Dinner

Spicy Shrimp Scampi with Hot Cherry Peppers

Shrimp Pasta

(This post is sponsored by President’s Choice.  I used their PC Black Label Hot Cherry Peppers to make this Spicy Shrimp Scampi.)

After a nice long summer break, I’m back in the kitchen experimenting with my new October PC Black Label black box where I received two jars of condiments that can be eaten tapas style or included in a recipe.

PC Black Label Hot Cherry Peppers marinated in oil are the perfect accompaniment for pizzas, pastas, grilled meats and seafood.  I was particularly fond of this as I love using a wide variety of peppers in various dishes and this one is the perfect addition to this Spicy Shrimp Scampi recipe that I’m sharing with you.

PC Black Label Borettane Onions  are tasty and can be used with many dishes or served as apart of an antipasto platter.  I have tried them on their own and in a quiche and they have a unique balsamic vinegar flavour that isn’t too overpowering, but very pleasant and mild.

I decided to shake up my favourite shrimp scampi recipe and added the PC Black Label Hot Cherry Peppers into the mix, it takes the dish to a whole new level!  It is simple, quick and packed with flavour,  its perfect for an easy weeknight meal or for a romantic date-night dinner served with your favourite wine.

I used the PC Gigantico Raw Zipperback Black Tiger Shrimp as I prefer the larger variety of shrimp in this recipe as it carries well as a main dish.

Spicy Shrimp

Whether you’re a home chef or an aspiring foodie, the PC Black Label Collection makes it easy to unleash your culinary curiosity and get creative. Discover the entire collection and be inspired to #PlayWithYourFood at pc.ca/blacklabel.

Spicy Shrimp Scampi with Hot Cherry Peppers Recipe

Serves 3-4

Spicy Shrimp:

Ingredients:

  • 2 tblsp olive oil
  • 2 tblsp butter
  • 25 large sized shrimp, deveined and dried, tails left on (PC Gigantico Raw Zipperback Black Tiger Shrimp)
  • 3 fresh garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tblsp tomato paste, double concentrate
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped

Ingredients

Directions:

  1. In a large skillet, melt the butter with the olive oil over high heat.
  2. Add the tomato paste and cook for 5 minutes
  3. Add the garlic cloves and mix thoroughly.
  4. Now add the shrimp and stir the mixture a few times to ensure the shrimps are coated with sauce, about 3 minutes.
  5. Flip the shrimp over and cook a few more minutes until they’re done.
  6. Transfer to a bowl and set aside.

Spicy Shrimp

Scampi Sauce:

Ingredients:

  • 3 tblsp olive oil
  • 3 tblsp butter
  • 2 tsp raw sugar
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes
  • 6 fresh garlic cloves, minced
  • PC Black Label Hot Cherry Peppers chopped
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • 1 Tblsp tomato paste
  • 1 cup white wine
  • Handful of fresh parsley, chopped
  • 500g of spaghetti cooked in salted water

Butter and garlic

Directions:

  1. In the same large skillet, add the olive oil, butter and tomato paste. Stir to combine.
  2. Add the cherry tomatoes and raw sugar and cook 5 minutes until they burst open.
  3. Add the garlic and chopped cherry peppers and cook for 2 minutes.
  4. Add the salt, pepper, and white wine. Cook on medium heat and reduce the wine to cook out the alcohol, about 3-4 minutes.
  5. Set aside and boil your pasta. Do not wash the skillet.
  6. Boil 500g of spaghetti in salted water
  7. Once the pasta is cooked, transfer it to the skillet along with the chopped parsley. Toss to coat the pasta completely with the sauce. Cover and let it rest for 5 minutes to absorb the flavours.
  8. Transfer the pasta to a platter or to individual plates and top with the shrimp.
  9. Drizzle over the leftover sauce from the shrimp and serve.  Enjoy!

Scampi

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Blueberry and Hazelnut Crostata 

Crostata evokes many memories of a summer semester I spent in Bologna, Italy when I was backpacking in Europe as a university student. I spent most of my hard-earned money on eating and sightseeing and I fondly remember all the bakeries serving many variations of this infamous Italian Tart. Plums, berries, apples, grapes all made their way into these traditional crostatas bursting with homemade jams, flaky and buttery crusts liberally dusted with icing sugar.

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I used to walk through the streets sightseeing and eating my crostata with icing sugar dusting my face, a happy memory! I had a sweet tooth and couldn’t resist trying all the delicacies in the dozens of pastry shops that lined the streets.

