Tag Archives: baking

Make-Ahead Munchies: Holiday Gifts from the Kitchen

Can you believe that Christmas is only six weeks away? I always think that November seems too early to start preparing for the holidays but before I know it, I am busy with cocktail parties and cookie exchanges and I’m spending every free moment at the mall looking for the perfect gift for everyone on my list.

(Photo: Delicious Magazine)

This year I am going to try something new. I am focusing on homemade gifts that are not only perfect for these challenging economic times but can also be made before my schedule gets too hectic and I find myself picking up a box of store-bought chocolates to use as a last-minute hostess gift.

(Photo: Casa Di Nù)

If you want to spread some holiday cheer, mix up a couple of batches of Casa Di Nù’s berry Natalizia liqueur.  The recipe is simple, with only four ingredients, but it does take a couple of weeks for the flavors to meld. The original recipe calls for mixed berries but I think it would be delicious with some slightly crushed fresh cranberries, a few orange peels, and a cinnamon stick.

(Photo: Fit Sugar)

Just make sure to include a few recipes like Clarence’s hot cranberry toddy or cranberry-vodka punch, swapping out the base alcohol for your own, so that the recipient can enjoy your gift to its full potential.

(Photo: ChezSuzanne via Food 52)

If you are like me, you found an orange in the bottom of your Christamas stocking every year. ChezSuzanne’s caramelized orange peel with cinnamon, cloves, and brandy provides a spicy twist to the holiday citrus tradition. This recipe makes a lot, so you will always have something to give your neighbours when they drop by with an unexpected gift.

(Photo: Unfussy Fare)

If you want a slightly more exotic take on citrus flavours, you can make sunny preserved lemons. The actual preparation time is quite short, though the jars do need to be turned over once a day for a week and the peels get softer the longer they cure, so this would be a perfect November project. Preserved lemons a North African staple, are pretty rare on this side of the Atlantic so you might want to include a recipe for a tagine (though they also brighten regular chicken, fish, and vegetable dishes).

(Photo: David Lebovitz)

Everyone seems to dread the homemade fruitcake but David Lebovitz will change your mind with this delicious chocolate cherry version. It can be made now and frozen, without the alcohol, so that it can be enjoyed closer to the holidays without messing up your kitchen. And even better, it makes two loaves so you can give your gift and eat it too!

(Photo: The Naptime Chef via The Kitchn)

Children and adults alike will appreciate a jar of peppermint hot fudge, which can add a festive touch to ice cream, pound cake, or cheesecake. Kept in the fridge, it will keep for two weeks or more but I bet it won’t last that long!

(Photo: Martha Stewart)

Don’t forget to make your gifts look as special as they taste. Use uniquely-shaped bottles and jars (making sure to sterilize them first) and top the lids with some festive fabric and a big bow. Wrap up baked goods in boxes with seasonal papers and top with a candy cane or some holly.

(Photo: Crafty Pagan via Etsy)

And don’t forget to label your creations (you can buy holiday tags or print out your own) and include the ingredients and serving suggestions on the back. Or you could include a holiday recipe card and hope that next year your friends will skip the store-bought chocolates and send you these delicious homemade treats instead.

(Photo: Petersen Designs via Etsy)

Lil’ Pumpkin and I Make Pumpkin Loaf

It’s Foodie Tuesday!

Image via Not Quite South Surrey

Pumpkins!  Between dreams of pumpkin donuts and pies; of idyllic images of kids frolicking in pumpkin patches; with Halloween around the corner and the decision on what and how to carve the jack-o-lantern weighing heavily, I’ve got pumpkin on the mind.  And if there was an icon for the season, the pumpkin would be it.

From elegant pumpkin displays, via Ciao Newport Beach

to the sexy pumpkin via Better Homes and Gardens that just made me laugh, it's the season of the gourd.

And I do plan on doing as much with pumpkin as I can in the next couple of weeks.  We will be taking the kid to a pumpkin patch – his first farm visit! And it’s Thanksgiving in Canada next Monday so there will be many, many pies.

