Sunday, July 24, 2011

Apple Almond Galette (with Marzipan)

It all begins with a good crust ..

So check out Martha Stewart's recipe here for Pate Brisee

The recipe makes quite a bit of crust so I divided in half and froze one part and divided the remaining half into two disks and then chilled.

Now slice your apples thinly and toss with a bit of sugar (not too much since there is a lot of sugar going on with the marzipan)

Take a small ball of marzipan dough and flatten into a disk (the size of the base of your galette)

Place the marzipan on your rolled out chilled dough and top with all the sliced apples. Fold the edges over pinching to create pleats to keep all the filling in.

Top with sliced almonds and brush the crust with beaten egg.

Bake at 400 for 30 mins. the almonds may get too brown so ten minutes into it I laid a piece of foil on top of them and the rest baked beautifully.


Saturday, July 23, 2011

Cherry Cinnamon Dumplings

My farmer's cheese - the one I whipped up yesterday with a leftover carton of milk - went into making these fruit dumplings.

A few tbsp of flour, samolina, an egg (at room temperature) with a dash of sugar and sprinkling of salt gets added to the farmers cheese and this dough is formed around a pitted cherry.

Rolling a ball of dough and using my thumb to create a dent then stuff the cherry in and closing it while making sure it is sealed well then boiling them in a bit of water for 7 mins or until they float.

They get drizzled with some melted butter (or try brown butter!) and cinnamon sugar.

The coatings are thick but mostly made of proteins from the cheese so it's not too bad diet wise.

I hope to try another steamed variety that is widely made in Germany using italian plums, perhaps it will impress grandma!


Farmer's Cheese recipe

If you ever have too much milk on your hands and it's gone past the expiry date don't throw it out. Bring it to a boil and add a few tbsp of vinegar then stir until the liquid looks yellow and you see clumps of cheese floating on the surface, strain the curds (clumps) and add a bit of salt and you've got a fresh farmers cheese that will keep a few days in the fridge! The whey (yellow liquid) is healthy too as it contains proteins, if you're pets like it let them drink it.

Oh and if you want a cool trick to pit cherries check this out! The technique worked perfectly for me and I had all my cherries pitted in 15 mins, it was fun too.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Easy Custard


2 3/4 cups milk
7 large egg yolks (or more)
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup sifted corn starch
2 tbsp butter, chopped in cubes and at room temperature


In a heavy bottom saucepan bring the milk to a simmer over medium heat.

Meanwhile in another heavy bottom saucepan whisk your egg yolks, sugar and corn starch together until you get a creamy yellow mixture.

When the milk simmers at the point just before boiling remove from heat, get your whisk ready and pour a bit into your egg mixture whisking to temper it..... now it's safe to add it all and whisk.

Set the pot back onto the heat (medium-medium low) and whisk until it thickens.

Have a bowl and a strainer ready (the strainer just for a smoother finish but mine had no lumps or anything) Once it thickens strain it into the bowl (scraping the strainer to get it all through)

Begin stirring in your butter cubes, little at a time until it's all incorporated, luscious, smooth and shiny.

Cover with a cling wrap to avoid a film in the top of your custard and let it cool, then you can set it in the fridge.

Here it's served with slices of banana and in the last shot a dollop of honey whipped cream (leftover from the beehive cupcakes)

Chicken & Dumplings

Chicken and Dumplings

Recipe courtesy Tyler Florence


Chicken and Stock:

  • 1 (3 to 31/2 pound) whole organic chicken
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 6 sprigs thyme
  • 4 to 5 black peppercorns
  • 1 head garlic, split through the equator
  • 2 tablespoons salt


Buttermilk-Chive Dumplings:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup chopped chives
  • 3/4 to 1 cup buttermilk


  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • 2 carrots, diced
  • 2 stalks celery, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 6 cups chicken stock
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 1 cup frozen pearl onions
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • Freshly ground black pepper, for garnish
  • Chopped chives, for garnish

For the stock:

Place the chicken and all stock ingredients in a large Dutch oven and cover with water. Set over medium-high heat and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook for 1 hour until the chicken is tender. Skim the surface of fat and scum as it cooks.

When done remove the chicken to a cutting board. Strain the stock and shred the meat into big pieces - the stock will be used for the sauce and the chicken will be folded into it.

For the dumplings:

Sift the dry ingredients together in a large bowl. In a small bowl, using a whisk, lightly beat the eggs, chives and buttermilk together; pour the liquid ingredients into the dry ingredients and gently fold. Mix just until the dough comes together; the batter should be thick and cake-like.

To prepare sauce: In a Dutch oven, over medium heat, add the butter and oil. Add the carrot, celery, garlic, and bay leaves and saute until the vegetables are soft, about 5 minutes. Stir in the flour to make a roux. Continue to stir and cook for 2 minutes to coat the flour and remove the starchy taste. Slowly pour in the chicken stock, 1 cup at a time, stirring well after each addition. Add frozen peas and pearl onions.

Let sauce simmer until it is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, about 15 minutes. Stir in heavy cream.

Fold the reserved shredded chicken into the sauce and bring up to a simmer. Using 2 spoons, carefully drop heaping tablespoonfuls of the dumpling batter into the hot mixture. The dumplings should cover the top of the sauce, but should not be touching or crowded. Let the dumplings poach for 10 to 15 minutes until they are firm and puffy. Remove and discard the bay leaves. Season with freshly cracked black pepper and garnish with chopped chives before serving.

