Bruschetta

bruschetta - trustinkim.comTomatoes, freshly picked from the vine – is there a better taste of summer? Bruschetta is a tasty way to serve up some of these treasures from the garden, or the garden of a friend, or a Farmer’s market. Best made only with fresh summer tomatoes, but in a pinch, cherry tomatoes are often a best bet in winter.

I haven’t given amounts for this recipe because it’s easy to make, and you can alter amounts according to your taste and how much you want to make. Each tomato tastes a bit different, so the seasonings will depend on how much flavour is in our tomatoes.

What you need:

  • baguette
  • 1 clove garlic
  • the freshest tomatoes you can get
  • fresh basil
  • sweet onion
  • balsamic vinegar
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • sea salt

What you do:

  1. Slice and lightly toast the bread. You can toast it in the oven, toaster, or on the BBQ. The BBQ is a good option if it’s really hot and you don’t want to turn on your oven.
  2. Slice the garlic in half and rub it on the toasted bread. Set the bread aside.
  3. Mince a little bit of the onion, then chop the tomatoes and toss them into a bowl. Tear up or chop the basil and add it to the tomatoes.
  4. Drizzle a bit of olive oil and balsamic vinegar on the tomatoes, along with a pinch of salt – give it a toss. Taste and add more of each of these ingredients as you see fit.
  5. Just before serving, top each slice of bread with tomatoes. Alternatively, you can leave the tomatoes in a bowl and people can top their own.

Hummus Sandwich

hummus sandwich - trustinkim.com

I don’t often make meals that are as easy as this one, and when I do I usually don’t think of it as a recipe worth sharing. But this one is! It’s tasty, nutritious, and easy to make. Feel free to alter the ingredients as you see fit.

I don’t recommend this one as a make and take, since it would probably get soggy. But then, I’m a bit of a sandwich snob and I never like sandwiches that have been made ahead of time. 

What you need:

What you do:

  1. The first step is optional, but I think it makes the sandwich extra tasty: slice the ciabatta in half, then heat a frying pan. Add a drizzle of olive oil to the pan, then place the bread cut-side down to grill it a little. Less than a minute is probably good.
  2. Add hummus to the bottom slice of the bun, and add whatever else you are putting on it (you know how to make a sandwich.) Salt and pepper the tomatoes a little.
  3. Put the top on and eat right away!

Blackberry Liqueur

blackberry liqueur - trustinkim.com

Summer in a bottle! I picked a few tubs of blackberries down by the train tracks, and here’s what I made with them. This winter there will be blackberry cocktails and maybe some desserts featuring this gorgeous blackberry liqueur. We already had some drizzled on ice cream, and I plan to make a blackberry liqueur-champagne drink soon . . . 

This is really easy to make, but you need two days to complete the process. Most of the time is just letting the berries soak. And picking the berries – I have discovered that if you try to do this in a rush you get hurt. So many prickles! So I take my time, and it has been a someone meditative process. Being calm, picking only the berries that are ready to fall off the plant, the ripest and sweetest ones. 

The amounts used are based on the fact that I had 3 cups of blackberries. Adjust the amounts if you have more or less. It’s not an exact science. I looked at a lot of recipes to get ideas about what to do here, so this is a compilation of some of their ideas for amounts and processes. I added a few sage leaves, and I’m not sure yet if they are noticeable in the finished product, and are optional for this recipe.

The first batch turned out so well that I’ve just begun another one!

Simple syrup really is simple to make. Just add equal parts water and granulated sugar to a pot, let it heat until the sugar has dissolved, and let it cool. For this recipe I used 1/2 cup water to 1/2 cup sugar.