But this evening, the little guy and I home together just the two of us, the weather outside kinda gross we chose to bake. These pumpkin loaves were our tasty project tonight:

Pumpkin Loaves with Chocolate Chips, recipe adapted from Baked: New Frontiers in Baking via Pittsburgh Needs Eated:

3 cups cake flour
2 tsp baking soda
1 tbs cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp ginger
2 tsp salt
1/2 cup vegetable oil + 1/2 cup butter softened
1 3/4 cups pumpkin puree (15oz can)
2 cups granulated sugar
4 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/3 cup water, room temperature
1 cup (12 oz) chocolate chips or chopped semisweet chocolate

Preheat your oven to 350F and grease two loaf pans (silicone bakeware doesn’t need greasing, FYI).

In a large bowl combine your dry ingredients and give it a quick whisk.

In another large(r) bowl, mix your wet ingredients including pumpkin, oil, butter, sugar, and eggs (one at a time).  Add vanilla, water, and chocolate chips.

Slowly add dry mixture to wet mixture until just combined, careful not to overmix.  And pour into prepared loaf pans.

The pumpkin loaves bake for about 1 hour -1 hour 15 minutes. I used one silicone and one metal pan and you should note that the silicone pan loaf will cook faster.  Check after an hour with a toothpick in the centre – it’s done when it comes out clean!

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It’s Foodie Tuesday!

photo by Eric Cator

The spicy root ginger has been used throughout the world to flavour food and for it’s medicinal benefits: aiding indigestion, boosting the immune system and promoting longevity. Boasting an extraterrestrial shape and fragrant flesh, ginger can be ground, minced, candied, pickled and much more. Today’s foodie post is dedicated to a few of ginger’s culinary feats.

Drink It

Ginger Limeade via a cozy kitchen

You can use fresh ginger to make a variety of beverages including homemade ginger beer (yum), ginger ale and ginger limeade. It’s hot and muggy out today and a glass of this limeade along with some chips and salsa sounds divine.

Bake It

Maple Ginger Snaps photo by Eric Cator

Ground ginger is widely used in baking recipes and the smell of it can conjure up images of crisp fall days and gingerbread houses.

Maple Ginger Snaps Recipe

Adapted from Crown Maple Syrup. I adjusted the spices slightly and cut the salt.

¾ cup butter, at room temperature

1 teaspoon of cinnamon

2 teaspoons of ground ginger

1/2 teaspoon of cloves

1/2 cup brown sugar

1 ½ teaspoons of baking soda

3/4 cup of white sugar

¼ teaspoon of salt

¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons of maple syrup

1 large egg

1. In a medium sized bowl whisk together flour, spices, baking soda and salt.

2. In a large bowl, or the bowl of a stand mixer, add half of the white sugar, the brown sugar and butter. Cream together until mixture is light in colour and fluffy. While still mixing add eggs and maple syrup.

3. Add dry ingredients to creamed butter and sugar and mix thoroughly.

4. Wrap dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least thirty minutes.

5. Pour remaining white sugar in a small bowl.  Roll chilled dough in your hands, making aprox. ¾ inch balls. Roll the balls in sugar and then place on a lightly greased or parchment-lined baking sheet.

6. Bake cookies until golden brown and firm on the edges (aprox. 15 minutes, mine took a little longer than that). It’s okay if they are still slightly soft in the middle. Let cool five minutes before transferring them to a wire cooling rack.

Enjoy with a big glass of milk.

ginger muffins via orangette

For another baking with ginger option these muffins by Orangette sound like the perfect thing for breakfast or with a cup of tea.

Candy It

candied ginger via the kitchn

Candied ginger or crystalized ginger is a gourmet baking ingredient that is actually simple to make at home. A few years ago the kitchn served up some easy directions for making it that can be found here.

Cook It

Orange Ginger Flank Steak via Steamy Kitchen

Of course, ginger is also fantastic for cooking. You can purchase it minced in jars, but I always grate my own because there is nothing quite like the smell of fresh ginger.  The always inspiring steamy kitchen has a delicious sounding recipe for orange ginger flank steak and in the fall I practically live off of butternut squash and ginger soup.

Hope you’ve enjoyed this gingery recipe roundup! Do you have a favourite ginger recipe?

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Ensaimada Memories

It’s Foodie Tuesday!

Ensaimada is a Filipino treat that I grew up eating. It is kind of like a brioche, and is made from a buttery, yeasty dough that is shaped like a coil and baked. You can get versions of it in just about any bakery in the Philippines. But the best kinds are those with an incredibly rich and buttery flavor, and only mildly sweet, which offsets the usually sugary topping. They are moist and soft, yet dense, and they melt in your mouth.

