Cookbook Review & Matcha Tea Cookies from Secrets from My Vietnamese Kitchen

 
I recently received a free copy of  Secrets from My Vietnamese Kitchen: Simple Recipes from My Many Mothers  from    Appetite by Random House  to review.

I recently received a free copy of Secrets from My Vietnamese Kitchen: Simple Recipes from My Many Mothers from Appetite by Random House to review.

Ask me what I want to eat when I’m not in the mood to cook and I’ll say ‘pho’.

Vietnamese cuisine holds a soft spot in my heart. Some of my closest friends are Vietnamese, and I’ve enjoyed countless evenings at their dinner table eating their family’s dishes.

I’m drawn to the simple, but complex flavours of Vietnamese cuisines. The sweet, the sour, the salty and a dash of love all come together to make a meal that brings people together.

In her cookbook, Kim Thuy, described how their family uses food as a tool for expressing their emotions. I can definitely relate. Since I can remember, food has been the centre of my family’s gatherings. As an adult, I don’t call my parents or siblings all that often. But give it a couple of weeks, and I’ll have the urge to have everyone over for dinner to share a meal and catch up.

I love how each chapter of this cookbook is dedicated to members of Kim’s family. Recipes are laid out a simply and are easy to follow. Starting with the fundamentals and leading into soups, bowls and stir-fries, vegetables, grilled and fried, slow cooking and desserts and snacks. At the end there’s a Vietnamese food and wine pairing recommendation as well as music pairing! I’ve never seen before in a cookbook and was very intrigued.

The book is beautifully photographed and elegant. As a food photographer, I’m drawn to cookbooks with photography that can tell a story. This cookbook hits that one every note. I can’t wait to cook my way through it.

The first recipe I wanted to try was Nathalie’s Matcha Tea Cookies. I think I was craving something sweet at the time. My go-to cookie is white chocolate & macadamia nuts. These matcha tea cookies are made with toasted pine nuts and white chocolate. I instantly knew I was going to be fan. They did not disappoint. I also love that the recipe can be frozen. I already have half a batch waiting for me when the next sweet craving hits!

Secrets from My Vietnamese Kitchen: Simple Recipes from My Many Mothers

Matcha Tea Cookies

NATHALIE’S MATCHA TEA COOKIES

Excerpted from Secrets from My Vietnamese Kitchen: Simple Recipes from My Many Mothers by Kim Thuy. Copyright © 2017 Editions Libre Expression. Translated from the French by Sheila Fischman. Recipes translated by Marie Asselin. Appetite by Random House edition published in 2019. Food Photography by Sarah Scott. Published by Appetite by Random House®, a division of Penguin Random House Canada Limited. Reproduced by arrangement with the Publisher. All rights reserved.

Makes about 48 cookies ~ Prep time 20 minutes + 2 hours resting ~ Cook time 9 to 12 minutes

  • 2 cups (250 g) all-purpose flour

  • 1 tsp (5 g) baking powder

  • 1/2 tsp (2 g) baking soda

  • 2 Tbsp (6 g) matcha tea powder

  • 2/3 cup (150 g) salted butter, softened
    1 cup (220 g) brown sugar

  • 2 eggs

  • 1/2 cup (70 g) toasted pine nuts

  • 7 oz (200 g) white chocolate, chopped

  • Wax paper or plastic wrap

1—Sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and matcha tea powder together. Set aside.

2—Cream the butter using a hand mixer or a stand mixer.

3—Add the brown sugar and beat until the mixture is light and fluffy.

4—Add the eggs and beat to combine.

5—Mix in the flour mixture in three batches, beating well after each addition.

6—Add the pine nuts and chocolate and stir just to incorporate.

7—Divide the dough into four portions and set each portion on a piece of wax paper or plastic wrap.

8—Shape the dough into 2-inch (5 cm) diameter rolls. Wrap well in the wax paper or plastic wrap, twisting both ends to seal shut.

9—Refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

10—Preheat the oven to 325°F (160°C).

11—Slice each roll into 10 to 12 cookies. Place the cookies on parchment paper–lined baking sheets.

Bake for 9 to 12 minutes, depending on whether you like a softer cookie or a crisper one.

Using sushi mats to shape the dough into rolls will enable you to create perfectly round cookies.

 The cookie rolls will keep refrigerated for up to 1 week, or frozen for up to 6 months. Thaw the rolls in the refrigerator for 24 hours before slicing.

Matcha Tea Cookies
Matcha Tea Cookies
Matcha Tea Cookies
Matcha Tea Cookies
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Matcha Tea Cookies
Matcha Tea Cookies
 

Everything & More Seasoning

 
Everything Seasoning

The seasoning mix that will change your life. Maybe not your life, but it will change your baking. Quickly mix this everything seasoning in a matter of seconds to top on bagels, crackers, sourdough, hamburger buns, biscuits and more!

Everything and More Seasoning

  • 1 tbs chia seeds

  • 1 tbs poppy seeds

  • 1 tbs black sesame seeds

  • 1 tbs white sesame seeds

  • 1 tbs dried onion flakes

  • 1 tbs dried garlic flakes

  • 1-2 tsp flaked sea salt

Everything seasoning
Everything Seasoning
Everything Seasoning
Everything Seasoning
 

Whole Wheat Cheddar Cheese Crackers

 
CheeseCracker

I know what your thinking, homemade crackers are hard. Trust me, all it takes is a few healthy ingredients, some delicious sharp Canadian Cheddar and a little spice mix and you’ll be the talk of the next charcuterie night.

A special thanks to Emily at GetJoyFull for collaborating on the recipe, and to Armstrong Cheese for their partnership.

