Spiced Upside Down Peach Crisp

Fruit crisp is a classic dessert that has been around for centuries. The first known recipe was published in an 1828 cookbook. The recipe used frozen fruit instead of fresh and while fresh fruit is often used in baking, frozen fruit is a great alternative. 

Fresh fruit always has such appeal. It brightens the fridge and counter with cheery colors and sweet scents. Frozen fruit allows for some flexibility by extending a typically short shelf life. Both have their place in the kitchen.

 Frozen fruit may not have the same crispness or texture as it’s fresh counterpart but there are some great benefits to using it.

  • It’s available all year round
  • You can use it straight from the freezer
  • Convenience – it’s already washed and ready to go
  • Frozen fruit is generally quick-frozen at its peak and as soon as it’s picked

This peach crisp is amazing! The frozen peaches are enhanced with fresh lemon juice and flavorings and the spiced oatmeal topping has toasted pecans to add a little crunch. Yum!

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Spiced Upside Down Peach Crisp
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Course dessert
Cuisine American
Servings
Ingredients
Crisp Topping
Spiced Cream Topping
Course dessert
Cuisine American
Servings
Ingredients
Crisp Topping
Spiced Cream Topping
Votes: 1
Rating: 5
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Instructions
Fruit
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Line & lightly grease a 9-inch spring form baking pan with foil.
  2. In a large bowl, combine thawed & drained peaches, lemon juice, sugar, cornstarch, vanilla, almond extract & salt. Set aside.
Crisp Topping
  1. In a large bowl, whisk together brown sugar, flour, oats, pecans & spices. Add butter & mix with a wooden spoon until topping is crumbly.
Assembly
  1. Into prepared baking dish pour peach mixture. Sprinkle the crisp topping evenly over the peaches. Bake for 40 - 45 minutes or until top is golden brown. Remove from oven & allow to cool. When cool enough to handle, remove outside ring from pan then flip crisp over on a serving plate & slice.
Spiced Cream Topping
  1. Add heavy cream to a chilled bowl & beat until stiff peaks are just about to form. Beat in vanilla, sugar & spices until peaks form.
  2. Serve crisp with spiced cream topping or vanilla ice cream if you would rather.
Recipe Notes
  • Since there are just two of us, I made only half of the recipe, that's why mine is quite thin in the picture. Still gave us 10 pieces!
  • I baked it long enough to really caramelize the peaches. Yum!

Chai Spiced Hot Cross Bread Pudding w/ Vanilla Sauce

CELEBRATING GOOD FRIDAY!

Bread pudding always gives me reason to remember good things. Truly a comfort food for those of us that recall it from childhood days. It’s not that the dish was invented here — that honor likely goes to clever medieval or even ancient cooks in Europe and the Middle East who had a surplus of stale bread on their hands. The perfect embodiment of the virtues of frugality and indulgence: day old bread, too precious to waste, is bathed in a mixture of milk and eggs and made into either a sweet or savory bread pudding (with a few other additions) and baked into something sublime. What makes it special is the blend of spices mixed into it and the sauce.

The chai spice baking blend, which is sometimes overlooked, adds a distinct warm flavor and depth. It can include a number of different spices. Cardamom is the most common ingredient, followed by some mixture of cinnamon, ginger, star anise and cloves. Pepper, coriander, nutmeg and fennel are also used but they are slightly less common.

This bread pudding combines hot cross buns with spices inspired by the world’s love affair with Indian chai. The origins of hot cross buns may go back as far as the 12th century. According to the story, an Anglican monk baked the buns and marked them with a cross in honor of Good Friday. Over time they gained popularity, and eventually became a symbol of Easter weekend.

Bread pudding, when done right, should have the perfect balance of gooey goodness and chewy texture. That’s why stale bread/buns are important. The bread needs a degree of crunch otherwise you will have ‘mush pudding’. For additional flavor, the pudding is served with a vanilla sauce. Who says bread pudding has to be boring!

