Pumpkin Loaf

Pumpkin Bread ingredients

Bobby Flay Punkpin Loaf

Bobby Flay Pumpkin Bread

Anyone else obsessed with Beat Bobby Flay? No? Okay, just checking. I’m not sure how or why I started watching it, but now whenever I see that it’s on I get a little adrenaline rush to tune in. Anyway, anyone who has seen even a couple of episodes would know that Flay definitely has a flavour profile that he sticks to on a regular basis. I wouldn’t say baking and pumpkin are completely reminiscent of that, but since he’s been on my television so often lately, I decided to give this pumpkin bread a whirl. The texture is lovely thanks to the very light batter, but I would probably up the spice content by as much as double next time. I also added a half teaspoon of ground cardamom, plus about half a cup of lightly toasted, chopped hazelnuts.

Bobby Flay’s Pumpkin Bread

4 tablespoons butter, room temperature
1 3/4 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 cup canned pumpkin puree (canned or roast your own)
2 large eggs
2/3 cup water
raw pumpkin seeds for garnish

In a small bowl, combine the flour, salt, baking soda and powder, and all of the spices. In another large bowl, beat together the sugar, butter and oil until light and fluffy, about one minute.

In the large bowl, add in the pumpkin and mix until combined. Add in one egg at a time, and beat until just incorporated. While still mixing, slowly incorporate the flour mixture into the batter, along with the water, alternating between the two.

Pour the batter into a buttered 9 or 10-inch loaf pan and top with raw pumpkin seeds. Bake at 350°F for one hour to an hour and fifteen minutes, until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack for ten minutes, then remove from the pan and let cool completely.

Pan-Roasted Herb and Garlic Lamb Chops

Pan Roasted Herb and Garlic Lamb Chops

After giving up our barbecue, I resigned from making my favourite lamb chops on the grill, assuming I wouldn’t be able to replicate the same flavours in the oven. However, now that the weather has turned, pan-roasting them is ideal, especially since prepping them with this herb and garlic rub creates an excellent crust and flavour combo. These ones I got from the butcher were quite small, so they didn’t take too long to roast (just under ten minutes), but you’ll definitely want to add in extra time for standard or large-sized chops.

Herb and Garlic Lamb Chops

1 tablespoon of fresh thyme leaves
3 cloves of garlic, finely diced
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground peppercorns
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 rack of lamb (ask your butcher to divide into ribs)

Combine the thyme, garlic, salt, pepper and olive oil in a small bowl and massage onto both sides of each rib. Let sit for at least half an hour.
Add a small amount of oil (olive or coconut) to a cast iron skillet over high heat, then brown each rib on both sides, about 1-2 minutes. Once browned, transfer the pan to the oven at 400°F, and roast until cooked through, about 10-15 minutes. Enjoy!

Spanish Rice with Lobster and Shrimp

Spanish Rice with Lobster and Shrimp

I think of this flavourful dish as kind of hybrid between risotto and paella. The salmoretta sauce that you serve overtop has a lovely, light flavour that could easily be re-purposed alongside other fish or chicken dishes to give them a little extra kick.

While the lobster and shrimp are obviously an indulgent accompaniment to the rice here, the recipe would also work very nicely done with chunks of sauted chicken and/or chorizo instead.

Spanish Rice with Lobster and Shrimp
(serves 2-4)

1/2 tsp. saffron
1/3 cup boiling water
2 medium tomatoes, halved
1/2 Vidalia onion, peeled, cut into wedges
1/2 long red chili
6 tbsp. olive oil, divided
1 tbsp. sherry vinegar
1 tbsp. chopped parsley
1 tbsp. chopped cilantro
1/4 cup diced shallots
225g shimeji mushrooms
4 1/2 cups chicken stock
1 cup Albufera or Arborio rice
2 tbsp. butter
1 tsp. garlic, chopped
250g lobster, shell(s) removed
1 cup shrimp, shells removed

Steep the saffron in boiling water for 20 minutes. Strain and discard the saffron. Make a salmorreta sauce by placing the tomatoes (cut side up), onion wedges and chili on a baking sheet and brush with one tablespoon of olive oil. Place under a pre-heated broiler until brown and blistered, about three minutes.

Skin and seed the tomato and chili and add to a food processor with the vinegar, parsley and cilantro. Turn it on and add about four tablespoons of olive oil slowly, until it’s incorporated. Season with salt as needed.