This recipe uses extra old cheddar cheese, which provides that sharp taste, and pairs perfectly with the flavour punch of the everything & more seasoning. These homemade whole wheat cheddar cheese crackers are truly appetizer-worthy.

Whole Wheat Cheddar Cheese Crackers

  • 1 cup whole wheat flour

  • ¼ cup cold butter, unsalted, cubed

  • 2 cups Armstrong Extra Old Cheddar Cheese, shredded fine

  • 3-4 tbs cold water

  • 1 tbs wheat germ

  • ½ tsp baking powder

  • ½ tsp onion powder

  • ½ tsp garlic powder

  • ¼ tsp ground white pepper

Click here for the Everything & More Seasoning Recipe

Pulse the butter, flour, wheat germ, onion powder, garlic salt, white pepper, and baking powder together using a food processor until the mixture resembles coarse meal.

Add the cheese, and 3 to 4 tablespoons of water, 1 tablespoon at a time, and only enough so that the dough forms a ball. Remove, wrap in plastic, and chill for 30 minutes.

Working with half of the dough at a time. Roll out the dough on parchment paper to 1/8 inch thickness. Cut the crackers into desired size using a pastry cutter or sharp knife. Using a fork, prick holes in the dough. This will help the crackers stay flat when baking.

Sprinkle crackers with everything & more seasoning.   

Heat oven to 350F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats. Place crackers on prepared baking pans. Bake for 15-20 minutes until golden.

Store in an airtight container to preserve crispiness.

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Cheese
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CheeseCrackers
 

Family Fish Crackers

 
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It was so much fun collaborating with my friend Emily Mardell from GetJoyFull, and her daughter Cela, on this recipe. A special thanks to our partner, Armstrong Cheese, for providing the delicious Canadian cheddar as well.

I’ve always been a sucker for goldfish crackers, and I will hands down venture to the kid's table to enjoy some if given the opportunity. Emily and I wanted to take that same treat children love (and adults), but add some healthy ingredients like whole wheat, wheat germ and real cheese to make this a truly family friendly cracker.

These crackers are strong on flavour, contain no preservatives and are honestly super simple to come together with only handful of ingredients and some spices. I can’t wait to make these cracker for my nephews when they visit!

I hope you enjoy making them for your family as well.

Emily & Cela

Emily & Cela

Homemade Whole Wheat Cheddar Cheese Fish Crackers

  • 1 cup whole wheat flour

  • ¼ cup cold butter, unsalted, cubed

  • 2 cups Armstrong Medium, or Old Cheddar Cheese, shredded fine

  • 3-4 tbs cold water

  • 1 tbs wheat germ

  • ½ tsp baking powder

  • ½ tsp onion powder

  • ½ tsp garlic powder

  • ¼ tsp ground white pepper

Pulse the butter, flour, wheat germ, onion powder, garlic salt, white pepper, and baking powder together using a food processor until the mixture resembles coarse meal.

Add the cheese, and 3 to 4 tablespoons of water, 1 tablespoon at a time, and only enough so that the dough forms a ball. Remove, wrap in plastic, and chill for 30 minutes.

Working with half of the dough at a time. Roll out the dough on parchment paper to 1/8 inch thickness. Cut into desired animal shape. If making goldfish, use the tip of a toothpick to make the eye and press the toothpick lengthwise to make a smile.

Heat oven to 350 F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats. Place crackers on prepared baking pans. Bake for 12-15 minutes until golden.

Store in an airtight container to preserve crispiness.

Goldfish Crackers
Goldfish Crackers
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Goldfish Crackers
Goldfish Crackers
Goldfish Crackers
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Goldfish Crackers
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Goldfish Crackers
 

Grilled Cheese

 
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I’m not sure if anyone really needs a grilled cheese recipe, but a couple of flavour inspirations can go all way to revamping the slice of processed cheese. Here are a few of my favourite “adult” grilled cheese combos. Happy grilling!

Truffle Lovers

  • Smoked prosciutto

  • Truffled cheese

  • Sliced truffles

  • Truffle honey

Perfect Beer Pairing (or wine)

  • Caramelized onions

  • Sliced pears

  • Irish stout cheddar

TIP: Grill the sandwich on each side before putting in a 350°F oven for a couple of minutes. This will ensure maximum gooeyness in the centre.

GrilledCheese
GrilledCheese
GrilledCheese
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Green Pea Fritters with Chickpea Flour

 
Green Pea Fritters

It’s hard to escape the lure of these vibrant green fritters. Fluffy, and cheesy, they are quintessential spring on a plate. Made with chickpea flour for a power-packed protein and fibre boost (and gluten free). Top with fresh ricotta cheese, or a poached egg for your St. Patrick’s brunch party.

It is also the perfect recipe for those little helping hands in the kitchen. Getting children involved in the process is a fun way to always getting them interested in what they eat, including green foods.

This recipe was made possible as part of a collaboration project with Get Joyfull and Alberta Pulse Growers.

Remi's green pea fritters

Green Pea Fritters with Chickpea Flour

  • 3 cups (750 mL) frozen green peas, divided

  • 2 tbsp (30 mL) fresh parsley, chopped

  • 1 green onion, chopped

  • 3 large whole eggs

  • 1/3 cup (70 mL) ricotta cheese

  • ½ cup (125 mL) chickpea flour

  • ½ cup (125 mL) hemp hearts

  • 1 tsp (5 mL) baking powder

  • 2 tbsp (30 mL) canola oil

Steam frozen peas for 3 minutes. Drain.