What you need:

  • 3 cups (750mL) fresh blackberries
  • 2 & 3/4 cups vodka (680mL) (I used Stolichnaya)
  • a few fresh sage leaves, optional
  • 1 & 1/2 cups (325mL) water
  • 3/4 to 1 cup simple syrup (180-250mL), to taste
  • cheesecloth for straining

What you do:

  1. Wash the berries and drain them. Place them in a large bowl or pot and mash them with a potato masher or the bottom of a bottle.
  2. Pour the vodka over the berries. They should be completely covered. Put a lid or plastic wrap over the container and let it sit in a cool place for about 24 hours. (It was really hot when I made mine, so there was no cool place to put it. I just moved on to the next step a bit earlier.)
  3. Strain the berries and vodka into another bowl, keeping the pulp. Cover the berry and vodka mixture.
  4. Place the pulp in another container and pour the water over it. Let this sit for 24 hours, then strain it, adding the juice to the vodka mixture.
  5. Use cheesecloth to strain the berries again, to get all the vodka and blackberry goodness out of them.
  6. Strain the vodka and berry mixture several more times through the cheesecloth until the liquid has no pulp in it. 
  7. Bottle the liqueur. It should keep for a long time in a cool cupboard, but I’m choosing to keep mine in the fridge since I have space.

 

Vanilla Cake with the best butter icing

Vanilla Birthday Cake - trustinkim

 

If you’re looking for the best, moistest, tastiest vanilla cake, then look no further. This is the one. The cake is so delicious, and my mom’s recipe for the buttery icing is the BEST! By request this one had coconut on it, but you can leave that off if you wish.

To celebrate a “really big birthday” recently I wanted to make an amazing cake that I knew the birthday boy (man) would love. I found the recipe for the vanilla cake on Sally’s Baking Addiction.  During the party I completely forgot to take a good picture of the cake – oh no! So this is the best I could do when it was already half eaten. You can’t see in the photo, but it’s a triple layer cake.

I’ve been enjoying my mom’s vanilla icing for as long as I can remember, so finally I asked her for her “boiling icing” recipe. It’s a little trickier than some, but it’s worth it. I like it best when it’s just come out of the fridge, so the icing is a bit harder, but it’s also nice when it’s sat out for a while and the icing turns creamier.

I only made a few changes to the original recipe: I used a different frosting, and  added the toasted coconut. In the method I made one change, which is what I usually do when adding dry and wet to a batter: I added half the dry, then half the wet, and then repeated the step. I find this makes it easier to mix.

Just make sure you leave time to let the cake cool completely before you put the icing on it. Alternatively, you can make the cake ahead of time and freeze it. 

The recipe makes a triple layer cake, so don’t try to fit it into two pans as it won’t bake through. If you don’t have three pans (and I don’t live near you do I can’t loan you mine), you could put 1/3 of the batter into cupcake pans or a loaf pan. Your cake won’t be as tall, but then this is a really big cake, so you could get away with it.

A note about the blending flour: this is also called instant flour, and it works better when used for thickening, like in this boiled icing recipe. My mom uses it, and I didn’t, so I ended up having to run the milk and flour through a fine sieve because I had lumps. So if you don’t have blending/instant flour, you can substitute it with a.p. flour, but just beware that you will need to whisk it really well so it doesn’t get lumpy.

What you need for the cake:

  • 420 grams (3 & 2/3 cup) cake flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 345 grams (1 & 1/2 cups) unsalted butter – room temperature
  • 400 grams (2 cups) granulated sugar
  • 3 large eggs plus two egg whites – room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 360 mL (1 & 1/2 cups) buttermilk
  • (optional – toasted coconut)

What you need for the icing:

  • 1 & 1/2 cup milk
  • 7 & 1/2 tablespoons blending flour 
  • 1 & 1/2 cups unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 & 1/2 cups granulated sugar

What you do for the cake:

  1. Prepare the cake pans by cutting parchment paper circles to fit in the bottoms of the pans. Grease the pans, then grease the parchment paper.
  2. Preheat the oven to 350°F (177°C).
  3. Whisk the flour, salt, baking powder and baking soda.
  4. Beat the butter and sugar together using an electric mixer. Beat on high speed for about three minutes, until it is smooth and creamy. You will need to scrape down the sides from time to time.
  5. Add the eggs one at a time, including the extra whites, then beat in the vanilla. The batter may look a bit curdled as you do this, but it will come together.
  6. Add half of the dry ingredients to the batter on low speed, mixing until just about combined. Add half of the buttermilk, again mixing until just about combined. Repeat the process, adding flour, then buttermilk, until they are just combined. Make sure you mix to the bottom of the bowl to avoid any lumps; you can do this with a rubber spatula.
  7. Pour the batter into the three pans, equal amounts in each. You can weigh them if you want this to be precise.
  8. Bake for 23-26 minutes, testing for doneness by inserting a toothpick in the centre of the cake to see if it comes out clean.
  9.  Allow the cakes to cool completely – leave them in their pans to do this, and place the pans on a wire rack.

What to do for the icing:

  1. In a saucepan combine the flour and cold milk, stirring until there are no lumps.
  2. Whisking constantly, bring the mixture to a simmer. Continue to whisk it until it becomes thick. Allow this to cool completely.
  3. Beat the butter and sugar until very light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Beat in the cooled milk and flour mixture on medium speed, a little at a time. Continue to beat until it is light and fluffy.
  4. To ice the cake, place one layer of the cake on your serving dish. Using a flat metal spatula, spread a bit less than 1/4 of the icing on that layer, then do the same on the next layer. On the edges of the cake spread a thin layer of icing, then the same on the top. If you have time, refrigerate the cake for about half an hour, then add the final layer of icing to make it look finished. Here’s a video to show the process.
  5. Refrigerate the cake for at least an hour before slicing so that it will hold its shape.

    birthday cake -  trustinkim.com

Sea Asparagus

sea asparagus -trustinkim.com

I was fortunate to spend some time in Haida Gwaii recently, an archipelago off of B.C.’s coast. It is a gorgeous place, with lush forests and stunning coastlines. The Haida people have lived here since time immemorial and we experienced a thriving culture. We were able to see a lot of totem poles and other traditional art, and we experienced the sharing spirit of the place. 

While staying in Masset at the Copper Beech House we were honoured to be invited to a dinner where we had, among other things, this pan-fried sea asparagus. Of course I had to find out more about it, so Chelsea who runs the show at the Inn taught me what to do. She taught me where to harvest it, and how to soak it to get rid of a lot of the salt, and then how to cook it. (see below)

Sea asparagus makes a nice side vegetable dish, or in a small quantity it could be a lovely garnish for salmon. We had it with ling cod and spruce tip syrup, and some herbed baby potatoes.

Sea asparagus goes by many names: sea bean, samphire, glasswort, saltwort, and probably others. Here is a link to an article about sea asparagus if you’re interested in learning more about it. Also this one. will give you more information on where to harvest. You can buy it at some Farmer’s Markets, but you can forage it for free if you live in the right area!

What you need:

  • sea asparagus
  • butter or olive oil

What you do:

  1. After harvesting the sea asparagus, clean it of any bits that don’t belong, brown parts especially.
  2. Rinse the sea asparagus, then soak it in fresh water for about an hour.
  3. Heat some butter or olive oil in a frying pan. Cook the sea asparagus briefly, tossing with tongs. It should still be bright green, so that it doesn’t become soggy. 
  4. Serve immediately.
View from Tow Hill - trustinkim.com
View from Tow Hill, Haida Gwaii

 

Old Massett Totem Pole - trustinkim.com
Totem Pole in Old Massett, Haida Gwaii
eagle close up - trustinkim.com
I was fortunate to have a visit from this eagle. He landed terrifyingly close to me, so I took a few steps back and snapped his pic.

 

No-Bake Nut Butter Cookies

no-bake nut butter cookies

A perfect treat when you don’t want to turn on your oven, these chocolate-coated nut butter cookies are simple and tasty. I needed something sweet to bring to a picnic, something that adults and kids would enjoy, and these were perfect. Plus I was happy to not heat my home up with the oven. And also perfect, because . . . well, peanut butter and chocolate are a match made in heaven!

The recipe calls for oat flour. I just whizzed some rolled oats in the food processor until they were finely ground.

