Aniseed Pound Cake

anise pound cake - trustinkim.com

This aniseed pound cake is awesome with a coffee or cuppa tea. I happen to love the flavour of anise, so I was eager to make this recipe from Bijoux.com. The recipe calls for confectioners sugar (I call it icing sugar) to be sprinkled on top, but although that looks pretty, I’m not a fan of the metallic taste of the sugar.

The cake was really good even four or five days after baking! I put some of it in the freezer, and it was awesome to be able to pull it out when I had company coming for afternoon tea.

Of course, being Canadian I should have changed the name to ‘slightly less than half a kilogram’ cake, but that sounds a bit pedantic. And in this recipe no ingredient is a pound anyways, unlike the traditional pound cake that has a pound each of butter, sugar, egg and flour. So maybe I should call it pound-ish cake . . .

The only planning ahead you have to do is taking the butter and eggs out of the fridge early so that they can come to room temperature.

This recipe makes one 8-inch/20 cm loaf, or four small loaves.

What you need:

  • 1 cup/   1/2 pound unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 & 2/3 cups granulated sugar
  • 5 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 & 3/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons anise seed

What you do:

  1. Preheat the oven to 325°F/165°C. Butter the bottom of a loaf pan, then line the bottom of the pan with parchment paper. Butter and flour the parchment paper.
  2. Cream the butter and sugar using an electric mixer, beating on high for about 10 minutes until it becomes light and fluffy.
  3. Beat the eggs in one at a time on medium-low speed.
  4. Stir the flour, salt and anise seeds in by hand just until it is combined.
  5. Pour the batter into the prepared pan, smoothing the tops a little. Tapping the pans down on the counter will help to settle the batter. Bake for about 45 minutes, or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.
  6. Place the loaf pan on a rack and let it cool before removing it from the pan. 
  7. To store, wrap the loaf tightly in plastic wrap. You may freeze it if you wish.

Cranberry Coffee Cake

cranberry coffee cake - trustinkim

This coffee cake is a classic that everyone seems to appreciate eating, and one of the recipes I make more than any other. It makes a large cake or two smaller ones, so it’s great to make when baking for a crowd. I like to bring it to the staffroom for goodie day, or to a picnic. 

The sweetness of the nutty topping is a nice balance for the tartness of the cranberries, and the cake is moist and delicious. It is still great a few days after baking, but of course is the very best the day it’s made . . . especially when it’s still a little warm. 

Store in an airtight counter for a few days. Serve at room temperature.

What you need for the cake:

  • 1/2 cup butter, room temperature
  • 1 & 1/2 cups brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup plain yogurt (not non-fat)
  • 1 & 1/2 cups cranberries, frozen or fresh

What you need for the topping:

  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts (pecans are good for this too)
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon cardamom

What you do:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350F, then spray or butter and flour a 9 x 13 inch pan (or two round or square 9-inch pans – springform would be great).
  2. To make the topping, melt the butter, then stir in the rest of the ingredients. Set this aside.
  3. Cream the butter along with the brown sugar, then blend in the egg.
  4. Sift together the flour, baking soda and salt.
  5. Mix one-third of the flour mixture into the batter with a wooden spoon. Add half the yogurt and mix it until just it is incorporated. Mix in one-third more of the flour, then the rest of the yogurt, finishing with the rest of the flour.  Mix until just combined.
  6. Gently fold in the cranberries, then pour into the baking pan. It is quite a thick batter, so you’ll have to smooth it a bit. Don’t worry too much about getting into all the corners, as it will fill in as it bakes.
  7. Sprinkle on the nut-sugar topping.
  8. Bake for about 40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the cake comes out clean.

Roasted Eggplant with Roasted Chickpeas and Tahini Sauce

roasted eggplant and chickpeas with tahini sauce - trustinkim

I have seen a number of recipes for roasted chickpeas lately, but I wasn’t very interested in making them because of a bad experience with some chalky store-bought roasted chickpeas. For some reason I decided to give them a try, and was really happy with the result. They come out just the right texture, not too dry, not too soft. I love the bit of saltiness topping off the creamy eggplant and tahini sauce. Add the sweetness of the pomegranate seeds and you’ve got a pretty perfect vegan meal.