Add 1 ½ cups cooked peas, onion, and parsley to food processor, and pulse until smooth.

Transfer pureed pea mixture to medium mixing bowl. Add eggs, ricotta. Stir to combine.

Add baking powder, hemp hearts, and chickpea flour. Mix until batter forms.

Gently fold in remaining steamed peas for texture, and yumminess.

Heat pan to medium, and lightly coat with oil. Add dollop of batter into pan, and cook for 2-3 minutes per side or until fritter is golden, and fluffy.

TIPS

  • Substitute with rolled oats if you don’t have hemp-hearts on-hand. 

  • Cook fritters in a cast-iron skillet for added iron, and a beautiful golden crust.

  • Garnish with extra ricotta, or a poached egg and fresh pea shoots.

 

Lilac and Spruce Tip Honey Infused Vanilla Bundt Cake

 
Lilac and Spruce Tip Honey Infused Vanilla Bundt Cake

Spring is one of my favourite seasons to forage. There’s something of the change of season and renewed life that I just love immersing myself around. Spruce tips and lilac topping the list on items I love to bake with. Last spring, I made some infused lilac sugar, as well as, some infused spruce tip honey. That is how this cake happened. I went off searching to see if such a cake recipe existed. I’m not a natural baker so pulling together a cake batter from scratch was intimidating. I ended up coming across a lavender honey cake recipe by A Pretty Life in the Suburbs’ Lavender Honey Cake, which inspired me to develop with one.

This cake it ended up being a delicate and delightful celebration of spring. One in which I can’t wait to make again this spring!  

Lilac and Spruce Tip Honey Infused Vanilla Bundt Cake

Cake Batter

  • 2 ½ cups flour

  • 1 cup lilac infused sugar

  • 2 tbs spruce tip honey

  • ¼ cup finely chopped spruce tips

  • ½ cup butter

  • ¾ cup plain yogurt

  • ¼ cup whipping cream

  • 2 eggs

  • ½ tsp vanilla

  • 4 tsp baking powder

  • ½ tsp salt

Glaze

  • 1 cup powdered sugar

  • 2 tbs finely chopped spruce tips

  • 1 tbs milk or cream

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Using a pastry brush, grease a 10-cup Bundt pan with melted butter and dust with flour. Make sure to coat every little crevasse. Tap out any excess flour.

In a large bowl, combine flour, baking powder, chopped spruce tips, and salt. In another bowl, use a hand blender (on medium speed) to beat together butter and vanilla until creamy. Add the sugar and honey and beat until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time until incorporated. Turn the blender down low and add 1/3 of the flour mixture, beat until combined, followed by the cream, another 1/3 flour, then the yogurt, and the final 1/3 of the flour mixture. Pour the batter into the pan. Tap the pan on the counter to release any air bubbles and smooth out the top.

Bake 50-60 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Let cool for 10 minutes on a wire rack. After 10 minutes, invert the cake on the rack to cool completely before icing.

To make the glaze, beat the sugar, spruce tips and milk on low speed. Add more sugar or milk to achieve your desired consistency.

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Spruce tips
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Lilac and Spruce Tip Honey Infused Vanilla Bundt Cake
Lilac and Spruce Tip Honey Infused Vanilla Bundt Cake
Lilac and Spruce Tip Honey Infused Vanilla Bundt Cake
Lilac and Spruce Tip Honey Infused Vanilla Bundt Cake
Lilac and Spruce Tip Honey Infused Vanilla Bundt Cake
Lilac and Spruce Tip Honey Infused Vanilla Bundt Cake
Lilac and Spruce Tip Honey Infused Vanilla Bundt Cake
Lilac and Spruce Tip Honey Infused Vanilla Bundt Cake
Lilac and Spruce Tip Honey Infused Vanilla Bundt Cake
Lilac and Spruce Tip Honey Infused Vanilla Bundt Cake
 

Candied Chanterelle Mushrooms

 
Candied Chanterelle Mushrooms

I’ve been wanting to do a sweet version of a mushroom for many years now. Finally buckled down to make these candied chanterelle mushrooms. So happy I did! They are sweet, earthy and just plain delicious.

My goal is to try and incorporate them into a sweet cinnamon bun recipe. I’m still working out the final version of those (they lose their candy quality when baked twice). However, they are so good on their own or a topping to a sweet treat. I’ve often seen them on top of panna cottas or cheesecakes. Really you could add these on pancakes, waffles, or even some vanilla ice cream!

I’ve also been using the syrup to sweeten my morning lattes, and want to start testing out a cocktail soon.

In the meantime, here is the recipe to get you started on a sweet mushroom adventure of your own.

Candied Chanterelles

Candied Chanterelle Mushrooms

  • 2 cups water

  • 1 cup sugar, plus another 1/2 to 1 cup

  • 1 tbs vanilla

  • 20 g dried chanterelle mushrooms (Break larger mushrooms into smaller pieces. I find the smaller ones taste better as they get more ‘candied’.)

Bring water and 1 cup sugar to a low simmer until sugar is dissolved. Add mushrooms. Continue to simmer until reduced by approximate half (~10 minutes). Add vanilla and another 1/2 to 1 cup sugar and continue to simmer. Key here is to taste the syrup, for both sugar levels and thickness. If you think the mushrooms require more sugar, add as you need. Simmer until the sugar just start to become bubbly and frothy (~ 10 minutes; total simmer time ~ 20 minutes).

Store in the refrigerator.

 

Cookbook Review & Wine Gums from Joe Beef: Surviving the Apocalypse

 
I recently received a free copy of  Joe Beef: Surviving the Apocalypse: Another Cookbook of Sorts  from    Appetite by Random House  to review.

