Lacto-Fermented Passion Fruit Soda

+ recipe for Passion Fruit & Mint Beer Shandy

Passionfruit & Mint Soda Shandy

Since having a kid 2 years ago (2 years ago? whaaaat!), I’ve noticed that the amount of waste we make has, as it does with children, gone up. Some of this is unavoidable, but some of it has just become bad habit. Namely, the waste situation in our home.

Before Ruthie, I had things organized a bit better and we had a bigger kitchen, so it was easier to find places for our waste in the blue/black/green/compost bins. Lately, it seems our garbage bin is piling high and our green bin just sits there, barely close to half full. Something had to change. The more I understand the impact of that wastefulness, as well as realizing the amount of waste that comes from having a toddler, the more guilty I feel. As a result, I’ve been trying harder and harder to get more life out of the food we buy, because we all know that food isn’t cheap and we may as well be dumping our wallets into the garbage when we waste it. So we’ve been working hard to change our bad habits and make smarter choices when it comes to our waste.

Passionfruit & Mint Soda Shandy

A few things we’ve discovered through this are:

1. Kale Stems make a zingy, crunchy topping for tacos and other dishes when pickled (more on that soon)
2. Strawberry tops, once washed, can be tossed into your water bottle or soda water to gently flavour it and make it more exciting than regular old water
3. Carrot tops make a delicious addition to tabbouleh
4. When straining yogurt, the byproduct, acid whey, can be used to make gut-friendly sodas full of good bacteria and enzymes
5. Expiring fresh herbs can be put into ice cube trays and topped with water for beautiful ice cubes or olive oil as a starter for recipes or dressings

It’s been a gratifying experience and we’re noticing our garbage and green bins haven’t been filling up as quickly which only reassures us we’re moving in a better direction than we were.

Passionfruit & Mint Soda Shandy

This is my second month working with President’s Choice Black Label‘s #PlayWithYourFood campaign and I’ve been introduced to four innovative products that I’ve been able to play with in the kitchen and come up with some fun new recipes with. Last month I made a Antipasto & Strained Sheep’s Milk Yogurt Plate where we strained some sheep’s milk yogurt to create a thick, creamy base for our antipasto. The liquid we were left with when you strain yogurt is called Acid (or Sour) Whey. In keeping with my promise to myself to waste less, I wondered what I could do with this by-product rather than toss it down the drain.

To lacto-ferment something, in simple terms, means to use friendly bacteria, Lactobacillus, to ferment something. Lactobacillus has various strains and is present on the surface of all plants and are also common to the gastrointestinal tracts, mouths, and vaginas of humans and other animal species. These bacteria have the ability to convert sugars into lactic acid, which is a natural preservative that inhibits the growth of harmful bacteria as well as preserving the vitamins, enzymes and digestibility of fermented foods. Many of your favourite pickled foods are traditionally lacto-fermented. Dill pickles, saeurkraut and kimchi all get their tangy, distinct flavours from lacto-fermentation.

Passionfruit & Mint Soda Shandy

Here, I’ve used those beneficial bacteria to create a tangy, tropical natural soda using PC Black Label Passion Fruit Condiment. The sweet/sour condiment is made with real passion fruit juice as well as white wine vinegar, so the resulting soda tastes vaguely similar to a shrub, with the tangy vinegar flavour just barely coming through in the finished product. It reminds me a little of a sour beer, with some obvious funk and earthiness to it, too. On it’s own, it shines. Added to sparkling water, sangria, or like we did here, a shandy, it adds a sunny zing that plain old juice or soda alone wouldn’t. The added bonus is that it’s full of gut-friendly bacteria and enzymes that help you digest foods more effectively and absorb more nutrients from the food you eat. The shandy I’ve made with the soda is, again, very similar to the flavours you’d expect from a sour beer. It’s light and crisp, clean in the mouth, funky and sour and just lightly carbonated. It begs to be sipped on a warm summer evening over some salty snacks.

Passionfruit & Mint Soda Shandy Passionfruit & Mint Soda Shandy

Since I’ve been having such a great time with the #PlayWithYourFood campaign with products from President’s Choice, I thought one of you might enjoy your very own to experiment with! Details on how to enter to win your own #PCBlackLabel Black Box below. The Winner will be announced on Friday June 30that 12pm.