More fun from earlier this week..

My sister's favourite chicken balls in sweet and sour sauce with peanuts from the same Wokker we visited on Eid.

And homemade "steak pizza"

Aunt Amina's Kurdish Purslane Recipes

This recipe is dedicated to my dear aunt Amina in Iraq. Whenever I see purslane I think of her.. and the time she discovered some growing in the garden of our newly rented home in northern Iraq, she instructed us kids to pick them and so we did.

I was about 10 years old at the time and remember following her to the kitchen to see what she was going to do with it. She made two recipes and both were so perfect and delicious in their own way.

Fast forward to this week, I was on an outing with my sisters taking a walk when I spotted a huge patch of purslane growing between some dragon snaps, it was the best and most healthy bushes I've ever seen!! My sisters thought I had gone mad but good thing I had a plastic bag with me because I began picking it like a maniac.

The area looked safe, meaning it does not seem to be a place where dogs or raccoons would hang out, it's always best to be cautious when picking plants that are for eating.
When I returned home I washed it all very well a few times and soaked it in a bit of vinegar (This is a good trick that we used a lot in many countries abroad for washing vegetables and such )

These recipes are super easy, both were sautéed in a bit of garlic butter and to the first I added some eggs and scrambled it in.

The second recipe took a little longer, it began with the garlic butter and sauteeing and caramelizing a can of chopped tomatoes until tender and then adding the purslane in at the end and cooking for a few minutes until the stalks softened a bit.

Serve with bread and it's absolutely delicious!

Thank you Aunty Amina for teaching us about this lovely ingredient! 

Honey Beehive Cupcakes

On sunday we all went to see the new Winnie the Pooh movie in theatres. Unfortunately we didn't like the movie all that much (and we're fans of the old Winnie the Pooh movie) but the treats we had afterwards made up for it.

These brown butter banana honey cupcakes are one of my new favourites, you can really taste the honey and the banana creates a moist cupcake. Try a swiss meringue buttercream with a bit of honey folded in, or if you like whipped cream that's fine too, sweetened with a hint of honey they are super easy to do and only require a handful of ingredients.

Brown butter banana honey cupcakes:

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter

2 ½ cups all-purpose flour

1 ½ teaspoons baking powder

¾ teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon salt

1 cup sugar

½ cup honey

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 eggs, room temperature

1 ½ cups banana puree (about 4 bananas)

½ cup buttermilk (or yogurt watered down into the consistency of melted ice cream)

Preheat oven to 350°F.

To make brown butter: In a small heavy bottomed saucepan cook the butter over low heat until the butter is caramel coloured and smells toasty. DO NOT skim off any foam because those are the milk solids and they are what create the flavour once they toasts, because the rest is just melted fat and will not develop flavour on it's own.

Strain the mixture to remove the brown bits. (You can do this step a day ahead, it keeps in the fridge and then you just melt the butter again in the microwave when you're ready to use)

To make the cupcakes:

Using the paddle attachment, beat together the brown butter (which is now melted), sugar, honey and vanilla until it is cooled off slightly. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each. Add the banana puree and mix until incorporated.

In a medium bowl whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt. Set aside.

Alternate adding the flour mixture and buttermilk, starting and ending with the dry ingredients.

Line your cupcake pan with wrappers and begin filling them (not too much or it will over flow!)

Bake for 15-17 mins (17 worked great for me)

Swiss Meringue Buttercream:

Follow this recipe but instead of using the berry mixture add in a bit of honey at the end, 2 tbsp or so and a dash of salt and incorporate.

For honey Whipped Cream:

Pour your chilled heavy cream in the bowl and add some powdered sugar and whip until it's a beautiful creamy whipped consistency, add vanilla and drizzle in a bit of honey and fold in.

Decorate your cupcakes with either of the frostings above using a piping bag and a large round piping tip (I used Wilton No.2A) and begin piping a flat disk onto the cooled cupcakes and making circles smaller and smaller as you go higher to create a beehive look.

Later in the day we enjoyed Chicken and Dumplings, click here for the recipe.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

The after party

Even after Saturday's wedding party our festivities continued well into the next week..

Here is a recipe for the Blueberry Chocolate Chip cookies below.

The variation I did was remove the nuts, and replace the hot water with 1/4 cup blueberry puree which is just fresh blueberries cooked down into a concentrated syrup with sugar and a bit of water. Then it's strained so the peels get left behind and as it cools it turns into a gelatinous mass (maybe from the pectin in the fruit)

Any sugar added into the blueberry puree should be removed from the recipe below so they're not overly sweet.

I mixed this puree with the baking soda and then added it into the cookie batter. The cookies came out blue-ish with a soft middle and crispy chewy edges, really quite good!
Watch them as they bake and don't make them too small or they will burn.
Everyone loved them!

Chocolate Chip cookie recipe

Yields 4 dozen cookies.


  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons hot water
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
  2. Cream together the butter, white sugar, and brown sugar until smooth. Beat in the eggs one at a time, then stir in the vanilla. Dissolve baking soda in hot water. Add to batter along with salt. Stir in flour, chocolate chips, and nuts. Drop by large spoonfuls onto ungreased pans.
  3. Bake for about 10 minutes in the preheated oven, or until edges are nicely browned.