I recently received a free copy of Joe Beef: Surviving the Apocalypse: Another Cookbook of Sorts from Appetite by Random House to review.

I didn’t think it was possible to top The Art of Living According to Joe Beef, and yet here we are. With more recipes and more off the wall ideas to make you fall madly in love all over again, Joe Beef: Surviving the Apocalypse: Another Cookbook of Sorts nails it. I mean there’s a recipe for soap!

There’s a chapter insert dedicated to the cellar and features recipes for canning and preserving. While the apocalypse is metaphorical, I’m a firm believer in knowing how to cut it on your own sans grocery store (at least for a day or two). The insert had me instantly transported back to my Grandma’s cold room filled with shelves of pickled veg and preserved fruit. Although my Grandma wasn’t making pickled pork butt or deer necks mind you. Other chapters are dedicated to over the top Sunday dinners, PBS cooking shows, Joe Beef and Liverpool House restaurants, as well as the history of Montreal and Quebec’s Christmas in July traditions.

Let’s be clear. The recipes aren’t from your conventional cookbook collection. Some recipes I find more thought provoking than a sense of wanting to run out and cook it tomorrow. While other recipes I want to make ASAP, but it’s not the most practical to attempt financially. I’m probably not going to cook horse, however, I would sell my left foot to be able to make the Gateau Renverse aux Truffes-just once. Yet, there are several I can’t wait to dig into. Chaga ghee has me super curious, and I know I would love to take a stab at making smoked apple cider vinegar for fun. I think that might be the point. Have fun.

This cookbook is so much more than a simple collection of recipes. It’s a humous reflection of our food culture, and nudge to reconnect to the kitchen, our families and things that grow in the backyard. So if you’d like some entertainment and a slap in the face to get off your phone and spend quality time with good people, good food, oh and good wine, this book is for you!

Speaking of wine. I naturally started with the Wine Gums recipe. I was having some issues with my candy molds, and opted to make the recipe into a small wine gum bundt cake. Who wouldn’t love a wine cake?? Promptly served with friends while watching hockey of course.

Wine Gums Joe Beef

Wine Gums

Excerpted from Joe Beef: Surviving the Apocalypse by Frédéric Morin, David McMillan and Meredith Erickson. Copyright © 2018 by Frédéric Morin, David McMillan and Meredith Erickson. Published by Appetite by Random House®, a division of Penguin Random House Canada Limited. Reproduced by arrangement with the Publisher. All rights reserved.

We grew up on Maynard’s wine gums (favorite flavor: cassis).

Wine gums are on our dessert list, mostly at Vin Papillon but sometimes at Joe Beef: a little plate of six to eight wine gums per table to end the meal. We have experimented with many different wines and all have worked. It seems reducing wine with sugar is fail-proof.

Vanya was once dared by a tedious wine fan to blind taste our wine gums:she nailed three out of five.

You will need: One or more silicone chocolate/jelly/ candy molds

  • 8½ sheets (17 g) leaf gelatin

  • 1 cup (250 ml) wine

  • ⅓ cup (70 g) sugar

  • ⅛ cup (25 ml) liquid pectin

  • Natural food color (optional)

1. Plunge the gelatin sheets into a large bowl of cold water and let sit for 10 minutes until softened.

2. In a small saucepan, combine ½ cup (125 ml) of the wine and the sugar. Warm until the sugar has dissolved, about 5 minutes on medium heat. Do not bring to a boil.

3. Pick up the gelatin and gently squeeze it, removing the excess water. Place the gelatin in the pan, whisking until dissolved. Remove the pan from the heat. Add the pectin and whisk some more.

4. Pour in the remaining ½ cup (125 ml) wine and stir. Transfer to a small jug or other pouring vessel.

5. Place your wine gum mold(s) on a sheet pan. Carefully pour the wine gum mixture into the individual cavities all the way to the top. Transfer to the refrigerator and chill for 6 to 8 hours.

6. When ready to serve, take a toothpick and carve around the top edges of each gum, as you would with a knife to unmold a cake, then push the individual cavity inside out to release the gum. This enables you to get that true wine gum form, perfected. Keep refrigerated in an airtight container. Best eaten fresh.

Note Tasting jokes aside, we suggest these varietals for your gum-making adventures: Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Riesling, Merlot, and Savagnin.

Wine Gums Cake Joe Beef
 

Citrus Poached Shrimp with Lemon Dill Horseradish Dipping Sauce

 
Poachedshrimp

Some of the equipment photographed in this post were provided by Paderno. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

I find this recipe super versatile. It’s a quick, no-fuss entertaining option. I’ve also whipped up a batch for a quick picnic lunch too. I like to leave their shells on. They get much more flavourful in the poaching liquid, and are super fun and hands on to dig into.

Citrus Poached Shrimp with Lemon Dill Horseradish Dipping Sauce

  • 2 pounds of shrimp (I like leaving shells on)

  • 1 oranges, sliced

  • 2 limes, sliced

  • 1 lemon, sliced

  • 1 tbs of salt

  • ½ tbs black peppercorns

  • ½ tbs white peppercorns

  • ½ tbs coriander seeds

  • 3 bay leaves

  • 4 litres of water

Bring water to a boil and add the citrus slices, salt, peppercorns and bay leaves. Let simmer for 10-15 minutes so the aromatics can infuse the water.

Prepare ice bath.

Add the shrimp to the aromatic water. Remove from heat and let stand for 3 minutes or until the shrimp are bright pink.