When E.D.SMITH contacted me to collaborate on their fall campaign to celebrate their 135th birthday, I was delighted as it brought back memories of baking as a child with my mum. We used to love using their pie fillings and their jams were a staple in our house.

E.D.SMITH is an iconic Canadian food brand with roots dating back to 1882 and is currently the #1 pie filling in Canada and the largest Canadian manufacturer of jams and fruit spreads.

For their fall campaign, E.D.SMITH is inspiring the newest generation of Canadian home cooks to look past traditional jam on toast and plain pies to get creative with E.D.SMITH’s products.

My mission is to inspire you to explore the versatility of their products and show you how E.D.SMITH’s pie fillings and Triple Fruits spreads can fit within your lifestyle and today’s food trends.

I love a good challenge and what better way than to recreate one of my favourite desserts, a fruit filled crostata! A traditional crostata is an open-faced fruit tart, often with a decorative lattice top and made with a homemade jam.

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I particularly enjoy E.D.SMITH’s Blueberry Pie Filling and thought it would be a great swap out for a traditional blueberry jam. As we head into the fall season, I made this crostata with the addition of ground hazelnuts as it gives the crust a gently nutty bite and it complements the Blueberry Pie Filling nicely. If hazelnuts are not to your liking, they can easily be replaced with ground almonds.

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The addition of nuts in the pastry dough, coupled with the yolks creates a well rounded, rich crust that pairs nicely with the pie filling making you want to savour each bite.

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This Blueberry and Hazelnut Crostata is sure to become your favourite too. It’s a delicious twist on a traditional, familiar dessert with a delicate lattice topping. I hope you enjoy making it as much as I do.

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Blueberry and Hazelnut Crostata Recipe

Pastry Crust Ingredients:

2 cups all purpose flour

1/4 cup ground hazelnuts (or almonds)

3 Tbsp. sugar

1/4 tsp kosher salt

1/4 tsp citrus zest (lemon, orange or grapefruit)

1/4 tsp ground vanilla bean (or extract)

Pinch of ground cinnamon

3/4 cup cold unsalted butter, chopped

1 large egg + 1 yolk

3/4 can of E.D.SMITH Blueberry Pie Filling

Egg wash (1 egg + 2 tsp water)

9″ Fluted round tart pan with a removal bottom

Directions:

  1. In a stand up mixer bowl with the paddle attachment, add the flour, ground hazelnuts, sugar, salt, zest, vanilla and cinnamon. Mix on low until combined.
  2. Add the chopped butter and egg yolk, and mix until combined. Do not overmix as you still want to see bits of butter throughout.
  3. On a clean surface roll out 2 sheets of cling wrap and place the dough in the centre and gently form a disk. Flatten, cover in cling wrap and refrigerate for at least 15 minutes.
  4. Preheat the oven to 350F
  5. Roll out the pastry dough on a floured surface to approximately 14-16″ in diameter and l/2” thickness. Gently transfer it to the tart pan and press into the pan, bringing the dough up to the sides.
  6. With a sharp knife, cut off the excess dough and reserve to make a lattice top.
  7. Add the E.D.SMITH Blueberry Pie Filling into the base.
  8. Roll out the excess dough and using a fluted pastry wheel cut strips to place over top the filled pastry.
  9. In a crisscross pattern overlap the strips and crimp the edges.
  10. *Alternate method; on a flour dusted parchment sheet you can create your lattice top pattern and chill it for 15 minutes. Gently flip it over-top the tart, sealing the edges and discarding any excess dough.
  11. Brush with the egg wash and bake at 350°F for 40-45 minutes or until golden.
  12. Remove and place on a baking rack to completely cool.
  13. Remove the tart ring and dust generously with icing sugar and cut into slices. Enjoy!

*The Crostata will keep for 4-5 days in an airtight container, refrigerated.

Rustic Baby Potatoes with Habanero Aioli and Maple Glazed Spicy Salmon

 

Rustic Baby Potatoes with Habanero Aioli and Maple Glazed Salmon

Rustic Baby Potatoes with Habanero Aioli and Maple Glazed Salmon

This month’s #PresidentsChoice PC Black Label Collection box included a favourite of mine, which is PC Black Label Habanero Aioli Whipped Dressing! This velvety aioli has complex flavours of sweet mango purée, curry, and a subtly hot habanero kick.  It’s a great condiment to eat with french fries, swirled into a salad dressing or used as a side replacing ketchup or mustard.  It’s so versatile that I even serve it with my maple glazed salmon and my kids love it!

Another product that I received this month is the PC Black Label Bacon Marmalade, which is great on a cheeseboard and is a welcomed addition to our pantry.