I have recently discovered that the ensaimada was first made in Majorca, Spain, and then eventually made its way to the Spanish colonies in Latin America and the Philippines. The Majorcan saim means “pork lard” and that was what was used in the original ensaimada.

My mom had an ensaimada phase, which lasted a couple of years. I was in my early teens then, and I remember the really hot Saturday afternoons when she would ask me to help knead her dough, and after it rose, I would watch her portion it out and roll each one flat, brush the surface with butter, sprinkle it with grated cheese, then roll the whole thing up into a longish piece which she then coiled up and placed in the ensaimada tin. She worked with such efficiency and grace that it was really fun to watch.

So I decided to make ensaimadas some weeks ago, because I was missing her and was feeling nostalgic. But Mom’s recipe only had a list of ingredients, and a shorthand version of the procedure, which is totally useless if you’ve never done it before. Good thing I found this ensaimada recipe online with very detailed instructions (which I am extremely grateful for) which comes closest to my recollection of how my mother made it.

It is a long, messy, and painstaking process that simply can’t be hurried. There are lots of steps and lots of waiting involved — I do not recommend that you embark on this adventure on your own. Take family or friends with you — it would be a great bonding time. The company and the chitchat would divide the work and make time go so much faster.

Good luck! Happy baking — and eating!

These are what ensaimada tins look like, and they have to be brushed generously with butter.

This is what they look like before they get popped in the oven. As you can see, my coils are far from perfect.

They come out of the oven all puffed and golden. They were so beautiful they almost made me cry.

The final product, after the top is slathered with butter, dipped in grated cheese and white sugar. For a more luxurious version, whip the butter first and use edam cheese.

All images by Nathalie Mariano

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A Slice of Pie

It’s Foodie Tuesday!

Apple, Blueberry, Ginger Shortcrust Pie ia What Katie Ate

This post is dedicated to one of the most comforting of desserts, the pie. Simple, relaxed and oh so scrumptious, the pie is one of the best summer desserts out there. The variety of filling and crust options are unlimited, but here are a few recipes I found that look exceptionally tasty.

First up is the Apple, Blueberry, Ginger Pie pictured above. I only recently found the blog What Katie Ate and I was completely blown away by her food photography. This pie looks exceptionally drool inducing.

styled by Joy Thigpin via a little blue notebook

At your next celebration why not serve up a few different kinds of pie. You can give your guests plenty of options, and when grouped together pies make a beautiful presentation.  I love how the wedding pie table above has been styled, and it would be easy to attempt something similar at your next backyard soiree. Served up with some homemade ice cream you have a memorable dessert that won’t leave your guests missing their usual cake.

mini peach pies via A Beautiful Mess

As much as I enjoy eating pie I’ve never gotten the hang of making them. Great pie is all about the pastry, which sadly is not one of the culinary skills I’ve ever been able to master.  If you’re like me and wouldn’t mind taking a couple shortcuts in your pie baking, this mini peach pie recipe is as simple as they come; all you need  is puff pastry and peach pie filling, and each mini pie is baked in a muffin tin.

Toll House Pie via Skip to my Lou

Warm chocolate chip cookie in pie form, yes please! Skip to my Lous Toll House pie looks like the perfect Sunday afternoon dessert with a glass of cold milk. What’s not to love about chocolate with a graham cracker crust? I think I might have to try this recipe this weekend.

Pie purists (are there such a thing?) may not consider an apple galette a true pie, but I think it’s got all its’ bases covered. Fruity filling, check. Flaky, buttery pastry, check. Served up with an obligatory scoop of ice cream, check. Whatever it’s called it looks delicious. If you head over to elephantine, Rachel has created a beautiful video on how to bake this lovely treat.

Pie Pops via Bakerella

I am not quite ready to get behind the cake pop fad that’s been going on for awhile now. How is a little hunk of cake on a stick not just a terrible tease (as if cupcakes aren’t  small enough) but these pie pops by Bakerella are too cute for words. Although I don’t know if I could restrain myself from eating a dozen of them at a time. This recipe looks especially kid friendly if you have little bakers in the house.

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