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White Chocolate Blackberry Cheesecake

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Blackberrycheesecake_zps03c54ac1(1)

Last week, I had a friend come to visit from Newfoundland, and while we planned to dine out a few times over the week, I always like to whip up a few treats to have around, and in this case, tote along to a cottage, where we spent the next few days soaking up the sun and more than a few glasses of Tidal Bay wine (Jost winery being just down the road) before heading on to other ventures.  The cottage, btw, was Crows Joy, and it was a beautiful place to stay.  The Malagash area is one of my favorite places, home to gorgeous scenery and lovely beaches (including Blue Sea Beach Park), where you have room to breathe.  We also visited the Tatamagouche Brewing Company (great red ale) and had a great lobster roll at Big Al’s.  Mostly we BBQ’d, took lunches to the beach and such.

This mini-cheesecake was perfect size for a couple of days at a cottage and fit just right into one of those round ziploc containers, so it was portable for the cooler we packed to take with us.  If you wanted to make the full sized version, just double the ingredients, use a 9-10 inch pan and adjust your cooking times to about 60 minutes.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Start by lining the bottom of a smaller (4-5 inch) springform pan with parchment paper and wrapping outside of pan with foil to catch butter drippings. Combine the following for the crust:

  • 1/3 cup sliced almonds
  • 3/4 cup graham cracker crumbs
  • 1 tbsp white sugar
  • 2 tbsp melted butter

Press this mixture across bottom and up sides of pan. Set aside while you make the cheesecake batter:

  • 2 8 ounce packages of cream cheese
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 1 tbsp flour
  • 1/4 tsp almond extract
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 4 ounces white chocolate, melted
  • 2 large eggs

Use your stand mixer to cream together the cheese and sugar.  Add flour and extracts, mix again, scraping sides of bowl at least once. Slowly add melted white chocolate while the mixer is running.  Scrape sides of bowl and mix again.  Add eggs, one at a time, taking care not to over beat.

Toss together:

  • 1/2 cup fresh or frozen blackberries
  • 1 tsp cornstarch

Layer this mixture on bottom of prepared crust.  Pour cheesecake batter over top. Bake at 325 for approximately 45 minutes or until top of cake no longer jiggles.  Turn off oven, leave door ajar for cake to cool.  Running a knife around the inner edge of the pan will hopefully keep the cake from cracking, but no worries, as there is topping to come! Allow the cake to fully cool in fridge.

To assemble the cake (after you have removed sides of springform), whip up:

  • 1 cup whipping cream
  • 2 tbsp confectioner’s sugar
  • 1/2 tsp almond extract

Pipe an edge around the top of cake (save the rest for plating). To decorate:

  • approximately 1/4 cup warmed redcurrant jelly
  • 1/2 pint or so fresh blackberries

Brush top of cake with some of the warmed redcurrant jelly.  Cover top of cake with fresh blackberries, then brush more redcurrant jelly over the top.

 

 

Tex Mex Shrimp Dip

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Apologies for the hiatus!  In cooking related news, I have been super busy baking cheesecakes this past couple of weeks for the Kraft Philadelphia Cheesecake of the year contest.  Check out my resulting cakes, and the recipe links, on my facebook page.

Most of this dip was destined for the freezer, in anticipation of company coming next week.  I made this version with shrimp, but if you wish to make it vegetarian, you could always swap in some black beans or just go with the veggies.

TexMexShrimpDip2_zpsd1995c46

  • 8 ounces cream cheese
  • 1/4 cup light mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 tsp tex mex seasoning
  • 1/2 tsp lime juice
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tomato, seeded and chopped small
  • 1/2 cup chopped yellow pepper
  • 1/4 cup chopped purple onion
  • 1 tbsp minced fresh cilantro
  • 1 cup chopped cooked shrimp
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar
  • salt to taste
  • hot sauce of choosing, adjust to desired heat level

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Use your mixer or stick blender to mix cream cheese, mayo and sour cream.  Add remaining ingredients and season to taste.  Place in oven proof dish, and bake for 25 minutes or so, until bubbly.  Serve with crackers, tortilla chips, bread or even more veggies.

 

Slow Food Nova Scotia Spring Supper 2014

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100th post!  And I am incredibly pleased to be able to dedicate it to a fantastic event I attended this past weekend, thanks to both Slow Food NS and Taste of Nova Scotia :)

Slow Food Hall

I had been ogling this event and daydreaming this past week, trying to figure out whether I could make it, when the foodie gods shone their light upon me or something, because I ended up winning two tickets to go.  My little food nerd heart grew three sizes that day !