I have created a simple recipe this month using PC Mixed Little Gems Yellow, Red & Blue Mini Potatoes.  I have sauteed them with butter and olive oil and then tossed with this PC Black Label Habanero Aioli.

 

To make this side dish the perfect accompaniment to your meal, I have also included my recipe for Maple Glazed Salmon below.  I hope you enjoy this recipe and please feel free to tag your recreations with #hautesucre, I would love to see them.

Whether you’re a home chef or an aspiring foodie, the PC Black Label Collection makes it easy to unleash your culinary curiosity and get creative. Discover the entire collection and be inspired to #PlayWithYourFood at pc.ca/blacklabel

 

Rustic Baby Potatoes with Habanero Aioli

Rustic Baby Potatoes with Habanero Aioli

Rustic Baby Potatoes with Habanero Aioli and Maple Glazed Spicy Salmon Recipe

 

Ingredients:

1 bag (680g) PC Mixed Little Gems Yellow, Red & Blue Mini Potatoes, washed and sliced into halves

1 tblsp butter
2 tblsp olive oil
Fleur de sel (sea salt)
Fresh cracked pepper
1 tsp herbs de Provence seasoning

1 tblsp maple syrup
1-2 tblsp PC Black Label Habanero Aioli Whipped Dressing (for spicy, use 2 tblsp)

Directions:

1. In a large heavy bottomed frying or sautée pan, add the butter, olive oil and sliced potatoes.

2. Cover and cook on medium heat for 5-6 minutes.

3. Remove the lid and add the salt, pepper, herbs de Provence seasoning and maple syrup.

4. Continue to cook until the potatoes are softened and start to caramelize. About 10-15 minutes, depending on potato size.

5. Add the PC Black Label Habanero Aioli, covering the potatoes completely.

6. Cook on high heat until slightly seared, do nut burn (approx 1 minute). Remove and transfer to a large platter.

Prepare the salmon.

Maple Glazed Spicy Salmon Recipe

4-6 servings

2 small ceramic baking dishes

Ingredients:

1 tblsp sesame oil

4-6 salmon fillets, cleaned and dried

 

Salt
Pepper
1 tsp Mustard seeds
3 tblsp Maple syrup
1 tsp Raw sugar
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp dried parsley
Dash of red chili powder
1/3 cup Soy sauce
Black Sesame seeds (optional, for the top)

{1-2 tblsp Sambal oelek (red chili paste)}

This recipe works best with salmon fillets due to the complementary flavours in this marinade; but feel free to try it with other kinds of fish.

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Directions:

1. Clean and dry the fish fillets and place in a shallow bowl or plate
2. Combine all the ingredients and coat the fish with the marinade. Set aside for about 25 minutes to allow the flavours to meld.

3. Preheat oven to 470F

4. Transfer to a baking dish and place a little sesame oil to coat the bottom. Lay fish in a single layer and pour over remaining marinade.

5. Roast the fish for approx 15 minutes (do not overlook) and put under broil for a few minutes to slightly char the top.

6. Alternatively, you can bbq it or pan fry it.

7. Serve with Habanero Aioli Potatoes and additional Habanero Aioli on the side.

Enjoy!

DARK CHOCOLATE TART WITH TOASTED SESAME CARAMEL

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(This post is sponsored by President’s Choice.  I used their PC Black Label Toasted Sesame Caramel Dessert Sauce to make this Dark Chocolate Tart).

Chocolate is one of my favourite ingredients to bake with and this deliciously easy tart is no exception.  I used dark chocolate as it pairs amazingly well with the Toasted Sesame Caramel Dessert Sauce from #PresidentsChoice.

When I received this month’s box I was delighted to see 2 ingredients that I really love, which are Passion fruit and Caramel.  The PC Black Label Passion Fruit Condiment is quite heavenly in the sense that it works well as a vinaigrette poured onto salad or glazed on your BBQ shrimp.

 

The Toasted Sesame Caramel Dessert Sauce is the perfect consistency of a runny caramel speckled with flecks of toasted sesame seeds (genius!) and pairs well with so many desserts including pouring it on your favorite ice cream, spread on crepes and my personal favourite used as a filling for a dark chocolate tart.

When I opened  jar of toasted sesame caramel, I was amazed how smooth the texture was and the right amount of sesame. Instantaneously, a thought of a traditional chocolate tart with caramel center emerged and I became challenged to make a tart that would compliment the sesame flavor. The idea of using dark chocolate was my first option as it is not overly sweet and would complement the sweet caramel. The toasted sesame hardly gets the attention it deserves as it flavor is not overbearing. The caramel sauce inspired me to decorate the tart with a hard set caramel, but can be served on its own or dusted with cocoa powder.