This dinner is quite simple to make. Most of the work is done by the oven, roasting the eggplant and the chickpeas, and while it is roasting you just have to whip up a quick sauce.

I made this a few months ago, and I didn’t actually measure the sauce ingredients, so this is my best estimate of the amounts I used. I cobbled this recipe together from ideas I’ve seen in various cookbooks, most notably the Ottolenghi (drool) cookbooks.

What you need:

  • 1 – 540 mL can chickpeas
  • 5 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon cumin
  • 3 – 4 long and skinny, or 8 small eggplants
For the sauce:
  • 1/3 cup tahini paste
  • 2/3 cup greek yogurt
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt, or to taste
  • 1/4 cup water or more as needed
  • parsley to garnish

Optional:

  • pomegranate seeds, of they are in season. Chopped dried sour cherries might be nice too.

What you do:

  1. Preheat the oven to 220C/425F.
  2. Rinse the chickpeas and pat them dry with a clean towel. Toss them in 2 tablespoons of the olive oil, then toss with salt, pepper and cumin. Spread out into a single layer on a baking tray.
  3. Wash the eggplants and slice them in half lengthwise. Place them cut-side up on a baking tray and brush them with olive oil.
  4. Roast the chickpeas and eggplants for 30-40 minutes, tossing the chickpeas halfway through the time. The eggplant should be very tender when you poke it with a fork. The chickpeas should be slightly crunchy, but not hard. It’s a good idea to test the chickpeas a few times in the last 15 minutes of cooking time.
  5. While the oven is doing its thing you can make the sauce. Whisk together the tahini, yogurt, lemon juice, garlic and salt. Slowly add the water to make a pourable yet still thick sauce. Taste and add more salt or lemon if needed.
  6. Plate the eggplant, drizzling the sauce over them, and then top with the chickpeas. Garnish with chopped parsley and optional pomegranate.

Red Wine Braised Beef Short Ribs – to die for!

red wine braised short ribs - trustinkim.com

I made these delicious red wine braised short ribs on Christmas Eve for my good friends, John and Dale. We enjoyed some great conversation, music, wine, and of course the food! After they went home I fell into a deep sleep with a belly full of good food. That night I woke up many times smelling the delicious aroma of this meal, and fell happily back to sleep each time thinking about our evening and all the amazing foods I’ve eaten, that night and others before . . . 

It’s definitely a special meal (the photo doesn’t do it justice – sometimes we just want to eat and not wait for a good photo for the blog), and a bonus is that my whole apartment and the hallways were filled with the amazing scents of it while it was cooking – I’m a bit surprised that no neighbours invited themselves over. When John and Dale arrived they said they could smell it all the way down the hallway, and they had their fingers crossed it was my cooking that they were smelling.

I’ve eaten this meal at a friend’s place before, and have seen many recipes for similar meals. This is my version – you can’t go wrong with a long cooking time in lots of red wine and beef stock (even better if you have a homemade beef stock) and the flavouring of the mirepoix.

To make the beef short ribs they are first browned in butter, then the mirepoix is added, then a whole bottle of red wine and some beef stock. It needs to spend a few hours in the oven before it becomes fall-off-the-bone, melt-in-your-mouth tender and tasty. I served it on buttermilk mashed potatoes with glazed carrots (brought by John and Dale). So delicious! 

While the ribs are cooking you can be free to attend to other dinner preparations. The ribs can be made a day ahead of time and then reheated in the oven, if you need to save time on the day of the meal.

This recipe should serve at least four people, but it’s also really nice to have leftovers.

For the potatoes I just boiled them and added some heated buttermilk and butter. After draining, I mashed the potatoes by hand with a masher (not an electric mixer) in the pot they were cooked in, with some salt and pepper and the heated buttermilk and butter. I made sure I didn’t over-mash them -they become gluey with too much mashing.