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Chai Spiced Hot Cross Bread Pudding w/ Vanilla Sauce
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Bread Pudding
Vanilla Sauce
Servings
Ingredients
Bread Pudding
Vanilla Sauce
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Instructions
Bread Pudding
  1. Place cubed hot cross buns in a greased 9 x 9-inch baking dish.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the milk, brown sugar, eggs, vanilla, spices & salt. Pour over buns, making sure that the bread is completely covered by the milk mixture.
  3. Cover & refrigerate for at least an hour or overnight.
  4. Set out the chilled bread pudding while you preheat the oven to 350 F.
  5. Bake 40 - 45 minutes, or until a knife inserted into the center of the pudding comes out clean. Remove from oven & serve with vanilla sauce.
Vanilla Sauce
  1. In a small saucepan, melt butter & add flour. Stir until mixture has a nutty aroma.
  2. Add salt, cream & sugar; stir until mixture becomes thick. Remove from heat & stir in vanilla.
  3. Spoon over servings of warm bread pudding.
Recipe Notes
  • You will notice I have only used 2 Tbsp sugar in the vanilla sauce to offset the sweetness of the pudding.

Benedictine Liqueur Christmas Braid

Christmas bread has a lot of different interpretations. The most traditional iterations involve sugar and spice, and often—but not always—yeast, and ultimately have strong cultural associations and country ties. One thing we can all agree on is that Christmas bread is celebratory, whether or not we observe the holiday. From the unleavened matzo of Passover to the German stollen of Christmas, from the British hot cross buns baked on Good Friday to the Russian kolach baked for any special occasion, bread in its many forms brings people together, linking traditions and generations.

The scent of Christmas spices, bread baking, and fresh-cut pine define holiday memories. Generations ago, the rich dough itself – lush with butter, eggs, dried fruit, sugar – relayed a cook’s generosity, her willingness to share the most precious ingredients in her pantry. The time and effort it took to make and bake the Christmas loaves expressed the cook’s devotion and love.

Last year, I was introduced to the liqueur known as Dom Benedictine. After doing much research into this interesting liqueur, I incorporated it in some savory and sweet recipes. We really enjoyed them so this year I was interested in doing a bit of recipe development to create a Christmas bread with it.

The story of Benedictine dates back to 1510 when a Venetian monk of the Abbey of Fécamp, Dom Bernardo Vincelli, created an elixir intended to support good health. It includes a combination of 27 herbs and spices derived from plants from around the globe, including juniper, myrrh, saffron, vanilla, thyme, coriander and more. The liqueur tastes primarily of honey and baking spices, with citrus peel, herb, and stone fruit notes.

So here you have it, my newly created Christmas bread tradition. Hope you can try it and enjoy it as much as Brion & I have.

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Benedictine Liqueur Christmas Braid
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SERVINGS
Ingredients
Bread Dough
Lemon Glaze
Servings
SERVINGS
Ingredients
Bread Dough
Lemon Glaze
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Instructions
  1. Marinate raisins, candied fruit & cranberries in Benedictine liqueur overnight, Stir occasionally.
  2. Dissolve yeast in 1/4 cup lukewarm water with 1 tsp sugar. Set aside for 5 minutes.
  3. In a large bowl, sift 2 cups of the flour. Stir in yeast mixture & lukewarm milk. Cover with plastic & let stand in a draft free place until doubled in volume, about 1 hour. Punch down firmly & work in beaten eggs, 1/2 cup sugar, lemon zest, vanilla & pieces of softened butter.
  4. Sift remaining 3 cups of flour with salt, cinnamon & cardamom & work 2 cups in to form a soft dough. Turn dough onto a lightly floured work surface. Knead in remaining cup of flour & fruit mixture. This becomes a very soft & buttery dough but is not sticky.
  5. Invert the dough onto a lightly floured work surface & dust with flour. Cut the dough into four equal pieces & then stretch & roll each piece into a rope about 20 inches long. Lay the ropes parallel to one another (vertically). Pinch them tightly at the top, then fan them out.
  6. Begin by taking the strand farthest to the right & weave it toward the left through the other strands using this pattern: over, under, over. Take the strand furthest to the right & repeat the weaving pattern again: over, under, over. Repeat this pattern, always starting with the strand farthest to the right, until the whole loaf is braided, Tuck the ends under to give the loaf a finished look.
  7. Carefully transfer the braided loaf to a parchment-lined 13x18-inch baking sheet, brush with egg wash. Cover the loaf loosely with plastic wrap & allow to rise in a warm, draft-free spot until about 1 1/2 times the size, about 1-2 hours. Toward the end of the rising time, preheat the oven to 350 F. & set an oven rack in the middle position.
  8. Gently brush risen dough again with egg wash. Place in an air-bake pan to prevent the bottom crust from browning too much.
  9. Bake 40-45 minutes or until a nice golden brown. Cool on a wire rack. Combine powdered sugar & lemon juice/zest to make glaze. When braid is completely cool, brush loaf with lemon glaze & decorate to your liking.
Recipe Notes
  • To see a more in-depth article on Dom Benedictine Liqueur, check out my blog from December 21/2022 - Benedictine Liqueur Cupcakes.