Using a spoon, remove the shrimp from the poaching liquid and place in the ice bath. Let cool, then drain. Serve with your favourite cocktail sauce or lemon dill horseradish dipping sauce.

Lemon Dill Horseradish Dipping Sauce

  • ½ cup mayonnaise

  • ½ sour cream

  • 2 tsp dried dill or 1 tbs fresh chopped dill

  • 1 tbs horseradish

  • 1 tbs lemon juice

  • 1 tsp garlic salt

 Mix all ingredients in a bowl. Let refrigerate for at least 30 minutes prior to serving.

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Savory Holiday Star Bread with Roasted Red Peppers, Basil Pesto, Asiago Cheese and Pistachios

 
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Festive bread to brighten the holiday table with red, white and green.

I’ve partnered with Life’s Simple Ingredients to bring you this delicious show stopping holiday bread. It is also baked with a mixture of wholesome whole wheat and all-purpose flour to keep some extra nutrition packed in.

What I love most about this recipe is that you can really be as adventurous as you want with the flavours. To make a sweet version, simply add an extra 1/2 cup of sugar to the dough mixture.

Savory Holiday Star Bread
with Roasted Red Peppers, Basil Pesto, Asiago Cheese and Pistachios

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  • 2 cups all-purpose flour

  • 1 cup whole wheat flour

  • 8g package of active dry yeast

  • ¾ cup milk, plus ¼ cup warm milk

  • 1 tsp sugar

  • 1 egg at room temperature, plus 1 egg for brushing

  • ¼ cup butter, softened

  • ½ tsp salt

  • ¼ cup basil pesto (prepared or homemade)

  • ¼ cup chopped pistachios

  • ¾ cup grated Asiago cheese

  • ½ cup pureed roasted red peppers (prepared or homemade) Note: if your puree has too much liquid, strain before using so the texture is more of a loose paste)

Heat ¼ cup milk in microwave for 15-20 seconds. Add yeast and sugar, let stand for 10 minutes. In large blow, add the flour, egg, butter, ¾ cup milk, salt and yeast mixture. Combine until a sticky ball forms. Turn onto counter and knead for 6-8 minutes, or until the dough becomes soft and elastic. Place into a large lightly oiled bowl and cover. Let rise for 1 hour until dough has doubled in size.

On a lightly floured surface, divide the dough into four equal parts. Shape into fours balls and cover for another 10-15 minutes. 

Roll one ball a time into a 10-inch circle. Place dough on parchment paper lined pizza pan or large baking sheet. Spread the red pepper paste on the dough, leaving half-an-inch space from the edge. Roll out a second ball, layer onto of the first and sprinkle with cheese and pistachios. Roll out third ball, layer with basil pesto. Roll out forth ball and place on top.

Using a cup as guide, place in the centre of the dough. Cut the dough into four equal parts, stopping at the edge of the cup. Cut each quarter section twice more so you are left with 12 slices (this will make a 6 point star, if you’d like a 8 point star, cut each quarter into four slices). Pick up two slices (one in each hand) and twist the strands outwards twice and pinch the two twists closed together. Repeat until all slices have been twisted and combined.   

Preheat oven to 400. Brush bread with beaten egg, sprinkle with salt, and bake for 20 minute, or until golden brown. Serve hot.

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Some sweet alternatives - Cinnamon Star and Hazelnut Nutella.

Cinnamon Star Bread
Hazelnut Nutella Star Bread
 

Vanilla Whisky Rice Crispy Squares with Chocolate and Whisky Caramel

 
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Some of the equipment photographed in this post were provided by Paderno. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Your childhood favourite, but fast forward to the 18 year old in you. I’m constantly trying to find ways to add whisky to my cooking. This one was a little too obvious. Sinfully delicious and sinfully easy to make! If you don’t have time to make the whisky caramel from scratch, opt for a high quality store bought caramel instead.

Vanilla Whisky Rice Crispy Squares with Chocolate and Whisky Caramel

  • 12 cups rice crispies

  • 1/2 cup butter

  • 3 tbs Canadian whisky

  • 1 tsp vanilla bean paste

  • 500g, plus 1 cup marshmallows (I like to use the large marshmallow for general melting, followed by a cup of the mini marshmallows at the end to make the squares extra gooey)

  • 4 oz melted chocolate

Whisky Caramel - Adapted from https://www.finecooking.com/recipe/dark-rum-caramel

  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar

  • 1/3 cup cold water

  • 3 tbs unsalted butter, softened

  • 3/4 cup heavy cream

  • 2 tbs Canadian whisky

  • 1/2 tsp salt

  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Melt butter in a large pot. Once the butter has melted, add 500g of marshmallows. Stir constantly until melted. Add the remaining marshmallows, quickly followed by the vanilla and whisky. Stir just until combined (you want some of the last of the marshmallows to still be a little solid). Quickly add your rice crispies. Working fast, pour the mixture into a 13 x 9 parchment lined pan. Let cool.

Drizzle with melted chocolate and whisky caramel sauce.

Whisky Caramel - Mix the sugar and 1/3 cup cold water in a large saucepan. Cook covered until boiling, swirling occasionally until the golden (5-8 minutes). Do not stir. Remove lid and swirl more frequently until the sugar becomes dark amber in colour. Reduce the heat to low and carefully whisk in the butter. Keep whisking until the bubbles settle down, then add the cream, whisking until the caramel is smooth (~2 minutes). Remove from the heat and add in the whisky, salt, and vanilla. Let cool.

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Truffle Cheese Ball

 
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I don’t think it’s possible to show up with a cheese ball at a party and it not be star of the party! You don’t even have to tell how easy it was to make. Shhhhh. This version also has a kick of healthy nutrition with some wheat germ added to the crust.

