Meeting Margaret Atwood + Oatmeal, Cranberry & White Chocolate Cookies

I have always wanted to meet Margaret Atwood.  Yesterday, my wonderful fiancé Jonathan made that possible!  He took me to her lecture at the University of Waterloo and I was in awe of how accomplished, well spoken, and wonderful she is in person.

When Jonathan and I first started to become close friends he was living in Toronto’s Annex neighbourhood.  I always joked with him how maybe walking down the street we might meet her (Ms. Atwood lives in the Annex).  In fact, “The Year of the Flood” was the first book that I lent to Jonathan.  He took great care of the book and returned it to me in perfect condition – so I knew he was a keeper.

Ms. Atwood gave her lecture yesterday as part of the 2012 Congress of the Humanities & Social Sciences, one of North America’s largest academic gatherings.  She outlined her history as an author starting out, but then moved forward to discuss how narrative is an innate human quality.  Then she explained how powerful narrative can be, and how in the digital age more people are self-publishing and writing.  Narrative of course can be political – the stories we tell our children and ourselves about power, empathy and justice have an impact.  Ms. Atwood truly is an advocate for a just society with transparent government – a society that cares about its fellow citizens.  The ability to think beyond ourselves – that is our strength as human beings.  Margaret Atwood is a phenomenal woman, who actively voices her opinions and works towards a better society.  For these reasons I admire her greatly.

When it came to looking for a recipe – I wanted to make something that was elegant, complex and delicious – just like Margaret Atwood’s writing.  The result was oatmeal, cranberry, white chocolate cookies. There are many variations on oatmeal cookies, but these are truly a winner.  These cookies would also be wonderful with the Margaret Atwood blend coffee from Balzac’s.  Enjoy!


Oatmeal, Cranberry, White Chocolate Cookies

Ingredients:
1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups Old Fashioned Rolled Oats
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
3/4 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed light-brown sugar
2 large eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup dried cranberries

1 cup white chocolate chips

Instructions:
1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2.  In a mixing bowl, whisk together flour, rolled oats, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon, set aside.

3.  In the bowl of an electric mixer, whip together butter, granulated sugar and brown sugar until light and fluffy about 3-4 minutes.

4.  Stir in eggs one at a time and vanilla extract.

5.  Add in flour mixture and mix until incorporated.

6.  Add in dried cranberries, white chocolate chips.

7.  Roll cookie dough into balls, about 2 tbsp per ball, and drop onto buttered cookie sheets.

8.  Bake 9 – 10 minutes until lightly golden.

9.  Cool several minutes on cookie sheet before transferring to a wire rack to cool.  Store cookies in an airtight container.

10.  Enjoy!

Mom’s Light as Air Waffles

Waffles for brunch is one of my Mom’s specialties.  It is a great treat for the whole family to sit down together and enjoy her light-as-air waffles.  These waffles are great because you can have three and not feel bad.  For this brunch Sarah made the bacon and eggs, I made the waffles and Mom made the fruit tray and everything else that made brunch come together smoothly.  Brunch is about the details: fresh fruit, a dollop of whipping cream, Canadian maple syrup, crisp bacon on the side and of course the secret ingredient – love!

My Mom has instilled a love for kitchen gadgets and cooking in me.  So I hope to start my own collection of kitchen gadgets soon.  Jonathan and I love having friends and family around, so I’m sure we will be extending lots of invitations for brunch once we are married and have our own home.  I’m sure our future kitchen will have a waffle maker and many kitchen gadgets.  When I have my own kitchen someday, I won’t be able to resist going into Aurora’s Kitchen Accents store and buying many of my Mom’s tested, tried and true kitchen gadgets.

Ingredients

2 egg yolks

2 cups of milk

2 cups of all-purpose flour

1 tsp baking powder

½ tsp salt

1/3 cup canola oil

2 egg whites

Instructions

  1. Mix together flour, baking powder and salt in a large bowl.
  2. Beat egg whites with an electric mixer until stiff peaks form.
  3. Add egg yolks, milk and canola oil to the try ingredients and combine until moist.
  4. Fold in egg whites with a spatula.
  5. Get out your waffle maker and cook for approximately two minutes or according to your waffle maker instructions.
  6. Serve with fresh fruit, maple syrup, a dollop of whipping cream and a touch of icing sugar for garnish.
  7. Enjoy!