::: GIVEAWAY :::

1. Tell me in the comments below how you would use one (or both) of the items in this month’s box >> Passion Fruit Condiment OR Toasted Sesame Caramel (which is HEAVENLY over charred pineapple and vanilla bean ice cream or added to your chicken wing sauce)
2. Be sure to name the product and use the hashtag #PlayWithYourFood and #PCBlackLabel in your comment
3. Tweet about the contest (1 extra entry per tweet) with “I’ve entered to win a #PCBlackLabel Black Box from @thegoudalife. Check it out: http://bit.ly/2t5Zir9 #PlayWithYourFood” and add an extra comment telling me you’ve tweeted. Passionfruit & Mint Soda ShandyPassionfruit Whey Soda
makes 2 tall glasses, 4 Shandy 

1 cup acid whey*
1/2 cup PC Black Label Passion Fruit Condiment
1.5 liters filtered water

Add all ingredients to 2L sealable jar and stir to combine. Cover the top loosely with a clean towel/cheesecloth and secure with an elastic band. Let ferment for 1-4 days, checking for visible signs of fermentation, like bubbles, each day. The longer it ferments, the less sweet it will be so taste after 2 days and see how you like it. I like mine a tad sour so I left if to ferment for 5 days in our very warm kitchen. If your kitchen is cool, you may need to ferment for longer to get some decent fizz. Just keep tasting until you’re happy with the flavour. Pour into an airtight bottle and refrigerate until cold. Serve over ice. Will keep in the fridge for 2 weeks.


Passionfruit & Mint Soda Shandy
makes 4 servings 

4 sprigs fresh mint
crushed or cubed ice
4 cups Passionfruit Whey Soda
2 tall cans pale ale
Roll the sprigs of mint around in your hands with a bit of force to release some of the oils (bonus: minty fresh hands!). Distribute evenly among the 4 glasses along with some ice. Pour 1 cup of your soda into each glass and top each with beer. Serve immediately.

*In order to get 1 cup of acid whey, you’ll have to strain a plain, unsweetened 750ml yogurt container. In order to do so, place a few layers of cheesecloth into a colander set over a deep bowl. Spoon the yogurt into the cheese cloth, cover loosely and place in the fridge for 12-24 hours. The liquid collected in the bowl is acid whey and can be used to make soda full of good bacteria and enzymes.

 


Disclaimer: I am part of the #PlayWithYourFood Campaign sponsored by Presidents Choice Black Label and receive compensation as part of my affiliation with this group. Regardless, I only work with brands I use personally and enjoy.

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Roasted Tomato & Garlic Crostini with Herbed White Bean Puree

Roasted Tomato & Garlic Crostini

Usually around this time of year I’m huffing and puffing about the heat and the sweat and the inability to get anything done as a direct result of the heat and the sweat. The only solution is to live off iced tea and popsicles… hardly an option with a toddler who is as interested in Popsicles as I am in eating cheerios off the floor.

But this summer? Get outta here. It’s perfect! We’ve had a few sticky heatwaves that caused us to hide inside huddled around our one window AC unit (obviously in R’s room since her comfort reigns supreme and we are but mere slugs) but for the most part it’s been my kind of summer; breezy 23ish with sunshine and cool evenings. Weather you can make dinner in, move about in and generally relish in without worrying that your boob sweat will make your friends uncomfortable.

Roasted Tomato & Garlic Crostini with Herbed White Bean Puree

Since it’s not quite time for local tomatoes yet, I’ve been buying greenhouse varieties grown in this area. They are tasty, but not nearly as good as the heirlooms I’m waiting on in the garden, the ones that have just a touch of give to their flesh and are still hot from the sun.

To make the greenhouse tomatoes a bit sweeter and juicier, we’ve been roasting them with a toss of salt and pepper and a few cloves or garlic. Once their skins have split and the innards are starting to slump out of them, you’re ready to rock and roll. They sit pretty atop anything from mac and cheese to grilled fish. Tacos to noodle bowls. Full of umami flavour, they can brighten a grain salad or lift a regular old slice of grilled bread to new levels of yummmm.

Roasted Tomato & Garlic Crostini with Herbed White Bean Puree
Here I’ve roasted some cocktail tomatoes on the vine with lots of garlic and chili, snuggled them into a creamy white bean puree with herbs from our garden smeared on grilled sesame bread. A drizzle of olive oil and balsamic and you’ve got a quick and impressive lunch when guests pop by for lunch. This makes a stellar dinner for one, two, or 10 with a hearty salad on the side.

Roasted Tomato & Garlic Crostini

Roasted Tomato & Garlic Crostini with Herbed White Bean Puree
makes 4 toasts

12 cocktail tomatoes (approx), on the vine or not
5 cloves garlic, unpeeled
1/4 tsp coarse sea salt
1/4 tsp fresh ground pepper
1/8 tsp (pinch) red pepper flakes
2 tbsp olive oil
4 slices crusty bread
good quality balsamic vinegar, for serving
extra virgin olive oil, for serving
Herbed White Bean Puree, recipe follows

Preheat oven to 375.

Place tomatoes and garlic cloves in a shallow baking dish and sprinkle the salt, pepper and chili flakes. Drizzle with olive oil and gently shake the pan around to coat the tomatoes and garlic. Roast for 20-30 minutes or until tomato skins has split and the flesh is oozing out. The garlic should be very fragrant and golden to deep golden brown.