Truffle Cheese Ball with Wheat Germ

  • 340g cream cheese

  • 1 ½ cups shredded truffle cheese

  • 2 tsp white truffle oil

  • ¼ tsp salt

Coating

  • ½ cup nuts, toasted (pecans/walnuts)

  • 1 tbs wheat germ

  • 2 tsp rosemary, finely chopped

  • 1 tsp garlic salt

  • Dash of cayenne

  • Sliced almond slivers (optional)

In a medium bowl, beat the cream cheese, shredded truffle cheese and white truffle oil with a hand blended until smooth and combined. Shape into a ball and refrigerate for an hour.

To make the coating, combine toasted nuts, rosemary, garlic salt, cayenne and wheat germ in a spice grinder, or small food processor, and pulse until just combined.

Roll the ball in the coating. Decorate with sliced almonds.

Serve with your favourite crackers or veggies.

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Perishke

 
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Perishke is a Ukrainian stuffed buns with potato, cottage cheese and dill and served with a dill cream sauce. It’s my goal to make these every Christmas Eve family dinner until I perfect the technique of making the tiniest, most delicious buns ever!

Perishke

Dough

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  • 8 cups all purpose flour

  • 1 ½ cup milk, scalded

  • 4 large eggs

  • 2/3 cups warm water

  • 1/3 cup melted butter

  • 2 tablespoons sugar

  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • 2 x 8g dry active yeast

Filing

  • 5-6 potatoes

  • 375 g dry cottage cheese

  • ½ medium onion, chopped

  • 2 large eggs

  • ½ cup chopped dill

  • ¼ cup chopped green onions

  • ½ teaspoon salt

  • ½ teaspoon pepper

 Sauce

  • 2 ½ cups whipping cream

  • ½ cup chopped green onions

  • 1 cup chopped dill

  • 2 tablespoons butter

     

Dissolve 1 tablespoon sugar in 2/3 cups of warm water, sprinkle yeast over. Let stand 15 minutes to activate yeast (should foam).  In a large bowl, beat the eggs until light and fluffy. Add remaining sugar; beat to combine. Add salt, melted butter and milk.  Mix thoroughly and add the dissolved yeast mixture. Slowly add the flour one cup at a time. Mix with a spoon until it is easy to handle by hand. Turn onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth (about 5 minutes). Put dough in lightly oiled bowl. Cover with a damp cloth and let rise in a warm place for 1½ hours until dough has doubled. Punch down the dough and let rise again for 30 minutes.

While dough is rising, prepare the filing. Cut potatoes into quarters and boil until fork tender. Let cool and mash in a medium size bowl until there are no lumps. Add all remaining ingredients and mix until combined.

Pinch off a small piece of dough, roll into a ball and flatten with your hands (2 ½ inches in diameter for larger buns. Place a tablespoon of filling in the middle, not allowing the mixture to touch the edges (it will prevent the bun from sealing). Pinch to close, folding both ends together on the bottom of the seam to form a small oval bun. Place seam side down on a parchment lined baking sheet at least an inch apart. Preheat the over to 350 degrees while the buns rest. Bake for 35 minutes, brush with melted butter and let bake for another 5 minutes or until golden brown.

Let the buns cool. Arrange in a cast-iron pan or casserole dish depending on how many you would like to serve. You can freeze extra buns you aren’t serving. Make the cream the sauce by melting butter in a saucepan. Add green onions and sauté for 1 minute and add the dill. Add cream until bubbles start to form. Pour over buns and bake for another 20 minutes. Serve hot.

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Stuffing with Rose Hips and Juniper

 
Stuffing

Stuffing. My answer to ‘what is the one thanksgiving dinner meal item you would wanted to eat over and over again’. Our family love stuffing so much, that my mom will often make two different types. The traditional version of celery and onions, seasoned with sage, thyme and parsley and usually another that she’ll experiment with and which will change year-to-year. Sometimes it was cornbread stuffing to satisfy the cravings my sister would have for my grandma’s southern cornbread stuffing. I haven’t had my grandmother’s stuffing in many years now, but I feel like I can taste it even just at the thought of it.

This stuffing recipe was inspired by my foraging adventures. Hand picked junipers and rose hips. The rose hips provide a sweet citrus note that pairs perfectly with the herbs and juniper.

Stuffing with Rose Hips and Juniper

  • 1 ½ cups diced celery (3 stalks)

  • 1 onion, diced

  • ½ teaspoon juniper, crushed (5-6 berries)

  • ½ cup rose hips, seeds removed

  • ¼ cup chopped herbs (1 tablespoon each of fresh sage, parsley, thyme)

  • 3 cups day old bread cut into 1-inch pieces

  • 1 ½ cup chicken broth

  • 1 tablespoon butter

  • ½ - 1 teaspoon salt

  • ½ teaspoon pepper

Prepare rose hips. Remove the seeds of the rose hips by twisting the tops off and pulling gently. Cut or tear in half and scoop out the seeds with a spoon (grapefruit spoon is ideal). Set aside.

Preheat over to 350 degrees.

Melt butter in a large saucepan. Sauté celery and onions until translucent. Transfer mixture to a large bowl. Add rose hips, herbs, juniper, salt and pepper. Add cubes of bread and pour chicken broth over the mixture. Mix to combine. Place in a covered casserole dish. Cook for 30 minutes, or until liquid is absorbed. Remove lid and bake for an additional 10 minutes to crisp the top.