The dinner itself was part of a greater Slow Food Canada conference that took place between May 1-4 in Tatamagouche.  For the uninitiated, the slow food movement was founded to counteract the whole fast-food lifestyle and disappearance of local food traditions and is based on three principles (to quote Slow Food NS):

  1. Good food that’s a pleasure to eat, produced in a framework that builds community, and is part of local culture
  2. Clean food that’s safe and nutritious, sustainably derived from healthy soil, plants and animals closer to home
  3. Fair food, accessible prices for consumers and fair conditions and pay for small-scale producers.

Now what’s not to love about that? If you are interested in learning more, check out www.slowfood.com or Slow Food NS. Become a member!

This event also marked the formal introduction of the East Coast Chef’s Collaborative.  That would be this wonderful group of people in this blurry photo:

Chef's Collab

Now how often do you get to have your dinner cooked for you by not one, but SIX chefs??!  I had only eaten at one of the featured restaurants (Wild Caraway down in Advocate, highly recommended), so I was really excited about trying out all the others, and all the wonderful food that this night no doubt had in store as well.  I was not disappointed! And in general, the evening was really enjoyable.  There were lots of interesting presentations and great conversation with some of the other folks involved in producing great food across this country.  We had lots of laughs at our table and shared lots of stories.  There was also a silent auction (my friend took home some wine) and a small sales table, where I purchased a new favorite t-shirt.

On to the food and wine! The opening reception featured three tables offering fresh oysters provided by ShanDaph Aquaculture, Sober Island and Bay Enterprises.  Sadly, by the time I got there, all the oysters from Sober Island were gone, so I did not even get to see them.  But I heard from others that they were very tasty, and the smallest oysters of the grouping (which is usually what I’ll go for).  All very fresh and tasty.

Bay Enterprise OystersShandaph Oyters

The oysters were featured along with the 2013 Nova 7 by Benjamin Bridge.  I’d heard a lot of buzz about this wine on twitter and so forth, but hadn’t tasted it before the slow food dinner.  I will definitely buy this wine again.  Delicious, light and bubbly, it paired really well with the oysters, but I can also see it going very well with dessert.  All of the wine pairings through the night were Nova Scotia wines/stout.  I have been to most of these vineyards, check them out!

On to dinner!

1st Course; Mark Gray – The Brooklyn Warehouse

1st Course

striped bass, rhubarb, buttermilk, peas, ginger, cucumber and camelina oil

The dish was served with 2011 Black Dog Riesling, Gaspareau Vineyards

2nd Course; Bryan Picard – The Bite House

2nd Course2

sunflower seed soup, turnip, cress, smoked grains

This dish was served with the 2013 Tidal Bay from Benjamin Bridge

3rd Course; Andrew Aitken – Wild Caraway Restaurant & Cafe

3rd Course

arctic char, lobster & scallop terrine, dulse and laver, salad of sprouts and foraged greens

This was served with the 2013 Tidal Bay from Blomidon Estate Winery

4th Course; Dave Smart – Front and Central

4th Course

root vegetable “pot au feu”, smoked mushrooms, spring greens, dumplings

Served with 2012 Stubborn Head, Avondale Sky Winery

5th Course; Andrew Farrell – 2 Doors Down

5th Course

hay smoked lamb belly and shoulder, toasted barley, early season vegetables

Served with 4 Skins, Jost Vineyards

6th Course; Sarah Griebel – Wild Caraway Restaurant and Cafe

6th Course

knotweed and rhubarb, blueberry friand, toasted oat and maple ice cream

Served with Rare Bird Full Steam Stout, Authentic Seacoast Brewing Company

Everything was SO good (although I admit I did not eat the lamb, I did taste the barley and veg).  So many bright, fresh and beautiful flavors and textures.  And the dinner further enforced for me how important it is to suss out local producers and support local businesses.  There was an intro for every dish, describing where the items were sourced.   It’s a wonderful thing to know where your food comes from, to be able to take a little walk or drive and meet the people who produce the items that end up on your dinner plate.

If you want to check out the restaurants featured above to see what else these fine chefs have to offer, find them here:

The Brooklyn Warehouse

The Bite House

Wild Caraway Restaurant & Cafe

Front and Central

2 Doors Down

And last, but not least, a big thanks to the volunteers and organizers of this event !

Lemon Poppyseed Ice-Cream Cake

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Lemon Poppyseed Ice-cream Cake

 

Happy belated Easter everyone !  The above cake was my offering for this year’s Easter gathering at my sister’s place, and *gasp* it was not a cheesecake (imagine!).  It coincidentally was also my birthday and I happen to love ice cream for dessert, so I got to choose. It turned out to be a tasty dessert that you could easily make well ahead of time for Easter dinner or springtime get-together.

I suppose I can’t really call this one a Sugar n’ Stuff original, but more or less an original combination of a couple of recipes with tweaks and add-ins.  The only thing I didn’t make myself however, was the vanilla ice cream.

I started by making a lemon poppyseed pound cake, using this one from Canadian Living, but adding a half tablespoon of lemon zest and 1 1/2 tablespoons of poppyseed to the mix.  Bake that according to directions and set aside to fully cool. If you want and have access to a good bakery, you can skip this step and save some time by purchasing one ready-made.

The night before I assembled this, I also made a batch of lemon curd, halving the recipe from Epicurious, as noted here.  Again, if you want, you could always pick up some ready-made lemon curd to save some time.

As for the rest, to include above:

  • 1 lemon poppyseed pound cake
  • 2 cups pure white chocolate chips
  • 3/4 whipping cream
  • 5 cups vanilla ice cream or frozen yogurt (make sure to buy one that freezes well, i.e. fairly solid, avoid ice creams that are “fluffy” or stay softer in the freezer)
  • 1 recipe of lemon curd as above (or 1 1/2 cups plus 2 tbsp ready made)
  • 1/2 cup vanilla ice cream (optional, for decoration)
  • 1 cup whipped topping (optional, for decoration)

Wrap the outside of a springform pan with tinfoil.  Slice pound cake thinly and use about half to line bottom of pan, pressing together to allow a uniform bottom.  (side note: I sliced mine a little too thick and had difficulty cutting the cake, learn from my mistakes ;) )

Mix together the white chocolate chips and whipping cream in a microwave safe bowl and microwave for about a minute and a half, in intervals, until both can be whisked smoothly together.  Pour half of this mixture over the cake slices, stopping just short of the edge.  Pop this into the freezer for about an hour or so to firm up. Cover and set aside the remaining white chocolate ganache.

Soften vanilla ice cream slightly and fold in the lemon curd to mix but still allow portions of the curd to be seen throughout.  Turn this into the pan on top of the cake/ganache, spread evenly and return to freezer for at least two hours.

Top the ice cream with another layer of thinly sliced cake.  Rewarm white chocolate ganache until pourable, and spread this over the top of the cake.  Return to freezer for 6 hours at least, or overnight.  If making ahead, you can wrap all in tinfoil and store in freezer until ready to use.

If you wish to decorate an edge on the cake, mix together a 1/2 cup of the remaining ice cream and 1 cup of whipped topping of choice, place in an icing bag with a star tip and pipe the edging, returning to freezer to freeze solid until ready to serve.

Run a knife around inner edge of pan when ready to cut and release the outer springform.  It is helpful to keep your knife in a glass of hot water to use when cutting the cake slices.  Freeze remaining cake with the outer edge of the springform pan put back on, covered with tinfoil.

 

 

Rum Runner Molasses Cookies

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RumRunnerMolassesCookiesindividual_zps85d23e22

Historically, the economy of Newfoundland included a vibrant trade of the then plentiful salt cod stocks with other countries who in turn, provided us with their exports of sugar, dry fruits and nuts, coffee, molasses and rum.  And so, in turn for providing the world with the basis of many wonderful Bacalao variations, my ancestors in Newfoundland were able to bake up many ‘lassy filled treats, studded with nuts and fruits and flavored with many wonderful things.

And for me, nothing really beats my mother’s molasses buns or bread, figgy duff or something like bangbelly. Toutons and molasses, dark fruit cakes, those are all my thing.  I think maybe as a native Newfoundlander, I may even have a little molasses coarsing through my veins! (sure would explain why I’m a slowpoke some days)

So it would come as no surprise that I also love a good spicy, chewy molasses cookie, and this one was inspired by all the good things that came to us Newfoundlanders from that historical trade.

And while everything in these cookies is above board of course, they are so named rum runners as these tasty cookies and their ingredients are sneakily hidden away under cover of darkness……..a drizzle of rum-infused dark chocolate ganache that is ;)

On to the recipe!