Turn oven up to 400. Remove tomatoes from the oven, brush your slices of bread with some of the oil left in the bottom of the tomato pan and smoosh the roasted garlic cloves over the bread. Toast until it’s done to your liking, I like mine golden so about 5 minutes. Remove from the oven and smear with a generous portion of the white bean puree and top with 4 tomatoes. Drizzle with olive oil and balsamic and eat while still warm (but mind the tomatoes – they can burn if they explode in your mouth while hot!)

Herbed White Bean Pureé
makes 1 1/2 cups

1 cup soaked/canned white beans
1 tbsp olive oil
1/4 tsp sea salt
1/4 tsp fresh ground pepper
1/2 tsp lemon zest
1/2 tbsp lemon juice
2 tbsp fresh herbs*

Puree all ingredients in a blender until smooth. Taste for seasoning and add more lemon or salt if needed.

*I used what we had in our garden which happened to be arugula, basil, parsley.

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Strawberry Sour Cream Froyo Pops with Bee Pollen Honey

Strawberry Sour Cream Froyo Pops with Bee Pollen Honey

When I was little my parent’s both played on recreational baseball teams. My sister and I used to attend the early games so we could play with the other kids in the nearby parks. Each week someone from the team would host an after party with lots of snacks and inappropriate jokes we always felt privileged to listen in on. And a pool if we were lucky.

Strawberry Sour Cream Froyo Pops with Bee Pollen Honey

The snacks were, of course, always my favourite part. One in particular I will always remember, and it was simple as all get-out but sometimes the best things are, was Strawberries with Sour Cream and Brown Sugar. The juicy tart berries skimmed across the bowl of rich sour cream and plopped into the pile of brown sugar were one of my first tastes of layering flavours, balancing the sweets and sours and creamy fats.

strawberry sour cream froyo pops with bee pollen honey

These pops play off those flavours, but with a big floral honey with bee pollen in place of the brown sugar. I wanted an extra layer of sweet succulence but didn’t want that molasses flavour in there or they might be too heavy. I used Ontario strawberries I found at my local market (yay! finally!) and full fat Hewitt’s Dairy Sour Cream to make them extra creamy and almost cheesecake-like when mixed with a thick, sweetened plain Greek yogurt. Whether you put them on sticks like I did here, into ice cube trays for a tiny treat here and there or in a dish to serve in scoops, you’ll be glad to have them when the temperature spikes over the summer. They are bright, poppy in flavour and so smooth and creamy.

Strawberry Sour Cream Froyo Pops with Bee Pollen Honey
Strawberry Sour Cream Froyo Pops with Bee Pollen Honey

Strawberry Sour Cream Froyo Pops with Bee Pollen Honey
makes 4-6 pops

If you can’t find local strawberries, any local berry or pitted fruit would be great. As well, if you don’t have popsicle molds, you can spread this into a loaf pan with a spatula and freeze overnight or for at least 6 hours.

1 cup Hewitt Dairy 14% Sour Cream
1 1/2 cups Plain Sweetened Greek Yogurt
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 tbsp vodka*
1 1/2 cups diced Ontario strawberries
3 tbsp honey with bee pollen**
 
 

In a large bowl, mix the sour cream, yogurt and vanilla until combined. Fold in the berries.

Heat the honey slightly so it’s a bit looser, you can do this in the microwave or by placing the jar in a vessel of hot water for a few minutes. Swirl the honey into the mixture but don’t mix completely. You want to see some streaks of honey – they make the bars extra tasty to eat!

Spoon into your ice pop mold right to the top and insert a popsicle stick or the cap/stick that came with the mold. Tap it on the counter a few times to make sure it’s compressed into the mold without any air bubbles. Freeze for at least 4 hours up to 1 week. When ready to eat, place the mold in a dish of warm water for 1 minute and slowly wiggle the ice pop from the mold. Eat immediately.
*Vodka helps to keep the mixture from getting too hard and icy while it freezes. You may omit if you’d like.

**If you can’t find honey with Bee Pollen at your natural food store,  use a local honey you enjoy.

CONTEST ALERT
Milk Your Nordi-cow runs from Monday, May 29th, 2017 until Friday, July 7th, 2017.  Pick  a cow personality,  name it, get fun facts and win prizes! Interactive across various social media sites. Click the photo below for contest details and how to play.

Disclaimer: I am part of the #BornOnTheFarm Campaign sponsored by Gaylea Food Coop & PTPA Media and receive compensation as part of my affiliation with this group. Regardless, I only work with brands I use personally and enjoy.

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Antipasto & Strained Sheep’s Milk Yogurt Plate

PC Black Label #PlayWithYourFood Campaign

Antipasto & Strained Sheep's Milk Yogurt Plate

I have been thinking of making this Antipasto & Strained Sheep’s Milk Yogurt Plate for what feels like months. Putting together the ingredients in my head  – would it lean in a whatever-I-had-on-hand direction or towards a more thought-out list of toppings, highlighting ingredients from a specific region? All I knew for sure is that a creamy, chili-oil streaked strained yogurt would form the base for a slew of toppings.

