“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!

 

Chewy Oatmeal Butterscotch Cookies (or Chocolate Chip)

Butterscotch and Chocolate Chip Cookies - trustinkim

Recently I had a request to bake some chewy butterscotch oatmeal cookies, a favourite of his from childhood. Now . . . I don’t actually like butterscotch chips . . . so I made a few cookies with chocolate chips instead (smart, huh?). They were all really delicious (to different people, depending on their feelings about butterscotch chips), and my apartment smelled amazing for a few days, thanks to those butterscotch chips.

Since I have this thing against butterscotch chips I figured I should at least get the best ones I could find. Most stores sell the typical (waxy) Hershey’s, Nestles, or store brand (but if you actually like butterscotch chips I’m sure these are just fine), so I had to do quite a search for a store in Vancouver that sold some of a higher quality. I was able to find Guittard butterscotch chips at the Gourmet Warehouse. Pretty much anything you need for baking can be found there – and they do online orders too!

The original recipe is from this website. It was written as a plain oatmeal cookie recipe, so I just added the chips to it and omitted the cinnamon. I made one mistake when I was mixing my dough – I used 1/2 a cup of white sugar instead of 1/4 cup. Normally I try to use less sugar, but these were perfect this way, so I won’t mess around with the sugar amount in this version of the recipe.

What you need:

  • 1/2 cup butter, almost melted
  • 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 egg, room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 2 teaspoons molasses
  • 1 & 1/2 cup quick rolled oats
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • a pinch of ground nutmeg
  • 1 cup butterscotch or chocolate chips
What you do:
  1. Preheat the oven to 350F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Heat the butter until it is almost all melted, then pour it into a large bowl with the sugars.  Beat for 2-3 minutes, until it is nice and fluffy.
  3. Add the egg, vanilla and molasses and mix just until combined.
  4. Add the oats, flour, baking soda, salt and nutmeg, again mixing until  just combined. Mix in the chips, if you are using them.
  5. Scoop the dough using a medium cookie scoop (1 & 1/2 tablespoons) and place on the parchment-lined baking sheet, leaving some room for them to spread.
  6. Bake for about 9 minutes, until the cookies are lightly browned, making a cookie that is still doughy in the middle.
  7. Leave on the baking sheet for about 5 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool.
  8. Allow the cookies to cool completely before storing in an airtight container. But . . . you will want to taste one while they are still warm . . .

 

cookie monster - trustinkim

This cookie monster stole a cookie

Tapenade Tarte Soleil and Feta Dip

 

feta tapenade tarte soleil - trustinkim

This really is a stunning and delicious puff pastry appetizer with a feta-cream cheese spread. The photos on Smitten Kitchen look so much better than mine – but I feel like I’m giving you a more realistic version of this recipe, because we can’t all make things look quite so perfect. I love the olive tapenade filling, and the feta spread is amazing. I was able to put it all together, to high praise from the devourers . . . but I’m not going to lie to you . . . it was a little tricky, and doesn’t quite look like the supermodel version I thought I’d be presenting.

It still looks pretty, and tastes amazing, but it was hard to make the rays look as uniform as the original. The biggest problem was that I baked it for double the time the recipe specified, and it was still not flakey in the middle . . . and yet the people loved it.

The only planning ahead you need to do is to thaw the puff pastry overnight in the fridge, or four hours minimum.

feta tapenade tarte soleil - trustinkim

What you need for the tarte soleil:

  • 1/2 cup sun dried tomatoes in oil, drained
  • 1/3 cup pitted Kalamata olives
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano or 2 teaspoons chopped fresh oregano leaves
  • 1 large garlic clove, crushed
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil or oil from tomatoes, plus more if needed
  • freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 2 packages puffed pastry (I used La Baguette & l’Echalot)
  • 1 egg yolk beaten with 1 teaspoon water (for egg wash)
  • 1 tablespoon sesame or poppy seeds to sprinkle (optional)

What you need for the dip:

  • 170 grams/ 6 ounces feta, crumbled
  • 55 grams, 2 ounces cream cheese
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • salt to taste, or none if your feta is very salty
  • freshly ground black pepper to taste

What you do:

  1. To make the filling, combine the sun dried tomatoes, olives, oregano, garlic, olive oil and pepper in a food processor. Blend until finely chopped. Thin it with some olive oil if it doesn’t seem spreadable.
  2. Heat the oven to 350F.
  3. Roll the first package of puff pastry out on a large piece of parchment paper until it is about 30cm/12 inches in diameter. Use a 30cm round bowl or plate as a guide to cut the pastry into a circle. Put this pastry in the fridge, then repeat the process with the other pastry.
  4. Place the first pastry, still on its parchment paper, on a baking sheet. Spread the filling over the pastry, leaving about 2cm around the edge uncovered. Dab the edges with water and then place the other pastry on top.
  5. Place a small glass into the centre of the pastry as a guide, so you do not cut all the way into the middle. Cut the pastry into quarters from the edge of the glass out to the edges, at the 3, 6, 9 and 12 o’clock marks. Cut each quarter in half, then each in half again, until you have 32 strips. If the dough becomes difficult to work with you can put it in the freezer to get firmer (or if your freezer is too small, you can just do your best with it, like I did.)
  6. Remove the glass and begin the twisting; place a finger near the centre circle so that the strip doesn’t break off, and twist each strip a few times.
  7. Beat the egg yolk with 1 teaspoon of water and brush it over the pastry. Sprinkle with sesame seeds.
  8. Bake for 30-35 minutes (or much longer in my case) until the pastry is golden brown.
  9. While the pastry is in the oven, make the feta dip. Blend all the ingredients in a food processor until they are smooth.
  10. Remove the tart from the oven and let it cool for about 10 minutes. To serve, place it on a serving tray and tear off the rays and dip them in feta or spread it on to eat.

 

slicing tarte soleil - trustinkim

twisting tarte soleil -trustinkim

Salted Black Liquorice Caramel

salted black liquorice caramels - trustinkim

Liquorice/licorice – love it or hate it? That often seems to be the way with liquorice. I happen to adore it, so for me these caramels are the perfect treat. The sweetness is balanced out by the fleur de sel sprinkled on top, and I like the like the way the flavours of the molasses and anise combine for an awesome liquorice taste.

These are not too hard to make, mainly stirring a bubbling pot on the stove. I did spend a bit too much money on some organic anise extract to make these, but now that I have it I can make them again!

It helps to have a candy thermometer to make these caramels, but the Cold Water Test works too. You drop the candy into cold water and test to see if it’s at the right stage based on the hardness of the candy once it cools. For this recipe you need to get to the hard ball stage. Here’s more information about the Cold Water Test if you don’t have a candy thermometer. I’ve used it successfully in the past, but found using the candy thermometer makes things one step easier. I bought a digital thermometer because it’s easier to read, and therefore to get the pot off the stove at the right time.

I got this recipe from the Bon Appétit Magazine, The Holiday Issue 2016.

You can keep these for a week or so in a sealed container at room temperature, or longer in the fridge.

Um, and I made two mistakes – too much molasses, and no water – but guess what – they were still awesome!

What you need:

  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup sweetened condensed milk
  • 1/4 cup blackstrap molasses
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon anise extract (not imitation)
  • 10 drops black food colouring (optional – I didn’t use it)
  • fleur de sel for sprinkling

What you do:

  1. Line a loaf pan with parchment paper so that the edges stick out over the top of the pan. Lightly coat the parchment with non-stick spray.
  2. Cook the sugar, condensed milk, molasses, butter, salt, and 3 tablespoons of water in a medium-sized saucepan over medium heat. Stir with a silicone spatula until the mixture is melted and smooth. Bring to a boil and keep stirring until the thermometer reads 246F.
  3. Remove the pan from the heat and mix in the anise extract, as well as the food colouring if you are using it.
  4.  Pour the caramel into the parchment paper-lined pan and sprinkle with sea salt. Let it sit for about 2 hours to cool.
  5. Pulling up on the parchment paper, remove the caramel from the pan and cut into pieces. You can wrap them individually in wax or parchment paper if you wish. Otherwise, store them in a container lined with parchment paper so they do not stick.
  6. Enjoy!

    salted black liquorice caramel - trustinkim