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Greek Brunch Bake

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This recipe, much like my Tunisian Squash Casserole last year, was borne from the need to use up my CSA vegetables in a way that gives me a few tasty, convenient, and individual meals for the freezer.  I get a half share of vegetables from Wysmykal Farm every week, and even as one person who loves her veggies, I sometimes have a hard time making my way through it all before the next pick up.  I hate waste but thankfully love to cook on the weekends, so I often make big pots of catch-all soups, roast and freeze the root vegetables and squash, and make stuff like this. I love being able to pull a slice of this out of the freezer on mornings when I’m in a rush (which is most mornings, because let me tell you, I am NOT a morning person) and it gives me a nice portion of protein and vegetables to start my day .  It also makes for a nice lunch or dinner with a little salad or soup.

Of course, as a large recipe, this dish is also perfect for when you have a crowd for brunch. You can always cook up your vegetables ahead of time and whisk it all together the day of.

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 red onion, chopped
  • 1 large clove (or two small) garlic, minced
  • 1 large green pepper, chopped
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • freshly ground pepper
  • 1/4 -1/2 tsp salt ( depending on your tastes, and if you decide to use kalamata or regular canned olives)
  • 2 tomatoes, seeded and chopped
  • 1 cup packed, cooked spinach, chopped (I cooked mine from two fresh bags of spinach), drained from any liquid
  • 12 large eggs
  • 1 cup chickpea flour
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese (I used Holmestead)
  • 1 cup sliced black olives

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Butter a rectangular baking pan and set aside.

Over medium heat, cook onion, garlic, green pepper and herbs with olive oil until vegetables are softened.  Remove from heat. Season with a few grinds of fresh pepper and salt to taste. Stir in tomatoes and chopped spinach.

In a separate bowl, whisk together eggs, chickpea flour and milk.  I like to give it a few mixes with the stick blender to do away with any lumps.  Stir in feta cheese and olives. Stir in vegetables, then pour into prepared pan.

Bake for 30-40 minutes. Baking time will depend on the depth of your pan.  Mine was larger, and resulted in a thinner slice, so was baked around the 30 minute mark.  I got 9 slices from this dish.

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Partridgeberry and Apple Cheesecake

IMG_3320This cake was served along with the Pumpkin Truffle Cheesecake I made for Thanksgiving, and was a great way to incorporate a bit of local flavour as an alternative to a cranberry dessert.  Much like cranberries, partridgeberries (lingonberries) are bright red and tart, and happen to be a favorite of mine.  They are often cooked with apples into jams and pies and such, and so were a natural pairing for this cake. It was a hit at dinner !

I made this cake by preparing the separate partridgeberry and apple purees before assembling the crust and filling, but if you wanted to try a shortcut, you could try the cake with a ready made partridgeberry jam and un-spiced apple sauce.  A note of caution however, I’ve found some commercially produced partridgeberry jams start with sugar and apples before you ever get to the berries in the list of ingredients, so if you want that pure flavor as I did, I’d recommend following these steps.

For the partridgeberry puree:

  • 1 1/2 cups partridgeberries (I used frozen)
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 1/4 cup water

Place all in a saucepan over medium heat.  Allow to cook until the berries have popped and released their juices and the mixture has reduced to a jammy thickness.  Remove from heat, allow to cool slightly, then puree with a stick blender or alternative. Can be made a day ahead and kept in a sealed container in the fridge.

For the apple puree:

  • 2 medium apples, peeled, cored and chopped
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1/4 cup water

Repeat the same process as for the partridgeberries, over medium heat until reduced, then puree with blender. Cover until ready to use.

For the cake, start by preheating the oven to 350 degrees.  Prepare a 9 inch springform pan by lining bottom with parchment and lightly greasing sides if not using a non-stick pan.  Make crust by combining the following:

  • 2 cups crumbs from shortcake cookies
  • 2 tbsps white sugar
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted

Press along bottom and up sides of prepared springform pan. Set aside as you make the batter:

  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 4 8 ounce packages cream cheese
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 4 large eggs

In your mixer, blend the white sugar with the cream cheese until creamy.  Add vanilla, then eggs one at a time, scraping sides of bowl once or twice to keep the mix creamy.

Divide this mixture in half (you can eyeball it, but it’ll turn out to be approximately 2.5 cups each).  Whisk partridgeberry mixture into one half, and the apple mixture into the other.  Scoop large spoonfuls of each batter into the prepared crust, alternating them as you fill the pan.  When all batter is in the pan, use a knife to swirl the mixtures a few times, taking care not to disturb the crust.

Bake cake for 50-55 minutes or until centre no longer jiggles/appears wet. Combine the following:

  • 1 1/2 cups sour cream
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract

And pour this mixture over top of cake while still in oven. Bake 10 minutes more, then turn off oven, leave door ajar and allow to cool slightly before removing to fully cool (place in fridge for several hours to completely cool)

When ready to finalize cake, run a knife around inner edge of pan, release the springform sides, lift cake from bottom of pan to serving platter, removing parchment in the process.  I find a larger offset spatula helpful with this step.