I recently partnered with PC Black Label  on a year long campaign to #PlayWithYourFood, using some of their gourmet ingredients. Of course, I am thrilled to be working with a brand I use often at home already, but more than that this campaign is exciting because it’s fun to have someone else pick out the ingredients for you so you can push your kitchen comfort zone a little.

Antipasto & Strained Sheep's Milk Yogurt Plate

I’ve long been a fan of Labneh, the strained yogurt enjoyed in sandwiches and mezze in the Middle East, and make it at home often. Usually we roll a batch into small balls, place in a jar with herbs/chilies, top with olive oil and use it to add a zing to pasta or soups, to spread on grilled bread, in sandwiches and salads. It’s super versatile and it’s tangy, creamy flavour is especially welcomed in a spicy dish as it cools the heat.

The ingredients I received this month from President’s Choice Black Label were an Eggplant Caponata, a tangy sweet/sour stew of eggplant, celery and capers and a Peperoncini, Italian imported spicy chili peppers in oil. After spooning half of each the jars into my gob, taking a few minutes to put out the fire in my throat from the Peperonici (it’s so delicious I couldn’t stop – something about self control here…) I had so many ideas for them but wanted to honor their Italian roots and create something fresh, light, and unique.  Sheep’s milk ricotta would have been a more authentic Sicilian base for the dip, but I couldn’t get the idea of a sheep’s milk strained yogurt out of my mind so I settled on that.

Antipasto & Strained Sheep's Milk Yogurt Plate

This dish is amazing for it’s balance of flavours, textures and colours. In one bite you get the creamy strained yogurt that cools the heat from the peperoncini, the crunch from the pine nuts and chickpeas, the sweet and tangy caponata, the briney capers and the warm, aromatic fresh oregano. It’s my favourite style of eating; Adaptable to your tastes and how hungry (or not) you are, a little taste of everything, best enjoyed with a glass of Nero d’Avola while you revel in good company, concerned only if the bread sticks run out. The strained yogurt can be made in advance and kept in a sealed container the fridge for up to 1 week as well, so you needn’t think too hard to put it together when your guests arrive.

You can find these PC Black Label Products online or in store – you don’t even have to go to Italy (but you should anyway). How’s that for convenience? If you’re experimenting with your President’s Choice Black Label products and share a photo, tag your inspiration it with #PlayWithYourFood to join in!

Antipasto & Strained Sheep's Milk Yogurt Plate

Antipasto & Strained Sheep’s Milk Yogurt Plate
serves 4-6 as an appetizer/antipasto

If you don’t like specific ingredients in this, like olives, feel free to swap it out for something more to your liking. Quick spicy pickled cucumbers or another pickled or fermented ingredient would help keep things balanced, but as long as you’re enjoying whatever you’re eating, you do you.

1 container (750ml) Sheep’s Milk Yogurt*
2 tsp PC Black Label Peperoncini oil
1 tsp sea salt

1/2 cup PC Black Label Eggplant Caponata
1/2 cup mixed olives, whatever you like best
1/2 cup crispy chickpeas**
1/2 cup sliced cherry or grape tomatoes
2 tbsp capers
2 tbsp fresh oregano, rough chopped
2 tbsp pine nuts, toasted
2 tbsp chopped fennel fronds, optional
extra peperoncini oil, for garnish
toasted baguette, crackers or bread sticks, to serve

MAKE AHEAD: Place a large coffee filter into a mesh strainer set over a bowl and add your yogurt, chili oil and salt. Give it a gentle stir and place in the fridge over night or at least 4-5 hours. You can save the leftover whey for other uses in the kitchen.

When ready to make your dip, and it should be made the same day you plan to eat it, scoop the strained yogurt onto a large serving dish and spread around with the back of a spoon. Make 4 small wells in the dip and to each add: the olives, the chickpeas, the caponata and the tomatoes. Sprinkle the capers, oregano and pine nuts over the whole thing and drizzle with extra peperoncini oil or olive oil. Drag your scooper of choice through the dip and get a little bit of everything in each bite. Best eaten the same day it’s made.

*You can usually find this at well stocked grocery stores, but otherwise check at your local health food store or your farmer’s market. I like to use full fat yogurt as it gives the dip a decadent creaminess. The lower the fat, the less creamy it will be so keep that in mind when choosing your yogurt.

**for crispy chickpeas, toss a strained and rinsed can of chickpeas with 2 tbsp olive oil, a few pinches of salt and pepper (and any other spices you might like – I usually play with curry spices or zaatar) and bake in an oven preheated to 375 for 20-30 minutes, checking and shaking the pan every so often, until dried out and crunchy. These make great toppers for salads, cottage cheese, stews and soup etc etc.

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Disclaimer: I am part of the #PlayWithYourFood Campaign sponsored by President’s Choice Black Label and receive compensation as part of my affiliation with this group. Regardless, I only work with brands I use personally and enjoy.

