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.

“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.

No-Knead Fridge Foccacia

over night focaccia - trustinkim

Easy and delicious, this foccacia recipe has that perfect combination that makes it a winner. This is one of those no-knead breads, and although it’s easier than a typical bread, the long sitting time gives it a beautiful texture and flavour. Apparently the bubbles formed by the yeast perform the same action of creating gluten structure as the traditional hands-on kneading method.

You’ll need at least 24 hours, and up to 3 days, to make this foccacia, but most of it is hands-off time. I prefer the longer sitting time, if I’ve planned ahead enough.

I found this awesome recipe on alexandracooks.com

What you need:

  • 4 cups (512 grams all-purpose flour)
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 teaspoons instant yeast
  • 2 cups lukewarm water
  • olive oil
  • fleur de sel/ sea salt for topping

What you do:

  1. In a large bowl combine the flour, salt and yeast. Add the water and mix it all together until there are no lumps. 
  2. Loosely cover the bowl with a lid, plastic wrap, or a damp towel held in place with an elastic band. Place the bowl in the fridge for at least 12 hours, and up to 3 days.
  3. About 2-3 hours before baking time remove the dough from the fridge. Deflate the dough by pulling it away from the edges of the bowl.
  4. Line two pie plates with parchment paper or butter, then add about a tablespoon of olive oil to each plate. Divide the dough in two balls and place them into the pie plates. Turn the dough to coat it in olive oil. Let the dough sit for 2-3 hours.
  5. Preheat the oven to 425F/220C.
  6. After it has risen pour a little more olive oil over the dough, then use your fingers to poke into the dough to make dimples. Sprinkle with sea salt/fleur de sel. Place the dough in the oven immediately. Bake for about 25 minutes, until golden.
  7. Place the dough on cooling racks and let sit for 10 minutes before serving.

 

 

 

Black Bean and Corn Salad

p1070648.jpg

Now that the warmer weather is here I’m starting to think about what to make for patio and picnic time. This salad is super tasty, and really healthy too. For me it’s a great quick meal salad, and since it keeps in the fridge for a few days I can just dig in whenever I need a little something to eat. You can also mix and match at you see fit, for example if you don’t like peppers you can substitute a bit of jicama or apple or whatever you’d like.

If you use canned beans and corn, all you have to do is make the dressing and add in whatever veg and herbs you like – super easy! Then let it all sit for about half an hour before you dig in.

I found the recipe here, and I just downsized the amounts. I used canned corn instead of frozen because I find frozen corn a bit rubbery, and peaches and cream corn is the best. I also added some freshly chopped tomato to the top of each salad, and a bit of extra bell pepper.

Avocado makes a great addition to the top of each salad serving. Sadly, I could not find a ripe avocado in the five stores I checked. They could charge double for the ripe ones… I’d pay double for a perfectly ripe avocado – would you?

What you need for the salad:

  • 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • I can peaches and cream corn, along with the liquid
  • 1 small jalapeño pepper, de-seeded and diced (amount dependent on your heat preferences)
  • 1 bell pepper, diced
  • 1/4 cup roughly chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1/4 cup chopped red onion

What you need for the dressing:

  •  2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • zest and juice of 1 lime
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
  • a pinch of cayenne pepper

What you do:

  1. Mix up all the dressing ingredients in a small bowl.
  2. In a larger bowl, combine all the salad ingredients. Stir the dressing into the salad.
  3. Let the salad sit in the fridge with a cover over it for half an hour, or a few hours.

 

Baby Spinach Salad with Dates, Almonds and Toasted Pita

Ottolenghi baby spinach salad with dates and almonds - trustinkim

This is SUCH a great salad! In my cookbook library is a copy of the amazing Jerusalem cookbook by Yotam Ottolenghi, which contains this recipe, but I didn’t think to make it until I saw rave reviews online. So many people were commenting that this was their favourite salad, and now I know what they are talking about. It is my new favourite salad, and I can hardly wait to make it again.

I love the buttery toasted almonds and pita tossed in sumac. The onions (I used red because they are pretty) that are nicely mellowed in a vinegar marinade, along with the dates which become meltingly delicious, and their sweetness is balanced by the onion and vinegar.

I served this with the most delicious Cinnamon Curry Roast Chicken and potatoes. It was plenty of food for four people.

What you need:

  • 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
  • 1/2 medium red onion, thinly sliced
  • 100g pitted Medjool dates (about 5), quartered lengthwise
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 small pitas, roughly torn into bite-sized pieces
  • 1/2 cup whole unsalted almonds, coarsely chopped
  • 2 teaspoons sumac
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 150g baby spinach leaves
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • salt

What you do:

  1. Place the vinegar, onion, and dates in a small bowl, adding a pinch of salt. Mix well with your hands, then leave to marinate for 20 minutes or more. Drain the extra vinegar
  2. In a frying pan over medium heat melt the butter and add one tablespoon of olive oil. Add the pita and almonds, stirring to cook them for 5 to 6 minutes. The pita should become crunchy and brown. Remove the pan from the heat and toss in the sumac, red pepper flakes and 1/4 teaspoon of salt. Let this cool.
  3. To prepare the salad toss the spinach with the pita in a large bowl, then add the dates and onion, 1 tablespoon of olive oil, lemon juice, and a pinch of salt. Serve right away!

Enjoy!