Monday, November 21, 2011

A Thanksgiving Mosaic from Pasplore

Good Morning!

I just wanted to take a moment to let you all know that my dessert recipes have been featured in a very cool Thanksgiving mosaic on Pasplore. Check it out!

While I have you here... I don't know if it's the rain or what, but I am craving soup like crazy! These recipes have been on my mind, and one will be made later this week for sure.

 - Baked Potato Soup  from Smitten Kitchen. One of my favorite soups of all time.

 - Crockpot French Onion Soup from How Sweet It Is.

 - Red Lentil Soup from 101 Cookbooks.

You should make soup too. And probably bring me some.

Happy Monday!



Thursday, November 17, 2011

Butternut Squash Lasagna with Sage and Caramelized Onions and The Best Brunch in Vancouver

I am going to warn you now, this is this longest post ever. I guess I have a lot of important things to say.


I did lots of fun stuff this past long weekend: A Concert! Dinner out! Drinks with friends! Tons of movie-watching, nacho-eating and Malbec-drinking in my PJ’s! And brunch at my favoritest brunch spot ever!

The Twisted Fork in downtown Vancouver.


Every time I go here I leave extremely full and extremely happy. The Menu is interesting but not too fancy schmancy. Just really good food. And the staff is awesome.


And the coffee. Ooooh the coffee.


My pick was eggs benny. Perfectly poached eggs with smoked salmon and roasted tomatoes on (the most freaking amazing) brioche bread with hollandaise sauce.

Banana stuffed brioche French toast for Henry. Yum!


Brie and bacon fritatta.


And another benny with bacon. Mmm. 


If you go here, and you must, check out the wall of canned goods in the back. I love this feature, yet somehow I always forget to get a picture of it.

Do you like fizzy raspberry champagne cocktails? You should get one of those too.

What else did I do this weekend? Besides lying around in my pajamas and procrastinating for an entire day? I cooked, of course!

This was pretty much the most delicious thing I have ever made. Except maybe for the Butternut Squash Macaroni and Cheese I made last year. It is easily my favorite recipe I have posted so far. It is a bit of a project to make but Oh. Em. Gee.  Is it ever worth it!

Are you kids ready for a story? Okay, good. When I set out to make this recipe I realized I was out of mozzarella. So, I sent my dear boyfriend to the store with a simple list: mozzarella cheese and bread. Simple enough, right?


Can you guess what he came home with? Bread - good so far. Fresh mozzarella cheese - not quite, but close. A giant bag of chips - straying a bit. An EIGHTEEN PACK OF CHOCOLATE BARS!!!! Not even close. Oh Henry, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, Cookies N’ Cream, Hershey’s bars... No, no, no, no.

Oh, Henry.

People, I don’t DO those cheap-waxy-sugar-filled candy bars. I am more of a smooth-creamy-dark-chocolate-truffles kind of girl. And I definitely don’t do eighteen packs of ANY chocolate bar. We even had a deal not to buy any mini Halloween chocolates this year. I guess I should have specified that mega sized ones were also a no-no?  I don’t know what came over him; some of them were flavours even HE doesn’t like. Apparently they were “a really good deal”. Mhmm... That many calories are NEVER a good deal.

All I knew was… that candy was not sticking around long enough to end up on my hips. Anything that results in me having to buy new jeans is certainly not a bargain. So back to the store they went. I didn’t even have to ask. I think he could tell how much the purchase upset me, because he scurried away before all hell broke loose. As for the chips: the deal was they could stay, as long as we didn’t open them until we had guests over, so we didn’t eat the whole thing alone.


I am eating them as we speak.  I have no will power. None at all. Which is exactly why having 18 jumbo chocolate bars in the house is a bad idea.

But back to the cheese. “Fresh mozzarella”, at least in stores here, is the soft, un-aged type and not suitable for grating. Not what I would generally put in Lasagna. But I improvised and chopped it up into pea sized pieces and incorporated it into the ricotta cheese mixture, as I would have done with the grated cheese and… it was good! The bits of soft cheese half-melted and were almost like cheese curds. All was forgiven. 

At least when it came to the cheese… I’m still getting over the chocolate bar debacle.

Butternut Squash Lasagna with Sage and Caramelized Onions

Adapted from Martha Stewart

Every time I try to type the name of this recipe, I end up typing “Butternut Squashed Lasagna”. I thought it was important that you know this. 

Moving on.