Christmas Cookie Wreaths for Gifts

While certain holidays such as Christmas, lend themselves to giving food as gifts, gift-giving should be thoughtful and sincere.

We give gifts during the holiday season to express gratitude, love, or friendship to those near and dear throughout the year. But the custom of giving gifts goes all the way back to the first Christmas when the wise men brought Jesus three gifts — gold, frankincense and myrrh.

Many of the gifts we give and receive at Christmas time, especially ones related to food, have symbolic meaning and tales of folklore behind them. Others are just fun to make and share with family and friends. Sometimes those food gifts become an anticipated tradition that the gifter enjoys making and the receiver looks forward to every year.

These Christmas cookie wreaths seem like the perfect gift for our neighbors. Hope they like them because they where a lot of fun to make.

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Christmas Cookie Wreaths for Gifts
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Course dessert
Cuisine American
Servings
WREATHS
Ingredients
Spicy Wreath Base
Cranberry Lemon Pistachio Cookies
Persimmon Linzer Cookies
Course dessert
Cuisine American
Servings
WREATHS
Ingredients
Spicy Wreath Base
Cranberry Lemon Pistachio Cookies
Persimmon Linzer Cookies
Votes: 1
Rating: 5
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Instructions
Spicy Wreath Base
  1. In a large bowl, combine all ingredients. Mix until dough forms. Divide dough in half for 2 separate wreaths. Roll each half into a long strip about 43-inches long. On 2 sheets of parchment paper, draw 2 round circles each about a 13-inch circumference. Place on baking sheets. Following the circle outline, place a strip of dough on each circle. Press with the back of a spoon to flatten to about a 1/2-inch thickness.
  2. Preheat oven to 310 F. Bake cookie bases for about 15 minutes. They should be baked but not overdone so that the centers are soft. Remove from oven & cool on a wire rack until ready to assemble with cookies.
Cranberry Lemon Pistachio Cookies
  1. In a bowl, whisk together flour, cornstarch, baking powder & salt. Place butter & sugar in a bowl & beat with a mixer until pale & fluffy. Mix in egg yolks, lemon zest & vanilla. Reduce speed to low & gradually mix in flour mixture. Shape into a disk; wrap in plastic. Refrigerate until firm, about 1 hour.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 F. Transfer dough to a lightly floured work surface. Roll out to 1/8-inch thick. Using a 2 1/2-inch round fluted cutter, cut out wreaths. Cut out centers using a 7/8-inch round or star cutter.
  3. Space 2 inches apart on baking sheets lined with parchment paper. Refrigerate until firm, about 15 minutes. bake until just golden, about 12 minutes. Allow to cool for a couple of minutes before icing.
  4. Stir together powdered sugar & lemon juice in a small bowl. Spread each cookie with icing & sprinkle with pistachios and/or pepita seeds & cranberries. Yield: 24
Anise Shortbread Stars
  1. In a bowl, sift together cornstarch, powdered sugar, flour & anise powder. Blend in butter with a spoon, mixing until a soft, smooth dough forms. If the dough is too soft to handle, cover & chill about 1 hour.
  2. Between 2 sheets of parchment paper, roll dough out about 1/2-inch thick. Using a star cookie cutter, cut out stars & sprinkle with coarse white sanding sugar. Transfer to ungreased baking sheets spacing 1 1/2-inches apart. Place baking sheets in refrigerator & chill 30 minutes. Halfway through, preheat oven to 300 F. Bake for about 20 minutes or until edges are just barely browned. Yield: 18
Persimmon Linzer Cookies
  1. In a bowl, sift together flour & salt. Set aside. In a large bowl, cream butter, sugar & vanilla until light & fluffy. Beat in as much of the flour mixture as possible. Mix the rest & gently knead until dough comes together. Wrap in plastic wrap & chill for 30 minutes.
  2. Prepare persimmon puree. In a saucepan over medium low heat, combine persimmons, sugar, cinnamon & salt. Simmer until thick, stirring occasionally, about 20 minutes. Remove from heat, cool slightly then transfer to a small food processor. Puree mixture until smooth. Set aside to cool.
  3. Preheat oven to 350 F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  4. Roll out dough on lightly floured surface to 1/4-inch thickness. Cut into rounds with a 2-inch fluted LINZER cookie cutter with a star attachment in the center. Place on lined cookie sheet. Bake for about 12-15 minutes or just until edges begin to brown. Allow cookies to cool to room temperature.
  5. Spread persimmon puree on the flat side of each solid cookie. Dust & decorate cookies with cut outs using powdered sugar & some more puree. Place decorated cookie tops on bottoms spread with puree, making a sandwich.
Assembly
  1. Arrange cookies on wreath base to your liking. You can either 'fasten' them with an bit of icing that will harden (see notes) or just place them on top base. That way they are easy to pick up by guests without to much trouble. The base can be cut into pieces after the top cookies are eaten for some more cookie goodness.
Recipe Notes