Cake Pops, Dahlias and Chicken Parmesan

This week I went with Laura to have our bridesmaids dresses fitted.  There has been so much going on, including the planning of the bachelorette party in Toronto.  One of Laura’s oldest and dearest friends had a wonderful bridal shower for Laura this weekend.  There were plenty of games, little sandwiches with the crusts cut off, and a huge cake.  Everything was just beautiful.  My favourite activity was one where everyone wrote down “Advice from the Heart.”  Sometimes the advice was practical and sometimes rather humorous, but it was definitely from the heart.  Laura enjoyed getting advice from her wonderful friends and family.  I would love to have this activity at a bridal shower next year.

My Mom has been working diligently at planning out colours and different flowers for the garden this summer.  Beautiful pink dahlias were Mom’s final decision.  She has never grown them before – but so far the plants love the sun in our backyard.  I couldn’t resist sharing pictures of these vibrant blooms.  In the side garden the lupins are in bloom with their eccentric shape and alluring colour.  Lupins always remind me of the beautiful children’s book ‘Miss Rumphius’ by Barbara Cooney.  The illustrations in this book are gorgeous and stick in my mind to this day.  Also in the backyard the peonies are budding and we are hoping they can hold off for as long as possible.  Mom and Laura would love to have fresh peonies for the house on Laura’s wedding day.  Peonies are the flower Laura has chosen for her wedding bouquets.  I am extremely excited to see all of the careful wedding planning come together.  The dresses and flowers will truly be spectacular.

In addition to flowers Mom brought home a basil plant – that will hopefully be watered this year.  Somehow, the basil plant always dries up in our backyard.  Perhaps it is a plant that needs a great deal of care and water.  At the bridal shower the family was given two garlic chive plants – so we will be sure to take care of them.  I love using fresh herbs in recipes; the difference it makes is huge.

In terms of recipes – I have had a few baking projects this week.  However, none of the recipes turned out exactly the way I’d like, so I did not post about them.  I made cake pops, but I am not 100% happy with the consistency.   So, I will try another recipe sometime and keep everyone posted.  A few of the pictures turned out well – but I will not share any recipe before its time.  Stay posted for cake pops round two!

The following recipe is a tried and true recipe for Chicken Parmesan.  My Mom has been making this recipe since we were very small.  It’s an easy meal that is great for all the picky eaters in my family.  As young adults this recipe has become a comfort food favourite.  The freshly grated Parmesan is what truly makes this recipe great.  It is easy to make and perfect for weeknights.  Enjoy!

Ingredients:

4-6 pieces of chicken breast

¾ cup of breadcrumbs

¼ cup of freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Salt and pepper to taste

½ cup melted butter

Instructions

  1. Melt butter in a saucepan and then dip the chicken cutlets in the butter.
  2. Stir together the bread crumbs, Parmesan cheese, salt and pepper.
  3. Dip the chicken in the breadcrumb mixture and then place in casserole dish.
  4. Bake at 350 F for 45 minutes, depending on the size of the chicken.
  5. Serve with roasted potatoes and green beans.

Lemon Tart

Well, I decided to go for it – yummy, sweet lemon curd in tart form.  The crust tastes like a sugar cookie, but a bit firmer.  I decided to sprinkle it with icing sugar and then pipe a bit of whipped cream on top.  It turned out beautifully – I think I’ll make this for Jonathan’s family the next time I visit!

I squeezed the lemon juice myself – unfortunately, I spilled some of it in the process, so it was a good thing I bought a number of lemons.  My sister Sarah watched as all the flour, dough, lemon rinds and lemon juice was transformed into the lovely tart.  Usually Sarah doesn’t like the things I make because they don’t involve chocolate, but she tried a sliver of this and admitted that she loved it.

