Friday, January 30, 2009

Tuiles - Daring Bakers January

I'm late, I'm late - for a very important date. This seems to be my mantra for the month of January so now I've made it a full sweep.

Tuiles - who makes tuiles in their spare time? I wouldn't have dreamed of it in a million years. Way too daunting, way too time consuming - nope, leave it to the pastry chefs in France said I. Well, just goes to show you how wrong one can be. These were not difficult - actually they fell into the "breeze" category and the taste - oh my goodness - so delicate and refreshing. Okay, I'm sure I didn't execute them 100% but they were still delicious. I flavoured my whipping cream with a little (more than a little actually)with Kalhua, topped with fresh blueberries and added some pebble chocolate just because.

The January challenge comes to you from Karen aka Baking Soda (from the Netherlands) and Zorra aka 1x umruehren bitte aka Kochtopf (originally Swiss now in Spain)

Traditionally, tuiles are thin, crisp almond cookies that are gently molded over a rolling pin or arched form while they are still warm. Once set, their shape resembles the curved French roofing tiles for which they're named. The Dutch angle: traditionally this batter was used to bake flat round cookies on 31st December, representing the year unfold. On New Years day however, the same batter was used but this day they were presented to well-wishers shaped as cigars and filled with whipped cream, symbolizing the New Year that's about to roll on. And of course the batter is sometimes called tulip-paste....

Following is a recipe taken from a book called “The Chocolate Book”, written by female Dutch Master chef Angélique Schmeinck.

Yields: 20 small butterflies/6 large (butterflies are just an example)
Preparation time batter 10 minutes, waiting time 30 minutes, baking time: 5-10 minutes per batch

65 grams / ¼ cup / 2.3 ounces softened butter (not melted but soft)
60 grams / ½ cup / 2.1 ounces sifted confectioner’s sugar
1 sachet vanilla sugar (7 grams or substitute with a dash of vanilla extract)
2 large egg whites (slightly whisked with a fork)
65 grams / ¼ cup / 2.3 ounces sifted all purpose flour
1 table spoon cocoa powder/or food coloring of choice
Butter/spray to grease baking sheet

Oven: 180C / 350F

Using a hand whisk or a stand mixer fitted with the paddle (low speed) and cream butter, sugar and vanilla to a paste. Keep stirring while you gradually add the egg whites. Continue to add the flour in small batches and stir to achieve a homogeneous and smooth batter/paste. Be careful to not overmix.
Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and chill in the fridge for at least 30 minutes to firm up. (This batter will keep in the fridge for up to a week, take it out 30 minutes before you plan to use it).

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or grease with either butter/spray and chill in the fridge for at least 15 minutes. This will help spread the batter more easily if using a stencil/cardboard template such as the butterfly. Press the stencil on the bakingsheet and use an off sided spatula to spread batter. Leave some room in between your shapes. Mix a small part of the batter with the cocoa and a few drops of warm water until evenly colored. StumbleUpon

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Donuts? Muffins? - Donut Muffins

Think about words that seem to have magic associated with them. You know, words like love, happiness, health (assuming it's good), cinnamon. Did I say cinnamon? It seems I did. Now think about a blogger who without cinnamon would surely shrivel and disappear. Well, it could only be Grace from A Southern Grace who is currently hosting her Cinnamon Celebration. This event closes on February 13th so you still have time to send something over. It's pretty simple - just send over something that has at least 1 tsp of cinnamon in it and trust me, she'll be so happy.

Our submission to this event is a rather interesting muffin that tastes like a donut. I found this recipe in a Canadian cookbook called Muffin Mania out of Kitchener, Ontario and written by Cathy Prange and Joan Pauli.

1 3/4 c. all purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/3 c oil
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
3/4 c. white sugar (first amount)
1 egg
3/4 c. milk

1/2 c. melted butter
3/4 c. white sugar (second amount)
1 tsp. cinnamon


1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Line or spray muffin tins
2. In a medium bowl combine flour, baking powder, salt, nutmeg and cinnamon
3. In another medium bowl thoroughly combine oil, sugar, egg and milk
4. Add liquid ingredients to dry and stir only to combine.
5. Bake at 350 F for 20-25 min.
6. Shake muffins out immediately and while hot, dip in combination of melted butter, then sugar and cinnamon.

MMMMMMMMmmmmmmmm GOOOOOOD!!!!!! and it's all about the cinnamon. StumbleUpon

Monday, January 26, 2009

Tried, Tested and True 3: Wedding Edition

Now that wedding planning is underway, I'm realizing every day just how many details go into the planning. Even a small wedding that avoids many of the traditional aspects of a wedding can be overwhelming. Perhaps one of the most complicated parts of the wedding we're planning is that at least 75% of the guests will be coming in from out of town.

We can't just expect out-of-towners to figure things out on their own. In addition to putting together "welcome baskets" for each guest, I'd like to have some activities to offer people so that they're not bored and at least one meal per day covered (e.g., dinner at my place, lunch at a restaurant).

Here's where YOU come in.

We're bringing back our Tried, Tested and True event. This time, it's Tried, Tested and True 3: Wedding Edition

What would you serve to impress for a group of approximately 20-30 people (remember this is immediate family) that can be featured on a buffet table or a sweet table?

Beginning today and ending on Friday, February 20th, we're asking you to translate your experience with parties and send along a dish that will make me look like a total domestic diva. It should be something that you know will be a big hit - something that makes people come back to the table for seconds and leaves them wanting more when the party is over. Big expecations? Nah - I have faith. You guys are all amazing cooks and bakers. I know with your help, we can swing this event and make it entirely successful. Plus, we'll know where the recipes came from and it'll make us feel like our blogging friends are right there with us.

Want to participate? Here's what you need to do:
1. Post a recipe between today and February 20th that you have not posted before.
2. Include a link to this post
3. Submit your post to triedtestedandtrue(at)live(dot)ca and label it TTT3

- Your name
- Your blog name and the URL of your post
- Sending along a picture of your dish would be extremely helpful.
Please feel free to use the wedding cake banner on your blog.


Saturday, January 24, 2009

Cajun Chicken Breasts

In keeping with the resolution to maintain a smarter diet I pulled out my ever faithful Meal Lean I Yumm cookbook from Norene Gilletz . The title Meal Lean I Yumm is now out of print but has been replaced with the title Healthy Helpings. The one thing I have found over the years with all of Norene Gilletz's cookbooks is how really easy they are to work with. A dummy proof recipe is worth gold and I can honestly say I have never had a failure and I think I have nearly all her books.


4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1/2 Tbsp. olive oil
2 Tbsp. lemon juice
salt and freshly ground pepper (to taste)
1/2 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp paprika (I used hot paprika)
1/2 tsp. cayenne
1/2 tsp. dried basil
2 cloves garlic, crushed


1. Rinse chicken and pat dry. Trim off excess fat. Combine oil, lemon juice, seasonings and garlic in a mixing bowl. Add chicken and marinate for an hour at room temperature, or up to 24 hours covered in the fridge.

2. Preheat oven to 400 F. Remove chicken from marinade and arrange in a single layer on a foil lined 10"x15"x1" baking sheet. Pour marinade over and around chicken. Bake uncovered for 20 minutes, turning chicken pieces over at half time. Baste occasionally with pan juices. When done chicken will be springy when lightly touched. If overcooked, chicken will be tough.

Verdict: This is a very flavourful way to prepare chicken. It has a bite to it so if spice isn't your thing, cut back but don't eliminate the flavour.

Our friend Joelen from Joelen's Culinary Adventures has awarded us the Lemonade Award. I haven't seen this award before and was tickled to learn that the Lemonade Award is given to blogs that have a refreshing outlook, style, vibe, etc. These blogs offer recipes & cooking/baking techniques that are unique, interesting and of course, refreshing. Thank you Joelen for regarding us so highly!!

Do stop by Joelen's blog - there's always an interesting event going on and loads of good cookery to enjoy.

Here are the rules for this award...

- Add the logo in your blog.
- Add a link to the person who gave you the award.
- Nominate other (refreshing…like lemonade) blogs of your choice.
- Don’t forget to add links to those blogs in yours.
- Also leave a message for your nominees in their blogs, informing them about the award.

We'd like to pass on this award to:

Lori Lynn from Taste With the Eyes.
Cathy of Noble Pig
That Girl at Paved with Good Intentions
Nuria of Spanish Recipes
Katie from Good Things Catered

Each of these blogs has a refreshing uniqueness of its own. If you haven't visited one or all of them, you don't know what you're missing. StumbleUpon

Wednesday, January 21, 2009


I'm still getting used to the sound of "fiancé/fiancée". Sounds kind of pretentious no? Excuse me, have you see my fiancé? I'll have to discuss this matter with my fiancé. Let me introduce you to my fiancé. I think the English language needs a few more words because the jump from boyfriend/girlfriend to fiancé/fiancée sounds a bit too much like a flying leap.

I'm digressing before I even get to the main point of this post.

The main point is that wedding planning has commenced. This includes starting to look for a photographer, figuring out license issues, talk about location and (you guessed it) middle of the night emails from Giz with pictures of wedding cakes.

I'm not the type to want a big wedding. For the time being, I'm thinking I can deal with a small reception at a restaurant. With this in mind, R and I decided to check out a local restaurant that is known for holding weddings. We had never been there before, so we decided to go for dinner.

The restaurant is quite nice. But with the weather being really cold (-20 Celcius), I was cold the entire time. As a result, the meal was brief. I couldn't wait to go home and warm up with a hot water bottle. But, the wedding would be in the spring-summer, so I can't factor that into my decision making.

Their group menu differs from the normal menu (easier/quicker to prepare). But, we're told the quality is the same.

To start, I ordered a Butternut Squash and Roasted Apple Purée. It came with a goat's cheese foam and chives:

The soup tasted a lot like this soup that I made last month, albeit much less spicy. The soup was ok. The flavours of butternut squash and apple are so prominent that I can't imagine there being much variation in flavour of this dish, despite who is preparing it. But it was no where near as good as the squash soup I ate at Les Fougeres. The other complaint is that it was at best luke warm. This is a big issue because 1. I was freezing cold and wanted soup to warm up and 2. I like my soup piping hot. I'd rather burn the roof of my mouth than have cold soup. The goat cheese foam didn't add any flavour and wasn't particularly attractive, if you ask me.

Thankfully, the main courses were MUCH better. R ordered Elk. It was prepared using using the sous vide method over a bed of quinoa and greens, topped with a slice of blue cheese. I was impressed with the use of local ingredients. The menu descriptions detail where the products were obtained and they were all pretty local.

R enjoyed his elk. He said he enjoyed it more than the elk we ate while in Prince Edward County. I tried a bit and it was good. But, I preferred my steak. I ordered a striploin, which came with a blossoming onion, topped with mushroom and a side of pommes Laura.

My dish was very good. If I had any concern it would be the rubberiness of the mushroom. But, I'm not an expert on mushrooms - perhaps they were supposed to be like that. The steak, onion, and potatoes were excellent.

So, the verdict is still out on whether we'll go with this option. But, since neither R nor I are particularly eager to do much shopping around, we'll probably go with it.

There's still so much to plan...and I think I need YOUR help. Giz and I have an idea and we'll let you in on it soon.

Courtyard Restaurant on Urbanspoon StumbleUpon

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Brunch: French Toast with Mixed Fruit Compote + Oatmeal Saskatoon Berry Applesauce Muffins

Last weekend, we had a couple of friends over for brunch. Among my peers, brunch with friends is usually at a greasy-spoon diner. But, I wanted to switch it up and host a brunch.

I kept it relatively simple and made French Toast with a mixed fruit compote along with some muffins. I had been hording most of the fruit I froze in the summer, but decided it was time use some.

I started off with a simple syrup with some lemon juice and vanilla and added fruits in consideration of how quickly they will soften and breakdown. First was the peaches I blanched, peeled and froze in September.

Next was the raspberries I picked in July, shortly after returning home from France.

Lastly, I added the blueberries I picked in August along with the Saskatoon berries R brought home from Saskatchewan.

I wanted the fruit to maintain its shape, so I only kept it on the stove (on low-medium) for about 10-15 minutes.

In addition to the french toast, turkey bacon and banana strawberry smoothie, I found a great recipe for muffins that fit well with my resolution to bake healthier.

Oatmeal Saskatoon Berry Applesauce Muffins
Joy The Baker

Makes 12-15 muffins

1 1/4 cups whole wheat flour
1 1/4 cups oats
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/2 cup low-fat buttermilk
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
2 tbsp canola oil (I used the almond oil I had on hand)
1 large egg, lightly beaten
3/4 cup blueberries (fresh or frozen - I used Saskatoon berries)
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Line a 12 cup muffin tin with paper cases or spray with nonstick cooking spray. I simple greased and floured a muffin pan, saving the paper.

In a large bowl combine flour, oats, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon.

In a medium bowl combine applesauce, buttermilk, sugar, oil and egg. Make a well in dry ingredients and add applesauce mixture. Stir until just moist. Fold in blueberries. Fill muffin cups 2/3 full.

Bake for 16-18 minutes.

The muffins were quite good. I especially liked the burst of saskatoon berry throughout.
To make these muffins, I used my cute new measuring spoons (courtesy of Giz).

So, I'm submitting this post to Joelen's Culinary Adventure's Tasty Tools event. This time around, the event is featuring measuring spoons & cups.


Sunday, January 18, 2009

Top Ten Dishes of 2008 (and part of 2007 and 2009)

Thanks for all of the excellent recommendations on my last post guys! You guys are awesome.

Giz and I had plans to mark the first anniversary of Equal Opportunity Kitchen, which passed over a month ago. Then we had plans to mark New Years. Well, you don't need me to tell you what happened with that plan.

So, in lieu of those two plans, I'd like to do a combination post, highlighting our most popular and favourite recipes to date. It's always interesting to see which posts attract traffic and comments (two indicators that are relatively independent of each other). Here are our top ten, presented in no particular order.

Probably the biggest surprise was the number of people (primarily from the Canadian Prairies) who came to us by searching for Beet Leaf Holopchi

Perogies have also been quite a hit and with good reason, perogies are da bomb! Every time I've made them, I've managed to drum up the support of a friend. Bribing them with offers of (at least) a few dozen to take home and you've usually got a willing participant.

A much older, but still popular recipe is Barefoot Contessa's Shrimp Linguine. I still make this dish regularly.

Another dish that has been a hit for us is Chicken Satay. Interestingly, Jamie (who originally posted this recipe) also marks it as one of the Best of 2008. Giz and I also made this dish at a recent family event.

Pesto Palmiers have also been popular. I'm continually offering to make these when R's friends come over to watch hockey or football. Actually, I made them today.

I must admit, I was surprised with how popular Giz's Stuffed Tomato post was. I mean, it's a tomato. But, I guess there are a lot of die hard tomato fans out there. Well, Giz says it's delicious, so maybe they were right to search for it.

Some posts are popular because people view them through an event. Giz's Peanut Butter and Jelly Filled Cupcakes are one such example. These cupcakes placed 3rd in Peanut Butter Boy's Peanut Butter Exhibition and we still get traffic from it.

Another hit that featured peanut butter was the Peanut Butter Cup Cake that I made for R's birthday. Chocolate and peanut butter heaven.

This easy peasey food processor version of whipped shortbread is a no fail, always delicious, melt in your mouth recipe. It didn't seem to stand out at first but it consistently gets hits.

And last but not least these Blintzes seem to have found their way to many a kitchen and we couldn't be more delighted. Blintzes are one of my favourite foods! Giz - guess who has lots of blintz topping (fruit compote) but no blintzes to eat it with?!?


Thursday, January 15, 2009

Spice Rubbed Salmon

I'm not one to make resolutions, but I like the idea of food resolutions. There are some food/eating resolutions I would like to make (and post for a bit of accountability).

For one, I'd like to eat more fish. So far, I haven't extended much beyond salmon and talapia. I know I like those two, so I don't stray too far. But, I really should. What fish do you recommend for someone who is a relative beginner with preparing fish?

Another food resolution is to bake with healthier products. For example, I want to replace white flour with whole wheat, white sugar with apple sauce, and other healthy subsitutions. I figure that if a treat can taste just as good with healthier options, why not use them?

Lastly (and this one will be the toughest for me), I'd like to incorporate more beans in my diet. I never eat beans. I don't even know how to cook with them. So, that'll be a challenge for me.

Related to the first goal, I tried out a new salmon recipe. This one comes from Josée Di Stasio via Ruth from Recipes 4 Every Kitchen. This recipe seemed like a great way to both stick to a food resolution and use my new baby. Isn't she pretty? She's an All Clad French Skillet. Her daddy doesn't understand why she is so special, but in time, he'll learn to love her.

This recipe is being sent to Michelle and Meeta's Monthly Mingle's Healthy Family Dinners

Spice Rubbed Salmon

Prep time: 5 minutes
Cooking time: 8-10 minutes

Serves 4 (I halved the recipe for two)

2 tbsp coriander seeds
2 tbsp mustard seeds
1 tbsp white or maple sugar (both Ruth and I used brown sugar)
2 tsp sea salt
4 salmon fillets
2 tbsp olive oil

1. Preheat the oven to 450°F/220°C

2. Coarsely grind coriander and mustard seeds in a coffee grinder or with a mortar and pestle.

3. Mix the spices, sugar, salt & pepper on a plate or wide bowl and coat the salmon fillets. Let the spices infuse the fish for a few minutes.

4. In an oven-proof skillet (one that can sustain high heat), heat the oil over medium heat on top of the stove. Brown fillets on top and bottom for 1-2 minutes per side. Take care not to burn the spice crust.

5. Transfer the skillet to the oven and roast for 5-8 minutes or until the fish is cooked. StumbleUpon

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Kapusta - Cooked Cabbage

A Trip to Poland

When Joan of Foodalogue posted her event that is themed as a virtual culinary trip to a number of countries, my interest was peaked. Joan also planned this event to raise awareness to world hunger and Bloggeraid Although as Joan tells us, economic times stand in the way of us taking the actual journey, nothing stops us from enjoying the culinary adventure right from our own kitchens. Here are the tentative dates and stops along the way.

1/19 Poland
1/26 Germany
2/2 France
2/9 Portugal
2/16 Israel
2/23 Ethiopia
3/2 Russia
3/9 India
3/16 Mongolia
3/23 Australia
3/30 Peru
4/6 USA

Poland was screaming at me. My heritage is from Poland and as I sat in my kitchen I could actually visualize what to cook. My mother (baba) often told me stories of pre war Poland and how hard it was to make a living, let alone feed large families.

Kapusta (the Polish word for cabbage), one of the dishes baba makes to this day is a peasant dish that feeds a large family. Meats were so expensive that if my grandmother could find a couple of pieces of chicken to throw into the pot, it made a creative and filling dish. It's also quite delicious meatless.

When we were young, if baba was cooking Kapusta, we all gave her the old stink eye and had to run outside because the mere smell of the cabbage cooking was enough.

This recipe doesn't exactly win a beauty contest but is packed with personality. At first, running the idea of cabbage, chicken, raisins or currants, onions and brown sugar around in my mind would elicit a big "eeeuuuuwwww". Now that I'm almost grown up, I can honestly say the combination grows on you and can become quite addictive.

Here is my tribute to Poland, its culture and its people.


3 Tbsp. olive oil or canola oil
1 medium onion diced
1 medium sized green cabbage - shredded
1 tsp kosher salt
2 or 3 chicken drumsticks or bone in thigh portions
1 lemon
1 tsp. salt
1/4 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup raisins


1. In large pot, saute diced onion in oil until translucent.
2. Add shredded cabbage,salt and chicken pieces and cook covered on moderate/slow heat until cabbage begins to brown. This is the longest part of the process. Make sure you're stirring from time to time. If the pot begins to go dry, add water by little bits to maintain moisture.

3. Add raisins and brown sugar and continue to cook on low heat.

4. Just before the cabbage is looking done, add juice of one lemon and 1/4 cup of brown sugar. This is usually about 20 minutes before serving.
5. Serve with a boiled potato.


Monday, January 12, 2009

Orzo Caprese Salad

When I find something I really like, I can eat it regularly for quite a while before getting tired of it. It always helps when it's a really simple dish as well. Ever since my first caprese salad, I've had regular cravings for tomatoes, bocconcchini cheese and basil. It reappeared at my cousin's bar mitzvah (for which Giz and I catered) and for a combined Rosh Hashanah/Canadian Thanksgiving meal.

So, why stop there? After my initial caprese salad posting, Melissa recommended Krysta's pasta version. I opted for orzo instead and added some of my frozen pesto (Well - it's pesto that I froze. Don't worry it was thawed for the meal).


approx 1.5 cups of orzo pasta
3 plum tomatoes
container of mini bocconcchini
fresh basil (from this plant, that hates my guts right now)
approximately 1/2-2/3 of a cup of pesto

The result:

So good. Now I want some more.

This post is going to Ivy at Kopiaste who is hosting this week's Presto Pasta Nights.


Sunday, January 11, 2009

Dominican Republic

I guess you could say, I owe Giz big time. I've become practically a stranger on this blog over the past two weeks. In the meantime, Giz has more than held up the fort with the BloggerAid Roundup and the announcement of the BloggerAid Cookbook. If you haven't heard about these events, then you're behind the times - go check out the above links for more details.

In the meantime, I've been off working on my non-existent tan in the Dominican Republic (sorry to the people on the beach who had to endure the reflection of the sun off of our pasty-white bodies).

With both me and R finishing graduate school, we wanted to take a bit of a celebratory vacation. We left a couple of days before New Years. There's something so surreal about seeing this in December when you live in Canada:

For the most part, we sat at the beach trying to get a tan without burning (two goals that are somewhat incompatible). We did take one excursion. The day started with a visit to the rum factory there (which was mainly closed and, therefore, not impressive).

According to the tour guide at the Brugal Factory, Brugal rum is the third largest producer of rum worldwide, after Bacardi and Captain Morgan. The picture, above, is of their 151 rum that is 75.5% alcohol. The tour guide highly recommended that we not drink that rum the night before a flight. Apparently Brits are not allowed to take this rum home. I believe it's because the airline won't allow it because of its flammability.

After the rum factory, we went to a amber museum. The Dominican is where some of the scenes from the first Jurassic Park were filmed. Those scenes also feature the amber.

After these two stops, we stopped at a couple of stores, one selling jewellery

and the other cigars.

In each place, we learned a bit about the process of making those products. Here's a quick video I took at the cigar-making store.

But, this is a better video:

I'm sure both stores pay a heftly price to have tour buses stop there as there are a tonne of stores selling the same products, yet we were specifically led to these ones. My "big" splurge was on a bottle of vanilla extract for $2. If it is real vanilla extract (as advertised), it's a great purchase.

Afterward we stopped at a the San Felipe fortress, build to protect Puerto Plata from pirates and their War of Independence.

Most impressive was the cable car (I'm told the only one in the Carribean).

We had a beautiful, clear day, so the view was amazing. At the top of the mountain is a replica of the Jesus statue (Christ the Redeemer) in Brazil.

In the afternoon, we went to a nearby town called Sosua. They have a beautiful beach and flea market there. Only problem is that you are stopped constantly by people trying to sell you stuff. We wanted to peacefully walk along the beach there, but quickly learned that walking signals people to try to sell things to you (e.g., a beach chair to rent, drinks, fruit, other food, etc.).

The market area was even worse for this. You walk about 10 steps and have 2-3 people trying to lead you into their stalls. I wouldn't mind browsing, but I'm sure we would be strongly pressured into buying and didn't want to bother with all of that. If you can be easy-going about it, it's a pretty funny experience because everyone uses the same line, "Remember me? You promised you would come and visit me later. Now is later". Or...since there are a lot of Canadians that visit this area, the people working there would yell, "No GST! No PST!" (our federal and provincial sales taxes).

Perhaps the most exciting part of the trip came on New Years Eve. R and I got engaged! This information has sent Giz into planning orbit. I'll post more on our plans later.

Overall, a good trip. But, a week was enough for me. I was gettting ancy and ready to go home. Even this sight upon landing did not deter me:

Between friend visits and the Dominican, R and I spent 3 days in my mom's city. You can read about Hannukah dinner on Christmas here. While there, I managed to finish most advanced knitting challenge to date (I posted about these mitts originally here):

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