The caramelized onions are, in my opinion, the key to this recipe. They add a sweetness and texture which really pumps this lasagna up a level. Henry concurred, by grunting, as he wolfed down a second piece. This is how you get a meat-loving boyfriend to love a meat-free dinner. Squash. And Cheese. And please please don’t leave out the caramelized onions. One more thing. I know this recipe looks intimidating, but it is really not that bad. I just like to cover every little step. Don't be scared. It does take a little longer than your average pasta recipe, but the end result is so worth it.


2 Pounds butternut squash (2 small squashes)
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
Salt and pepper
2 Tablespoons butter
2 Onions
Handful of fresh sage leaves
1 500 gram Container ricotta cheese (or 1 pound)
1/2 cup mascarpone cheese
1 egg
1 ½ Cups mozerella cheese, grated (or fresh mozzarella, diced, see above)
Pinch nutmeg
Pinch salt
1 Cup vegetable stock
1 Box whole wheat lasagna noodles
2 Cups finely grated parmesan cheese

1. To roast the squash, you will first need to peel, deseed, and dice it into 1 inch chunks. Transfer to a rimmed baking sheet, drizzle the squash with olive oil and a sprinkle of salt, and bake in a 400 degree oven for about 30 minutes. Alernatively, you could just cut the squash in half, deseed it, rub with oil and salt, and bake this way, then scoop the flesh out when it is cooked. This method may require more baking time, but leaves out the chopping step which can be time consuming (not to mention dangerous). I think I will give this a try next time.

When the squash is tender when pierced with a fork, set it aside to cool. I actually did this step the day before, which made assembling the lasagna a bit easier.

2. Get those onions caramelized! Slice 2 medium white onions in half from root to tip. Then thinly slice into half moons. Also chop up the sage leaves. Melt the butter in a sauce pan over medium heat. I like to add a touch of olive oil as well, to keep the butter from browning. When the butter begins to foam, add the sage. Let this sizzle for a bit, when the sage begins to brown you can reduce the heat and add the onions to the pan.

To get nicely caramelized onions you will need to keep the heat low, and let them cook slow. This will take sometime, about 15-20 minutes? Stir the onions occasionally to help them cook evenly. I also like to add a teaspoon of brown sugar about halfway through the cooking process, it just encourages that sweet caramely flavour.

3. In a large bowl, mash up the squash with the back of a large spoon or a potato masher. Combine with the stock. It is up to you how chunky/ smooth you would like the mixture. You can leave it as is, or puree part of it with an immersion blender like I did. Gently stir in the sage and caramelized onions.

4. In a medium bowl, combine the ricotta, mascarpone, mozerella cheese, egg, salt, and a little pinch of nutmeg.

5. Cook the lasagna noodles according to the package directions. Preheat an oven to 425 degrees F.

If you are like me, and chose an inconveniently sized dish because it is prettier than the one the recipe requires, you will also need to trim your lasagna noodles to fit a square 9X9 dish. Otherwise you can just use a regular 9X13 casserole dish.

6. Begin assembling the lasagna by spreading 1/3 a cup of the squash mixture on the bottom of your dish. Top with a layer of noodles. Spread 1 cup of the ricotta mixture over noodles, followed by another layer of noodles, and half of the remaining squash mixture. Repeat once more, finishing with a layer of noodles. Top with a generous pile of freshly grated parmesan. I used two cups for my dish, but feel free to use more if you are using a larger dish.

7. Bake for 30 - 40 minutes, until cheese is bubbling and golden. Allow to rest for a few minutes before serving.

Bonus! The fact that I chose to use an unusal sized dish for this recipe left me with a bit leftover of both the squash and cheese mixtures. I combined these with some leftover cooked penne and split between two individual portion casserole dishes. I topped them with more parmesan, covered and labelled them, and put them in the freezer. Now one day when I don't have time to cook, I can simply come home, turn on the oven, and pop them in. Hooray for thinking ahead!

Enjoy the rest of your week everyone! I will be busy drinking Baileys hot chocolate and studying. Probably not at the same time.

Okay, yeah. Probably at the same time.



Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Sunday Dinner: Honey Dijon Glazed Pork Tenderloin and Roasted Potatoes with Squash and Apples

This is a great no fuss dinner to enjoy with friends or family this fall. You can throw dinner in the oven, sit back, talk, enjoy a few ciders or some pumpkin ale, play with the cutest baby ever… Then dish it all up and let everyone dig in!