The tart wasn’t ready until after dinner last night, so the family will try it tonight. Last night’s dessert was the fudge my Mom made as a test run for Laura’s wedding favours. She made both white and semi-sweet chocolate fudge. It was delicious – and has been quickly disappearing from the refrigerator.   Mom systematically tested the process in order to calculate how many batches will be needed.  It will be quite the assembly line in our kitchen the day the wedding favour fudge is made, assembled, decorated and put into boxes.

All of this lovely lemon flavour and wedding fever for Laura’s impending nuptials gets me thinking about my wedding next year.  I saw shortbread cookies as a wedding favour – perhaps I’ll bake lemon flavoured shortbread cookies for mine?

Pate Sucree Pie Crust Recipe

Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 1/4 cup ice water
  • 3 large egg yolks

Directions

  1. Combine flour, sugar, and salt in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse to combine. Add butter, and process just until mixture resembles a coarse meal, about 10 seconds.
  2. With machine running, add 1/4 cup ice water in a slow, steady stream through feed tube. Drizzle in egg yolks, and process just until dough holds together without being wet or sticky, about 30 seconds. Test dough by squeezing a small amount together. If it is crumbly, add a bit more ice water.
  3. Divide dough in half. Pat into discs, and wrap in plastic. Chill for at least 1 hour.

Lemon Curd Recipe

Ingredients

  • 6 egg yolks, beaten
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice, strained
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter (COLD and cut into small pieces to melt faster )
  • 1 tablespoon lemon rind, grated

Directions:

1.  Beat the egg yolks thoroughly and add to saucepan on low heat.

2.  Add the sugar and lemon juice, stir to combine, and cook over low heat, stirring constantly, for about 10-15 minutes.  Do not hurry the process.

3.  Cook until the mixture coats the back of a wooden spoon.  Remove from heat and immediately pour through a sieve.  Stir in the cold butter pieces, which cools down the mixture quickly.

4.  Add the rind, continue stirring until well-blended.

5.  Transfer to a bowl and wrap with plastic wrap directly on lemon curd.  Refrigerate until ready to use.

Assembling the Tart

  1. Once you have made the tart crust and refrigerated it for an hour, roll it out to fit a 9 inch fluted tart pan.  My tart had extra crust, so you could make a mini pie?
  2. Poke the bottom of the tart with a fork and wrap with tin foil.
  3. Bake at 350 F for 25 minutes.  Then let cool completely.
  4. Spread the cooled lemon curd filling evenly on cooled tart crust and then bake for another 25 minutes until it is slightly brown on top and not as jiggly in the center.
  5. Let cool completely before dusting with icing sugar and topping with whipped cream.

Whipped Cream Topping

1 cup of whipping cream

1 tablespoon of icing sugar

Refrigerate for 30 minutes prior to whipping.  Whip with a hand blender until soft peaks start to form.  Add whipping cream to piping bag if you wish to pipe on the topping.  Remember that whipped cream is only good for one day.

Healthy Warm German Style Potato Salad

I took a bigger break from blogging than I meant to with the Victoria Day long weekend.  For the weekend my family went up north to the cottage.  It was a gorgous sunny day – so warm that Laura and Chris braved the cold lake waters to put in the dock in the lake! Depending on the weather we will be up boating and swimming in the lake as soon as possible.  The family has been going up to this cottage for four generations.  My great grandparents bought the property and built it.

It wasn’t just the Victoria Day weekend – we also celebrated my Auntie Andrea’s birthday with cheese and crackers, cookies and lots of treats.  It was lovely to sit by the lake and all together.  Auntie Andrea did a lot of work for Laura’s bridal shower and she continues to listen to all of my Mom’s checklists and wedding plans.  It is wonderful to see sisters that always have each other’s back.  I am even luckier with my three sisters.  Despite a few arguments, we get along well and always want the best for each other.

This warm potato salad recipe is one that Jonathan and I – inspired by this recipe – experimented with and really quite enjoyed.  There is zero mayonnaise, which gives it a distinct, but delicious flavour.  It is very different from the type you get in the grocery store that is full of calories.  The flavours came from the honey Dijon mustard, celery seed, white wine vinegar and chili flakes.  If you are looking for a new favourite potato salad recipe – you’re in luck!