Heat another tablespoon of olive oil in a large skillet on medium heat. Add shallots and mushrooms and saute until softened, about three minutes. Add 3 1/2 cups of stock and the saffron water and bring to a boil. Add in the rice, season with salt and bring to a simmer. Continue to cook, adding in the remaining stock, until rice is cooked through but still slightly firm, about fifteen minutes.

Heat butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add in garlic and cook for one minute. Add in shelled lobster and shrimp and saute until pink and cooked through, about three minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Remove seafood, then add garlic butter to the rice.

Serve rice in individual dishes, top each with salmorreta sauce, lobster and shrimp, and a few cilantro leaves. Enjoy!

Recipe from Lucy Waverman for The Globe and Mail.

Caneton aux Pêches

Roast Duck with Peach and Port Wine Sauce

Canard aux Peches

This recipe is one of the best I’ve enjoyed in recent months. I may be a bit biased as duck is one of my favourite dishes, but this whole roast duckling roasted with peaches in a variation on the classic Caneton a l’Orange recipe is a serious indulgence not to be missed. The sauce is a revelation, which is no surprise since I searched into Julia Child’s classic recipe collection to find it. I’ve simplified the whole process a bit here, as the original recipe is a complicated combination of three various dishes, and once you look it over you’ll see that it is really not too complex. A serious contender for a twist on a small Thanksgiving gathering, I’d say.

Caneton aux Pêches (Roast Duck with Peaches)
(serves 2-4)

1 5 1/2 lb. duckling
small bunch of fresh thyme
1/2 onion, sliced
1 carrot, sliced
5 tbsp. sugar, divided
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
2 cups beef stock
2 tbsp. arrowroot powder or cornstarch
1/2 cup + 3 tbsp. Madeira or Port wine
4 tbsp. Grand Marnier or other orange liqueur
2 tbsp. soft butter
4 ripe peaches, quartered
2 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
salt and pepper

Take the duck out of the fridge a few hours before cooking to bring it to room temperature. Wash the bird well, removing any giblets, and pat completely dry inside and out with paper towels. Season the cavity generously with salt and pepper and stuff with a small bunch of fresh thyme. Place in a roasting pan and surround with sliced carrots and onion. Roast at 400°F for about an hour and ten minutes.

While the duck is roasting, start the base for the sauce. Boil three tablespoons of sugar in the red wine vinegar over medium-high heat for several minutes (stirring often), until it caramelizes and and becomes thick and syrupy. Remove from heat and add in 1/2 cup of stock. Simmer, stirring, for about one minute until the stock is absorbed. In a small bowl, mix together the arrowroot powder or cornstarch with three tablespoons of Madeira or Port. Add the rest of the stock to the sauce, along with the arrowroot or cornstarch mixture. Simmer for a few more minutes, season with salt and pepper, and set aside.

Place peach quarters in a shallow dish and coat well with lemon juice and two tablespoons each of sugar and Grand Marnier.

When the duck has finished roasting, it should be medium to medium-rare with pinkish flesh, and slightly rosy juices. Avoid over-cooking! Remove the duck to a serving dish and place in the still-hot (turned off) oven with the door slightly ajar.

Remove as much fat as possible from the roasting pan, which will be most of the liquids (save this for cooking frites or potatoes later) and add 1/2 cup of Madeira or Port to the pan. Boil the liquid down quickly, for several minutes, until it has been reduced to three or four tablespoons. Combine this reduction with the sauce base and bring to a simmer. If you want the sauce to be very smooth, use a sieve to strain the reduction first. Add two tablespoons of Grand Marnier and all of the peach slices. Place a lid on the pot and simmer until the peaches are soft, about seven to ten minutes, then remove to a separate dish. Just before serving, add two tablespoons of butter to the sauce and stir to combine.

Carve the duck legs and wings, and the breasts very thinly off the bird. Serve with the braised peaches, sauce and mashed potatoes and turnips. Enjoy!

Adapted from Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking.

Petits Fours: NYC Edition

ABC Carpet and Home NYC Chandaliers

I thought I was pretty well-versed in the arena of home and tabletop decor until I paid a visit to ABC Carpet & Home. All I can say is: Mind. Blown.

