Monday, May 23, 2011

Apology Treats

Ok, so I lied; I didn't come back on Monday. It didn't rain that much .. and I was distracted with frequent bike rides and baking these cookies for my school bake sale and soccer team, not to mention reports. Not good excuses, I know, but until I can get my cooking act together (maybe when these darn reports are finished.. or maybe when the berries and asparagus start coming out ..) let me leave you with a couple of recipes that I've had on the back burner for awhile.

First, there's this beautiful, frosty blended coffee drink that I made way back during the Easter long weekend to serve alongside hot cross buns and curry lentil dip. Strange combination, I know, but it totally worked. It looks and tastes fancy, but it's as easy as making coffee, making ice and using a blender. The cocoa powder did make the drink a little bit gritty, but it tasted wonderful nonetheless. If you wanted to get super fancy, you could use some melted chocolate instead, or use chocolate milk to get that rich mocha flavour.

Next, this is a great little cake that I made during March break, featuring one of my favourite dried fruits: dates. I love date squares, but sometimes those huge, buttery sweet ones that you get at coffee shops taste great as first, but leaves you feeling heavy and loaded down. This cake is a perfect compromise. It's got a lovely, rich flavour, but a really light, spongey crumb and has even got some rolled oats to bump up the nutrition factor. Sounding better already? The original recipe called for the delicious Medjool date (that I love to snack on!). I actually used a honey date that I bought at the grocery store for snacking purposes, but after tasting it, felt like couldn't stand on its own. It worked great in this recipe, but I'm sure Medjool dates would be even better. The original recipe also called for a sweet citrus glaze made from icing sugar, orange and lemon juice to be poured over top. I skipped that part out of pure laziness, but if you were making this cake to serve to guests, definitely try it out.

Am I doing any real cooking? Not really. I've been living on granola and pureed vegetable soups (likes squash, carrot, parsnip..) made by my love. Oh, there's been some macaroni and cheese, but you've seen that before. And fiddleheads! Blanched quickly and quickly tossed in a hot pan with olive oil and garlic. Very yummy! I just received a bottle of red wine as a parting gift from a student-teacher, and seeing as I'm not a big drinker, I'm already procrastinating on reports by looking up some interesting red wine recipes. More later. This time I promise .. for real.

Frosty Blended Coffee Treat
adapted from Eating Well, April 2011

1 cup of double strength brewed coffee, cooled
1 cup of skim soy or milk
2 tablespoons of natural cocoa powder
2 tablespoons of maple syrup
a tiny splash of vanilla extract

1. Pour the coffee into and ice cube tray and let them freeze overnight.

2. Combine the coffee cubes, milk, cocoa powder, maple syrup and vanilla in a blender.

3. Pulse until smooth and frothy. Add more milk if it's too thick.

4. Pour into glasses and enjoy!

Sticky Date Cake
adapted from Vegetarian Times, March 2011

1/2 cup of water
1/2 cup of chopped dates
2 tablespoons of margarine or butter (I used Becel)
1/2 teaspoon of baking soda
1/4 cup of rolled oats
1/2 cup of whole wheat pastry flour
1/4 cup of brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon of baking powder
a small pinch of salt
1 egg
a splash of vanilla extract

1. Bring the water up to a rolling boil. Quickly add the dates, margarine and baking soda and cover. Let stand for about 15 minutes. Pour the mixture into a blender or mini-chopper and blend until smooth.

2. In a large bowl, beat the egg with the vanilla. Add the date mixture and brown sugar and mix to combine. Add the oats and sift in the flour, baking powder and salt. Stir until just combined.

3. Pour into a greased cake pan and bake in a 350 oven for about 25 minutes or until a cake tester inserted comes out clean.

4. Enjoy with your coffee!

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Sunshine Sandwich

I'm writing reports .. writing reports and gardening .. and being distracted again by the sun. I'll be back tomorrow .. or Monday, when the rain clouds roll in, but for now, have this sandwich.

It's great. Tomato, fresh pesto and mild a Canadian goat cheese. It's the perfect gardening snack.

Oh, and you should have a coffee too .. in fact, have a couple of coffees. See you Monday!

Cake Town Cafe: americano, mocha and cappuccino .. good coffee, but stroller-saturated
Hula Girl: latte, cappuccino and americano .. nice west-end adventure
Sense Appeal: Ethiopian Sidomo americano (you can choose three kinds!), Fresh press of the day and cappuccino .. good coffee but scary environment ..

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Spring Spring..

Spring = busy. Spring = almost insanely busy. Spring = distracting sunshine that prevents me from working on the weekends. Today, though, is foggy and rain is threatening to fall .. Spring = rain as well.

Spring also means Mother's day and I guess I should have posted some Mother's Day treats last weekend, but I just didn't get around to it. My own mommy is off gallivanting in east Asia, and my Grandma was more than happy with her noodle-y brunch and piece of apple cake. Instead of working or blogging, I went bike-riding instead. Bad me.

This weekend, however, I'm stuck at home procrastinating on an inevitable teacher's year end task: reports. Yes, again. I'm currently taking a break and thinking about thing many things I can make for my Mom when she returns, and I'm reminded fondly of this healthy, tasty, fruity, coconut-topped loaf that I served to my parents on Family Day way back in February. It's not just any old loaf -- it's totally special and worth serving the most important of guests, like your mommy. I'm not a stranger to making loaf cakes, but I wanted this one to be more special. I got the idea for the coconut topping from Heidi over at 101 Cookbooks, who made a cherry tart with a macaroon topping. My mom loves coconut, so this was perfect for her.

This loaf is as simple as it gets. Whole wheat flour, a little rolled oats, frozen berries (although the fresh ones are coming soon! They would be fabulous in this recipes) and a splash of real fruit juice topped with a simple mixture of coconut, chopped hazelnuts and maple syrup. It was the perfect tea time treat and my Mom loved it. If you're like me and didn't get to spend Mother's Day with your mom, bake her up this beautiful loaf, just because. It'll be even more special.

Whole Wheat Raspberry Loaf with Macaroon Topping
inspired by 101 Cookbooks

1/4 up of rolled oats
6 tablespoons of skim milk yogurt
splash of vanilla
2 tablespoons of brown sugar
1 tablespoon of honey
1 egg
2 tablespoons of canola oil
2 tablespoons of fruit juice
1/2 cup of all purpose flour
1/2 cup of whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon of baking powder
1/2 teaspoon of baking soda
1 cup of raspberries (fresh or frozen)

1/4 cup of unsweetened coconut
1/4 cup of chopped hazelnuts
3 tablespoons of maple syrup

1. In a large bowl, combine the oats, yogurt and vanilla and let stand for about 15 minutes.

2. Whisk in brown sugar, honey, oil and fruit juice.

3. Sift in the flours, baking powder and baking soda and mix until just combined.

4. Fold in the berries. Pour the batter in a loaf tin.

5. Make the topping my combining the coconut, hazelnuts and maple syrup. Sprinkle over the loaf.

6. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 30-35 minutes, or until the topping gets dark and crunchy and a cake tester inserted comes out clean.