January 31, 2011

Tash's Birthday

Yay! Tash is finally an adult!

Natasha turned 19 yesterday so to celebrate we went to the Irish Heather in gastown for some good food and awesome beer.  And then wandered over to Chill Winston for a second round of dessert.  How awesome is that, two desserts?

January 29, 2011

Tea Party!

I hosted a mid-winter tea party, to perk up out rainy blues.  Dresses were the dress code and we drank delicious loose tea, fresh from the bag.

I spent two days preparing, but I'd say it was worth every second of my time.  

We ate scones, with clotted cream and my strawberry jam.

earl grey shortbread cookies

triple citrus bars

and chocolate loaf cake

Three types of tea sandwiches

We three made it

Old, old tea sets

This joker made it as well.

January 27, 2011

Orange, honey and almond tart

I thought I might mention here in writing this tart I made for greek night.  Shane had been asking for it for a while, and with the fitting flavours I figured I would.  I have to say, its a very good tart.  The crust is perfect for a non dough crust and the filling light and sweet.  I would say, though, that it is missing some orange flavour, so a little more zest to the batter would be appropriate.  The honey drizzled on top is rather important, if you use a low quality honey it won't taste so great.  You'll notice this picture is missing the orange segments on top, we ran out of oranges.  Boo.  But if you'll look here you'll see the complete dish.

Rather than write it all out, seeing as I'm not sure I'll make it again (aside from the crust), here is the link.

Greek Orzo Salad

This was a dynamite pasta salad.  It was so good, I know for sure I'll make it numerous times again.  It tastes exactly as it is described, greek.  It's fresh and vibrant and strong.  Delicious fresh vegetables chopped up nice and small and a vinegar-y dressing with some salty feta.  Be sure to let is sit and cool in the fridge, the longer it sits the better it gets.  I've had it in my fridge for three days now and I dare say it better than when I made it.

Greek Orzo Salad

This is a half of the original recipe, it's fed me four meals.  So it doubles real easy.

2 Tbsp olive oil
1/4 + 1/8 tsp dried oregano
1/4 + 1/8 tsp dried basil
1/4 tsp dijon mustard
1/4 tsp onion powder
1/2 clove garlic, chopped up
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
2 T red wine vinegar

Place all the ingredients in a blender or cup for a hand blender.  Blend until thoroughly combined.

3/4 c uncooked orzo pasta
1/4 a tomato, diced small
1/4 c cucumber, diced small
1/8 of a red onion, diced small
1/4 of a red pepper, diced small
1/4 c crumbled feta
4 olives, pitted and minced

In a large pot bring lightly salted water to a boil over high heat.  Add the pasta and cook until al dente, 8-10 minutes.

In a large bowl combine all ingredients, toss together with dressing.  Refrigerate at least one hour.

How easy is that??

January 26, 2011

A night in Greece

We went to Greece last night.  And here is what we ate:
Feta and Ricotta Cheese Pie
Greek Orzo Salad and Fried Calamari and Tatziki
and to finish off an Orange Honey and Almond Tart

Jan 26

Seven days ago I started p90x and well it might be to early to start talking about it, for fear that I let it fall away, I want to say I sure am glad it's finally a rest day.  I've worked out two hours a day minimum for the last six days, which is only an hour more than I usually do, but this strength training is something else.  Did you know you have a muscle between your shoulders?  I had never been aware, I sure am now.

On another note I've spent the last two days trying to back up our 10 000 pictures from the past 4 years.  We'd only got them on this computer.  Now they are on a hard drive, I'm working on uploading them all on to flickr and they are on a few memory sticks.  I only actually started to save them all because we ran out of memory on the computer!  20 gb of pictures is a lot of space.  It's a good idea anyhow since lord knows when these computers crash.

January 25, 2011

Tres Leches Cake

I first meant to make this cake nine months ago, when it made it on the list.  Unfortunately for me it kept getting beaten out by things like peanut butter rice crispies, cranberry apple crumble pie and double chocolate muffins.  Well no longer!  This cake, according to Shane "is definitely on the make again list."

Tres leches cake, for all us Canadians is three milk cake.  It's a light sponge cake saturated with three kinds of milk; sweetened condensed, evaporated and whole milk. And to top it off, frosted with whipped cream.  When we first dug in no one said anything, but instead devoured their slices, then everyone took seconds.  It's light enough to keep eating and "it has a glass of milk built right in!"  The cake is still cake-y, not soggy as you might suppose.  It's sweet and simple, with just a little vanilla.  It bursts in your mouth and the cream just slides down.  It sounds so lame, but tastes so good.  I think I'll try this in the summer with a pile of fresh berries on top.