ICING FOR ATTACHING COOKIES TO WREATH:

  • 2 Tbsp warm water
  • 1 1/2 tsp corn syrup
  • 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • Mix together the warm water, corn syrup and icing sugar for the icing. Make it on the thicker side, so add more icing sugar if needed.

Apple Maple Boursin Muffins w/ Sweet Potato

Boursin’s story began in 1957, in a small Normandy village, located in France, when cheese maker François Boursin set up a factory producing soft cheese. At that time, he had no idea his name would become internationally famous.

Boursin Garlic & Herbs was launched in 1963 and quickly became a household name across France. Sixty years later, the original recipe remains unchanged and food lovers in more than 35 countries have spread their passion for Boursin all around the world. Perfect on bread, as appetizers or in a creamy sauce for main or side dishes. Since 2011, Boursin has been made in Canada in St. Hyacinthe, Québec, by Agropur, the Canadian dairy co-operative, for Bel Cheese Canada, the Canadian arm of Bel Group, the France-based multinational. 

There are seven flavors of Boursin Cheese sold in Canada: Garlic & Fine Herbs, Shallot & Chive, Bouquet of Basil & Chive, Cranberry & Pepper, Cracked Black Pepper, Fig & Balsamic, Apple & Maple.

Boursin is sometimes dubbed a Gournay cheese, Gournay being the name of the region in Normandy where Boursin was first made. The cheesemaker used the name when he was first asked to classify the cheese for customs purposes.

Today, I am doing a bit of recipe development with Apple Maple Boursin. The apple flavor and the silkiness of maple syrup perfectly complement Boursin’s incomparable texture along with some sweet potato, dates and dried cranberries. The whole combination creates an exceptional sweet and savory cheese muffin. Brion & I really enjoyed my new muffin creation.

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Apple Maple Boursin Muffins w/ Sweet Potato
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Instructions
Topping
  1. In a small bowl, combine topping ingredients. Spread out on a large plate & place in freezer until; ready to use.
Muffin Batter
  1. Cook, peel & mash sweet potato. Chop dates. Slice, core & grate apple. Grate orange (zest). Chop pecans. Crumble Boursin.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 F. Line muffin tin with baking cups.
  3. In a large bowl, combine first 12 ingredients using a fork. Make a well in center.
  4. Beat egg until frothy. Whisk in sugar, oil, sweet potato & sour cream. Crumble in 75 gm of the Boursin cheese.
  5. Pour into well & stir only to moisten. Divide between the 12 muffin cups. Remove topping from freezer & place some on top of each muffin.
  6. Bake for 20-25 minutes. Let rest for 5 minutes then remove from pan. BEST SERVED WARM!

Vertical Pumpkin Cheesecake Tarts w/ Cranberry Gelee

There’s something about the presentation of food—it always seems to taste better when it looks great. Plated desserts aren’t quite my passion, but it was still an experience worth learning.

Our eyes are the gateway to our stomachs. When a dessert looks good, it’s like a promise that it’s going to taste amazing. But it’s not just about the looks; there’s actual science behind it! Psychologists believe that visually appealing food also seems tastier. The brain, being the mischievous little thing it is, associates’ beauty with flavor.