Ingredients

7 medium red potatoes, unpeeled

4 slices bacon

¾ cup chopped onions

1 tablespoon all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon sugar

½ teaspoon salt

1/ teaspoon celery seed

2 teaspoons Montreal steak spice

2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce

2 teaspoons crushed chili flakes

¾ cup water

¼ cup white wine vinegar

2 tablespoons dijon mustard

2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

Instructions

  • In 4-quart saucepan, place potatoes. Add water just to cover. Heat to boiling; reduce heat to low. Simmer covered, 25 to 30 minutes or until tender. Drain; cool slightly. Cut into slices.
  • Meanwhile, in 12-inch nonstick skillet, cook bacon over medium heat until crisp. Drain on paper towels. Chop bacon; set aside.
  • Remove and discard bacon drippings from skillet. Add oil; heat over medium heat. Add onions; cook 3 to 4 minutes, stirring frequently, until tender. Stir in flour, sugar, salt, celery seed, and other spices. Gradually stir in water, vinegar and mustard. Cook over medium heat 2 to 3 minutes, stirring constantly, until bubbly and thickened.
  • Stir in potatoes and bacon. Cook, stirring frequently, until thoroughly heated. To serve, sprinkle with parsley.

Spinach and Ricotta Lasagna

I have been craving lasagna for a long time and so last night I made a vegetarian lasagna for the two of us.  Ricotta and spinach is one of my favourite lasagna fillings – it is light, fluffy and the spinach is packed full of iron.  We are both a far stretch from being vegetarian, but every once in a while it’s nice to not rely on meat for our iron and protein.

While I was making the sauce I forgot to add olive oil, but since the cheeses have their own natural oils, I didn’t feel like the sauce was missing anything.  When you are making this lasagna you can feel free to add olive oil and any of your favourite spices that I might be missing.  Jonathan loves spicy food, and he happened to sneak some extra crushed chili flakes into the sauce. (Don’t tell him this, but it was actually pretty tasty with a bit of extra spice – he is slowly converting me.)

Ingredients

1 package of ready to use lasagna sheets

1 680mL jar of tomato puree

1 package of frozen spinach, thawed and drained

1 300mL package of light ricotta

3 cups of mozzarella shredded

½ cup Parmesan

¼ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon pepper x2 (one for the tomato sauce and one for the ricotta mixture)

¼ teaspoon oregano

¼ teaspoon dried basil

¼ teaspoon garlic powder x2 (one for the tomato sauce and one for the ricotta mixture)

¼ teaspoon crushed chili flakes (Jonathan added more, while I was preparing the spinach and ricotta)

Instructions

  1. Bring tomato puree to a boil and add spices, let simmer for 20 minutes.
  2. In the meantime, shred the mozzarella and Parmesan.  Mix together ricotta and thawed, drained spinach.  Add ¼ teaspoon of pepper and garlic powder and mix in thoroughly with ricotta and spinach.
  3. In your casserole dish the first layer will be just a thin layer of tomato sauce.
  4. Add lasagna sheet, cover with tomato sauce and mozzarella cheese.
  5. Add lasagna sheet, this layer will be with the spinach and ricotta mixture.  Spread half of the mixture all the way to the edges of the lasagna.  Sprinkle a little extra mozzarella and then add another lasagna sheet.
  6. Alternate layers between sauce with mozzarella and ricotta.
  7. Sprinkle extra sauce on top layer, then add mozzarella and Parmesan.
  8. Bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes.
  9. Let sit for 5 minutes before you slice it, so the pasta can set.

Classic Everyday Sugar Cookies

Sugar cookies are simple and delicious.  They are easy to make and involve pantry staples (butter, sugar, flour, vanilla extract).  My earliest memories of sugar cookies are when my Mom would take the four of us little girls grocery shopping with her.  After we had done the groceries we would stop by the bakery next door, and Mom would buy buns for our lunches and each of us would get a sugar cookie (they were 25 cents!).  This sugar cookie recipe is slightly different than the sugar cookies made at Christmas that you roll out and cut into various shapes.  These are more of an everyday sugar cookie with loosely sprinkled sugar on top.