As an optional step, whip together:

  • 1 cup whipping cream
  • 1 package of whipped cream stabilizer
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

And with a star-tipped icing bag pipe an edging of rosettes.

The cake will look like this (poorly executed photo) when cut:

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If you are interested in trying another dessert with these flavors, I also have a go-to partridegerry-topped cheesecake that I have made a number of times in the past.

Pumpkin Truffle Cheesecake

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Happy belated Thanksgiving everyone!  I have returned from the long weekend that was spent, where else, but in Newfoundland with family.  My sister hosted Thanksgiving dinner on Sunday that was originally expected to have about 20 in attendance, so some big desserts were in order, and this cake was one of two new recipes that made their debut at the table, the other being a partridgeberry apple cheesecake that I will post later.  If this cake looks a little familiar, it’s because I took my inspiration in part from the infamous Cappuccino Fudge Cheesecake that I have made numerous times.  It too is delicious!

I like to oven roast my pumpkins and squash for baking, and because I was in the area, a trip to Lester’s Farm Market was in order.  I think half the people in the St. John’s area were in the store on Friday, and it is great to see so many people out on a crisp autumn day supporting a local business.  I chose a smaller pumpkin and also picked up some of my favorite goat cheese before heading home to start the prep for this cake.  You can of course always substitute canned pumpkin in this recipe (not pumpkin pie filling) to save yourself a little time.  If you chose to, just cut a small pumpkin in half, set the oven to 350 and place the halves in a pan with a little water and cook until softened.  I don’t even bother to scoop out the seeds until afterwards.  Easy!

You’ll want to allow yourself some time to make this cake, parts of which you can make ahead of time to lessen the stress.  But I promise it is worth the effort and will feed a crowd for sure.  On to the recipe!

Prepare a 10-11 inch springform pan by lining bottom with parchment.  I also like to line the outside with a little foil to catch butter drips.  Set aside, and prepare crust:

  • 9 ounces chocolate cookie crumbs
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 7 tbsp butter, melted

Mix together and press along bottom and up sides of prepared pan.  Set aside and prepare ganache:

  • 1 1/2 cups whipping cream
  • 20 ounces semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1/4 cup spiced whisky (I used Spicebox)

Warm whipping cream in a saucepan on the stovetop or in the microwave at short intervals.  Remove from heat and mix in chocolate, whisking until melted and incorporated into the cream.  Stir in the whisky until blended.  Pour two cups of this mixture into prepared crust and place pan in freezer for at least one hour, or can be left overnight.  Reserve remaining ganache, covered (can be lightly rewarmed later).

When ready to make the full cake, preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Remove the pan from the freezer, and set alongside as you make the batter:

  • 1 1/2 cups pumpkin puree
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp spiced whisky
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 tbsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 3 8 ounce packages of cream cheese (room temperature will ease blending)
  • 2 tbsp cake and pastry flour

Mix together the pumpkin, brown sugar, whisky, vanilla, eggs and pumpkin pie spice.  Set aside.  In your mixer, combine the white sugar with the cream cheese, beat until fluffy.  Mix in flour.  Scrape sides of bowl, mix again.  Slowly add the pumpkin mixture to the running mixer bowl and beat until creamy and incorporated, taking care not to overbeat the eggs (i.e. don’t leave that sucker running for 5 minutes straight! ;) )

Pour the cheesecake batter into the pan and bake for 60 minutes or until the centre no longer jiggles.  Combine the following:

  • 1 1/2 cups sour cream
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 2 tsp spiced whisky

Pour this over top of baked cake, return to oven and bake for another 10 minutes at 350.  Turn off oven and allow to cool slightly with the oven door ajar before moving can in pan to fully cool (transfer to fridge to cool overnight, which is what I did).

Once cake is fully cooled, run a knife along inner edge of pan, release the springform sides and remove cake from bottom to serving platter, removing parchment in process.  When ready to decorate, place remaining ganache in an icing bag with a star tip.  Pipe a lattice pattern on top of cake, then edge the cake with rosettes (side view).

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Cake will easily serve 12-14 if not more (the cake is very rich) and appears as such when sliced:

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Cinnamon Apple Toffee Crunch Ice Cream Cake

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Even though the crisp fall temps are starting to creep in and bring on thoughts of warm spiced dishes, who says we can’t enjoy ice cream for a little while longer? After all, fall has JUST barely arrived, so this is a perfect crossover dessert.  And of course, because it is apple season, this cake is right on time.  Ice cream cakes are also a great make-ahead dessert, or just kept in the freezer for when company drops by or there’s an emergency sugar craving! Just wrap it well in a few layers of foil until you’re ready to go.  This one made its debut at a BBQ this week, where we enjoyed some of the last few warm days of late summer weather.  I hope you enjoy it too.