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Roasted Mango & Green Cardamom Lassi with Vanilla Chia Pudding

Roasted Mango & Green Cardamom Lassi

Breakfast sort of drives me crazy most days. I wake up starving but with literally ZERO desire to make anything but coffee and toast. Now, there isn’t a thing wrong with toast but it gets to be a bit of a bore after 31 years of having it pretty much any/every way. And I often feel like I’m depriving myself of much needed nutrients to get my day off to a proper start.

Roasted Mango & Green Cardamom LassiRoasted Mango & Green Cardamom Lassi

This lassi parfait is equal parts simple to make and delicious to eat. I like to roast the mango in large batches and puree for this recipe as well as to top plain yogurt or add to smoothies. The green cardamom gives it a warm almost medicinal kick which I frigging love. Using pre-ground cardamom is an option here but fresh ground is so fragrant and flavourful and fresh that it works really well with the simple roasted mango.

Roasted Mango & Green Cardamom Lassi

Roasted Mango & Green Cardamom Lassi with Vanilla Chia Pudding
makes 2 large servings

I’ve used Hewitt’s Dairy Yogurt here as we love that it’s all natural and super tangy. I chose a 0.3%mf yogurt as a lassi should be thin and drinkable, not thick and heavy. You can use whatever you like best.

Lassi

2 large very ripe mangoes, peeled and cut into 1″ strips
3 green cardamom pods
1 tbsp coconut oil, melted
1 1/2 cups plain Hewitt’s Dairy cows-milk yogurt
water or milk, to thin
honey or agave, optional

Vanilla Chia Pudding
1/4 cup chia seeds
4 drops pure vanilla extract
1 cup unsweetened milk (any kind)
1 tbsp light honey or agave

To Serve
Honey
Granola of your choice

For the Lassi
Preheat oven to 375.
Crush cardamom pods with a rolling pin or the bottom of a heavy pot. Remove the small seeds and grind in a mill or with a mortar and pestle.

Place peeled strips of mango on a baking sheet and toss with oil and cardamom. Roast until soft and starting to caramelize around the edges, about 12-15 minutes. Scrape mango and all the leftover juices into a bowl and place in the fridge to cool. While it cools, make your chia pudding so it has some time to set.

Add cooled mango and yogurt to a blender and pulse until super smooth. I usually add about 1/4 cup of cold milk or water to mine to thin it out at this point and pulse again. Taste and add sweetener if desired. I prefer mine quite tangy so generally don’t add extra sweeteners, especially if your fruit is nice and ripe.  Set aside.

For the Chia Pudding
Mix all ingredients in a small dish and let sit for 15-20 minutes so the chia can absorb the liquid.

To Serve
Add a layer of the lassi, a layer of chia and finish with another layer of your lassi. Top with granola and a drizzle of honey or shake everything together and enjoy as an extra high-vibe drink.

 

Charred Pineapple Bourbon Sour

Charred Pineapple Bourbon Sour

There are few things I love more than a glass of wine (or two 😏) after a long day of chasing a wild animal around our neighbourhood, cooking for 10 (1 toddler), washing dishes for 20, doing laundry for 30…. you get the picture here. I love wine.

Some days, however, call for something just a little more. Something that wakes up your mouth and shoots your taste buds to attention. A boozy sour is always good for that and this one is no exception. If there an option to choose bourbon instead of rum or whiskey, I always do. It’s smokier and a bit sweeter and I find it’s robust flavour lingers a bit more in cocktails.

Charred Pineapple Bourbon Sour

This has all the elements of a classic sour, a puckering zing from plenty of fresh lime juice and a simple syrup to balance it out. But the addition of pineapple juice gives this another level of sweet and sour flavour plus the refreshing tropical dream-enducing pineapple punch I love. We drank them in the backyard as the warm evening sun set behind the clouds and though the temperature was no where near tropical, we were feeling pretty sunny.

Make the sour mixture in advance and keep in the fridge for up to 3 days. Add crushed ice and bourbon to order and BLAMMO. Cocktail heaven in the comfort of your own home.

Charred Pineapple Bourbon Sour

Charred Pineapple Bourbon Sour
makes 6 lowball cocktails
I like to add a pinch of chili flakes to the sugar mixture to give this cocktail a little zing! Feel free to omit if you prefer things without spice.1 cup water
1 cup raw sugar
pinch red pepper flake, optional
1 (398ml) can sliced pineapple1/2 cup lime juice (about 4-6 limes)
1 1/2 cups bourbon
crushed ice

Preheat oven to 450 and place a grill pan in to preheat with the oven.

Bring the water, sugar and chili flake, if using, to a boil. Reduce heat and stir until sugar is dissolved, 2-3 minutes. Let cool to room temperature.  Once cooled, add in the lime juice and all the juice from the can of pineapple and set aside. Can be made up to 2 days in advance and kept in a sealed container in the fridge.

Pat 6 of the pineapple rings dry with a clean towel. When oven in preheated place them on grill pan until charred, 3-4 minutes. Flip and char the opposite side of the rings. Let cool for 10-15 minutes.

Fill each glass with crushed ice, 1/4 cup bourbon and top with sour mixture. Garnish with charred pineapple and enjoy!

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Everything Bagel Rough Puff + Spinach and Sausage Rolls

My mum and I used to work in the same office (rather, she got me a job at her office fresh out of high school) and every Friday on our commute we would stop for bagels. I looked forward to it all week, no doubt because it also fell on a Friday, and that first drift of yeasty garlic & onion wafting from my Everything Bagel was enough to weaken my knees.

I read about Trader Joe‘s Everything but the Bagel spice on Real Simple recently and instantly felt my mouth start to water. It had been a while since I’d thought about that perfect savory blend of spices. I thought to myself longingly that I wished we had a Trader Joe’s in Ottawa so I, too, could be sprinkling the mixture all willy-nilly on veggies, toast, avocado, fish….. what wouldn’t benefit from a dusting of everything spice? And whyyyyy not just make it myself, you ask? You’re exactly right – why not? It’s easy to make, fun to adjust to your own taste, and makes a great addition to so many dishes. So off I went sprinkling and mixing and eating everything with everything spice.

Everything Bagel Rough Puff & Spinach/Sausage Rolls

Last week, as I was enduring another ever-present sausage roll craving and pondering my plan of attack for them, the jar of spice eyed me from the kitchen querying, once again, why not? The resulting rough puff pastry flecked with crunchy bits of garlic, onion, poppy & toasted sesame seeds is TO DIE FOR, as you can imagine. But the flavour they add to the final sausage roll is so much more! If you’re not into meat, a cheddar and spinach filling would be insanely good. Or a mushroom/cheddar/spinach filling. Or cream cheese! The possibilities are truly endless and there are few ingredients that wouldn’t be just a wee bit better from a warm embrace by a flaky, fragrant pastry. Just remember to ask yourself… why not?

Everything Bagel Rough Puff & Spinach/Sausage Rolls

Everything Bagel Rough Puff & Spinach/Sausage Rolls
makes 1 dozen sausage rolls

I use sausage from a local shop here so feel free to use whatever you like best. My favourite is something simple with fennel and some red pepper flake. As well, I cut my rolls a little too small here so I’ve adjusted the recipe for thicker bites.

1 cup unsalted butter, grated
2 1/4 cups unbleached all purpose flour
1 tsp salt
3 tbsp Everything Bagel spice, recipe follows
8-10 tbsp ice water

1 lb fresh pork sausage meat
1/2 cup frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed until all the liquid is drained
1 egg
toasted sesame seeds, for garnish

Combine the 1/4 cup of frozen, grated butter and the flour. Rub together with your hands quickly until mixture is almost sandy with a few larger pieces of butter. Add in enough ice water, mixing with a wooden spoon, to bring it all together. Knead for a few minutes so it comes together into a firm dough, and let rest for 10 minutes in the fridge.

Roll dough out into a long rectangle. Place half the grated butter over 2/3 of the dough. Fold the 3rd of dough without any butter over the middle section, and the other end on top of that, like folding a business letter. Turn the dough 90 degrees and roll that piece out into another rectangle. You’ve just completed one “fold”.

Animated GIF  - Find & Share on GIPHY
Animated GIF  - Find & Share on GIPHY

Place the rest of the grated butter over 2/3 of the dough. Fold the 3rd of dough without any butter over the middle section, and the other end on top of that. You’ve now laminated the butter in 2 folds. Turn 90 degrees and roll out again. Repeat until you’ve made 5-6 folds. If you find the butter is getting too soft, freeze for 10 minutes after you complete a turn. Chill for at least 4 hours in the fridge. Will keep in the fridge for 1 month or freeze for up to 6 months.

When ready to make your sausage rolls, Preheat oven to 375.

Roll out the dough into a large rectangle approx 1/4″ thick. Slice in half and arrange 1/2 the sausage meat along one side of the pastry. top with half the spinach and roll up in the pastry. Pinch seam and place that side down. Give it a few good squeezes so the sausage is nice and snug in the pastry. Whisk the egg up in a small bowl and brush the rolls. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and cut into 1.5″- 2″ pieces. Place on a parchment lined cookie sheet and bake, turning sheet halfway through, for 25-30 minutes or until pastry has puffed up and is golden brown on the top. Serve with your favourite mustard.

*I used an Oktoberfest Sausage from a local shop, The Red Apron. Use something that isn’t too strongly spiced or flavoured. Failing that, mix together some ground pork, fennel seed, a tbsp of grated onion, salt/pepper, pinch of red pepper flake and call it a day.

Everything Bagel Rough Puff & Spinach/Sausage Rolls

Everything+ Bagel Spice
makes approx. 1 cup

I add flax and hemp seeds to my everything bagel spice mix because it’s an easy way to add more nutrition. Feel free to omit them if you’d like.

2 tablespoon poppy seeds
2 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds
2 tablespoon dried garlic
2 tablespoon dried onion
1 tablespoon hemp hearts, optional
1 tbsp flax seeds, optional
2 teaspoons coarse sea or kosher salt

Mix all ingredients together in a jar and keep sealed in a cool dark place for up to 2 months.

Rhubarb-Vanilla Bean Upside Down Rye Cake

+ iPad Giveaway from Gaylea

Rhubarb Vanilla Bean Upside Down Cake

It’s pretty wild to think of the evolution of recipes and how they’re shared now compared to just decades ago. I have a select few of my Nana’s recipes that she passed down, scribbled barely legibly on a branded notepad and held together with a sewing pin. The ink is fading by the day and I try to remind myself often that I need to have them copied or re-write them, lest they be gone forever. These recipes, created with family and community in mind, painstakingly recorded and tested/tweaked by the palettes of visiting guests, family and hungry children, were how food knowledge was passed along before the internet age took hold.

Rhubarb Vanilla Bean Upside Down CakeRhubarb Vanilla Bean Upside Down Cake

My generation, on the other hand, rarely looks further than internet. Between the umpteen trillion food bloggers (hi!), online cooking mags, cooking websites based on recipes from print magazines, video recipes and online cooking forums… the need for tangible books has passed. But is that really a good thing? Cookbooks are tested. Laboriously. And then tested again. And then revised. And re-tested. And revised. Buying a cookbook generally ensures no meals will be ruined in the quest for deliciousness. Online recipes, on the other hand, aren’t always tested and perfected before being shared with the world. Which isn’t to say they can’t be trusted, they may just take a bit more time to get the result you were looking for in some cases. Finding a source for online recipes that you trust is crucial in your hunt for meals worthy of your precious time and money. Failing that, turn to your favourite cookbooks and family-tested recipes handed down. They may not be perfect but each one tells a story of a time and place in your family’s past.

Rhubarb Vanilla Bean Upside Down Cake

This Rhubarb Vanilla Bean Upside Down Rye Cake is based on an old written recipe I have for a more traditional pineapple upside down cake with some updating of ingredients and techniques. The topping is tangy and sweet which pairs incredibly well with the hearty, slightly bitter rye flour base.

Rhubarb Vanilla Bean Upside Down Cake

Rhubarb-Vanilla Bean Upside Down Rye Cake
makes one 9″ cake

I used Stirling Creamery Churn84 European Style butter in this recipe as I wanted a rich, creamy butter for the topping and a smooth and luxurious fat for the cake. I’ve used salted and unsalted but feel free to use one or the other and adjust salt in the recipe slightly.

In the recipe I call for chopping the rhubarb into smaller chunks. This is slightly easier to work with. If you prefer the long strips like I have in the photos, cut your stalks in half lengthwise and into various sized strips no longer than 9″. Caramelized them as per recipe and then arrange in springform pan in strips.

RHUBARB TOPPING
1lb rhubarb, trimmed and cut into various sized strips (no larger than 8-9″)
1/4 cup Stirling Creamery Salted Butter
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup white sugar
1/4 tsp kosher or sea salt
1 vanilla bean

CAKE
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup dark rye flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 tsp ground cardamom
1/2 cup unsalted Stirling CHURN 84 European Style Butter butter, softened
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs (at room temperature)
1 tsp PURE vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups buttermilk, at room temperature

PREP
Line the sides of a 9″ springform or cake pan (with sides at least 3″ high) with parchment. Butter  and flour the sides of the parchment.

TOPPING
Preheat oven to 375.

In a heavy skillet, add the butter, sugars and salt over medium heat. Slice the vanilla bean in half and scrape the seeds out using the back of your knife, running it along the length of the inside of the bean. Scrape into butter/sugar mixture. Swirl pan a few times so it’s all combined. Add your rhubarb slices to the pan in one layer and turn heat up to med-high. Cook until rhubarb is tender but not falling apart, 6-8 minutes. Arrange rhubarb pieces/strips on the bottom of your prepared cake pan and pour remaining butter  mixture in the skillet over.

CAKE
In a small bowl, whisk together the flours, baking powder/soda, salt and cardamom.

In the bowl of a stand mixer or in a bowl with your hand mixer/whisk, beat the butter and sugar until fluffy. Add in the eggs one at a time mixing completely into the batter. Add the vanilla and milk and mix to combine. Add the dry ingredients in 3 portions, mixing well in between each addition. Give the batter one last 10 second whisk/mix to ensure everything is well combined. Pour over your arranged rhubarb and carefully spread out over the mixture.  Bake for 30-35 minutes or until edges of cake are golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean (it’s ok if you see some of the gooey rhubarb topping, that will set once it cools a little). Remove from oven and cool for 15 minutes in the pan.