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Garden Dip

 
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Our growing season in Alberta is so short.  I savour the time we have in the summer to enjoy Mother Nature's magnificent bounty. My tiny backyard garden produces herbs galore, including basil, cilantro, oregano, thyme, dill, parsley, rosemary, sage, chives, and tarragon. Fresh herbs make such a huge difference in cooking. I love being able to just open the back door, pop into the garden and pick what I need.

Quite often I'm not actually able to keep up to the herb production. Friends and family often get 'herb bouquets' as a hosting gift. At the end of the season I'll dry trays and trays of herbs for use in the winter months. This summer, however, I wanted to add some more diversity to their use.

This dip was inspired from my desire to use more of what herbs I am able to grow.  I love its versatility too. It's great as a bread dip, drizzled over new potatoes and on salads, or even just a simple accompaniment to a vegetable platter.  

Garden Dip

  • 1 cup plain Greek yogurt 
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • roughly 1 cup chopped green onions or chives (~ 1 inch pieces, packed loose)
  • 2-3 garlic scapes or 1 garlic clove, chopped
  • 1 - 2 tbsp fresh dill
  • 1 tbsp fresh parsley (sometimes I'll add some fresh basil to mix) 
  • 1 tbsp fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp garlic salt
  • 1/2 tsp white pepper  

Place all the ingredients in a small food processor and blend until all the herbs are well incorporated. Let rest in the fridge 30 minutes before serving. 

Enjoy!

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Orange Rose Butter

 
Orange Rose

Making homemade orange rose butter has become one of my favourite spring baking traditions. These fragrant first signs spring definitely recharges my foraging winter blues. The delegate petals of the wild rose pair oh so beautifully with citrus notes of orange. The perfect way to welcome a change of season. 

This butter is best paired over a freshly toasted piece of bread, drizzled with just the perfect amount of honey. 

Orange Rose Butter

  • 500 ml whipping cream
  • petals from ~ 15 wild roses
  • zest of one orange
  • pinch of salt

Place the whipping cream in a food processor and blend until the butter solids separate from the milk (forming buttermilk). Strain the butter out using a fine mesh sieve. Using a spatula or cheese cloth, squeeze as much of the liquid from the butter as possible. 

Mix in salt, orange zest and rose petals. Store in the fridge.

Don't throw out the buttermilk! You can use this in other recipes.  

Rose Butter
Orange rose butter
Orange rose butter
Orange rose butter
 

Cookbook Review & Salmon Gravlax from The Wickaninnish Cookbook: Rustic Elegance on Nature’s Edge

 
I was invited by  Penguin Random House Canada  to review the recently released  The Wickaninnish Cookbook: Rustic Elegance on Nature’s Edge.  So they sent me a free review copy—but even better, they want to send one to you as well! I’ll be running an Instagram contest where one of my lucky followers could win a copy of this beautiful book. Be sure to check out my  Mushroomsandthyme  feed for details on how to enter. (Note: open only to entries with a Canadian mailing address. Contest closes July 1, 2018).

I was invited by Penguin Random House Canada to review the recently released The Wickaninnish Cookbook: Rustic Elegance on Nature’s Edge. So they sent me a free review copy—but even better, they want to send one to you as well! I’ll be running an Instagram contest where one of my lucky followers could win a copy of this beautiful book. Be sure to check out my Mushroomsandthyme feed for details on how to enter. (Note: open only to entries with a Canadian mailing address. Contest closes July 1, 2018).

The moment you lay eyes on The Wickaninnish Cookbook: Rustic Elegance on Nature’s Edge you are instantly transported to the ocean and the welcoming embrace it imparts on your soul. It’s the first cookbook that made me stop dead in my tracks from rushing to open the book and flip through the recipes and photos in a mad frenzy. The texture of the front cover draws me in instantly. I’m running my hands over the front, my mind even more curious as to what I’ll find inside.  

From reading the charming introduction and history of the Wickaninnish Inn you understand the connection of the cover. The wood grain that graces the cover is embossed to replicate the texture of the hand-adzed cedar posts and beams of the Inn, hand carved by master carver Henry Nolla using traditional First nations tools.

The recipes are compiled from many of the chefs who have led The Point restaurant since 1996. From Chef Justin Labossiere’s Dungeness crab and mascarpone ravioli in saffron pasta, to Chef Matt Wilson’s Tuff Session Sourdough Bread and Chef Rod Butters’ shellfish potlatch. All recipes that you can now make in your home kitchen!

It’s this attention to detail and thoughtfulness to weave the history of the restaurant, the Inn, and the tiny surf town of Tofino, B.C. on the west coast of Vancouver Island, throughout the book that makes it so remarkable. The beautiful photography of Makito Inomata that flows alongside the recipes takes the book to a whole other level.

The cookbook also includes several cocktails that I’m dying to try as well—‘cedar-infused rye whisky’, ‘foraging through the woods’,  ‘huckleberry liqueur’ spark instantly intrigued me. Not to mention, the last chapter of the cookbook, the Pantry, is a hidden gem. The Pantry details the vinegars, oils and preserves that are needed in some of the recipes. Leek oil, dill oil, strawberry jam, apple butter and cured egg yolks to name a few. For those that love to experiment in the kitchen, these pantry items are sure to inspire beyond the recipe they are called for. 

Admittedly, I have yet to visit Tofino. It’s been on my wish list of places to see within Canada. After reading this cookbook, it’s definitely jumped up several spots on that list!