Now, you might ask what goes best with sugar cookies?  The answer to this is quite obvious – your favourite tea!  Two of my current favourite teas are Tetley Ginger tea and Williamson Tea.  The Williamson Tea is a lemony flavoured Earl Grey that comes in a beautiful canister.  Specialty teas are a bit of an obsession with my friends and I – at Trent University my friend Emily had a whole tea organizer with many, many kinds of tea.  When we went to Queen’s University together in Kingston for teachers college, we were happy to have coffee and teashops nearby like The Sleepless Goat and Tea Store.

Ingredients

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 3/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, (2 sticks), softened
  • 2 large eggs
  • extra sugar for sprinkling

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Sift flour, baking powder, and salt into a bowl; set aside.
  2. Put sugar and butter in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and mix until pale and fluffy, about 1 minute. Mix in eggs, 1 at a time, and then the vanilla extract. Reduce speed; gradually add flour mixture, and mix until just combined.
  3. Scoop dough using a 2-inch ice cream scoop; space cookies 2 inches apart on parchment-lined baking sheets. Flatten cookies slightly with a spatula. Sprinkle tops with sugar.

Bake cookies until golden (mine took 11 minutes). Let cool on sheets on wire racks for 5 minutes. Transfer cookies to racks using a spatula; let cool completely. Cookies can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature up to 3 days.

Bumbleberry Pie – Mother’s Day

Mother’s Day was yesterday and to celebrate my family invited over my Grandma and Auntie Andrea.  For dinner my Dad barbequed turkey and beef burgers.  The dessert I made is a family favourite – bumbleberry pie.  All of the ingredients for the pie happened to be in my Mom’s pantry.  The berries I used were half fresh and half frozen.  Once strawberry season comes I plan to make Jonathan help me go strawberry picking.  Making a pie for the blog had been on my baking to-do list for a while, so I was delighted to make this scrumptious pie.

The recipe I used was from my Martha Stewart’s Pies and Tarts cookbook that Jonathan gave me for my birthday.  At the back of the cookbook was a recipe for a butter and cream cheese pie crust.  Within the pages of this wonderful cookbook I found a picture of a pie that inspired me to use heart shapes as the top pie crust.  My Mom has always made wonderful bumbleberry pies, so I thought I would give her a break from the kitchen on Mother’s Day.  The recipe I used based on the blueberry pie recipe from Martha’s Pies and Tarts Cookbook.  (My Mom has the Martha Stewart’s Pies and Tarts Cookbook as well, and her version has been well used over the years.)  The pie turned out perfectly golden and delicious. 

One of the debates we had when talking about pie filling with my Grandma, Aunt and Mom at dinner, was about cornstarch versus flour as a thickener.  I used cornstarch in this pie recipe, but the consensus was that flour is better for thickening pie filling.  So, I will try that next time.  My sister Laura also helped with this Mother’s Day pie.  She helped with cutting the hearts and arranging them on top.  In the second picture below you will see a round piece of metal, it is one of my Mom’s many kitchen gadgets.  What it does is prevents the outside crust from burning to a crisp.  It comes with a round base piece that catches any pie filling that might drip over the edge.  The baking gadget does wonders, as the pie crust was perfectly cooked.

Last night at dinner my Mom told a story about when she and my Dad were first married and they had a brand new chest freezer.  As fresh fruit came into season that summer, the chest freezer was quickly filled, almost entirely with pies.  So, there is a genetic urge in my family to bake pies and sweet desserts.  Jonathan, you better watch me carefully in your kitchen, I might just fill up your freezer with pie!