Everything came out of the oven at the same time, looking golden and crispy, and smelling divine. We steamed some broccoli to go along with it all, and it was a wonderful and easy dinner. Especially with two cooks in the kitchen (Hi Cheryl!). I loved the combination of roasted apples and squash, which I think would be stellar with a roast chicken as well. And the tender, moist pork tenderloin has converted many a non-pork fan (including myself). I will deffinitely be making this again. 

When you’ve licked every last drop of the golden honey dijon sauce from your plate… pour everyone a steaming cup of hot cocoa, move to the sofa, and curl up with a cozy blanket and a good movie.

I can’t think of a better way to pass a cold autumn night.

The dishes can wait.

Honey Dijon Glazed Pork Tenderloin
Feel free to substitute the preserves for whatever fruit preserves or jam you have on hand. I used some fabulous peach preserves we picked up in the Okanagan last summer, I think marmalade would be great too. And to be honest, I adjusted the flavouring of the marinade to taste, adding a little more honey here, a little mustard there. We prefer it sweeter as we aren’t huge fans of mustard. Use these proportions as a guideline and modify as your tongue dictates. That’s what its all about.

2  Pork tenderloins (about 3 pounds)
1/2 Cup liquid honey
1/2 Cup peach preserves
¼ Cup Dijon mustard
2 Tsp. Apple cider vinegar

1. Combine the honey, preserves, mustard, and vinegar in a bowl and whisk well. Set the pork tenderloins in a dish or tupperware container and pour 2/3 of the marinade over top, saving the remaining sauce for later.
2.  Marinate the pork in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour . I am sure you could prep this the day before and let it marinate overnight as well.
3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a pan with foil, lightly grease the foil so that the pork doesn’t stick. Place both tenderloins side by side on the pan and roast for 40 – 50 minutes. You can check for doneness with a meat thermometer, or just cut into it to check that it is not pink in the center.  Pork Is done when it has reached an internal temperature of 145 °F.
4. Allow the pork to rest for 10 minutes before slicing. Just before serving, warm the remaining marinade in a small pan or in the microwave for a few seconds. Drizzle over top of sliced pork.

Roasted Potatoes with Apples, Squash, and Thyme
I used pearl onions in this dish because I had them left over from another recipe. They got all nice and caramelized and were lovely, but they are a bit of work. Next time I make this, I will simply chop up a red onion and roast it along with everything else.

½ bag pearl onion, blanched and peeled OR substitute 1 red onion,  chopped
About 2 pounds red new potatoes, quartered
3 Apples (I used gala), cubed
½  Butternut squash (or squash of your choosing), peeled, seeds removed, and cubed
4-6 cloves garlic, peeled
Extra virgin olive oil
A few sprigs of fresh thyme
Salt and pepper to taste
1. If you are using the pearl onions: Bring a pot of water to a rapid boil, add the onions to the pot (skins on) and continue to boil for about 3 minutes. Drain the water off and immediately cover the onions with very cold water. At this point you should be able to pinch an onion at the root and have it easily slip out of the skin, continue until all the mushrooms are peeled.
2. Chop up the potatoes, squash, and apples into similarly sized cubes. Combine everything on a baking sheet (or split across 2 sheets, as we did). Add the onions and whole garlic cloves to each pan. Drizzle everything with a generous amount of olive oil. Sprinkle with freshly ground pepper and some course sea salt,  then toss everything around on the pan to coat it well. Tuck a few sprigs of thyme in and around the vegetables.
3. Roast the vegetables right alongside the pork tenderloin, at 350 degrees for 40 – 50 minutes. Turning once about half way through.
Oh, and be sure to pick out any thyme twigs before serving. Or your guests will accuse you of trying to feed them twigs like mine did.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Just Desserts: Sweet Treats For Your Thanksgiving Table

We were a couple of very lucky ducks this Thanksgiving. We scored ourselves invites to not one, but TWO Thanksgiving feasts. Thanks to our wonderful groups of friends for stuffing us full of delicious food – Turkey, ham, 22 pounds ridiculously good of prime rib, the best stuffing ever and yummy candied yams (need that recipe!).

As much as I enjoy savory cooking, I loved that everyone else took care of the meal and I got to focus my whole heart and soul on these desserts. A lot of love went into these cakes and pies guys. I hope that you are inspired to create something equally delicious for your friends and family this holiday season. Enjoy!