You need a deep covered baking dish for this. If you don’t have one you can cover any oven-proof deep dish in foil. I try to avoid using foil since it it not recyclable, but if you need to, that’s what it’s there for.

If you enjoy this recipe or others on Trust in Kim, please let me know. I write this blog as a hobby, and work full time as a teacher. I’d appreciate feedback as I’m not sure if I will continue writing these recipes; it takes a lot of time and some cost to do this and also keep it ad-free.

What you need:

  • 3 lbs bone-in short ribs
  • butter for browning
  • 1 stalk celery
  • 2 carrots
  • 1 small leek
  • 1/2 small onion or a few shallots
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 bottle red wine (something you would like to drink)
  • 4 cups beef stock (homemade or a better quality one with no MSG – I used —–)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 tablespoons flour for the gravy

What you do:

  1. Salt the beef generously, on all sides, a few hours or a day before cooking.
  2. Prepare your mirepoix by chopping the carrot, celery, leek and onion. Also mince the garlic.
  3. Preheat the oven to 325F.
  4. Place a French oven or other heavy lidded baker on medium high heat and add some butter. Make sure you wait until the pot is hot enough, then add the beef and brown it on all sides.  The beef will “tell you when it is done” by releasing from the pan – you should not have to pull it off. Turn the beef until each side has browned – you may need to do this in two batches. Place the beef on a dish to be added again later.
  5. After removing the beef, lower the heat and add the mirepoix to the pan and cook for about two minutes; it should not brown, just cook slowly. Add the garlic and cook briefly, then add the red wine and beef stock. Bring the liquids to a boil and cook until in has reduced by about 1/3.
  6. Add the beef back to the pot, making sure it is submerged. Place the lidded baking dish in the oven and cook for about 2 & 1/2 to 3 hours. Now… enjoy a glass of wine and get the rest of your dinner ready. You may even have time to sit down…
  7. After spending that long time in the oven, the beef has become very tender, and you have magically prepared everything else you need including the mashed potatoes. So now you just have to get the gravy ready.
  8. Remove the beef from the pan and place in another lidded dish to keep warm. Strain all the vegetables from the pan and save the liquid to make the sauce. Place the pan back on medium heat and whisk the 2 tablespoons of flour into 1/4 cup of water. Add to the warm pan, whisking until it is smooth. Add the reserved pan juices and bring to a boil to thicken them a bit.
  9. Enjoy the beef with the mashed potatoes and sauce, and hopefully some nice veggies on the side. Oh, and a glass of red wine! Enjoy!

Shortbread Cookies

shortbread - trustinkimThank you Tante Betty for sharing your amazing shortbread recipe with me!

I have made a few shortbread recipes over the years, but none were ever good enough to post on my blog. I finally asked my Tante Betty if she would share her recipe with me, and she was kind enough to send it.

Apparently there are two camps in the shortbread game. Some people feel strongly that just three ingredients make the best shortbread: butter, sugar and flour. The others prefer to also include cornstarch. I’m sure they’re all great, but to me this recipe with three ingredients (well, two types of sugar) makes the best traditional shortbread.

The only change I made to Tante Betty’s recipe was to cut the recipe in half. I want to make a few different kinds of cookies in smaller batches, so I decided to halve a lot of the recipes. Feel free to double the recipe to make the full four dozen. 

One caveat with this recipe: when cutting the cookies into your desired shapes, stick to a cookie cutter that is not too intricate. I tried making some awesome reindeer cookies, but they broke apart when I tried to put them on the cookie sheet.