Cream Cheese Pie Crust Recipe (Make sure you double the recipe below if you are making a pie with a bottom crust and a top crust. )

Ingredients

  • 2 teaspoons cold water
  • 1 teaspoon cold cider vinegar
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for surface
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 4 ounces (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • 4 ounces cold cream cheese, cut into small pieces

Directions

  1. Combine water and vinegar in a small bowl. Combine flour and salt in another bowl. Cut butter and cream cheese into cubes and then place with flour and salt mixture in food processor and pulse until crumbly.
  2. Add water mixture to dough in a slow, steady stream, stirring, until mixture just begins to hold together.  Pulse in food processor to combine.
  3. Turn out onto a piece of plastic wrap, and wrap. Press dough into a disk using your hands or a rolling pin. Refrigerate until firm, about 1 hour. (Dough can be frozen for up to 1 month; thaw before using.)
  4. Roll dough into a 12-inch round on a lightly floured surface. Fit dough into a 9-inch pie dish. Trim edge, leaving a 1-inch overhang. Turn overhang under so that edge is flush with rim. Flute edge. Freeze until firm, about 15 minutes.

Bumbleberry Pie Filling

  • 7 cups of fresh or frozen strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries (if you are using frozen, let the berries thaw in the refrigerator and drain excess liquid from the bottom.
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch or flour
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice

Egg Wash

  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1 tablespoon heavy cream

Directions

  1. On a lightly floured surface, roll out one disk of dough to a 12-inch round. With a dry pastry brush, sweep off excess flour; fit dough into a 9-inch glass pie plate, pressing it into edges. Trim dough to a 1/2-inch overhang all around. Fold edge of dough over or under, and crimp as desired.  Place back in the refrigerator to keep cool while you are making the pie filling.
  2. For the hearts roll out remaining dough in the same manner; and then use a cookie cutter to create two sizes of heart shaped crust.
  3. Place berries in a large bowl; with your hands, crush about 1/2 cup of berries, letting them fall into the bowl as you work. Add sugar, cornstarch, and lemon juice; stir to combine. Spoon mixture into pie plate with crust and mound berries slightly in the center.
  4. Arrange larger sized hearts around the edge of the pie plate on the berries, then add smaller hearts when you get closer to the middle.  Make sure to leave a few spaces between the hearts to allow steam to escape from the pie.
  5. Brush surface with egg wash, being careful not to let it pool. Freeze or refrigerate pie until firm, about 30 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350 degrees, with rack in lower third.
  6. Place pie on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake for 50 minutes and until crust begins to turn golden.
  7. Transfer pie to a wire rack to cool completely. The pie is best eaten the day it is baked, but it can be kept at room temperature, loosely covered with plastic wrap, for up to 2 days.

Miso Glazed Salmon & Mojitos (Date Night!)

Every night is date night for Jonathan and I.  Last night, I had my favourite smoked salmon penne alla vodka from the Oliver & Bonacini Café Grill in Waterloo.

I never get tired of salmon, so we made it again tonight – but with a new recipe that involved a trip to two different stores and the LCBO! For the miso and mirin we had to go to an Asian grocer and search for the ingredients amongst the many pastes and jars of spices.  Then, we went to Vincenzo’s, Waterloo’s beautiful gourmet grocery store, for the salad greens, limes, ginger, mint, and salmon.  On the way out of Vincenzo’s, there is a wonderful florist’s shop called Les Fleurs, so Jonathan bought me an arrangement of my own choosing.  I saw a bouquet on the Martha Stewart website that had a similar colour scheme, so I had to buy a few flowers inspired by Martha.

I have to give Jonathan credit for finding this recipe – I was skeptical at first, but it turned out wonderfully, with the miso providing plenty of lovely, rich umami. (In case you were wondering, according to Wikipedia, “umami, popularly referred to as savouriness, is one of the five basic tastes together with sweet, sour, bitter, and salty.)

Paired with the salmon was a fresh green salad with honey Dijon dressing.  We both were not feeling like heavy potatoes or filling rice, so a simple salad with our salmon was quite satisfying. Usually a meal is not complete without some kind of carb, but tonight we were very happy without one.

Since it’s springtime, we decided to complement the salty miso glaze with light and refreshing mojitos.  The lime juice was freshly squeezed, with just a little bit of sugar, fresh muddled mint leaves, ice cubes, white rum and San Pellegrino water.  We chose Proof-brand rum due to the fact that it was Canadian and came in a fascinating bottle. It was very light, smooth and complemented the mint and lime well – like having a very well done cocktail from a lounge in Toronto! Who knew that I am an awesome baker and make a mean mojito, too?