Dean and Deluca Mast Brothers Chefs Tablet Chocolate

A cool $50 will snag you this crazy 24 oz. dark chocolate “Chef’s Tablet” from Mast Bothers, which I spotted at Dean & Deluca.

Union Square Market NYC Tomatoes

Admiring the amazing variety of goods during my first visit to Union Square Greenmarket.

Eataly NYC Beers

Of all of the brilliant (and delicious) things you can source at Eataly, the vast selection in the liquor department alone was truly captivating!

Roasted Spiced Cauliflower with Chickpeas

Toasting Spices

Roasted Cauliflower and Chick Peas

Roasted Cauliflower Chickpeas Onion Spices

I’ve been eating a lot of broccoli and cauliflower lately, and now that the weather has turned, I’ve been looking for new ways of making each that have a bit of a heartier touch. This cauliflower dish does just the trick and it has such a savoury, nutty flavour that it has easily become one of my favourite side dishes in recent weeks. Enjoy!

Cauliflower with Chickpeas
(serves 4-6)

1 tbsp. ground coriander
1 tbsp. turmeric
1 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. fennel seeds
1/2 tsp. chili pepper
1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
1 tbsp. fresh ginger, grated
1 whole cauliflower, divided into florets
1 19 oz. can chickpeas, rinsed well and drained
1/2 small red onion, sliced
fresh cilantro

Use a small, dry pan to toast all of the spices over high heat until fragrant, about two minutes. Add spices, along with the coconut oil, ginger, cauliflower florets, chickpeas and onion into a large mixing bowl and toss well until everything is coated evenly.

Season with salt and pepper before placing in a large baking dish. Roast at 400°F until the cauliflower is tender and lightly browned, about 35 minutes. Garnish with chopped cilantro before serving.

Adapted from Guy Fieri for the Food Network.

End-of-Summer Lemoncello

Meyer Lemons Lemoncello

Meyer Lemon Zest Lemoncello

Homemade Meyer Lemoncello

Homemade Meyer Lemon Lemocello

The final days of summer came and went so quickly and I felt like I barely had time to catch my breath. So, this last “unofficial” weekend of summer, I decided to preserve some of  the season’s flavours with a batch of lemoncello. It’s an easy-to-drink liqueur that’s especially popular in southern Italy, in places like Amalfi and Capri. Enjoy it in a shot glass (pop them in the freezer first) or added to Prosecco along side a charcuterie plate, or after dinner as a digestif.

It’s very easy to make– you just need about a week and a bunch of nice quality lemons. I used Meyer lemons, which add a golden colour and a sweeter flavour, but if you can’t find those, stick to organic lemons since you’ll only be using the zest.

(makes about 1.75 litres)

8 Meyer or standard organic lemons
750 ml vodka
2 cups sugar
3 1/2 cups water

Scrub all of your lemons with a small brush so they are clean and smooth. Once dry, use a microplane to very carefully remove the first layer of skin from each lemon. Keep in mind that you want to avoid any white pith on your zest, as it will make your liqueur very bitter. You’ll also have to be extra careful when using Meyer lemons, as their skin is very thin. Use the microplane to lightly zest the lemon in solid stripes all around the fruit, being careful not to go over the same spot twice.

Place the zest in a large, sealable jar and cover with vodka. Give the jar a good shake once a day and let the vodka steep for at least one week. If you have time, you can experiment with longer steeping periods – the longer you wait, the more flavourful the liqueur will become!

Make a simple syrup by heating the sugar and water in a pot over medium heat. Once the sugar has dissolved (do not let it boil) remove the pot from the heat and let it cool completely. Once cool, add the syrup to the vodka and let sit for about 12 hours, or overnight.

Strain the liquid with a fine sieve to remove the zest, and pour into bottles. Chill well before drinking. Enjoy!

Roast Pork Rub

pork roast Pork Roast RubPork Roast Rub with Mustard, Horseradish, Herbs

As I’ve said before, I love a good roast for its ease, time efficiency and wealth of leftovers. However, I often find with pork roasts that they can easily taste dry and/or flavourless. In the effort of spiking this one up a bit, I whipped up this rub and the results were excellent. If you have time, you would also do well to leave it on for up to an hour before roasting to really jack up the flavour.