You will need a round 9-10 inch springform pan for the dessert.  Start by making the toffee, and in preparation, lightly butter a cookie sheet and set aside.  Combine all of the following at low heat in a metal saucepan:

  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tbsp butter
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 2 1/2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 2 1/2 tbsp water
  • 1/2 tbsp honey
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp salt

Once butter is melted and sugars have dissolved, increase heat to medium.  Cook this mixture until it reaches the hard crack stage (it helps to keep a glass of iced water on hand for testing).  Stir throughout cooking time.  Remove from heat and pour onto prepared cookie sheet and spread thin.  Allow to fully cool before breaking into small pieces and then crushing into smaller bits (I just put it in a baggie and gave it a few whacks with a metal spoon).  You want a nice mixture of crumbs and chunks.

Next, prepare your apples:

  • 3 larger apples, peeled, cored and chopped (I used gravensteins from Belliveau Orchard )
  • 1 tsp salted butter
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Place a non-stick saute pan over low-medium heat.  Add butter, cinnamon, brown sugar and vanilla extract, stir to combine and allow sugar to melt into butter.  Increase heat slightly and add chopped apples.  Cook this mixture until apples have softened and released some juices.  Set aside as you assemble cake.  NOTE: toffee and sauteed apples can be made ahead of time and kept in a sealed container (separately of course ;))

Now you’re ready to assemble your creation!  You will need the following, in addition to the toffee and apples:

  • 1 cinnamon loaf cake (you can make your own, but in this case I went with a fluffy store bought cinnamon, crumb-topped cake, as I find this texture easiest to cut in the final product)
  • 3/4 cup whipping cream
  • 1 cup white chocolate chips
  • 3/4 cup butterscotch chips
  • 4 cups vanilla ice cream,, softened
  • 1 cup frozen whipped topping, softened
  • additional whipped topping, to decorate

Slice the loaf cake into 1/8-1/4 inch slices.  Place HALF the slices on bottom of springform pan, pressing down slightly and pinching together/filling in any gaps. If desired, wrap a little tinfoil around the outside of the pan to catch any drips.

Warm the whipping cream over low heat in saucepan or in microwave.  Add white chocolate and butterscotch chips and whisk until smooth.  Remove from heat. Pour HALF this mixture over cake slices. Place in freezer for about an hour until the chocolate mixture is set.

Combine vanilla ice cream, 1 cup whipped topping, apple mixture and about 1 cup of the crushed toffee.  Spread this mixture over chocolate layer in pan, return to freezer for about 2 hours until ice cream mixture is set.

Top ice cream layer with remaining cake slices, pressing down slightly. Spread remaining chocolate mixture over top of cake, return to freezer for another hour before removing to pipe an edging of frozen whipped topping and sprinkling with remaining toffee crumbs.  Return to freezer for several hours or overnight.  When ready to serve, leave at room temp for a few minutes before releasing the sides of the springform pan, use a good sharp (or even slightly warmed) knife to cut and serve.

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Want a spoon? :)

Gooseberry Coffee Cake

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(I am not a pretty picture, but you get the point)

Hello again!  And apologies for such measly posting.  It’s been a busy summer, and while I have still been cooking plenty, few original recipes came out of the kitchen, mostly returns to old favorites, lots of grilling and various things tossed together.  I have posted some of my food related travels, new favorite products and such over on my Twitter page, as well as on my Facebook page, so swing by for a visit!

I got a little of my baking mojo back with this little coffee cake, inspired by the gorgeous basket of fresh gooseberries I had purchased at the Dieppe farmer’s market a couple of weeks ago.  I topped and tailed them and popped most of them into the freezer where they will join other baked goodies and maybe some chutney as the fall wears on.  While at the same market, I picked up a container of Quark from Armadale Farms, one of my favorite stops !  And so, that too was destined for baking.  At lower fat content and with 10 grams of protein in 1/3 cup, this stuff is one of my new favorite products, finding its way on top of potatoes and mixed into scrambled eggs.  Love it!   If you can’t find quark cheese nearby, you can substitute an equal quantity of cream cheese in this recipe.

On to the recipe!  This cake is lemon flavored as well as studded with those beautiful gooseberries, topped with a quark mixture and a crumble topping.

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

In your stand mixer or large bowl combine:

  • 2 cups white flour
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Then blend in:

  • 3/4 cup lemonade
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 tbsp grated lemon peel
  • 2 cups gooseberries (if large, chop them down a little)

When mixed, turn into a greased 9 inch springform pan, set aside.

Mix together:

  • 8 ounces Quark cheese
  • 1/3 cup white sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Spread this mixture over top of cake batter.

Use a pastry blender to combine into crumbs:

  • 3/4 cup white flour
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter

Sprinkle this over top of cake.  Bake for 60-70 minutes until tester comes out relatively clean (cheese may stick to tester).  Run a knife around inner edge of cake and allow to cool completely before removing sides and bottom of pan.  Cut, serve and share!

White Chocolate Blackberry Cheesecake

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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.

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  • 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.

 

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