  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 3 tbsp. dark rum
  • 3/4 cup butter
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup fancy molasses
  • 2 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tbsp. ground coffee
  • 1 tsp instant coffee
  • 2 tsp rum extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3 3/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans
  • 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips
  • 2 1/2 tbsp. whipping cream
  • 1 tbsp. dark rum
  • 4 ounces bittersweet chocolate

Begin by combining raisins with the 3 tbsp. rum.  Cover and set aside for several hours or overnight to allow the raisins to absorb the liquid.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees and line cookie sheets with parchment.

In your mixer bowl, cream together the butter and both sugars.  In a seperate bowl, whisk together molasses, vinegar, both coffees, rum extract and the eggs.  With mixer on low setting, slowly pour the molasses mixture into the butter mixture.  Mix until combined.

Sift together flour, baking soda and spices.  Add this to the mixer bowl and mix until the dough is smooth.  Stir in chocolate chips, pecans and raisins including any unabsorbed liquid.

Roll the cookie dough into balls and place on cookie sheet, allowing room between them for the dough to spread. I had about 6 per cookie sheet, using 2-3 tablespoons of dough as I wanted larger cookies.  Bake for 15 minutes or until slightly golden, give or take a minute depending on the size of your cookies.  Remove to a cooling rack, parchment and all. Cookies will be puffed and soft upon removal from oven, but will crackle their tops slightly as they settle and cool.  Repeat until all dough is used, yeilding about 32 large cookies.

When cookies are fully cooled, warm the whipping cream and chocolate in the microwave at one minute intervals, until the chocolate can be fully whisked into the cream.  Whisk in the tablespoon of dark rum, then drizzle this mixture over top of cooled cookies.  Allow the chocolate to harden before transferring cookies to a sealed container.

RumRunnerMolassesCookies_zps62367fd8

*NOTE: if you are making these for the younger set or want to omit the alcohol altogether, you can opt to soak the raisins in water with a teaspoon of rum extract and omit the rum from the chocolate topping.

Cherry Blossom Smoothie

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CherryBlossomSmoothie_zps22af11c8

If you are a fan of the Cherry Blossom candy bar, you’ll love this smoothie, packed with sweet cherries, peanut and coconut flavors.  Add a scoop of your favorite protein powder and you’ve got a full meal in a glass.  This recipe will make one large (about two cups) or two smaller snack size smoothies.

  • 1 cup frozen dark sweet cherries (unsweetened)
  • 1/2 cup plain yogurt
  • 1 cup unsweetened coconut milk beverage (I used So Delicious brand)
  • 1 tbsp all-natural, unsweetened peanut butter
  • 1/4 tsp coconut extract
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 packet stevia, or sweetener of choice

Toss everything into the blender on a high setting until everything is creamy.

Maple Caramelized Onion Dip

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MapleCaramelizedOnionDip_zps8d48d232

Happy  hump day!

Another hot dip inspired by thoughts of Spring….I say thoughts, as there’s sure been no sign of it around these parts.  Snow and ice and freezing rain and…ugh, enough!  I love that we have seasons and can have a distant appreciation for winter, but someone must have forgot to flip the switch this year.

But, this time of year does bring maple syrup, maple candy, maple butter, all good stuff!  And so I decided to use some of that flavor in a savoury, rather than sweet dish this year (although there’s likely some of those to come too).

This dip can be made ahead of time and popped into the oven before ready to serve.  Something to enjoy on the last of the chilly evenings, maybe even after a long walk in the sugar woods!

  • 4 cups thinly sliced yellow onions
  • 1 tbsp. butter
  • 2 tbsp dry white wine (I used one from Jost)
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1 8 ounce package cream cheese
  • 1/2 cup light mayonnaise
  • 1 cup grated aged white cheddar
  • 1/2 tsp maple mustard, I used Kozlik’s (or substitute a sweet mustard)
  • sea salt and pepper to taste

To a saucepan over medium heat, add butter and onions.  Cook for about 15 minutes until beginning to turn golden.  Reduce heat to low-medium, add white wine and maple syrup and continue to cook for up to 30 minutes until onions have reduced in quantity and are soft and deepened in color, like so:

caramelizedonions_zps9f860f78

Mix softened cream cheese and mayonnaise together.  Stir in cheddar and mustard.  Chop prepared onions slightly and stir into cheese mixture.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Turn dip into an oven proof dish (with pan underneath to catch overflow) and bake for 20-25 minutes until bubbly. Serve with crackers, chips or baguette slices.

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