This recipe makes about 3 dozen tiny cookies. They are quite rich, so I opted to make them really small rather than the two tablespoons that the original recipe calls for. I made my cookies with peanut butter, but you can use the nut butter of your choice.

If you omit the chocolate these would make a great power cookie for hiking or biking. Unless you’re hiking or biking in cool weather, when the chocolate wouldn’t melt.

You can store the cookies in the fridge for about 10 days.

What you need:

  • 3/4 cup (188 mL) nut butter
  • 1/2 cup (125 mL) honey
  • 1 teaspoon (5mL) pure vanilla extract
  • 3 cups (750mL) oat flour
  • 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 3/4 cup (188mL) chocolate chips

What you do:

  1. Line a baking pan with parchment paper, or wax paper if that’s all you have.
  2. Heat the nut butter and honey in the microwave or in a pot on the stove. Whisk in the honey.
  3. Add the oat flour and salt, then mix until combined. 
  4. Scoop one tablespoonful of the mixture at a time and use your hands to form each into a ball. Flatten the cookie into a disk and place it on the parchment-lined baking sheet. Use a fork to make the crosshatch pattern typical of a peanut butter cookie.
  5. Refrigerate the cookies while you prepare the chocolate. I used a double boiler, but you can carefully melt it in the microwave if you prefer.
  6. Dip each cookie in chocolate, then place it on the parchment again. Let the cookies sit until the chocolate has set. I did this in the fridge because it was a hot day when I made them, and also I was running late for my picnic!
  7. Enjoy!
pb & chocolate match made in heaven - trustinkim.com
“Match Made in Heaven”

 

Italian Potato Frittata

Italian potato frittata - trustinkim.com

This frittata makes a nice breakfast, lunch or dinner with a salad, and it is also extremely delicious served cold the next day.  I’ve made frittata in the past, but I’m finally happy with how this one turned out – practice makes perfect! It’s quite simple to make, and you can cook it in a frying pan on the stove-top, or you can finish it in the oven.

I used a cast-iron frying pan, but you can use whatever kind of frying pan you have. If you’re going to put it in the oven, make sure it doesn’t have a plastic handle. I have read that you can cover a plastic handle with aluminum foil to protect it, but I haven’t tried it myself.

You can put whatever kind of herbs you like in your frittata; I used fresh parsley, tarragon and oregano.

What you need:

  • 500 grams potatoes, sliced or cubed (slice smaller potatoes, cube larger ones)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 small onion, diced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 6-8 eggs
  • fresh herbs of your choice, finely chopped
  • Parmesan cheese, grated
  • salt and freshly cracked pepper

What you do:

  1. Boil a pot of salted water for the potatoes.
  2. To prepare the potatoes: If you are using smaller potatoes, slice them about 1 cm thick. For larger potatoes, peel and cube them, about 2cm cubes. Boil the potatoes for about 5 minutes, until they are tender.
  3. In the frying pan heat half of the olive oil on medium heat, then fry the onions and garlic until the onions are translucent.
  4. Crack the eggs into a bowl and beat them with a fork or a whisk. Add the herbs, some grated Parmesan, and salt and pepper to taste, then beat them in. 
  5. You may want to add a bit more olive oil to the frying pan, especially up the sides, so the frittata won’t stick.
  6. When the potatoes are cooked, drain them and add them to the frying pan along with the onions and garlic. Pour the eggs over top, then distribute the potatoes evenly throughout the pan. With the heat on medium-low, place a lid on the frying pan and let the frittata cook for 6-8 minutes.
  7. At this point, if the frittata is not too liquidy, you can flip it. To do this, loosen the edges with a knife, then place a plate on top of the pan and flip the frittata onto plate. Slip the frittata back into the frying pan and cook without a lid for about 5 minutes. Now… if you don’t want to do this flipping thing, you can simply put it under the broiler for a few minutes – Watch It Carefully! You don’t want it to burn, you just want to firm up the egg until it has just set. No browning necessary; we want the egg to remain tender.
  8. Enjoy it while it’s hot, or allow the frittata to cool, then refrigerate and eat it within a few days.