Plated desserts are essentially desserts that have multiple textures, flavors, colors and components that are paired together and presented beautifully on a plate, almost looking like a piece of art.

Dessert plating has been around since the Renaissance. The nobility used to have their chefs present their sweets in the most elaborate ways. So basically, when you’re plating, you’re partaking in a historical tradition.

Embracing the seasonality of ingredients not only adds fresh flavors to your desserts but also creates a visual impact on your plate.

These little elegant tarts are made using rings of crisp, sweet shortcrust pastry, a light pumpkin cheesecake and a layer of fresh cranberry orange gelee. Standing upright on a bed of gingersnap crumble, they are decorated with white chocolate fall leaves and candy spheres.

A plated dessert can be simple to strikingly complex and everything in between so you are only limited by your imagination. 

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Vertical Pumpkin Cheesecake Tarts w/ Cranberry Gelee
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Cranberry Gelee
Pastry
Crumb Base
Servings
Ingredients
Cranberry Gelee
Pastry
Crumb Base
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Instructions
Pumpkin Cheesecake (make a day ahead)
  1. Preheat oven to 325 F. Line a 9 X 9-inch baking pan with parchment paper.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the cream cheese, brown sugar, ground spices, nutmeg and salt. Using an electric mixer, beat at medium speed until smooth. Beat in the pumpkin puree until smooth. Beat in the cream, maple syrup, vanilla and eggs at low speed until blended.
  3. Pour the batter into a prepared baking pan. Spread evenly in the pan. When baked & cooled the cheesecake should be the height of the width of your tart rings. (Mine are about ¾-inch).
  4. Bake 30 - 35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely. Cover & refrigerate covered overnight.
Gelee (make a day ahead)
  1. In a medium saucepan, combine the cranberries with 1/4 cup of water and cook over moderate heat until they begin to pop, about 5 minutes. Let cool. Transfer to a blender and puree until smooth. Strain the puree through a fine sieve. Rinse out the saucepan.
  2. Add the sugar & 2 Tbsp of water to the saucepan and bring to a boil, stirring, until dissolved. Let cool. Stir in the orange juice and cranberry puree.
  3. In a small bowl, sprinkle the gelatin over 1 Tbsp of water and let stand until softened, 5 minutes. Microwave for 10 seconds, or until completely melted. Whisk the gelatin into the cranberry mixture. Line a 6 X 9-inch dish with plastic wrap. Pour the gelée into a prepared pan; shake it gently to even it out. Refrigerate the gelee overnight.
Pastry
  1. Combine the flour, powdered sugar, cornstarch, salt, & vanilla in a large bowl. Add the butter and mix with your hands until the butter is broken down into pieces the size of peas and the ingredients are well combined. Add the egg and mix with a fork until the dough is smooth and the egg is fully incorporated. Don’t overmix.
  2. Turn the dough out onto a large piece of plastic wrap and gently shape it into a ball. Wrap the dough in the plastic wrap and flatten it into a disc. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or overnight, until cold but still pliable.
  3. When the dough has chilled, unwrap the dough and place it on a silicone baking mat on your work surface. Roll it out into a rectangle about 1⁄8 inch thick, using a second silicone sheet on top.
  4. Using a sharp knife, slice the dough into strips about 1- inch thick. These strips will make the tart rings. Place cut pastry in freezer until cool. This will make handling the strips much easier.
  5. When chilled, transfer each strip of dough to one of the tart rings and lightly press it to the sides. (I am using 2 sizes of tart rings – 2 ¾-inch & 2 ½-inch diameter and ¾-inch width). Use a small knife to neaten the top edge of the rim on the rings.
  6. Transfer the baking sheet containing the tart rings to the freezer & freeze for at least 20 minutes.
  7. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  8. Bake tart rings for 15-20 minutes or until light golden in color. Cool on wire racks.
Crumb Base
  1. Place gingersnap cookies in a sealed plastic bag. Using a rolling pin, crush to coarse crumbs. Set aside.
Assembly/Decoration
  1. CHEESECAKE: Using a ring cookie cutter the diameter of the inside of the BAKED pastry rings. Cut out circles. Cut each cheesecake circle in half, so that you have semicircles. Place one semicircle inside each pastry ring so that the curved edge sits flush inside the pastry ring.
  2. GELEE: Cut strips of gelee & place one along each cut side of the cheesecake, so that when you stand the rings of pastry up, it is sitting on top of the cheesecake.
  3. CRUMB BASE: Arrange small piles of gingersnap crumbs on a serving plate & place each tart on top of the crumbs, so they are standing vertically.
  4. DECORATION: Decorate your vertical tarts with whatever you wish. My choice was some tiny white chocolate fall leaves in keeping with an autumn dessert.
Recipe Notes
  • Traditionally the pastry for the rings is made containing almond meal. Since I have a nut allergy, mine is made without but still has a nice crispy texture. 
  • Very often this kind of dessert is made with a chocolate filling but I wanted to do something in the way of a fall dessert. 
  • Using a pumpkin cheesecake filling has two benefits. It definitely says fall & is easy to make it conform to the circular shape.
  • These plated desserts add such an elegant finishing touch to a holiday meal.

Apricot Couscous Cupcakes

Want an unusual dessert? Try swapping out some of the flour for couscous in a cupcake batter. You’ll be amazed at the result.

A major complaint about couscous sometimes is the lack of flavor but this is where having it as dessert comes in handy. Incorporating apricot puree and spices into the couscous batter gives the cupcakes an amazing flavor and texture.

Couscous, the justly celebrated masterpiece of Moroccan cooking, is actually a pasta, though it`s often mistaken for a grain.

Couscous (pronounced ‘koos-koos‘) is now widely available in packaged form in most supermarkets. Couscous are the yellow granules of semolina made from durum wheat. Durum is the hardest variety of the six classes of wheat and has the highest protein content of all wheat. Because of this, it’s ideal for making high quality pasta and is used by both American and Italian manufacturers. It’s also used to make couscous in America and Latin America. If these pastas were made of the softer white wheat flour that egg noodles use, they would lose their shape.

There are three types of couscous:

  • Moroccan couscous -Fine, used for savory as well as dessert couscous.
  • Israeli couscous – Medium, used for savory dishes also called pearl couscous.
  • Lebanese couscous – Coarse, more difficult to work with, used for savory dishes.

Adding some cream cheese frosting topped with apricot puree and sprinkled with couscous rolled in cinnamon takes this dessert to the next level!

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Apricot Couscous Cupcakes
Instructions
Couscous
  1. In a saucepan, bring 1 cup water & 1/2 tsp salt to boiling. Add couscous, cover & remove from heat. Allow to sit 5 minutes then fluff with a fork & set aside to cool.
Apricot Puree
  1. Place water, sugar & apricots in a saucepan. Bring to a boil & simmer until soft. Place in a food processor & pulse to make a puree.
Cupcakes
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Line a 12-cup muffin tin with paper liners.
  2. In a small bowl, combine 2 cups cooled couscous (reserve a small amount for topping), flour, baking powder, baking soda, spices & salt; set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, cream butter & sugar. Add 1 cup apricot puree & whip until light & fluffy. Add vanilla & egg yolks; whip well.
  4. Gradually add couscous mixture then buttermilk & combine only until blended. Whip egg whites until frothy, adding a pinch of salt. Using a spatula, blend egg whites into the batter.
  5. Bake 12-15 minutes or until testing with a toothpick & it comes out clean. Cool completely before frosting.
Frosting
  1. Using an electric mixer, beat cream cheese & butter until completely smooth, about 3 minutes on medium speed. Scrape down sides to ensure that the mixture is mixed evenly.
  2. On low speed, slowly add in powdered sugar. Once combined, scrape down sides of bowl & increase the speed to medium, beating just until well combined & creamy.
Decorating
  1. Place cream cheese topping in a piping bag with a star tip. Pipe a swirl of frosting on top of each cupcake. With another smaller piping bag, using a round tip, drizzle apricot puree then sprinkle with cinnamon coated (cooked) couscous.

Late Summer Plum Tart

As peach season wanes and the late summer sun shines brightest, plums arrive in their multicolored splendor. They come in vibrant red, yellow, orange, green, and pink-purple colors.

Plums belong to the same family as peaches, nectarines and apricots. Over 2,000 varieties of plums exist, each with a diverse set of shapes and colors, and they are divided into the following six categories – Japanese, American, Ornamental, Damson, Wild, and European.

One of the best things about plums is how versatile they are. Both sweet and spicy recipes work well with them. Brown sugar, cardamom, nutmeg, and cinnamon are plums’ best friends.

