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Baking

Torta de Ceci with rosemary

torta di ceci with rosemary

Happy St. Patrick’s Day! And a very special Happy Birthday to my sister, Ruth.

When we were little, Mum always made Ruth a nice big birthday cake decorated with green icing for her birthday on St. Patrick’s Day. When my sister turned 17 on the 17th, (I think our parents were away) I baked her 17, yes seventeen, mint green birthday cakes. We had 17 guests and we sang Happy Birthday 17 times. We had a lot of fun.

When this blog turned one year old, my sister wrote “make me something nice”. And I’ve been racking my brain since then about what to make. My sister follows the keto diet, so without grains or sugar, it’s difficult for this mostly baking food blogger to know what to make.

So, in the last few months I would look through cookbooks, and blogs and websites searching for something that’s easy to make but unique, made without grains or sugar. And then I came across Torta di Ceci and it seemed to be the perfect discovery.

torta di ceci with rosemary

Torta di Ceci is made with chick pea flour, olive oil, water, salt and rosemary and that’s it.  And oh my! If you have never made this yourself or tried it in a restaurant you must make this recipe. It’s so so  good. Torta di Ceci is crispy on the outside and creamy almost like a custard on the inside.  It is so amazing right out of the oven, you will want to eat the entire pan yourself. But, I suggest you share.

Torta di Ceci is dairy-free, gluten-free, vegan and keto-diet friendly. So you can’t go wrong when you serve this up.

In Europe, Torta di Ceci is a popular street food snack. It is found in many areas and goes by a few different names such as Torta di Ceci, Farinata or Socca in France. Traditionally it is eaten plain, although sometimes people will put rosemary on top. That’s really good. The second time I made it, I added coarse sea salt. Also really good. I think parmesan cheese would also be delicious grated on top…and I wouldn’t rule out bacon either.

torta di ceci with rosemary

I looked at many recipes for this popular snack food. The main difference between everyone’s recipe is the amount of water to use. Some recipes called for a ratio of 1:1 of chickpea flour and water. Some called for a ratio of 3:1 and some called for 4:1. My recipe uses a ratio of 2:1. I liked this flavour best.

Recipes also soaked the chick pea flour in the water anywhere from 30 minutes to 12 hours. I found 2-4 hours just right. Although I have not let it soak for 12 hours, but I can’t imagine the taste improving any better than what I made.

After you soak the chickpea flour and water and add some olive oil, salt and pepper, you bake the torta in a piping hot oven for about 15 minutes. So fast. torta di ceci with rosemary

Happy Birthday, Sis! Hope you enjoy your torta!

Torta di Ceci with Rosemary

Print Recipe
Serves: 8 Cooking Time: 15 minutes

Ingredients

  • 100 grams (1 cup) chickpea flour
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 1/2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • a few good grinds of fresh pepper
  • 1 spring of rosemary
  • coarse sea salt (optional)

Instructions

1

Mix together the chickpea flour and water.

2

Let soak for 2-4 hours (covered), stirring when you think of it. (I put mine in a tupperware container and shook it occasionally).

3

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.

4

Add 1 1/2 tbsp olive oil, 1/2 tsp salt, a few grinds of fresh pepper.

5

Rinse the rosemary.

6

Add about 1 1/2 tbsp olive oil to a 12 inch oven-proof skillet. Heat the oil until it is very hot, not smoking.

7

Pour the batter into the skillet. Careful you don't get spattered.

8

If the batter looks lumpy when it goes in the pan, very quickly whisk it smooth. If it still looks a bit lumpy, don't worry about it, it will be fine.

9

Cook on top of the stove for a few minutes, until it's slightly drier, but not completely dry.

10

Before you put it in the oven, very quickly scatter the rosemary and sea salt.

11

Put the skillet in the preheated oven on the bottom shelf.

12

Put an oven mitt by the stove, so you don't forget to put it on after it's done.

13

Bake for about 12-15 minutes, until golden around the edges and golden on top.

14

Very, very carefully, with an oven mitt on your hand, take out of the oven.

15

Let it cool on a rack or an upside down baking tray.

16

Then carefully, remove it from the pan.

17

Slice up with a pizza wheel.

18

Enjoy!

Notes

You will need a skillet that can go in the oven at 450 degrees F.

Cooking

Ma Po Tofu with Eggplant

ma po tofu with eggplant

Ma Po Tofu with Eggplant is an easy and delicious dish to make, any night of the week. Preparation takes about 10 minutes and another 10 for cooking. Dinner will be on the table in no time.

I have been making ma po tofu for many many years. It is warming and satisfying and delicious anytime of the year.

I make this dish with pork. but you could easily turn this dish into a vegan dinner by omitting the pork.  With so many seasonings such as ginger, garlic, green onion, soy sauce and vegetable broth – you won’t miss the pork.