So, here’s the recipe:

What you need:

  • 1 cup butter (room temperature)
  • 1/2 cup minus 1 tablespoon icing sugar, sifted
  • 1 tablespoon light brown sugar
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour, sifted

What you do:

  1. Prepare baking pans by lining with parchment paper.
  2. Cream the butter and sugars with an electric beater. This will take 4-5 minutes to get it nice and fluffy. The sugar should become a lighter colour when you are done.
  3. Add the flour to the butter mixture and beat until combined.
  4. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for a few hours. You can do this the before if you want. Just take it out of the fridge about half an hour before you want to roll it out.
  5. Preheat the oven to 300F.
  6. Roll out the dough on a floured surface to less than one centimetre thick. Use floured cookie cutters to cut into your desired shapes. Place the cookies onto the cookie sheets.
  7. Bake two pans at a time, rotating the pans halfway through the baking, for about 20 minutes (or less – check at around 15 minutes – they should not become brown). The back of the oven tends to be hotter, so if you flip the pans around they will bake more evenly.
  8. Place the cookies on a wire rack to cool. They should be stored in an airtight container, and can be frozen for a few weeks.

shortbread - trustinkim

“Carrot Cake” Bran Muffins

carrot pineapple bran muffins - trustinkim

These moist and delicious muffins are a slight alteration of my previous favourite version.  They still have grated carrots, to give them moisture, and some raisins for a pop of sweetness. For this recipe I’ve chopped up some pineapple instead of apple, which adds to the carrot-cakey flavour. I’ve used pecans here instead of walnuts, and on the top I sprinkled a little bit of brown sugar and cinnamon, just for that extra hit of flavour and some crunchiness.

On busy mornings I appreciate having some of these in the freezer. I warm one up a bit and enjoy it with a cup of tea, and it gives me some energy to start my day.

The recipe makes 12 large muffins, or 14-16 smaller muffins.

What you need:

  • 1 & 1/2 cups All-bran Buds cereal
  • 1 & 1/4 cups buttermilk (or add a tablespoon of vinegar to regular milk to make your own)
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil (or melted butter)
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup carrot, grated
  • 1 pineapple, chopped (canned is fine if you drain the liquid)
  • 3/4 cup raisins
  • 3/4 cup chopped pecans
  • 1 & 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • a few tablespoons of brown sugar mixed with some cinnamon

What you do:

  1. In a large bowl, soak the Bran Buds and raisins in milk for 5 minutes.
  2. Preheat the oven to 400F. Line a dozen muffin tins with paper liners.
  3. Add the egg, oil and vanilla to the Bran Buds and stir it in. Stir in the grated carrots and pineapple, and at the last minute stir in the nuts.
  4. Using a large bowl, whisk together the flour, brown sugar, baking powder, cinnamon and salt. Stir the dry ingredients into the wet bran mixture until it is just combined, being careful not to over-mix.
  5. Spoon the batter into the muffin tins; it makes quite large muffins. Sprinkle on some cinnamon sugar.
  6. Bake immediately for 20-25 minutes. After 20 minutes insert a toothpick into the muffin; if it comes out clean, the muffin is done. If not bake for a few more minutes and test again.
  7. Cool the muffins in the pan for 5 minutes, then allow to cool on a rack. You can eat them before they are cooled, but allow them to cool completely before freezing.

Herbed Cheese-Stuffed Mini Sweet Peppers

herbed cheese stuffed mini peppers - trustinkim

These beauties made a tasty little appetizer. Super easy too.

The type of cheese and herbs you use is up to you and your taste preferences, or what you’ve got on hand. I used a combination of Tofutti “Better than Cream Cheese” along with some goat cheese, and mixed in some basil and parsley.

These can be made vegan by using cream cheese and parmesan non-dairy substitutes.

What you need:

  • mini bell peppers
  • cheese of your choice: goat cheese, cream cheese, Tofutti “Better than Cream Cheese,” or a combination of cheeses
  • chopped fresh herbs (your choice: basil, oregano, or dill, or…) Green onions are another option
  • salt and freshly cracked pepper
  • parmesan cheese

What you do:

  1. Preheat the oven to 400F.
  2. Slice the peppers in half lengthwise and remove the seeds. Save one pepper to chop up for a garnish. Roast the peppers in the oven for about 5 minutes.
  3. Combine the herbs, soft cheese, salt and pepper, then spread it into the cavity of the peppers. Top them with a bit of parmesan cheese, then pop them in the oven just long enough to heat them up, about 10-15 minutes.
  4. Garnish with chopped pepper and a few herbs. Enjoy!