Plums aren’t the summer darling of fruits and are underutilized. But that means you can easily use them to add an unexpected twist to traditional recipes.

Gently spiced, this plum tart celebrates the summer-into-fall season. Quartered and nestled into the batter, the plums soften into mulberry-colored pockets as they bake.

While a slice of this seasonal fruit tart needs no embellishment, a scoop of vanilla ice cream or some whipped cream doesn’t hurt.

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Late Summer Plum Tart
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Course dessert
Cuisine American
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Ingredients
Course dessert
Cuisine American
Servings
Ingredients
Votes: 1
Rating: 5
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Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Line the sides of a 9-inch springform pan with parchment paper.
  2. In a bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon & cardamom.
  3. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, cream butter & 1 cup sugar until pale & fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add egg & vanilla; beat on low speed until well combined. Gradually add the flour mixture alternating with the milk. Beat on low speed until smooth & thick.
  4. Transfer the batter to prepared baking pan & smooth the top with a spoon or offset spatula. Arrange plums on top, skin side up, in circular patterns. Sprinkle the remaining 2 Tbsp of sugar over plums.
  5. Bake for 60 minutes or until golden on top & set in the center.
  6. Remove from oven then remove sides from springform pan leaving the base in place. Cool completely on a wire rack. Slice & serve with ice cream or whipped cream if desired.

Pulled Pork Naan Pizza w/ Peach Onion Chutney

CELEBRATING HERITAGE DAY!

In 1974, the first Monday of August was made an official provincial holiday to recognize and celebrate the varied cultural heritage of Albertans.

The Heritage Festival in our city of Edmonton, Alberta Canada is one of the world’s largest three-day multicultural events, taking place every August. The festival showcases a diversity of cuisine, entertainment, interpretive materials, and crafts worldwide. There is no admission to enter or to watch the many cultural dances and folk music shows throughout the day. Attendees will be able to purchase various food made by the pavilions. Due to the renovations currently happening at William Hawrelak Park, the festival has been relocated to the Edmonton Exhibition Lands and Borden Parks. 

Today, I’m doing a savory version with some pulled pork with a seasonal fresh peach and onion chutney. Chutney is a condiment that originated in India that can add an extra zing to your meal. A chutney may be sweet and spicy or sweet and savory, depending on the spices and other ingredients used. Often served with meats, such as chicken, pork, or ham, as well as fish.

You’ve likely eaten naan bread at some time. The tasty Indian flatbread is traditionally cooked in the tandoor, carries a slight smoky aroma, and has a soft texture with pillow-like pockets studded over the top. Puffed flatbread has the power to move beyond a dinner accompaniment. It’s worthy of a role far better — like actually being the main course.

It proves to be super versatile — naan is soft and sturdy enough to take the place of bread, thin enough to be used as a flatbread or pizza dough, and pliable enough to work as a tortilla. It can be soaked, baked, fried, and folded to take on some surprising and delicious forms such as French toast, savory bread pudding, paninis, nachos or even as a dessert naan bread with bananas, strawberries & chocolate.

Ever since Brion & I got ‘tuned in’ to savory naan bread pizzas, we love them no matter what the topping is. Should be a good meal for today!

Print Recipe
Pulled Pork Naan Pizza w/ Peach Onion Chutney
Votes: 1
Rating: 5
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Servings
Ingredients
Peach Onion Chutney
Caramelized Onions
Servings
Ingredients
Peach Onion Chutney
Caramelized Onions
Votes: 1
Rating: 5
You:
Rate this recipe!
Instructions
Peach Onion Chutney
  1. In a large heavy pot, combine sugar, vinegar, ginger, cumin, cinnamon & pepper flakes. Bring to a simmer over low heat, stirring until sugar dissolves. Add peaches & onion; increase heat to medium high & cook until peaches are tender & mixture thickens. Cool. ( I prefer to make this a day ahead).
Caramelized Onions
  1. In a skillet, heat oil until hot. Add onion & sprinkle with salt. Cook & stir about 15 minutes or until moisture has evaporated & onion is soft. Reduce heat, sprinkle with vinegar. Cook & stir until golden. Add brown sugar, stirring until caramel in color. Remove from heat & cool.
Assembly
  1. Preheat oven to 375 F.
  2. On a large sheet of parchment paper, place 4 Naan breads & place on a baking sheet.
  3. Carefully spread peach onion chutney liberally over each Naan bread. Sprinkle each with a bit of grated cheese.
  4. Layer with pulled pork & caramelized onions. Top with remaining cheese & bake 15-20 minutes or until hot & bubbly. Remove from oven & serve.