Ingredients

1 tablespoon miso, preferably white

1 tablespoon mirin

1 1/2 teaspoons dark soy sauce

1 1/2 teaspoons minced fresh ginger

1 teaspoon Frank’s Red Hot sauce

2 fillets of salmon (ours were approximately 5oz)

1 tablespoon thinly sliced green onion

1 1/2 teaspoons toasted sesame seeds

Instructions

  1. Position rack in upper third of oven; preheat broiler. Line a small baking pan with foil. Coat the foil with cooking spray.
  2. Whisk miso, mirin, soy sauce, ginger and hot sauce in a small bowl until smooth.
  3. Place salmon fillets, skinned-side down, in the prepared pan. Brush generously with the miso mixture. Broil the salmon until just cooked through in the center, 6 to 8 minutes. Garnish the salmon with green onion and sesame seeds.  Toast sesame seeds by heating in small dry fry pan.

Mojitos

4 Limes (squeeze juice, save two wedges for garnishing side of glass)

2 teaspoons of sugar (or more to taste)

8-10 ice cubes

2 cups San Pellegrino water (or club soda)

6-8 mint leaves washed and muddled

2 oz. Proof white rum (or more if you like)

Instructions

Muddle the mint leaves in the bottom of a pitcher.  Add freshly squeezed lime juice, sugar and stir thoroughly.  Add the San Pellegrino water and ice cubes – stir and serve with lime wedge on the side of the glass.

White Chocolate Cupcakes with Raspberry Icing

Some people have hobbies like fishing or jogging, my hobby is baking!  Today I made these cute cupcakes and played around with the new set of piping bag accessories that I bought.  Overall I was very impressed with the way the cupcakes turned out – raspberry and white chocolate are a killer combination.  Seriously, these cupcakes are delicious!

Now, in the pictures the cupcakes look a little crumbly, the white chocolate and the sugar makes these cupcakes a bit stickier and thus, they stuck to the pan.  I also don’t have cupcake liners with me in Waterloo, where I am visiting Jonathan.

While making these cupcakes I was wondering why Martha Stewart doesn’t have a version of this cupcake on her website or in her cookbook.  I suppose white chocolate was overlooked with all the recipes for devil’s food cake cupcakes and triple chocolate cupcake recipes.

The recipe I ended up using was from this website.  I used it because it makes 12 cupcakes, which seemed better than having 24 extra cupcakes in the freezer.  The white chocolate cupcake recipe that I used had a subtle and yet decadent flavour.  The raspberry icing made the cupcakes delicious – who can resist such a pretty cupcake?

Ingredients

  • 3 oz. White Chocolate (I used Baker’s White Chocolate, 2 of the prepackaged cubes)
  • 1/2 cup Light Cream or Milk (I used milk)
  • 3/4 cup Flour
  • 1 tsp. Baking Powder
  • 1/8 tsp. Salt
  • 2 Eggs, Large
  • 1 cup Sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup Butter, Softened

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and place twelve cupcake holders in a muffin pan.
  2. Melt the chocolate with cream over a double broiler (or in the microwave, but be sure not to burn it) and let cool.
  3. Mix the dry ingredients together in a large bowl.
  4. In a medium bowl, beat the eggs, cream-chocolate mixture, and butter.
  5. Add the dry ingredients to the wet mixture and continue to beat at a low speed until blended.
  6. Pour the batter into the cupcake holders about 3/4 full.
  7. Put the pan in the oven and let bake for 25-30 minutes.  (Found my cupcakes only took 18 minutes.)
  8. After the cupcakes are firm on top, let them cool on a muffin rack for 30 minutes and ice them with your favorite frosting.

Icing

Cream together 1/2 cup of softened butter, 1 1/2 cups of icing sugar, 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract, 1 teaspoon of milk and 1-2 tablespoons of seedless raspberry preserve or jam.  Add the raspberry preserve in last and use your judgement with the consistency of the icing.