Ma Po Tofu actually dates back about 200 years.  It was originally made by an elderly woman at The Chen Xingsheng, a small restaurant that she ran with her husband.

Ma means pock, and po means elderly, so mapo was actually used to describe the woman who made and served this delicious dish.

ma po tofu with eggplant

If you need a quick and delicious dinner – Ma Po Tofu with Eggplant is for you!

Enjoy!

Ma Po Tofu

Print Recipe
Serves: 4 Cooking Time: 20 minutes

Ingredients

  • Part A
  • 1 eggplant, cubed
  • 2 garlic clove, chopped
  • 2 tsp chopped ginger
  • 1 tbsp + 1 tsp sambal oelek or other hot chili sauce
  • 300 grams ground pork
  • Part B
  • 360 ml vegetable broth
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 2 tsp sake
  • dash of pepper
  • 1 package of firm tofu, cut into cubes
  • Part C
  • 4 green onions
  • 3 Tbsp corn starch
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 Tbsp sesame oil

Instructions

1

Saute eggplant, then remove from pan.

2

Saute garlic and ginger, when aromatic, add sambal oelek.

3

Add pork and saute until cooked.

4

Add Part ‘B’.

5

Add eggplant back into pan.

6

Mix cornstarch with water.

7

Add mixture to pan.

8

Add sesame oil and green onions.

9

Serve with rice.

10

Enjoy!

Preserves

Nutty Chocolate Hazelnut Spread Recipe

Roasted Hazelnuts for Nutty Chocolate Hazelnut Spread

Nutella!!! This infamous blend of chocolate and hazelnuts not only tastes amazing, but also has quite a lot of history behind it.

World Nutella Day is February 5th and was created by Food blogger, Sara Rosso in 2007 to help celebrate this popular treat. She handed the reigns of World Nutella Day over to Ferroro in 2015.

I have wanted to make my own chocolate hazelnut spread for quite some time now. This week seemed appropriate with World Nutella Day and Valentine’s Day so close together.

I love store bought Nutella. But, like most food items, I prefer to make my own. Then, I can use the tastiest chocolate, sweeten it slightly with a small amount of local honey, and use fresh organic hazelnuts.

This Nutty Chocolate Hazelnut Spread is made up roasted and skinned whole hazelnuts, dark and milk chocolate, honey, milk and milk powder. You can alter the percentage of hazelnuts to suit your taste. This recipe contains 26% hazelnuts, Nutella contains about 13% and some places in Italy use as much as 50% hazelnuts. So, you can make it as nutty as you like.

If you find hazelnuts too strong, you can substitute part of them with skinned almonds, or macadamia nuts. Make sure you remove the skin from the hazelnuts and/or almonds. It’s not imperative to remove all of the skins, but try to get as much off as possible, as the skins will add a bitter taste.

When you put your nuts in your food processor, try to grind them as find as possible. Homemade nutella will not be as fine as store bought. But you will really be able to taste the roasted nuts and heavenly chocolate. That’s the joy of homemade!

 

bowl of melted chocolate for Nutty Chocolate Hazelnut Spread

This Nutty Hazelnut and Chocolate Spread is a blend of dark and milk chocolate. As long as the total weight is the same, you can adjust the amounts of each chocolate to suit yourself.

Nutty Chocolate Hazelnut Spread

This Nutty Chocolate Hazelnut Spread has some nice small chunks of hazelnut in each bite. So nutty!

Besides being so amazingly tasty, the combination of hazelnuts and chocolate has an amazing history.

In Italy, the combination of chocolate and hazelnuts is called Gianduja. Gianduja was created over 200 years ago during Napoleon’s regency in Turin Italy, in the Piedmont area.

In 1806, Napoleon imposed the Continental System, which prevented British goods from entering European harbours under French control. This created a shortage in cocoa, which was devastating to chocolatiers.

In Turin, a chocolatier, whose chocolate supplies were low, began mixing his chocolate with ground hazelnuts, which are plentiful in this area of Italy. The name Gianduja is a named after a popular Carnival marionette that is an archetype of the Piedmontese.

150 years after this crazy time for chocolate lovers, chocolate became expensive and scarce again due to the rationing in Europe during World War II. Pietro Ferrero was a pastry maker in Italy and in 1946 created Pasta Gianduja. His original version was formed into a loaf which was sliced and eaten on bread. In 1949, he accidentally added cocoa butter, which made it soft and easy to spread. It was renamed Nutella in 1964.

This Nutty Chocolate Hazelnut Spread is so easy to make. All you need to do is roast and grind some hazelnuts, melt some chocolate, heat some milk mixed with powdered milk and honey and then blend them all together.

Store-bought nutella, is nice, but we really love our homemade verson. It is nuttier, darker and less sweet than store bought. You can adjust the percentage of nuts, as well as the type of chocolate used.  You will never get the hazelnuts as pureed and smooth as in store bought nutella, but we prefer the crunchy texture.

Buon Appetito

Nutty Chocolate Hazelnut Spread

Print Recipe
Serves: 12-16 Cooking Time: 10 minutes

Ingredients

  • 240 grams dark chocolate
  • 150 g milk chocolate
  • 2 Tbsp honey
  • 300 grams 2% milk
  • 50 grams milk powder
  • 150 grams hazelnuts

Instructions

1

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2

Roast hazelnuts for about 10 minutes, do not burn. When they are fragrant and the skins seem loose, they are ready to take out.

3

Rub the warm hazelnuts in a clean tea towel, until most of the skins have rubbed off.

4

Add the hazelnuts to the food processor and grind until fine.

5

Warm the milk with the honey and powdered milk.

6

Melt the chocolate in the microwave. I melted it at 30 second internals, stirring in between. Do not overheat, or it will burn and you will not be able to use it.

7

Add the warm milk, and chocolate to the hazelnuts in the food processor.

8

Combine until everything is mixed together.

9

Scrape into a clean container.

10

Keep in the refrigerator for one week.

Preserves

Frozen Vanilla Mango Yogurt with Lime

frozen vanilla mango yogurt with lime

 

This Frozen Vanilla Mango Yogurt with Lime is about the quickest sweet treat you will ever make. It’s so quick it’s almost instant, but I like to put it in the freezer for about an hour or so to firm up.

My sister reminded me recently of how we would buy an ice cream cone from our local mall in the middle of winter and eat it while we walked home. We would still be eating it when we got home which would give our Mom the shivers.

I know that frozen yogurt isn’t usually the first thing people think of for a sweet treat in the middle of the winter. Especially when it’s – 30 ° out. But, I don’t really mind the cold so much. I stay nice and warm bundled up in all my favourite winter gear. What I miss during the long winter months is colour. I miss the green grass, leaves on the trees, a burst of colour from my garden and even the colourful clothes that everyone wears. So, that’s what appeals to me with this Frozen Vanilla Mango Yogurt with Lime. I love the tropical mango, the heavenly scent of vanilla, the fresh burst of lime and the coolness of the frozen yogurt. It is very refreshing, even on a cold winter day.

You can make this Frozen Vanilla Mango Yogurt with Lime in a snap. Just take a tub of your favourite vanilla yogurt, a bag of frozen mangoes and puree in your food processor or blender.  Blend it together until all the mangoes chunks are blended into the yogurt.

You can eat it right away, as a kind of soft serve ice cream…but I like it firmer, so I pop it in the freezer for about 1-2 hours.

frozen vanilla mango yogurt with lime

Bon Appetite!

Frozen Vanilla Mango Yogurt with Lime

Print Recipe
Serves: 8-10 Cooking Time: 10 minutes

Ingredients

  • One 600 g bag of frozen mangoes
  • One 650 g tub of Vanilla Yogurt
  • juice from 1/2 lime

Instructions

1

Pour frozen yogurt into food processor or blender.

2

Add frozen yogurt.

3

Blend until all frozen mango is blended thoroughly with yogurt.

4

Add lime juice, and pulse for 30-60 seconds.

5

Transfer to a shallow rectangular container.

6

Place in freezer until firm (about 1-2 hours, depending on your freezer).

Cooking

Orange Soy Honey Tofu Marinade for BBQ

cubes of tofu marinating in orange soy honey tofu marinade

 

Like most families, we love to barbecue on the weekends. But sometimes I get tired of eating so much meat. My husband suggested we try marinating and grilling tofu on the barbecue. So, I came up with this Orange Soy Honey Tofu Marinade for the Barbecue. It’s really good – I think you’ll like it. It has sweetness from the orange juice and honey, saltiness from the soy and lots of extra flavour bits like ginger, garlic. Yum!

Tofu, for those of you who are not familiar is made from coagulated soy milk. It has been made for thousands of years beginning in China. The story goes that a cook once accidentally curdled some soy milk and … tofu was born.

Tofu is fantastic for soaking up flavours of sauces and marinades. Which is why this marinade works so well with tofu. All the flavours of orange, soy, honey, ginger, and sesame oil soak right into the porous soy cubes. This marinade also works in stir-fries as a sauce with chicken or tofu if you do not barbecue, or it’s raining or it’s wintertime. Just use with your favourite stir-fry combination. Or keep checking my website, and I’ll try and post a recipe soon!

Tofu is a super healthy meat alternative. In a 100 gram serving (about 1/2 a cup) there are 70 calories, 3.5 grams of fat, 8.2 grams of protein and about 350 mg of calcium, which is about 20% of our daily needs. When compared with chicken or steak, it is much lower in calories and much higher in calcium. It is lower in protein than chicken or steak, but one serving is ample enough.

grilled tofu with orange soy honey marinade

The tofu caramelizes to a lovely golden brown on the barbeque. It’s very difficult to cook it this way on the stovetop, which makes barbequing that much more exciting!

Before you begin making this dish, you should press the tofu to remove any extra liquid. When pressed, the tofu is less apt to fall apart on the barbeque. Place the tofu in a shallow bowl and cover by a small plate. Place a weight on top of the plate. You could use a can of tomatoes, a small bag of sugar, anything that weighs about 1 kg. Leave the tofu like that for about 60 minutes. Drain away the liquid, then place the pressed tofu in a container with the Orange Soy Honey Tofu Marinade to soak up all those yummy flavours.

Barbecue on a medium heat until golden brown all over, turning often. Brush on additional marinade as it cooks.

Enjoy!

Orange Soy Honey Tofu Marinade for BBQ

Print Recipe
Serves: 6 Cooking Time: 15-20

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped finely
  • 1 tbsp chopped ginger, chopped finely
  • 2 tablespoons orange juice concentrate
  • 2 tsp rice wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp mirin
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1 450 g container of tofu

Instructions

1

Press tofu to remove extra liquid. Place tofu in a shallow bowl. Place a small plate on top. On top of the plate, place an object that weighs about 1 kg (large can of tomatoes, small bag of sugar etc.). Leave for about 60 minutes.

2

Drain away extra liquid.

3

Chop the garlic and ginger finely.

4

Add all other ingredients into microwavable bowl.

5

Place in microwave for about 30 seconds, until the honey and orange juice concentrate are melted.

6

Stir all ingredients together.

7

Pour over tofu.

8

Place in refrigerator for about 2-3 hours.

9

Grill on medium heat on barbeque. Baste with extra marinade.

10

Turn tofu a few times until each cube is a nice golden brown.

Cooking

Sweet Potato Noodles with Beef and Vegetables

Korean Sweet Potato Noodles with Beef and Vegetables

This dish, Sweet Potato Noodles with Beef and Vegetables, is a real family favourite. It has everything an asian stir-fry should have: sweet and salty sauce, crisp stir-fried vegetables and these amazing sweet potato noodles. So good.

I got this recipe from my friend, Kana, who I met years ago when we both lived in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Our family had moved to Halifax for my husband to do his medical internship. Kana and her family had come to Canada for two years to learn English as well as Canadian culture. In a very short time, Kana and I realized we both loved cooking.

We were both eager to learn cooking from each other’s country. We started getting together every Friday for ‘East-West Cooking’ Classes in each other’s kitchens. While our children played together, Kana and I would cook Japanese family favourites in her kitchen: sushi, sukiyaki, rice balls and other fantastic Japanese dishes. On other Fridays, she would come to our house and we would make meatloaf, roast chicken or nachos. Our kids and husbands loved this arrangement. I think our most fun day was when we made gingerbread houses just before Christmas.

Sweet Potato Noodles are fantastic to be know about, because, just like rice noodles, they’re perfect for vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free diets. The only ingredient for these noodles is sweet potato starch. Personally, I find sweet potato noodles easier to cook than rice noodles. For me, rice noodles always seem just seconds between being not done to overdone. If you have any suggestions on cooking rice noodles, please send them my way!

Sweet Potato Noodles are VERY long. When Kana taught me this dish she just snipped the cooked noodles into shorter pieces with her scissors. I still do it this way as it’s super easy.  You could break the noodles up when you put them in the pot, but I just pull up a bunch of almost cooked noodles with my tongs and snip away until they all look a good length.

This dish is fantastic for a picnic or potluck dinner as it tastes amazing at room temperature. You can eat it hot, but it tastes fine even after it has cooled down.

If you would like to make a vegan/vegetarian version, just replace the beef either with sauteed tofu, or double up on the vegetables. You won’t miss the beef at all.

Korean Sweet Potato Noodles with Beef and Vegetables

Print Recipe
Serves: 6 Cooking Time: 30 minutes

Ingredients

  • one package of Korean Sweet Potato Noodles
  • 1 pound stir-fry beef
  • 1 medium onion, sliced
  • 250 grams mushrooms, sliced
  • 4 carrots, thinly cut
  • 2 cups broccoli florets
  • Sauce: 3 tbsp sugar, 4 tablespoons soy sauce, 2-3 tablespoons stock.

Instructions

1

Put a large pot of water onto boil.

2

When water comes to a boil, add noodles.

3

Cook noodles for about 10 minutes until they taste soft but not soggy.

4

When noodles are done, snip them with scissors, until they are all about 10 inches long.

5

Rinse noodles.

6

While you are cooking the noodles, get a large wok out to cook the beef and vegetables.

7

Saute beef in a wok, until no longer pink, and then place in a bowl while you cook the vegetables.

8

Add onions and saute until soft. Add mushrooms and continue to saute until softened slightly.

9

Add carrots. Put lid on the wok until the carrots have softened.

10

Add broccoli florets. Put the lid back on for a couple of minutes until the broccoli is almost done.

11

Add beef back to the wok.

12

Add noodles to wok.

13

In a small bowl, add sugar, soy sauce and stock.

14

Pour sauce into wok.

15

Toss everything together with tongs. Serve hot or room temperature. Keep leftovers in fridge for up to 3 days.

Notes

You can also use other vegetables such as spinach, green beans, snow peas or red peppers.

Korean Sweet Potato Noodles with Beef and Vegetables

 

 

Cooking

Vegetable Stock Recipe

 

 

vegetable stock in a jar with fresh herbs

I love making soup, especially in the winter. But to make a soup with lots of flavour, I like to make sure that I have a good hearty homemade stock in my freezer. Homemade stock to me is the best: it’s fresh tasting, you have complete control over the flavours as well as seasoning, especially the salt and it’s quick and inexpensive to make. Store bought stock has way too much sodium and too little flavour. The best stock to make, in my opinion, is vegetable stock. I stopped making chicken stock a few years ago. I find it too strong, too oily, too overpowering. So now I only make vegetable stock.

Vegetable stocks are super fast and easy to make. You can use any mild flavoured vegetable but the main ingredients that I use are carrots, onions, celery and a few herbs. And I bet most people have those ingredients in your pantry/refrigerator most of the time. You could also use tomatoes, leeks, and mushrooms. Try to use the same amount of each vegetable so that the stock has a balanced flavour.  Add some fresh herbs such as parsley, oregano, basil or thyme to brighten the flavour profile of your stock.  I don’t add any salt or pepper to the stock as I prefer to add seasoning to the final dish.

This recipe is the one I use time and time again whenever I make a batch of homemade soup – even if the soup has beef or chicken in it, I still use a vegetable stock. This is the stock I use when I make Lemon Ginger Carrot Soup or Cheddar Cheese and Apple Cider Soup.

 

raw-chopped vegetables

Vegetable Stock is super easy to make yourself. You can make a quick batch of stock with ingredients that you most likely have on hand. Here is a list of tips when making homemade vegetable stock:

  • use mild flavoured vegetables such as onions, leeks, scallions, carrots, celery
  • you can also use tomatoes, mushrooms or fennel
  • do not use rutabaga, potato or sweet potato as it will create a gummy texture
  • you can add in some mild herbs such as thyme, oregano, basil or parsley
  • do not use garlic unless you are making the stock for a specific recipe (or enjoy garlic in all your soups)
  • you can scrub the vegetables to remove any loose dirt, but do not need to peel (unless you would like to)
  • you can roast the vegetables in the oven for a deeper and more flavorsome stock, or brown in a pan until golden
  • simmer the vegetables in a small amount of water (just covering the vegetables) for a deep, rich flavour
  • simmer for anywhere from 20 minutes to one hour. Whatever suits your schedule.

vegetables-sauteeing-in-pan.

Brown the vegetables before simmering them in water until they have some good colour on them, as in the photo above. Browning the vegetables gives the stock a richer flavour and colour. However, if you are short on time, you can leave out this step. Just dump the prepped vegetables into a pot, add some water and simmer for 20 minutes to one hour, depending on your schedule.

After you are done simmering, strain the vegetables into another pot. Let the broth cool down to room temperature. This may take 1-2 hours. Then ladle into containers. Label the containers with the name and date. If you are storing your stock in the refrigerator, use within a couple of days.

Soup stock also freezes really well. I usually freeze my stock in various sized containers: a 3-cup container for soup, as well as a couple of 1/2 to 1 cup containers to add to sauces. You can also freeze some in ice cube trays if you want smaller amounts. If you freeze any in ice cube trays, once the stock is frozen, place the little frozen cubes of vegetable stock in a ziplock bag (remember to label the bag – I have found many unlabelled items in my freezer and had no idea what they were or how long they had been there).  Use the frozen stock within 3 months.

You’re going to love this one! Let me know what soups you make with this stock!

vegetable stock with onion and herbs

Readings to inspire you to make your own stock:

Everything you need to know about canned and boxed broth.

Store-bought Beef Broth.

 

Vegetable Stock

Print Recipe
Serves: 2 litres Cooking Time: 30 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 onion, peeled and chopped
  • 2 large carrots, peeled or scrubbed and chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, washed and chopped
  • 1 bunch of scallions, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 8 parsley branches
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 6 thyme sprigs

Instructions

1

Heat the oil in a large pot. Add all the vegetables and herbs.

2

Saute over medium-high heat, stirring frequently. The more colour that the vegetables get, the more flavour the stock will have.

3

Once they are all nicely coloured, add 2 litres of water. Bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer, with the lid half on, for about 30 minutes.

4

Strain out the vegetables. Let the stock cool.

5

Pour into freezable containers. Label the containers with the name and the date.

6

If you will be using the stock within a couple days, store in the refrigerator. Otherwise place in freezer for up to 3 months.


Recipe adapted from Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone by Deborah Madison.

Baking

Chocolate Ginger Hazelnut Torte Recipe

chocolate ginger hazelnut torte on a plate

If you have never had a torte before, you must try this one. Made from eggs, ground nuts, sugar, chocolate chips and ginger marmalade, this Chocolate Ginger Hazelnut Torte is a treat! And so simple to make. It rises up beautifully as it bakes and then after you take it out of the oven, it slowly starts to deflate until the centre is quite sunken in. The texture is more like a brownie, than a regular chocolate cake: the torte sort of falls on top of itself and all the layers and flavours pack themselves together beautifully. This torte is delicious served with sweetened whipped cream or ice cream, if you must.

Torte, in german, means cake. But the difference is that tortes use ground nuts instead of flour. I love the combination of flavours in this Chocolate Ginger Hazelnut Torte. If you don’t have any hazelnuts in your pantry, ground almonds would work fine.

I don’t feel that it’s necessary to have dessert every evening as it wouldn’t seem special. And I think desserts should be special. I love the idea of having something to look forward to on the weekend. And a weekend sweet treat is sometimes all I need to brighten up my week. I made this  Chocolate Ginger Hazelnut Torte recently for a weekend dinner just for our family. A little chocolate boost, a mid-winter perk when the days are starting to shorten, but still seem so long and dark. This torte is the perfect end to a cozy comforting meal: whether you wish to try something new or perhaps serve a gluten-free dessert to your dinner guests, this torte will end the evening on a high note.

Let me know how this recipe turns out for you. We all think it’s one of the best flavour combinations around.

whole chocolate, ginger and hazelnut torte with wine bottle

Chocolate Ginger and Hazelnut Torte

Print Recipe
Serves: 10-12 Cooking Time: 1 hour

Ingredients

  • 175 grams dark chocolate
  • 175 grams butter
  • 5 eggs, separated
  • 175 grams granulated sugar
  • 150 grams hazelnuts, ground
  • 200 grams ginger marmalade

Instructions

1

Preheat oven to 190 degrees Celsius.

2

Line a 9 inch round springform pan with parchment paper.

3

Melt chocolate and butter together in microwave, in 30 second intervals, stirring inbetween. Add ground hazelnuts and marmalade. Stir and allow to cool.

4

Beat egg yolks and sugar together with mixer until soft yellow and mousse-like consistency.

5

Whip egg whites until stiff peaks are formed.

6

Add egg yolk and sugar mixture to the chocolate/butter/nut and marmalade mixture. Stir until well incorporated.

7

Now add the egg whites, in 3 stages, very carefully. Fold the egg whites in carefully in order not to knock the air out of the batter.

8

Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan.

9

Bake at 190 degrees Celsius for 20 minutes. Then turn the oven down to 170 degrees celsius and continue baking for another 35-40 minutes. The cake is done when a cake tester, inserted into the middle of the cake, comes out clean.

10

When done, remove the cake from the oven and place on a rack. Let cool for about 10 minutes, then remove sides of cake pan and continue to cool. The cake will sink. this is normal.

11

enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Rachel Allen’s cookbook, ‘Bake!‘.

Cooking

Lemon Ginger Carrot Soup Recipe + Tips on how to get your Children to enjoy Soup

carrot lemon soup in bowl on table

This lemon ginger carrot soup is one of the easiest soups to make. Not only does it whip up quick, but the ingredients are items that I usually have on hand: carrots, onions, garlic, ginger, vegetable stock and tomatoes. I always have those items in my fridge. Also, this soup freezes beautifully because it does not contain any dairy ingredients. So, you can easily double the recipe and freeze some for later. The texture is so smooth and silky. And the lemon really pops!

It makes a perfect lunch on a snowy Sunday after you’ve had some fun on the snow or ice – skating, skiing, snowshoeing or tobogganing. There is no end to the fun you can have outside in winter.

carrot lemon soup in bowl near window

Lemon ginger carrot soup is my favourite carrot soup recipe. I have made many variations of carrot soup over the years, but none of them were as satisfying as this one. I love the lemon in the recipe. It seems to lift the flavours and makes the carrots taste less heavy. I always use vegetable stock when making homemade soup. It’s super easy to make yourself and the ingredients are usually items that I have in the fridge.

Most people always think of soup as adult food. It can take awhile for kids to come around to enjoying soup – except maybe chicken noodle. Most kid’s seem to like that one. Perhaps because it’s about the only thing that tastes good when you’re sick. But soup doesn’t only need to be eaten when you’re stick. And you don’t have to be an adult to enjoy soup. Being a parent to two boys, I completely understand the difficulty in trying to get your children to try new foods.  When our boys were little we had all sorts of fun coming up with funny names for new dishes and using other fun strategies to encourage our children to try new dishes.

Here are a few tips that I remember when introducing new foods to children:

  • Never force your child to eat anything that they are not interested in trying (dietitians, nutritionists, family doctors all say this. I can attest to this from personal experience. Which is why you will not find recipes on this blog about squash. Unless someone else writes it.)
  • Put new foods on the table and ask you child if they would like to try some.
  • Don’t get frustrated if they are not keen to try something new, sometimes it can take up to 3 times for a child to start to enjoy a food or even want to try.
  • Have your children help you make dinner. Even for this soup they could: get the carrots out of the fridge, scrub or peel them; get the onions, garlic, lemons and tomatoes ready for you; they could stir the pot on the stove if they are old enough and there is an adult nearby to help; they could chop the carrots, if you’ve shown them how to correctly do that, etc. They could also set the table with bowls (instead of plates – kids get excited about new things).
  • Read some books about cooking and eating. There are a lot of children’s books that centre around food. Quite often reading a book that incorporates cooking and eating can encourage your children to try new things. Here is a list of books you should be able to pick up from your library.  This list only includes books about soup, as that’s what my post is on today. I’ll try to dig up other books for future topics.

 

  • Here is the list:
  • Stone Soup by Marcia Brown
  • Duck Soup by Jackie Urbanovic
  • Chicken Soup with Rice by Maurice Sendak
  • Cactus Soup by Eric Kimmel (mexican verison of Stone Soup)
  • Perfect Soup by Lisa Moser
  • Chicken Soup, Chicken Soup by Pamela Mayer
  • Growing Vegetable Soup by Lois Ehlert
  • Delicious by Helen Cooper
  • There’s a Giraffe in my Soup by Ross Burach
  • Soup Day by Melissa Iwai
  • If you have some space in your backyard, try planting a few vegetables such as carrots, spinach, zucchini or pumpkin. Pumpkin is great fun to grow because it is excellent for making soup as well as using for hallowe’en. Zucchini is also a fantastic vegetable to grow as it’s super easy and even from just a couple of plants, you will have loads of zucchini – and there are so many things you can make from zucchini.  If your backyard isn’t big enough to grow some vegetables, maybe you could share a plot in an allotment garden if you have one nearby. Tons of family fun.

Let me know if any of these tips work out for you. And let me know how your children enjoyed this soup.

In the meantime here are a couple of articles I enjoyed reading on the subject of encouraging healthy eating in children.

Teaching Your Children To Cook

Tips on Encouraging Children to Eat Healthy

Thanks for reading!

 

carrot lemon soup in bowl on blue napkin

 

 

Recipe is adapted from Carrot Soup with Ginger and Lemon by Epicurious.com.

 

Lemon Ginger Carrot Soup

Print Recipe
Serves: 8 Cooking Time: 45 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 stick butter
  • 2 cups chopped onion
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped peeled fresh ginger
  • 3 tsp minced garlic
  • 3 pounds carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 3 tomatoes, seeded and chopped
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons grated lemon peel
  • 6-7 cups vegetable stock
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Instructions

1

Melt the butter in a large heavy pot on medium heat. Add the onion and saute for a few minutes.

2

Add ginger and garlic and saute until fragrant 1-2 minutes

3

Add the carrots, tomatoes and lemon peel and saute briefly for about 1 minute.

4

Add the stock and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, put the lid on, but leave an opening, and simmer until the carrots are very soft. This will take about 20-30 minutes.

5

Let the soup cool a little bit. Then puree the soup in batches in the blender until very very smooth. Pour the soup back into the clean pot. Add the lemon juice. Add salt and pepper to taste.

6

Add a bit more stock if soup is too thick.

 

Cooking/ Preserves

Robust Red Tomato Sauce

pitcher of tomato sauce and tomatoes

Tomato Sauce is one of the simplest pantry items anyone can make. It also freezes beautifully. It’s so handy to have a few tubs in the freezer so whenever I have time to make some sauce, I make double or triple the amount and freeze it for a quick dinner.

You can make SO many quick dinners when there is a ready made tub of tomato sauce in your freezer: pasta + sauce + parmesan cheese; pasta + sauce + sausage; pasta + sauce + any green vegetable from the crisper drawer such as spinach, zucchini, or even just onion or garlic; or tortellini + sauce + parmesan. Homemade sauce is so simple, and so much tastier than store bought that I try not to purchase bottled sauce too often. It is also more economical and healthier as there is much less salt.

