, so that the flour and milk combine well. Add the cream and dijon mustard and let the sauce come just to a bubble. Whisk in 3 cups of the cheese and allow the sauce to simmer over low heat for around 10 minutes.
  4. Taste the sauce, season with salt and pepper if necessary. Mix the sauce with the cooked noodles and pour into a baking dish. Top with bread crumbs and leftover cheese. Bake until golden brown and bubbling, 20-25 minutes.
  5. Allow mac and cheese to rest for about 5 minutes before serving — if this is possible!

 

 

Posted in Baked Pasta, Buttermilk, Cheddar | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

Butter Lettuce with Basil Almond Dressing

Pesto changos this lettuce into an amazing starter.

My brief hiatus from blogging has ended with me curled up in bed with my laptop at 6:30 on Saturday night. I am suffering the after effects of my birthday party last night. As if turning another year older wasn’t bad enough, every year the hangovers seem to get worse. Totally worth it.

I have a macaroni and cheese baking in the oven, and this salad to serve on the side. It’s a combination that makes for a super decadent meal which is exactly what is needed for a hangover of this magnitude. You can use any lettuce for this salad, or spinach as well, but I like butter lettuce best because it really lets the dressing scream for itself.

Ingredients

  • 1 head butter lettuce, torn, washed and dried
  • ½ cup almonds, lightly toasted
  • 1 bunch fresh basil
  • 2 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • ¾ – 1 cup good fruity olive oil
  • Flaky salt

Instructions

  1. Prepare the lettuce and set aside.
  2. In a small frying pan, toast the almonds over low heat for a few minutes.
  3. Put the almonds in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until ground. Add in the basil, garlic, lemon juice and lemon zest and allow the processor to run while slowly adding the oil. Use enough oil that it is more dressing than pesto.
  4. Dress the leaves and garnish with a sprinkle of flaky salt.

 

 

Posted in Salads | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

A Sorry Post

I wish there were some food to go with that picture!

I have been trying to post every day, but sometimes life gets in the way. You know how it is. One minute you’re at work and the next minute you’re home at nine thirty, a little too drunk to write anything and a little too sober to feel ok about it. I wish I could be a true blue food blogger and write some amazing piece about the mediocre fish and chips I’m currently burping up, but I’m not, so why try? I’ll be back on Saturday. Thanks for the support.

Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments

Lemon Poppyseed Loaf

What a deer little loaf!

I’m sitting in my living room craving cake. This does not necessarily give me the energy to bake a cake. Instead I’m looking back at recipes I’ve made in the past and deciding what to bake this weekend. It seems like a rather twee pastime, cuddled up on the couch under a blanket, cup of tea next to me, cookbooks at my feet and in my lap. Except that my husband is watching Eastbound and Down, so my relaxation is punctuated by a flood of profanity and DMX. I kind of like it.

Lately I’ve been loving lemony desserts. Lemon tarts are excellent. Lemon pudding too.  But I think when the weekend rolls around it’s going to be this cake… for breakfast anyways (what’s wrong with a two-cake weekend?).

Maybe I’ll make it while listening to this.

Adapted from The Lazy Gourmet

Ingredients

  • 2 ¼ cups all purpose flour
  • ½ tablespoon baking powder
  • ¾ cup butter, softened
  • 1 ½ cups sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 ½ tablespoons lemon zest
  • ¼ cup poppyseeds
  • 1 cup milk
  • 6 tablespoons honey
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice

Instructions

  1. Heat the oven to 175℃ (350℉). Grease a 23 x 12.5 centimetre (9 x 5 inch) loaf pan with butter.
  2. Combine the flour and baking powder in a bowl and set aside.
  3. Cream the butter and 1 ½ cups of sugar together in a large bowl, adding the eggs one at a time and beating well until blended. Add the zest and the poppyseeds.
  4. Add the milk, alternating with the flour, to the butter mixture, blending until smooth.
  5. Pour the batter into the pan and bake for one hour, or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.
  6. While the loaf is baking, combine the honey, ½ cup of sugar and lemon juice.
  7. Remove the loaf from the pan, allow to cool for 5 minutes and then drizzle with the honey glaze. Serve warm or at room temperature.

 

Posted in Cakes, Lemons | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

Avocado with Warm Bacon Dressing

Fancy up your avocados!

Whenever we have avocados around my husband likes to halve them, fill the middles with globs of mayonnaise and eat them just like that. I’m all for enhancing fat with fat, but I like a little bit more flavour. This recipe from Nigel Slater’s Real Fast Food is the perfect thing. It feels like the kind of recipe that should be served in a darkened room, partly for ambiance and partly so that no one can see you eating it! I’m never quite sure what to serve this with. Bread? Green Salad? A defibrillator?

Adapted from Nigel Slater’s Real Fast Food

 

Ingredients

  • 2 rashers streaky bacon, cut into small pieces
  • 2 tomatoes, diced
  • 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons dijon mustard
  • 2 ripe avocados, preferably Hass
  • Chopped parsley

Instructions

  1. Fry the bacon in a shallow pan over medium-high heat until crisp. Drain off excess fat and then toss in the tomatoes, vinegar and olive oil. Stir in the mustard and allow to bubble for 1 minute.
  2. Halve, pit and peel the avocados. Slice into thick wedges and top with the bubbling dressing. Sprinkle with parsley and serve warm.

Posted in Avocado, Bacon, Salads, Tomatoes | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments