Salad rolls are one of my favorite things to eat in the summer: fresh vegetables, delicious peanut sauce, and eating with my hands. I made a big plate of these for dinner and Nate and I ate them all (well, there’s one left). They are that good. If you’re not going to scarf down an entire plate for dinner, they make a great appetizer or potluck food!I used red pepper, mango, green onions, lightly steamed snow peas, shredded carrots, mint leaves, and imitation crab in these rolls, but you could put basically anything in them: steamed asparagus, bean sprouts, pea shoots, cucumber, avocado, lettuce, cilantro, basil leaves, cooked prawns, shrimp, or scallops, grilled chicken, pork, or beef (leftover steak would be delicious!)… The only ingredients that are not up for interpretation are the rice noodles and rice paper wrappers. I always eat salad rolls with peanut sauce and sweet chili sauce, but again, totally up to your own preference. I’ve included my favorite peanut sauce recipe – I could eat this stuff by the bowlful. Continue reading
Erica of Erica’s Edibles was our host for the Daring Baker’s June challenge. Erica challenged us to be truly DARING by making homemade phyllo dough and then to use that homemade dough to make Baklava.
Did you read that? Homemade phyllo pastry… do you have any idea how thin that stuff is? It’s really really thin!!
Anyway. Baklava! I love it, but I’d never made it myself, so I was excited to give it a try. The challenge this month was in making the dough, and we could be as creative as we wanted with the baklava. I’ve had my eye on a cherry chocolate baklava recipe from Canadian Living for a long time, so I knew I wanted to try that flavour profile.I also wanted to do a more “traditional” one (based on the conversations in the Daring Bakers’ forums, there are many different traditional versions of baklava!), so I followed the suggested recipe and used walnuts, pistachios, and almonds.
And then, of course, I had to get creative with the shape. I did the traditional flavour in the traditional stacked layers, and the cherry chocolate one in a roll.I made a 9″x5″ pan of each kind – turns out that one pan would have been plenty! And after spending 3 HOURS rolling out enough dough for two half batches, it was definitely enough!! This was a fun challenge though, and making something like homemade phyllo is exactly why I joined the Daring Bakers – but be warned: it is very time-consuming! I’m pretty strong and I’m actually quite handy with a rolling pin, so it wasn’t a question of me being wussy or too weak to roll out the dough. The rolling plus the stretching just took forever! And now my hands feel bruised and I won’t need to do any push-ups for a week… Continue reading
I was in Vancouver overnight last week to see “Wicked” with some friends, and the next morning we went out for crepes for breakfast. They reminded me of the crepes my Mum used to make, only she called them “leathery pancakes”, because… well, they are kind of thin and leathery.
Edited to add a comment from my Mum about the origins of “leathery pancakes”: “[They are] actually from my own childhood. My mum/your Nana actually coined the name after our Swedish babysitter Mrs. Solberg made them for us when my parents were away one time and us kids raved about them. I guess “leathery” came about because they don’t rise like Mum’s regular Scotch pancakes did and we used to have them either with butter/brown sugar/lemon juice or butter/sour cream/brown sugar.” Thanks, Mum
Anyway, there was no real recipe, it was just more a matter of mixing together an egg, some milk, and some flour until the batter was the right consistency, and then cooking them in a hot, non-stick pan (the non-stick part is important!). These “leathery pancakes” were one of the things I made for myself all the time when I was younger – I’d usually eat them with butter and maple syrup, and sometimes I’d roll them around some kind of savoury filling. At the crepe place in Vancouver, the crepes were spread with whatever filling you wanted, sweet or savoury, and served folded in quarters. I had one with ham, cheese, and egg, plus a Nutella one for dessert (I’m totally OK with having dessert at breakfast!). Unfortunately, I don’t have any Nutella in the house, so I had to make do with butter, brown sugar, lemon juice, and strawberries for a sweet filling, and ham and cheese for savoury. Really good, and really easy. This amount of batter makes just enough for two 12-inch crepes – enough for one person if you’re hungry, or two people if you feel like sharing Continue reading
My good friend Markianna is getting married in August and she has asked me to make her wedding cake. I’m very excited and have been making all kinds of plans and doing wedding cake research – how to stack it, decorate it, move it, cut it… It’s a small wedding (only about 55 people) and the “inspiration cake” (above) is quite simple and rustic, so baking and decorating it should be fairly straight-forward.
It’s not like I have to make a 7-tiered cake to feed 360 (really, Martha has DIY instructions for this!):
Or paint a stained glass design on it:
Thank goodness for that.
No, for me, the overwhelming part is not the making or decorating of the cake. The overwhelming part is deciding on what kind of cake to make. The bride and groom have given me free-reign in the flavour department (one less thing for them to worry about, and apparently I’m “the expert”), but of course now I am paralysed with indecision about what flavours to choose. So, people of the internet, I am relying on you: please tell what kind of cake I should make!
Keeping in mind that I want the cake to look pretty when sliced (ie, colour contrast) and also that I want the outer layer of frosting to be white (I think!), the combinations that I have come up with are as follows:
1) Lemon cake with raspberry compote filling and cream cheese frosting (or plain white buttercream?)
2) Butter cake with caramel and chocolate fillings and vanilla buttercream frosting (or maybe chocolate?)
3) Coconut cake with chocolate filling and white buttercream frosting (or 7-minute frosting?), decorated with shredded coconut curls
4) Chocolate cake with mocha filling and vanilla buttercream frosting (or maybe chocolate?)
So which one should I make? Please leave your feedback in the comments!
These muffins are so good I made them twice. Once for myself, and again the next day for my friend Heather, who just had a baby girl. For the last seven and a half months of her pregnancy, Heather was sick every single day, and obviously had a really hard time eating anything. This would be my own personal hell. Thankfully, now that the baby is out, she can actually enjoy eating again. I visited her and baby Zephyra on the weekend, and when Heather told me to “bring food!” I was more than happy to oblige with these muffins.
The original recipe from Smitten Kitchen is for rhubarb struesel muffins, and I came across it about a week after I posted the recipe for strawberry rhubarb coffee cake made with whole wheat pastry flour – I had been dreaming of a muffin incarnation, and then this recipe appeared, using whole wheat pastry flour to boot! The first time I made them I used (frozen) rhubarb, and they were delicious: not too sweet, with a delicate, springy texture, a crunchy golden struesel layer on top, and a good tang from the rhubarb. Not to mention the fact that they smelled HEAVENLY while baking. The second time around, I used fresh strawberries and frozen blueberries, because Heather has two older kids and I figured berries might be more kid-friendly than slightly sour rhubarb. I also played around with yogurt instead of sour cream, and switched it up with the flours, using a combination of whole wheat and all purpose in place of whole wheat pastry flour. Both times, they came out perfectly, and I think I may have found my new favorite muffin recipe. I’m fairly confident that you could put any kind of fruit in these – fresh or frozen – and they would be fantastic. Thank you Deb at Smitten Kitchen for this recipe!! Continue reading
Do you remember the days before the Food Network? Before Diners, Drive-ins and Dives and Top Chef and Cupcake Wars and Giada Di-Whatshername and Iron Chef, when channels like the Knowledge Network and KCTS9 aired cooking shows of the same calibre as Bob Ross’ The Joy of Painting? I loved those shows. I used to sit in front of the TV, watching, with a pen and paper to write down the recipe and ingredients because there was no internet to get it from after the show. This risotto is based on a recipe from a show called Nick Stellino’s Family Kitchen, and believe it or not, the original recipe is now available on the internet!
After making Nick’s recipe several times, I’ve taken those flavours and put them into my basic risotto method. It comes out just as delicious but in a smaller, easier to manage quantity. If you’ve never made risotto, you should give it a try – it takes a while but is not actually difficult to make, and the results are worth it: creamy, flavourful, carbohydrate-laden deliciousness. Risotto is made of simple things – essentially just it’s rice and stock – so it’s important to pay attention to the ingredients. Use a flavourful stock, either homemade or good quality store bought. Don’t use bouillion cubes – your risotto will taste terrible. I know this from unfortunate experience . The rice must be specific for making risotto: short-grained round, Italian rice, and it will probably say “risotto” on the package. Arborio rice is the type I can usually find, but Carnaroli is another choice. Other kinds of rice (sushi, long grain, etc) won’t work.
And a quality parmesan (Parmegiano-Reggiano, if you can get it) makes a big difference in taste (I’ll admit that I used Canadian Parmesan for this because I’m feeling poor, but normally I’d splurge!).