Chocolate Bundt Cake with Cappucino Glaze

Chocolate Bundt Cake
Recipe from via Sweetapolita

1 Cup  butter
1/2 Cup high quality Dutch process cocoa
¾ Cup espresso (Or 1 Tbsp. instant espresso powder dissolved into 3/4 cup water)
2 Cups granulated sugar
1 Cup sour cream
1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
2 Large eggs, lightly beaten
2 Cups all-purpose flour
1 Teaspoon baking soda
1/2 Teaspoon salt

1. Preheat oven to 350° F. Butter and flour a 10-12 cup bundt pan or Kugelhopf pan.
2. Melt butter in a large bowl  (I used the bowl of my stand mixer) set atop a pot of simmering water. Add cocoa and stir until smooth. Whisk in the espresso and remove from heat.
3. Add sugar, sour cream, vanilla, and eggs to the cocoa mixture, mix to combine. Whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt. Add to the first mixture and mix until well blended.
4. Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake for 40-45 minutes, or until it feels firm to the touch and has slightly pulled away from the sides of the pan. Cool in pan on a rack for 20 minutes. Carefully loosen the cake with a knife and invert onto a large plate.

Cappucino Glaze
2 Tablespoons espresso or strong coffee
1/2  Teaspoon vanilla extract
2-3 Tablespoons heavy Cream or half-and-half
1 Cup powdered sugar

Gradually add the espresso and vanilla to the powdered sugar while whisking constantly, making sure to get any lumps out. Add the cream a bit at a time until you have the consistency you like, I did not use all the cream. It should be thin enough to drizzle, but thick enough so that it does not all drip off the cake (test on a saucer before the cake). If it is too thin, add extra powdered sugar 1 tablespoon at a time.
Once the cake has fully cooled, use a large spoon to drizzle on the glaze. Don’t be too picky here, it won’t be perfect but it will be lovely no matter what. Allow the glaze to set before digging in.

The Pioneer Woman's Pumpkin Cream Pie
Adapted from The Pioneer Woman
I am not a huge fan of the traditional pumpkin pie. I like the flavours but after a huge meal I don’t usually want something so dense and heavy. This pumpkin cream pie made with jello pudding is light and creamy, and oh so yummy. This came together the quickest and received the most praise of all the desserts. Thanks Ree!

Graham Cracker Crust
1-½ Cups finely ground graham cracker crumbs (buy them already crushed or make your own from about 15 graham cracker sheets)
½ Cup powdered sugar
1 Stick butter, melted

1. If your graham crackers are not already in crumb form, crush them either in a food processor, or by putting them in a big ziplock bag and pounding on them with a rolling pin (or get your big strong boyfriend to pound on them with a rolling pin).
2. Combine graham cracker crumbs, powdered sugar, and melted butter. Press into the bottom and up the sides of a 9 Inch pie dish. You have got to get in there with your fingers for this, there is no clean way (but its better than being the person with their hand up a Turkey!).
3. Bake the crust for 8-10 minutes or until it has set. Set aside to cool.

Pumpkin Cream Filling
1 Box vanilla pudding (cook and serve variety)
1 Cup half-and-half
½ Cup heavy/ whipping cream (33% - 36% MF)
1 Teaspoon vanilla extract
1 Teaspoon pumpkin pie spice (I am pretty sure I added more than this, but I failed to measure)
OR combine Cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and clove to make your own
¾  Cup pumpkin puree
½ Cup (additional) heavy/ whipping cream
2 Tablespoons brown sugar

1. Preheat oven to  350.
2. In a saucepan over medium heat, combine pudding mix with heavy cream, half-and-half, and pie spice. Bring to a boil, while stirring often, until mixture is bubbly and thick.
3. Remove pot from heat. Whisk in vanilla and pumpkin puree. Make sure it is well incorporated. Cover and set aside to cool. After a few minutes, transfer to refrigerator to cool completely (at least 30 mins).
4. Combine ½ cup whipping cream with the brown sugar, beat until light and fluffy (either in the bowl of your stand mixer or with a large bowl and electric beaters). Fold into cooled pumpkin mixture until just combined. Pour into cooled crust. Refrigerate for a couple of hours or overnight.

Top each slice with more whipped cream if you are feeling really indulgent.