Remove the cake by pulling the parchment out of the pan. Peel the sides of the parchment down and put a plate, serving side down, over the whole cake. Holding the plate firmly, flip them both together so the rhubarb becomes the top of the cake once it’s on your serving platter. Carefully remove the pan from the cake.

Serve with clotted cream or ice cream. This cake is best eaten the day it’s made.

Rhubarb Vanilla Bean Upside Down Cake

AND! Gaylea Food Cooperative is giving away a free IPad for all your online recipe reading, admiring and creating! See below to enter. Good luck!

Gay Lea iPad Mini 2 Giveaway – April 2017

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Savory Pea & Parmesan Hand Pies with Sumac Labneh

Baked The Blog

DSC_0344-003

With Spring so close you can almost taste the fresh peas, I haven’t been able to get this recipe from Baked The Blog out of my head. Savory green pea & nutty Parmesan filling spread over a tangy sumac strained cheese and tucked away in a flaky, buttery pastry. I shared it on the blog almost 2 years ago now so I think it’s time to bring it home again. What’s not to love? Make a double batch so you can freeze some for easy lunches or snacks.

Shoot over to Baked the Blog to find the recipe!

Savory Pea & Parmesan Hand Pies with Sumac Labneh

Powerhouse Green Dip

Powerhouse Green Dip

Back before we had Ruthie I imagined a world where she would sit, quiet and still, on the counter top watching diligently as I put together a recipe or meal. She would be absorbing everything I did, holding steadfastly to the memory of cooking with Mama when she was a little girl. We would sit together at the table, at the same time, and eat every meal side by side as we giggled to each other.

Powerhouse Green Dip

And then I actually had a baby. To most parents, this is hilarious. As “well-behaved” as your baby/toddler is, they likely do not sit still for more than .377560367 seconds at time. And if they do, you’d better go check on them because your phone/glasses/toothbrush are probably in the toilet. They may have also taken some of that beautiful meal you so lovingly prepared for them, all the while dreaming of what-could-be, and made a painting for you on the wall with it. There is little romance or whimsy in raising toddlers (or so I feel), but every so often they’ll surprise you by sitting still. Even for 10 minutes while you make this dip together. And then actually EAT it! Hallelujah!

We are able to spend more and more time in the kitchen together as she gets older, and though it isn’t without challenge, we do our best to instill healthy eating habits in her while also showing her how delicious healthy foods can be when you prepare them with some creativity. She loved this dip and that was a home run as far as I’m concerned. The toddler palette is, of course, the most refined.

Powerhouse Green Dip

We are a dip family. Most things eaten under this roof are dipped in some form of liquid or sauce. Hummus, ranch dressing, toum, milk or tea, satay sauce, ginger scallion sauce…we firmly believe everything can be made better by dunking. This green dip is no exception. It’s jammed with fragrant herbs, nutritious greens and extra decadent sour cream and Greek yogurt. It’s creamy and rich, but with the addition of lime juice it isn’t heavy or unbalanced. Whether you’re using it for a dip, a marinade for chicken or fish, a sandwich spread or topping for soup, I think you’ll agree that it makes everything better.
Powerhouse Green Dip

Powerhouse Green Dip
makes 1 1/2 cups

I used the Gaylea GOLD Sour Cream here because I wanted the dip to be as creamy and rich as possible. Feel free to use any percent of sour cream you’d like.

2 tbsp fresh cilantro
2 tbsp fresh mint
2 tbsp fresh basil
2 tbsp fresh Italian parsley
1 tbsp fresh dill
1 green onion, light and green leafy parts
1/4 cup torn kale leaves
1/4 cup rough-chopped bok choy*
1/2 cup Gay Lea GOLD Sour Cream
1/2 cup Greek yogurt
1/2 large avocado
2 tbsp olive oil
juice from 1/2-1 whole lime, depending on taste
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp fresh ground pepper
1/2 tsp sea salt
milk/water, for consistency sake

Add the first 8 ingredients (greens and herbs) to the bowl of a food processor. Process until everything is minced finely. It should be almost paste-like in consistency. Add the sour cream, Greek yogurt, avocado, olive oil and lime juice and blend again for a good 3-4 minutes or until smooth. The texture of the dip will depend on the power of your food processor. If you have a powerful high speed processor or blender, it will be extra smooth. Otherwise it will be similar to mine here, creamy with some texture from the greens. Add the garlic and onion powder, salt and pepper (to taste). Pulse a few more times. If you like the consistency, it’s ready to serve. If it’s too thick, add some milk or water 1 tbsp at a time until it’s the right consistency for you.

*Bok Choy is a nutritional power house. High in Vitamin A & C and minerals like phosphorus, zinc, sodium, copper, manganese, selenium, niacin, folate, choline and beta-carotene, it is one of the most nutritionally dense plant based foods. We generally have bok choy hanging around which is why I added it here. If you don’t have any on hand, feel free to skip.