Also important to note: this recipe calls for canned pumpkin purée, NOT pumpkin pie filling.
Make sure you read the ingredients on the package – it should be just pumpkin, no sugar or spices or anything else pie-like.
If you are feeling industrious, you could steam some squash and make your own purée (about 1 cup), but I find opening a can to be much easier
And I realize that these flavours might seem more suited to fall cooking, but my sage plant is currently sprouting leaves like mad so I figured this would be a good way to use up some of the bounty! Continue reading
In middle school Home Ec, in addition to scones and boxer shorts, we learned how to make omelettes. This, like the scones, is something that has stuck with me since then, and I’ve made so many omelettes following this method that I can now do it one-handed while taking pictures . Obviously this is great for breakfast, but it also makes a nice lunch or quick dinner when the fridge is bare (I ate a lot of omelettes in university!). Asparagus and bacon is what I happened to have on hand, but use whatever you want as a filling – sautéed mushrooms are really good. The only thing that you absolutely must have is cheese – at least in my opinion. Eggs and cheese just go so well together!
The secret to a fluffy omelette (according to my Home Ec teacher, anyway) is adding a bit of water to the eggs. As the eggs cook, the water turns to steam, causing the eggs to puff up. It’s important to have a hot, non-stick pan (well pre-heated over medium to medium-high heat, about 6 1/2 out of 10 if your stove dial has numbers) and to have all your ingredients ready and assembled, because the omelette cooks pretty fast. The ingredients in this recipe are simple and completely customizable: it’s the technique that really makes a good omelette. But if a bunch of 12 year old Home Ec students can do it, and I can do it with one hand while taking pictures, then no one has anything to worry about Continue reading
I spent the weekend on Salt Spring Island for my 10 year high school reunion (I cannot believe it has been 10 years – I don’t feel old enough for that yet!). It was a really great weekend, full of sunshine, old friends, and good food – including some of the Salt Spring classics: dough boys covered in cinnamon-sugar at the Saturday Market, pesto-cheese twists from Barb’s Buns (now apparently Barb’s Bakery and Bistro), and the tuna melt at the Tree House Cafe. I have to admit though, one of my favorite things about going to Salt Spring is eating vegetables out of my Mum’s garden. She is an avid gardener and has a huge garden that produces all kinds of delicious things, including these salad greens, which traveled back to Victoria with me:
We ate quite a few salads while I was visiting, all dressed with Glory Sauce – a delicious, creamy, tangy dressing made with nutritional yeast. I first had a dressing very similar to this at Strathcona Lodge a few years back, and it was literally the best salad dressing I’d ever tasted, but I couldn’t recreate it. I was over the moon when my Mum made this stuff and gave me the recipe. It seems quite fitting to be sharing it after a weekend on Salt Spring because not only does nutritional yeast make a killer salad dressing, it is also what practically every Salt Springer puts on their popcorn, so much so that the local movie theatre supplies a shaker of nutritional yeast! Anyone not from Salt Spring, have you ever heard of this/tried it? I’m curious to know if it is really just a Salt Spring thing. Most non-Islanders who encounter it think it’s pretty weird…
Anyway, back to salad. I made myself a salad for lunch with these greens, half a can of tuna, some cherry tomatoes, a handful of toasted pepitas (pumpkin seeds), and of course Glory Sauce. Mmm mmm. I suggest you do something similar! Click for the recipe!
July 2012 update: The Gatsby Mansion has recently come under new ownership and has a new chef, and their afternoon tea is now very good. Read my new review here!
Once again, Lynette and I had a hankering for afternoon tea, and as the White Heather Tea Room was closed, we figured this would be a great time to try out one of the other establishments in Victoria that serves tea (there are a lot of them). We decided on the Gatsby Mansion, and brought our friend Candice with us. Frankly I’m sorry that this was her first afternoon tea experience, because it was definitely sub-par. Hopefully that means it can only get better from here!
As you can see above, the Gatsby Mansion restaurant is beautiful on the outside, and the restaurant inside has definite potential from a decor point of view, but it felt like it was trying to be grand without really making the full effort to BE grand. The ceiling of the room we were in was very ornately painted, and I couldn’t decide whether it was pretty, or pretty awful. The fake crystal chandelier was definitely leaning towards pretty awful, however. Continue reading