Roast Pork Rub

1 tablespoon grainy mustard
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon horseradish
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon garlic salt
1/2 teaspoon mustard seed powder
1/2 teaspoon fresh pepper
Low sodium chicken stock

Place the pork roast on a baking sheet. Use a small, sharp knife to poke holes all-over the top of the roast. Combine all of the ingredients together and massage over top, making sure to use extra mix around the knife holes. Fill the bottom of the baking pan with a half inch of chicken stock. Roast at 400°F for about 45 minutes, until cooked through. Let cool for about ten minutes before slicing. Enjoy!

Drunken Tequila Shrimp

Tequila Shrimp Flambe

Tequila Shrimp Cream Sauce

Tequila Shrimp 2

After having a whack of shrimp left over from a previous dinner, I was looking to experiment with a new dish and stumbled upon this recipe. I liked that it had few ingredients and was short on prep time, but was a little concerned about never having actually attempted to flambé anything before.

Armed with extra-long matches and my sturdiest cast iron pan, I gave it a go and it turned out great. The tequila adds a lot of interesting flavour, but avoids tasting like you marinated your shrimp in a summer cocktail. Don’t be alarmed at how long the liquor takes to burn off (or how high the flames are), just stand back and carefully shake the pan from time to time wearing a good quality oven glove.

Tequila Shrimp

1.5 lbs. large shrimp (think about 20 per pound), peeled and deveined
2 tbsp. coconut oil
1/2 cup tequila
1/2 cup sour cream or crème fraiche
1 bunch green onions, chopped on the diagonal
fresh cilantro
kosher salt and pepper

Toss shrimp with salt and pepper and set aside. Place coconut oil in a cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. Once melted, add shrimp and sauté until they’re pink and opaque, about five minutes.

Turn heat down low and slowly pour the tequila into the pan. Turn the heat back up to medium-high and use a long match to set fire to the tequila. Careful here – flames may be big and shoot up high. Stand back and carefully shake the pan as the flames die down.

Once the fire has subsided, remove the pan from the heat and add in cream. Mix well and sprinkle with green onions and chopped cilantro. Serve over brown rice and/or quinoa and enjoy!

Figgy Tarts

Fig Oregano Tart Ingredients


Fig Tarts with Puff Pastry

Fig Tarts with Honey Puff Pastry and Oregano

Easy Fig Tarts

A couple of weeks ago, I mentioned how hard of a time I had finding fresh figs for this salad I was making. Well now, of course, they’re everywhere. In fact, I bought a whole tray of green figs at the market the other day for less than $3! I’ve been enjoying them with honey in Greek yoghurt, with my morning granola, in salads, etc., but I also wanted to incorporate them into an easy warm-weather dessert.

Enter, these tarts. Since I made them with pre-fab puff pastry, they were super-easy and fast to put together, but their presentation is still lovely. The herb leaves add a savoury twist to the flavour, which also makes them ideal for a cocktail party appetizer or even any bridal or baby showers you have coming up this summer. Plus, you can change up the look depending on the shape of cookie-cutter and types of herbs you use.

Easy Fig and Herb Tarts
(makes about 10)

1 sheet of frozen puff pastry, thawed
1 teaspoon flour
1 teaspoon honey
fresh oregano (or other herbs, such as tarragon or thyme)
3 fresh figs
5 teaspoons white sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla

Combine the vanilla and sugar in a small bowl and mix together until crumbly, then set aside. Mix the honey with a small amount of warm water in another small bowl (start with about a teaspoon of water) and stir until it’s well combined with a watery texture and set aside. Gently wash and dry each fig then slice each into eight wedges.

Unroll your puff pastry and place with its parchment paper onto a large baking sheet. Lightly dust it with flour and use a medium-sized cookie cutter also dusted in flour (mine was about 2″x 3″) to cut out each tart. Carefully peel away the excess dough and place the baking sheet in the freezer for about ten minutes.

Use a spatula to evenly space the pastries on your baking sheet. One by one, use a pastry brush to paint each piece with the honey mixture before decorating with one to two fig slices. Carefully remove the herb leaves from their sprigs and arrange on the tart. Once in position, paint the leaves down with the honey mixture. Choosing leaves that look “flat” on the sprig will help them stay in place, and you can also push them gently into the pastry to help them stay put.

Once you’ve decorated each tart, sprinkle each with the vanilla sugar. Bake at 350°F for about 15 minutes until just lightly golden. Enjoy!