Don't wait as long as we did, it's cheap and you've probably got most of the ingredients right now.  

Tres Leches Cake

Makes a really big cake, make sure you have enough people to eat it!

1 cup flour (120g) ap flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
5 whole eggs
1 cup (200g) white sugar, divided
1 tsp vanilla
1/3 cup milk
1 can evaporated milk
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1/4 cup cream

2 cups whipping cream
3 Tbsp (37g) sugar

Preheat the oven to 350 F.  Spray a 9x13 pan with baking spray until well coated.

Combine flour, baking powder and salt together in a large bowl.  Separate eggs.

Beat egg yolks with 3/4 c (150g) of sugar on high speed until eggs are pale yellow.  Stir in milk and vanilla.  Pour egg yolk mixture over flour and gently combine.

Whip egg whites on high speed until soft peaks form.  While the mixer is on pour in remaining 1/4 cup (50g) sugar and beat until egg whites are stiff but not dry.  

Fold egg white mixture into flour batter, very gently until just combined.  Pour into prepared pan and spread out evenly.  

Bake for 35 to 45 minutes until an inserted toothpick comes out clean, the top is golden and pulled away from the sides of the pan.  Turn cake out onto rimmed platter (if you have one big enough) to cool.  (Or just leave in the pan away from the heat)

While cake is cooling, mix together evaporated milk, sweetened condensed milk and cream in a small pitcher.  Once cake is cooled pierce all over with a fork.  Slowly drizzle all but one cup of the milk mixture over the cake.  Try to spread evenly around the edges as well.  

Allow cake to absorb the milk for 30 minutes.  Whip heavy cream and 3 Tbsp sugar together until thick and spreadable.

Cut into squares and serve.  Keep refrigerated.

January 24, 2011

Jan 24

All we’ve been doing recently is working, Shane hasn’t had a day off in two weeks.  When not working I can be found exercising or making dinner.  And honestly none of it has been blog worthy.  I haven’t even had time to snap a few pictures.  I’m sorry about the absence, I hope to bring a recipe tomorrow.
P.S. 83 days!

January 21, 2011

Stupid cakes.

I don't know what my problem is.  I can't make cakes.  Big fancy ones, or small easy ones, they won't turn out for me.  Sometimes (often times) the frosting doesn't set right or the filling is runny, maybe the layers won't sit straight or don't rise altogether.  It's a very frustrating situation for me and nearly every time I say I won't ever bake a cake again.  But I always do, I love cake.  So I've come to a point that if the cake is just for us and not for a celebration we make it work.  And if it is a celebration cake...make cupcakes, they always work.

So when your cake comes out like this...

Thin your icing out and make it work.  It still tastes amazing!

Jan 21

Yesterday was: fup90x, a huge excitement over cooking books, tea party dreams, awesome vegetarian quesadillas and the smell of a winter's cranberry cookie.

Tonight I made this amazing chorizo black bean soup.

January 19, 2011

Jan 19

Yesterday was: a rich bolognese simmering all day, a cold nose, plenty-a-rain, the quiet around me

January 18, 2011

The winter blues.

I've got a case of the winter blues. I tried my best to avoid it, I feel I really did. Orange juice and vitamin D, exercise every day and enough sleep but it's come on and it's hard to shake.
(I actually sat here and had tea and strawberry shortcakes in the spring)
It's rained non stop, and been dark from 4pm-8am. I haven't seen the sun in 10 days. And to make it all worse we've been counting down the days (89!) until the biggest trip of our life so far and maybe of the rest of our lives, from inside our dark basement apartment. It makes for really long days.
11 days ago I made cupcakes to celebrate 100 days until Europe...it feels like 3 weeks have passed!
So what's a girl to do when she takes her camera outside and sees nothing buy brown and wet? Bake up summer with raspberry crumb bars and strawberry rhubarb pie. Thats what. (And don't worry, the berries were frozen from last summer, no Californian strawberries here)
We threw a hint of summer party, complete with burgers, beer and pie.
She can make tuna noodle casserole.
And her favourite peanut butter and chocolate concoctions.
And maybe fill up on beet barley salad.
The other thing she can do is throw a winter tea party. And hopefully a summer one to follow!

Beet and Pearl Barley Salad

Of all the thing I've recently cooked and neglected to show you here, the most memorable, or at least the thing I'd like to eat the most: pearl barley and beet salad with goat cheese and green onion.  That name pretty much says it all, if you go and throw those things together you have a meal.  But in the interest of an easy recipe I'll give it to you.

