Category Archives: recipe

Hosting Benefit = Tarte Tatin

One of the things I love about being a B&B host is that I get to learn a lot about the cultures of my guests (and by culture I primarily mean food).

A perfect example being the past 10 days. I’ve had 2 awesome women staying with me from France and we’ve become good friends :) They’ve been teaching me all kinds of phrases en Français that we don’t use here, and also made me some delicious tarte tatin!

I’ve never had it before (nor made it) so I took lots of photos :)

Priscilla, Me & Sandrine @ my housewarming party

What is it?

Tarte tatin is basically a caramel-apple pie. Simple ingredients and totally delicious you can eat it plain, add spices or change the pastry to your liking.

First you cook equal parts butter and sugar  (around 1/4 cup each) together to create the caramel. When it changes colour, remove it from the heat and start layering your apple slices like so:

Make sure not to touch the molten caramel!

For a skillet the size you see there, we used about 6 apples. They’ll cook down in the heat, so cram them in there!

 

Cramming

 

All 6 apples are in there!

Next, take some pre-made pastry and tuck it in around the apples. My friends didn’t know that phyllo was different from butter pastry and bought that by mistake. That’s why it looks a little weird.

 

Tuck the pastry blanket around the sleepy apples

Trim the dough if necessary. It’s actually going to be the bottom of the tarte so you don’t want too much hanging around.

Haircut

Pop it in the oven (we did it at 350*F) for about 20 minutes or so. You know it’s done when the caramel starts bubbling up the sides and the pastry is nice and golden.

Take it out of the oven, then immediately flip the tarte out onto a plate that is larger than the pan you cooked it in. Be careful! Molten caramel may fly everywhere so be vigilant! I didn’t really have a suitable plate so we just used a cheap tray from the dollar store. You can see why you need something with an edge… the juice from the apples pours out everywhere.

mmmmm juicy

 

And voila! You have just made traditional tarte tatin. Or in this case, my friend Sandrine made it for me :)

 

Some tips and tricks from Sandrine

  • There are 2 “hard” parts: making sure the caramel doesn’t burn, and flipping the lava-hot tarte onto the plate
  • If the caramel burns, you’re screwed. It gets bitter and nasty and you have to start over again. Unfortunately this happened to our tarte since neither of us had used my kitchen for baking before this and we didn’t know how the oven would perform!
  • You can slice your apples into quarters, or thinner. The thinner they are, the more caramel they will absorb
  • Use unsalted butter for a better taste
  • Traditional tarte tatin doesn’t have cinnamon or other spices because they can overpower the caramel flavour. But you can spice it up if you like!
  • Tarte tatin is best served warm. You can eat it with ice cream, sour cream or whipped cream
  • If you use a cast iron skillet like we did, reduce your cooking time so the caramel doesn’t get rank and burned
  • Have your apples pre-sliced and ready to go
  • Use butter or regular pastry. The phyllo was ok but…different

Even though the tarte wasn’t so good this time around, I can tell that this dessert would be amazeballs when properly executed. Overall I don’t think it’s too difficult (very similar to making a Spanish tortilla!) so I’ll probably whip this out to impress guests in the future.

I just really love that Sandrine made it for me :)

My Recipe is Featured on Dishing For Dana!

Hey everyone,

You may or may not have heard about Dana’s (The Broke-Ass Bride) plight, but she is having to undergo her TWELFTH surgery for an autoimmune disease that is attacking her eyes. At this point she has a ton of medical bills (poor thing lives in the US!) and will have yet more costs accrued as she tries to recover.

To that end, the Dishing For Dana site was created. In exchange for your donation you’ll receive varying levels of access to a compilation of superstar blogger recipes!

And guess who is one of those bloggers?

ME!

On Monday my Parsley Butter Soup recipe was posted to the collection, you can check it out here!

If you donate you’ll receive access to all these amazing recipes, or you can submit a recipe of your own to help the cause.

Click on the image below to help out Dana and The American Autoimmune Related Disease Association:

 

 

Tea Party Recipe: Scones

No tea party is complete without proper scones, jam & cream.

While I am not ambitious enough to try making my own jam & cream for this tea party (though that would be nice, wouldn’t it?) I did feel that proper home made scones would be the right touch for the occasion.

Commence scone-recipe-searching!

Haha, this time around I did it the smart way, and Googled “easy scone recipe” and clicked the first result.

Oh Google, I love your algorithm! I got an awesome recipe from Allrecipes.com that resulted in delicious, light & fluffy scones that will be perfect!

Fresh out of the oven!

I’m glad I did a test run with these babies, as I don’t work with a lot of delicate or finicky recipes generally speaking. With scones you have to be very careful not to overwork the dough as you make them. I don’t know what happens when you overwork the dough as mine turned out great, but I’m sure it wouldn’t come out as nice.

Next time I think I’m going to add a little more sugar for sweetness, and probably make them a bit smaller, too. These ones were absolutely mammoth. Of course there is the option to flavour them or add things like dried fruits, nuts and chocolate chips!

For the tea party I am going to stick with the plain jane kind; the better to slather with butter, cream and jam! Even on their own these were pretty tasty fresh out of the oven. Definitely a worthwhile recipe.

To save you browser space, I’m not going to bother listing the full recipe here. Instead, you can check it out on Allrecipes.com —  and make sure you read all the comments, they have some great advice in them!

I will also be serving a selection of tea sandwiches that I will be making, and petit fours that I will not be making (a gal’s got to draw the line somewhere!) and other little treats.

All this week I’ve been planning, making lists and playing with the table set up. Everything seems to be going fine, but I’m a little disappointed; I just discovered that a good friend of mine wasn’t able to get time off work and essentially can’t make it to the main event. This is a big bummer since I only invited a select few to begin with :( pooh-pooh.

Recipe Request!

So for xmas I am giving my friends some of the stuff I canned during the summer, and I also want to make them some sweet treats to go with it!

I’ve been looking through recipe books, magazines and my fave foodie blogs but haven’t found anything that meets my requirements.

Basically I am looking for something inspired, that is not too difficult to make, is cheap (no hazelnuts or almonds, etc!) and is impressive.

Something other than the ordinary cookie.

I am currently considering a sweet party-mix type recipe, and also some form of candy, like sponge toffee. I’m not totally sold on the candy though because it seems like a lot of work and has the potential to go horribly wrong. I also don’t have anything to make a double boiler with, though I DO have a candy thermometer (which I have never used!)

I know some of you readers are awesome goody bakers, and I was hoping you could offer some suggestions or recipes? I need to make enough for 6-10 people. What is your fave treat to make?
Can you help me out?

Thanks!

Make Your Own Egg McMuffin

I have something to confess:

I have recently fallen in love with breakfast sandwiches. I used to hate them but now I can’t get enough of their delicious egg & meat & cheese combination (props if you know where I got that from!)

But you see, it’s an expensive habit. It’s close to $3 nowadays to procure yourself a breakfast sandwich at a fast-food joint. My favourite is at Tim Horton’s, but I also find myself liking the good old-fashioned McDonald’s Egg McMuffin, too. But neither my wallet nor my waistline can handle eating these often. …And they’re not available after 12pm and I like to eat them for dinner! (Yes, my family is odd, we like breakfast foods for dinner)

So I decided to make my own!

I’d like to point out that these are extremely unhealthy, and even though they taste like heaven, I will be submitting this to This Is Why You’re Fat! I estimate they’re somewhere around 500 calories each.

Onto the instructions…

Here’s what you need to make a homestyle breakfast sandwich. Substitute your favourite cheese, breads or meat products as you wish.

Ingredients:

– english muffin
– processed cheese
– sausage round
– 1 egg
– salt & pepper to taste
– ketchup to taste
– margerine or butter

Now it may take a couple of tries to get the timing just right, but here’s the general order of assembly:
  • Fire up your frying pan and start cooking the sausage. Leave some space in the pan for the egg to be added later.
  • Meanwhile, whisk your egg, salt & pepper together in a small bowl with a fork (this is the scrambled part!) and pop your english muffin sides into the toaster.
  • By the time you get that done, check on the meat–if it looks like it’s almost ready, throw your egg on. I tried using a cookie cutter, small round pan, etc. to make a perfect egg round, but it just didn’t work. So I tilt the skillet towards me and drop the egg goo there. It sort of pools in a crescent shape.
  • Once it’s cooked a little bit I just poke & shove the egg around on the skillet with my spatula until it looks like an english muffin-sized blob, and I let it cook.
  • Once your muffins are done, butter them, put the cheese on and add your cooked egg & sausage. Top with ketchup and begin salivating!

This is a real artery-clogger of a breakfast, but it is super-impressive for guests and perfect for soothing your hangover. I don’t know for certain but it might even be ok to freeze, then warm up in the oven or microwave when you need it. (Jenny Craig has a breakfast sandwich that is frozen so I figure mine can be too!)

Please enjoy responsibly!

Bombay Sapphire Event Review

“Gin-cident”: a negative experience with gin; usually as a result of inferior juniper berries used in the production of gin. Or by being a stupid teenager.

I’ve had one, and I’ll bet you’ve had one too.

I’ll admit it; a few weeks ago, I did not have a very good opinion of gin. I thought it tasted a lot like pinecones and made me want to yak. I was the victim of a gincident. So when I opened up my inbox to find an invitation to an exclusive Bombay Sapphire Gin event from their PR agency, I was a little skeptical.

However I like to think that I have an open mind, so I accepted the invitation in the hopes that I had matured enough to appreciate the unique flavour of this spirit. I love exploring alcohol and had done a tasting and review of Ketel One Vodka in the months previous; I was ready for another round. (Note to PR companies: Send me stuff or invite me out! You won’t be disappointed!)

The venue was the very well-appointed childhood home of Ted Rogers Sr., inventor of the Rogers Batteryless and founder of the Toronto radio station CFRB. We were treated to a variety of gin-based cocktails and tasty hors d’oeuvres by some friendly waitstaff as we mingled in the kitchen and backyard.

I brought my new friend Eve with me to this event, in an effort to bond with her over copious amounts of booze and also to introduce her to that glamourous ad world/blogger lifestyle I like to brag about so much (needless to say she was suitably impressed! hehe).

Once for a change I didn’t know anyone at this event, so I was able to start fresh and maintain my blogger anonymity! Errr… rather just keep my work life a social life separate, I suppose. Eve and I mostly stuck together that evening, but I made friends with the British mixologist and brand ambassador Merlin Griffiths, whom I had previously arranged via Twitter to do a cocktail demonstration with that evening. (That’s right! Ginger gettin’ up there and all famous in the house!)

Long story short, I sampled most of the cocktails on offer, which included my namesake, my favourite of the night, and the always-classy:

  • Sapphire Ginger-Mint
  • Sapphire (Tom) Collins
  • Gin Martini

About an hour into the event we were ushered into the totally dope kitchen area for some cocktail-creation demonstrations, as well as some tips and tricks from a professional caterer on how to entertain at home.

First on the menu: Ginger & Merlin demonstrating the art of the Sapphire Collins! Yes my friends, I got up there like the attention whore I am and showed the world how to do it right, with Merlin guiding me along. I even squeezed the lemon myself! (The photo is Merlin showing us the right and wrong way of making a gin martini)

Ginger presents:

Ha! You thought you’d actually see me, eh? Maybe in the future, but not this time, my friends! however that is a great little instructional video I will be using to jog my memory for all the BBQ’s I’m going to host this summer…

Anyway, the night went along swimmingly with the help of some more Sapphire Collins’ and the good company of my fellow Toronto bloggers. We learned how to make a bunch of drinks that night, as well as a few cool centrepieces and quick meals for dinner parties. Below you’ll see a half-eaten (so classy, I know) charcuterie plate and a delicious Sapphire Collins.

I think by this point you’ve realized that I have started to actually enjoy gin–when applied properly, of course! I’m really glad I got out to this event; not only did I have a great time with Eve, I also learned a lot about gin and met some of the local Toronto bloggers! Bombay Sapphire gin is definitely on my list for booze-I-need-to-purchase, especially now that I know how to use it. And because it has cool “botanicals” in it (top photo). I like herb-y things!

I was a bit of the odd-man-out however, as I did not possess any business cards! Anyone wanna hook me up with some of those free ones uPrinting.com has been giving away? If I keep going to more of these events I might as well advertise my site, right? It’s a bit weird mingling In Real Life though, I’ve got to admit! I’m not sure how I feel about people who have actually met me reading this blog… none of my friends or family know where it is or what I write about!

Speaking of other bloggers, I would like to thank Andrew Louis of Hyfen.net and Raymi of Raymitheminx.com for use of their photos! I meant to bring my camera but forgot at the last minute!

As an end to the night and an end to this post, Eve and I stayed and socialized with ppl until the bitter end, they were practically kicking us out, but it wasn’t even 9pm yet! We scored some killer loot bags and a couple of cab chits on our way out, so I chilled at Eve’s place a bit before heading home. I still haven’t broken out my mad cocktail-making skillz yet, but rest assured they will be well-used in the coming summer months!

Here’s a peek of what we got that will leave you salivating:

If you wanna learn some stuff about Bombay Sapphire Gin or how to make some great gin cocktails, here are some resources for you:

Drink responsibly, dammit!

Peach Crock Pot Cobbler

Now that you guys have seen my new kitchen I can mention that I finally had my family over for dinner at my place last week. I don’t think they’ve ever actually been here together at one time, nor for a family meal.
Now, I’m not a very good cook. Yet. I’ve never really had any reason to learn, and no space to do it in, either. With the new kitchen however, I’ve been a little more inspired.
When my family came over I stuck to something simple and just made pasta with some souped-up meat sauce that I did in the crockpot. Surprisingly everything turned out really well! I even made dessert and my dad *gasp!* said it was his favourite part of the meal.
You know what it was?
A peach crockpot cobbler! :)
I took inspiration from a lot of the crockpot recipes I’ve been researching and thought I’d give it a go. It was easy to make and tasted delish. Here’s the recipe if you want to give it a shot!
2 cans of canned peaches, drained
2/3 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup quick-cook oats
1/2 cup flour
1 tsp brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1/3 cup butter, softened

Lightly butter your crock (I just sprayed with Pam) and dump your peaches in. In a separate bowl, combine the dry ingredients and mix well. Cut in butter with a fork (I ended up using my hands to mix–much easier!). Sprinkle the topping over the peaches and add a dash of love!
Cook in a vented crockpot (I used a chopstick to prop the lid open to prevent condensation) for about 5 hours on low.
Serve with ice cream and enjoy!
The photo up top is how mine turned out. Make sure you vent your crockpot though otherwise it will end up a little mushy. Mine did because I didn’t think to vent it until later on. I suppose a quick jaunt under the broiler might dry it up a bit, but that was too much work for me.
In any case it tasted fabulous, and I think I’m going to make another one today!