Crunchy Streusel Rhubarb Cupcakes

One thing that really makes muffins and coffee cakes of all types extra special good is a sweet and crunchy streusel topping. These fluffy vanilla rhubarb cupcakes are topped with a swirl of cream cheese frosting, drizzled with poached rhubarb and then sprinkled with some crunchy, spicy, baked streusel.

The simple addition of Chinese 5-spice powder makes for a delicious aromatic streusel. Five spice powder combines Chinese cinnamon with anise, cloves, ginger and fennel in a delicious balance that complements rhubarb, coaxing out more of its natural aroma. Adding pepita seeds and baking the crumble separately, creates a special crunchier topping.

The basic streusel is very versatile in that it can be customized to your personal preferences or what you have on hand. Here are a few suggestions:

  • Use 2 cups flour OR 1 cup rolled oats * 3/4 cup whole-grain flour * 3/4 cup cookie or cracker crumbs
  • Use 3/4 cup sugar OR 3/4 cup brown sugar * 1/2 cup raw sugar * 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • Use 1 cup butter OR 1 cup brown butter * 1/2 cup nut/seed butter * 1/4 cup coconut oil * 1/4 cup oil or sesame oil
  • Add-Ins .. 1 cup coconut flakes or nuts * spices & zests * 1/2 cup toasted seeds * 1/2 cup cocoa powder or wheat germ

I realize, this is a lot of steps for just a cupcake, but I think you’ll love them.

Print Recipe
Crunchy Streusel Rhubarb Cupcakes
Votes: 1
Rating: 5
You:
Rate this recipe!
Course dessert
Cuisine American
Servings
Ingredients
Poached Rhubarb
Pepita 5-Spice Streusel
Ginger Cream Frosting
Course dessert
Cuisine American
Servings
Ingredients
Poached Rhubarb
Pepita 5-Spice Streusel
Ginger Cream Frosting
Votes: 1
Rating: 5
You:
Rate this recipe!
Instructions
Cupcakes
  1. Preheat oven to 425 F. Line 9 muffin cups with large paper cups.
  2. Wash rhubarb & trim ends. Cut rhubarb into a 1/4-inch dice. Set aside.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt & cinnamon. Set aside.
  4. In another bowl, whisk together sugars, eggs, sour cream, melted butter, vanilla & orange zest. Add the wet ingredients to the flour mixture. Stir until the flour is fully incorporated. Do not over-mix. Fold in rhubarb. The batter will be thick. Scoop the batter into 9 muffin cups, evenly distributing batter.
  5. Bake for 7 minutes. After 7 minutes, decrease the oven temperature to 350 F. & bake for another 12 - 15 minutes or until cupcakes test done. Remove from oven & cool completely on a wire rack.
Poached Rhubarb
  1. Place rhubarb, water, sugar, food coloring (if using) & cardamom in a saucepan. Simmer very gently for about 3-5 minutes or until rhubarb is soft but NOT mushy! Put a strainer on top of a bowl. Pour mixture into strainer & put the rhubarb pieces in another dish to cool. Pour the liquid back into the saucepan & let simmer until slightly thickened, about 5-10 minutes. Pour into a bowl to let cool. Gently combine rhubarb & syrup.
Pepita 5-Spice Streusel
  1. Combine all ingredients in a small bowl. Using a wooden spoon, stir until incorporated. Using your fingers, form fine crumbs. Spread the crumbs on a small cookie sheet and bake on a rack in the middle of the oven for 10-15 minutes, or until light golden brown. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely to room temperature. Crumble with fingers.
Frosting
  1. Beat butter until pale. Add powdered sugar & beat until smooth & pale, about 1 minute. Add softened cream cheese & ginger; beat until smooth.
Assembly
  1. Fill a piping bag fitted with a large round nozzle with frosting. Top each cupcake with a dollop of frosting then using a spoon, create a well in each dollop. Spoon a bit of poached rhubarb inside of each well. Sprinkle with pepita streusel.