It's vibrant and takes advantage of our local beets, something I haven't been doing.  The original idea was to soak some minced red onion in water while the beets and barley cooked, but I forgot to buy some so I used a lot of extra green onion.

I've had a package of pearl barley in my cupboard forever and wanted to use it up before our trip.  I've used it in the  beef barley stoup we love and I used the rest of it here.  It's got an awesome texture and a slight nutty flavour to it.  I'm already sorry the bag is gone and when we get back I'll buy another bag right away.

Beet and Pearl Barley Salad

Makes 5 cups, about 4 meals (or 3 for shane and I)

Instead of goat cheese, feta would be really good.  If you choose to, go easy on seasoning with salt, feta is really salty.

3 medium sized beets
1 cup pearl barley
1/2 red onion, finely diced
4-5 green onions sliced fine (plus a little more for garnish)
4 oz goat cheese
1 T olive oil
1 1/2 T fresh lemon juice

Heat the oven to 450 F.  Cut the tops and bottoms off the beets and cover with tin foil.  Roast in oven for 30-45 minutes.  Until tender when pierced with a fork.  Peel and dice to beets into small cubes.

Cut up the red onion and soak in cold water for half an hour.

Meanwhile, Bring 3 cups of water to a boil in a medium saucepan.  Add the barley and 1/2 t salt.  Reduce to a simmer, cover and cook for 30 minutes or so, until the barley is al dente.  If there is leftover liquid drain and return barley to pan.  Cover to keep warm.

Drain red onion.  Combine goat cheese, barley, red onion, green onion and beets in mixing bowl, toss with lemon juice and olive oil.  Taste mixture and salt and pepper as needed.  Garnish with green onion.

January 14, 2011

Jan 14

Since our snow day...well on our snow day, shane made me a snowman. Then the cat knocked him over.
I made beef stoup (from the pantry #5) with a delicious oat soda bread.
I hung out with Tash and Erin overnight, did mom's birthday thing and this was my dinner
and this is a peanut butter hot chocolate with homemade marshmallows!

Oatmeal coconut cookies

Natasha asked for these cookies a few weeks ago, oatmeal coconut, the kind your mom would have made if she made them.  I couldn't find a recipe that was exactly what I wanted, so I adapted and I need to put it here before I forget!  So there you go Tash, now you can make them too.

Oatmeal coconut cookies

3 c old fashioned oats
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
1 cup of butter
2/3 cup white sugar
2/3 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
2 eggs
3/4 cup coconut
Preheat the oven to 375 F. Combine dry ingredients (oats, flour, soda, powder and salt) together in a medium sized bowl.
In a large bowl (by hand!) combine butter and sugars and vanilla.  Stir until well combined.  Add eggs and mix.
Stir in the flour a bit at a time (to avoid a mess) then add coconut.
Drop onto cookie sheet lined with silpat or parchment in large tsp full.  Bake for 10-12 minutes, until golden brown and center isn’t wiggly or to wet anymore.  Let cool on cookie sheet for 5 minutes and move to cooling rack.  Keep dough refridgerated between baking.

January 12, 2011

Jan 12

I love snow days! Shane even tried to go to work, but got stuck.
So we hung out and made macaroni and gouda cheese. Yum! And played Monopoly with T & G.

January 11, 2011

A night in Croatia

We spent a delicious night in Croatia last night.  My favourite item of the night was these cheese borek. They've got ricotta and salty feta, they're wrapped in butter and phyllo with just a smidgen of dill.  You bake them for forty minutes and out pops these creamy, oozy and a little bit crispy, piping hot snacks.  I can't wait to try them! (96 days btw.)  I think these actually taste a lot like the ones we will find.  I adapted the recipe to suit our taste and budget (Mostly I just knocked out the cottage cheese because we didn't want to throw out half a tub of the stuff.)

We also enjoyed these meatballs called cevapcici.  They are actually a Balkan dish eaten all over the countries of southeastern europe but almost always with two different types of meat.  We mixed beef and pork with an egg and a little cayenne.  So simple but so good.  We had it with a little homemade tzatziki and a vegetable dish called blitva.  Blitva is just potatoes and swiss chard cooked with some garlic.  Yum! 

Finally we ended with a very popular treat in Croatia.  It is called kremsnite or custard slices.  Mine are really thick, I had to adapt from a really large pan to a really small one but you get the idea.  It's vanilla custard lightened with egg whites sandwiched between sheets of puff pastry.  The egg whites in this dish didn't incorporate as much as I would have liked, which was only visually unappealing, the texture was just fine.  Overall a possible make again dish.