This Robust Red Tomato Sauce is my go-to sauce for all pasta or pizza dishes. I love it because it has a very deep rich tomato flavour. I know other people like to add onions, garlic and sometimes carrots for sweetness, but I like the rich tomato flavour scented with only bay leaves.

pitcher of tomato sauce and tomatoes

If you are lucky enough to have a vegetable patch in your yard, or perhaps you rent an allotment garden, you could try growing your own tomatoes. Tomatoes used to make sauce are a different variety than eating tomatoes. You’ll want to look for paste tomatoes. Paste tomatoes have fewer seeds and have a firmer texture. They also all ripen at the same time, so processing the tomatoes into sauce is easy. Paste tomatoes may seem a bit bland when eaten raw, but when cooked down, they turn into a delicious sauce. Some varieties to look for are: San Marzano, Amish or Roma.

Personally, I buy whatever tins of tomatoes are on sale at the local grocery store. I also tend to buy tins with No Salt Added. However, if I am making a special pasta dish for guests or perhaps taking a lasagna to someone’s house, I would search out a more expensive brand such as Muir Glen, Eden Organic or San Marzano tinned tomatoes. These tomatoes do tend to have a richer and pastier texture. And the taste is divine.

Winter is the perfect time for making tomato sauce and all the accompanying pasta dishes. So, next time you’re at the grocery store, pick up a few tins of tomato sauce and simmer them on the stove while you browse through your favorite italian cookbook and bookmark a few italian dishes to make with your gorgeous homemade tomato sauce.

pitcher of tomato sauce and tomatoes

Robust Red Tomato Sauce

Print Recipe
Serves: 4-6 Cooking Time: 1 hour

Ingredients

  • 1 can (796 ml) whole tomatoes (I use no salt added, but you can use either)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 small can tomato paste

Instructions

1

Empty the can of tomatoes into a large pot. Squish all the tomatoes with your hands until well broken up.

2

Add two bay leaves.

3

Simmer on low for about 30 - 40 minutes, until reduced by about 1/3, with the lid half covering the pot.

4

Add tomato paste to taste. I usually add about 2-3 tablespoons.

5

Add salt and pepper to taste.

Notes

This recipe multiplies well. Increase the cooking time to about an hour for large batches. It should reduce by about 1/3.

Preserves

Vegan Roasted Red Pepper Pesto Recipe

roasted red pepper pesto in a bowl

January is a great month to make changes to your daily life. Maybe you want to hit the gym more often, go to the theatre or read more books. This year, I’m going to be cooking a lot more vegetarian and vegan recipes. I’ve been experimenting lately with some different dinner ideas and they have all gone down a treat. This vegan roasted red pepper pesto caught everyone offguard with it’s smoky flavour and heat from the chipotle.

Eating less meat and more vegetables is a much healthier and more economical way of dining. I found this recipe recently in Meatless: More than 200 of the Very Best Vegetarian Recipes and everyone in the family loved it.

I was a vegetarian for a few years when I was a teenager. Eliminating meat from my diet was easy, but back then, there were not many resources to inspire me to make interesting meatless meals. To make sure that I got enough protein in my diet, I ate a lot of eggs and cheese, and salty sunflower seeds.

Nowadays, there are SO many amazing vegetarian ideas. I love Buddha bowls, vegetarian curries as well as all the wild variations on pesto.  I love the influence that international cuisines bring to vegan and vegetarian dishes. Spices and techniques from Thailand, Vietnam, India or South America really liven up our local veggies. We’re so lucky that international restaurants, recipes and ingredients have become more prevalent.

While I am familiar with vegetarian diets, the vegan diet is new to me, and perhaps to other people as well.

This vegan roasted red pepper pesto is amazing with it’s smoky hot chipotle peppers and nutty almonds. It does have quite a kick to it from the chipotle pepper. If you are serving this to anyone who does not like spicy food,  decrease the chipotle pepper to 1/4 or 1/2 and add an extra half roasted red pepper. It is delicious on pasta, but you could also spread it on crackers, or a bagel or have as a dip with veggies.

roasted red pepper pesto with ingredients on a cutting board

Vegan Roasted Red Pepper Pesto

Print Recipe
Serves: 6 Cooking Time: 10 minutes

Ingredients

  • 2 large roasted red peppers
  • 1 chopped jarred chipotle chile in adobe
  • 1 chopped small garlic clove
  • 2 tablespoons toasted almonds
  • 1 teaspoon fresh oregano
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

Instructions

1

Place all the ingredients in the food processor, EXCEPT the olive oil. Pulse a few times until roughly chopped.

2

Add the olive oil and blend until everything is mixed together.

3

Season with salt and pepper.

4

Boil up 450 grams of spaghetti. Follow package instructions for timing.

5

Toss the spaghetti with the pesto.

Notes

To toast the almonds, spread them on a parchment lined baking tray and pop them into a preheated 350 degree C oven. It takes about ten minutes for them to toast.

If  you are interested in further reading on vegan diets, here is some additional reading. Enjoy!

The Vegan Society

History of Veganism