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Rum Runner Molasses Cookies

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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.

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*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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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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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:

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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.

Hazelnut Banana Bundt Cake

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Primavera Dip

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This is a dip I whipped up on the weekend and froze a large portion of for later.  I wanted something that used a mix of spring vegetables in a creamy dip with an Italian flavor.  This would be great for any occasion, but perfect to make ahead to welcome guests for Easter dinner while you are finishing things up in the kitchen.

  • 1/4 cup finely chopped carrot
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped red pepper
  • 1 large clove of garlic, minced
  • 3 green onions, chopped
  • 8 asparagus stalks, woody ends removed + olive oil for roasting
  • 1 8 ounce package cream cheese
  • 1/2 cup light mayonnaise
  • 1 cup shredded parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 tsp dry Italian herb blend
  • salt and pepper

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.  Toss asparagus in olive oil and place in pan in oven for about 10 minutes to lightly roast.  Remove and allow to cool, then chop into small pieces.

Use your mixer to blend together cream cheese and mayonnaise.  Stir in remaining ingredients, including the roasted asparagus.  Place in oven proof baking dish, laid on a pizza pan to collect any bubbly cheese overflow.  Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until top is golden and bubbling.

Serve with crackers, bread sticks or whatever else you choose.

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A visit to Jost Vineyards’ Maple Festival

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(taken not long before closing, the place was packed all afternoon!)

This was not my first visit to Jost, but it was my first since they completed their renovations, and I have to say WOW!  The place looks gorgeous, well done!

Yesterday Jost had their annual Maple Festival and I swung by in the afternoon (there had already been a maple brunch earlier in the day). There were local maple products for sale, lots of great wine specials of which I took full advantage, and entertainment from Laughing Freemen.  Not to mention a lively crowd.  It was so much fun.

While the winery and area itself is particularly beautiful in the summertime (its one of my favorite places in Nova Scotia), it is well worth a visit year-round.  There are always tastings and great sales. I lean more towards red wines, but Jost has some of my favorite white wines.  Their Eagle Tree Muscat is excellent and so is their Tidal Bay.  But they also have me sold on the coastal vineyards red they have been producing lately, its delicious! Jost also offers port, fruit and dessert wines, as well as eau de vie.  Many of their products are found in Nova Scotia liquor stores.

I’m so glad I dropped by!

 

Shakshuka Sandwich with Harissa Mayonnaise

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This is a sandwich that can be served for any meal of the day, inspired by the traditional dish Shakshouka - simply eggs poached in a spicy tomato sauce.  Its a great vegetarian meal on its own, and even better sandwiched between slices of olive bread, with the addition of a little harissa mayo and briny feta (Holmestead makes a great one).

shakshuka sandwich

This recipe is also easy to batch up for more than one, can be served open faced to lighten it up a little.  It doesn’t take long to cook up, but if you’re in a real hurry in the mornings, you can always cook it up the night before, keep the eggs and sauce in a sealed container, and rewarm in the mornings for the sandwich.  Tastes just as great the next day!

  • 2 slices olive bread, lightly toasted
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1/4 onion, chopped
  • 1/4 green pepper, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon hot smoked paprika
  • 4 ounces chopped tomato (can use canned, drained)
  • 1 large egg
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 ounce crumbled feta cheese
  • 1.5 tablespoons harissa sauce (can substitute a 1/2 – 1 tsp harissa powder if you don’t have fresh)
  • 1.5 tablespoons good quality mayonnaise
  • boston lettuce

Add 1 tsp of olive oil to a small non-stick pan, bring to medium heat.

Add onions and green pepper to oiled pan along with spices. Cook for several minutes until vegetables have softened. Add tomatoes and cook until liquids have reduced somewhat (the time will depend on whether you have used fresh or canned tomatoes)

When vegetables have cooked down, crack the large egg over top, add a pinch of sea salt and a grind of pepper. Cover and cook for a minute or two.

Remove cover from pan and sprinkle the feta over the egg. Return cover and cook for an additional 3-4 minutes, until egg yolk is set and feta has melted slightly. Remove from heat.

Mix harissa sauce and mayonnaise together and spread on both slices of olive bread. Place boston lettuce leaves on one slice of bread.

Spoon egg and tomato mixture onto the slice of bread without the lettuce. Press remaining slice of bread to make the sandwich. Plate up and enjoy!

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