Apple Spice Bundt Cake with Maple Walnut Glaze

Apple Spice Bundt Cake
adapted from Martha Stewart

2 ½ Cups all-purpose flour
2 Teaspoons baking powder
½ Teaspoon baking soda
1 Teaspoon salt
1 Tablespoon cinnamon
1 Teaspoon nutmeg
1 Teaspoon ground cloves
1 Cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1 ½ Cups brown sugar, packed
4 large eggs
1 Teaspoon vanilla extract
6 tart, green apples, peeled and sliced thinly

1. Preheat the oven to 350. Butter a 9 inch bundt pan and lightly dust with flour.
2. In a mixing bowl whisk together the flour, baking soda,  baking powder, salt and spices
3. In a mixer fitted with  a paddle attachment cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. With the mixer on low, beat in the eggs one at a time. Then add the vanilla and mix again.
4. With the mixer on low, gradually add the flour mixture. Do not over mix.  Gently fold in the apples.
5. Pour the batter into the prepared Bundt pan. Bake for about 1 Hour. It is done when a cake tester inserted comes out almost clean, some bits of apple may stick to it and make you think it is not cooked. Don’t be fooled.  Let the cake cool in the pan for 20 minutes. Run a knife around the edges of the pan to loosen the cake, then place a plate on top of the pan and invert the cake onto it to cool completely.

Maple Glaze
2 Tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1 Cup powdered sugar, sifted
¼  Cup maple syrup
1 Teaspoon maple extract (optional, it just inhances the maple flavour)
½ Cup crushed, toasted walnuts.
Wisk  all ingredients, except the walnuts,  together in a small bowl. Add more icing sugar or maple syrup if needed, to get the consistency you want. It should be thin enough to be easily drizzled over the cake, but not so thin that it all drips off and pools at the bottom.
When the cake is almost cool, drizzle with the glaze and sprinkle the walnuts over top. Cool completely before serving. This cake stays nice and moist for a day or two after it is baked and is easy to transport.
Note: I added the walnuts to my glaze before icing the cake, I do not reccommend this. It made the glaze very difficult to drizzle on the cake, and does not look nearly as pretty as I thought it would. But man, did it taste good.

Chocolate Pecan Pie
I don’t know the original source of this recipe. I have had a crumpled, stained piece of paper floating around my recipe box for a few years and I think it is a recipe that was dictated over the phone to me by my Mom. It is a pretty standard Chocolate Pecan Pie Recipe and is always a huge hit.

Basic Pie Crust
1 Cup all purpose flour
½  Teaspoon Salt
1 Teaspoon Sugar
½  Cup cold, unsalted butter, cut into cubes
4-6 Tablespoons  very cold water

1. Whisk together the flour, salt, and sugar. Cut in the butter with a pastry cutter or 2 butter knives. The mixture will be crumbly, pea sized clumps of butter should start to form.
2. Add in the water 1 tablespoon at a time, until the mixture begins to stick together. Shape the dough into a ball, wrap in plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator to chill, leave it here for at least an hour or overnight.
4. Roll out your pie dough onto a lightly floured surface – It does not have to be a perfect circle as you are going to trim the edges, but it should be a 10-12 Inch circular shape. Use your rolling pin to transfer the dough to a 9 Inch pie dish by rolling it loosly ON to the rolling pin, and then rolling it out on the pie dish (pictures of this technique here.) Trim any overhanging dough and crimp or fold as you please.

4 Oz. dark chocolate, chopped
2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
½ Cup packed dark brown sugar
3 Large eggs, beaten
¼ Teaspoon Salt
¾ Cup light  corn syrup
1 ½ Cups toasted pecan halves

1. Preheat an oven th 325. Combine Chocolate and butter in a saucepan over low heat, stir constantly until smooth. Set aside to cool.
2. Whisk together the Brown sugar, eggs and salt in a large bowl (or the bowl of your mixer). Add in the corn syrup and chocolate/butter mixture, mix well to combine.
3. Sprinkle your lovely toasted pecans over the prepared pie crust. Pour the chocolate filling over the pecans. Bake uncovered for about 1 Hour, until the crust is golden and filling has puffed up. Set on pie rack to cook completely.
This can also be made a day ahead of time, but do store it in the fridge overnight, and be sure to remove well before dinner, as it should be enjoyed at room temperature. Top it with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.

Apologies to my Canadian friends for not having this up in time for our Thanksgiving, but I know there are many holiday parties to come for which a simply delicious pie or bundt will be needed. And for readers in the U.S., it would seem my timing is perfect. Try something new out for your Thanksgiving desesrt this year, and let me know how it goes.

P.S. The detectives out there will realize there was a 4th Cake. You can see the edge of it snuck into the first picture up top. It was the chocolate bundt cake with chocolate cinnamon glaze (a la Sweetapolita). I was attempting to move it onto its very pretty cake plate when ..... I broke it.

In half.

 It looked a hot mess and I was devestated.

I cried.

And then I ate it.

 It was delicious.

The end.