Recipes that have left me inspired to recreate, include:

  • Sunflower seed cheese

  • Mini beef tartare burgers

  • Mushroom tortellini

  • Root vegetable torte

  • BBQ beach oysters

At the top of the ‘I MUST TRY THIS!’ list was the salmon gravlax recipe, which is detailed below. I’ve never made gravlax before, but have been curious about it for a long time. You’ll find me eating smoked salmon almost every Saturday breakfast, served over grilled sourdough, an over easy egg and all the fixings—a little treat to kick start the weekend. For some reason I had it in my mind that gravlax would be difficult to tackle or turn out successfully. I always talked myself out of making it. However, it was surprising easy, and with a little planning ahead of time, really easy to make for a brunch gathering. Completely in love it the results.

Salmon Gravlax

Wickaninnish Salmon Gravlax

Picture British Columbia’s west coast and thoughts of salmon won’t be far behind. Executive Chef Barr’s recipe for a simple but flavourful gravlax makes the most of the bountiful and sustainable wild fish. Perfect for canapés or as part of a seafood charcuterie platter, this is one party dish you will make again and again.

  • 1 cup (145 g) salt

  • 1 cup (200 g) sugar

  • Finely grated zest of 1 orange

  • Finely grated zest of ½ grapefruit

  • Finely grated zest of 1 lemon

  • Finely grated zest of 1 lime

  • 1 Tbsp (5 g) toasted fennel seeds, crushed

  • 2 sprigs dill, leaves only, chopped

  • 1 side fresh coho or sockeye salmon

In a small non-reactive bowl, combine all the ingredients, except the salmon, and mix well. This is the cure.

Remove the pin bones from the salmon. Rub the cure onto both sides of the salmon, making sure the flesh is completely covered. (You may not use all of the cure mixture.) Wrap the salmon tightly in plastic wrap and store on a tray in the fridge for 6 to 8 hours.

Rinse off the cure, then put the salmon back on the tray and leave it uncovered in the fridge to air-dry overnight.

Slice the salmon thinly, being sure to leave the skin behind. Serve with crackers, bread, cream cheese, capers, red onions, and pickles.

Excerpted from The Wickaninnish Cookbook: Rustic Elegance on Nature’s Edge by Joanne Sasvari. Copyright © 2018 Wickaninnish Inn. Photography © Makito Inomata. Published by Appetite by Random House®, a division of Penguin Random House Canada Limited. Reproduced by arrangement with the Publisher. All rights reserved.

Salmon Gravlax
Salmon Gravlax
Salmon Gravlax
Salmon Gravlax
Salmon Gravlax
 

Grandma's Fudge Brownies

 
Fudge Brownies

For the last couple of years I've been tackling a series of my Grandma's handwritten recipes and photographing the results to include in a family cookbook. It's been both fun and challenging. See my Grandma had a sweet tooth, I do not. So I've been putting off making lots of the desserts. It's also challenging in the sense that I constantly think I'm not making the recipes correct, often wishing she was still here to ask for advice or tips to ensure they'll turn out just right.  

That feeling of uneasiness was here as I made these fudge brownies for the first time (yes first). Something felt incorrect as I was mixing them. The ratio of butter and sugar to flour felt off. But I stuck to the recipe. Trusted it will turn out, if not, telling myself I could always make another batch. To my delight, they turned out on the first go! Super chewy, not too heavy on the chocolate side, and a little crunch from the nuts. 

I think the sweets might even be growing on me now. 

Grandma's Fudge Brownies

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 x 1oz unsweeted bakers chocolate, melted
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 325°. Beat together butter, sugar, melted chocolate and vanilla. Add eggs and beat until mixed. Stir in flour. Fold in walnuts. Bake in a greased 8x8 inch pan for 35 min.

Optional, but likely a must for those who love a bit of chocolate drama, I melted an ounce of dark baking chocolate and drizzled on top before serving.

Fudge Brownies
Fudge Brownies
Fudge Brownies
Brownies
Brownies
Brownies
Brownies
 

Chocolate Hazelnut Energy Balls with Lion’s Mane and Chaga Mushrooms

 
Chocolate Hazelnut Energy Balls

The incredible health benefits of edible mushrooms
Fungus has a long history of use in traditional Chinese medicine. Lion’s mane mushroom is best known for their benefits of improved cognitive health and reduced inflammation. It’s great for supporting short-term and visual recognition memory.  Chaga is known for boosting the immune system, being a potent antioxidant, and lowering cholesterol. It contains melanin, which helps fights radiation and tumors. Chaga is also good at helping the body adapt and respond to stress.

Chocolate Hazelnut Energy Balls

Chocolate Hazelnut Energy Balls with Lion’s Mane and Chaga Mushrooms
Makes 20-24

1 cup hazelnut meal (ground fresh hazelnuts or purchase as a meal)
1 ½ cup medjool date, pits removed
1/3 cup cocoa powder
½ cup shredded coconut flakes
4 tbs coconut oil, melted
3 tbs protein powder
2 tbs powdered lion’s mane mushroom
1 tbs powdered chaga mushroom
1 tsp vanilla
½ tsp salt

Powdered mushrooms
I find the best way to get powdered mushrooms is to purchase them in their dehydrated state and pulse into a powder using a spice grinder. You can usually find dehydrated lion’s mane and chaga mushrooms at your local Asian supermarket.

Combine all ingredients in a food processor and pulse until the batter comes together and sticks. If you find the batter is still loose, add a tablespoon of water and pulse. Form the batter into small balls. If you wanted to be extra fancy, you could coat the energy balls in some melted chocolate and sprinkle with some fun toppings. I like to use bee pollen, pistachios, wild rose petals, coconut flakes, or some falvoured salt like raspberry.

Chocolate Hazelnut Energy Balls
Chocolate Hazelnut Energy Balls
Chocolate Hazelnut Energy Balls