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Another suggestion if your willing to take a chance is to add espresso and cinnamon to the tart mixture.  I have fond memories of travelling through Italy and being served a dark chocolate square with my shot of espresso. The espresso’s bitterness is followed by a sweet but not having the fatty texture of milk chocolate to remove the after taste of the espresso. In this recipe, I have added both ingredients.

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As we roll into the second month of #PlayWithYourFood #PCBlackLabel campaign with #PresidentsChoice, I want to share some exciting news!  President’s Choice has offered to giveaway a #PCBLACKLABEL BLACK BOX for you to win on my Instagram account! You can win 2 delicious #PCBlackLabel products in addition to a $50 gift card! How exciting is that?  In order to enter the contest, you will need to go to my Instagram page.

The contest will run until June 28th at which time a winner will be selected randomly. Good luck!  *This contest is open to Canadian residents only.

Whether you’re a home chef or an aspiring foodie, the PC Black Label Collection makes it easy to unleash your culinary curiosity and get creative. Discover the entire collection and be inspired to #PlayWithYourFood at pc.ca/blacklabel.

 

DARK CHOCOLATE TART WITH TOASTED SESAME CARAMEL RECIPE

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*  This recipe makes enough for a standard 8 to 9 inch round tart pan.

It’s important to use a spring form pan (or tart ring) with a removal base for easy baking and removal of the tart and source out high quality ingredients as it produces the best flavours and will quickly get noticed by your guests.

The steps are very straightforward and relatively easy to put together.  Just be sure to chill the tart dough until its firm enough for you to roll out. Once it’s baked, be sure it is completely cooled before adding the caramel sauce.  Finally, another important note is to ensure that the caramel is hardened (slightly) or really cold before adding the layer of chocolate ganache otherwise the chocolate will mix into the caramel.

Ingredients:

Tart Shell:

1 cup cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes

1 1/3 cups all purpose flour

1/2 cup cocoa powder
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 tsp fleur de sel or kosher salt
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
Pinch of baking powder
Pinch of ground cinnamon
Pinch of ground espresso

Chocolate Ganache (Recipe below)

1 jar of  PC BLACK LABEL Toasted Sesame Caramel Dessert Sauce

Instructions:

  1. Whisk all the ingredients in a large bowl and set aside.
  2. Chop the butter and add it to the flour bowl mixture, crumbling it into the flour making pea sized crumbs.
  3. Work the ingredients quickly until they come together creating a pliable dough.  Do not over mix, you should still see little pats of butter throughout.
  4. Shape the dough into a disk and flatten
  5. Wrap with plastic wrap and chill until ready to use.

Chocolate Ganache:

1 cup cold whipping cream
2 cups dark chocolate, chopped

  1. In a microwave safe bowl, warm the cream until just boiling – about 1-2 minutes, depending on your microwave.
  2. Carefully remove and add the chopped chocolate.
  3. Let it sit for 1 minute.
  4. Whisk gently until incorporated and set aside.

Bake the Tart:

Preheat oven to 375°F

Butter an 8″ or 9″ spring form pan or tart ring and set aside.

  1. On a floured work surface, roll out the dough to 1″ thickness and line the tart ring or pan. Ensure you bring up the dough on the sides that’s deep enough to hold the caramel filling and the chocolate ganache, approximately 2-3 inches in height.
  2. Use a fork and gently indent the dough all over to create tiny little holes.
  3. Bake for 25 – 30 minutes until cooked through.
  4. With the back of a spoon, push down the base of the tart to ensure it is flat and no holes remain (they should be baked through).
  5. Let the tart shell cool completely.

Assembly:

  1. Pour the caramel in an even layer in the tart base and refrigerate or freeze until set and it’s no longer runny.
  2. Once chilled completely, remove and pour the chocolate ganache over top the caramel and smooth out with a spatula quickly as it will start immediately.
  3. Return to the refrigerator until completely set.
  4. Remove 20 minutes before serving and use a hot knife to slice through the tart.  Rinse the knife and repeat.  This ensures you get clean slices each time you cut into it.

Enjoy!

If you make this recipe please share and use my hashtag, #hautesucre on the social media channels, as I would love to see them!

 

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(This post is sponsored by President’s Choice.  I used their PC Black Label Toasted Sesame Caramel Dessert Sauce to make this easy Dark Chocolate Tart.)

Spicy Eggs with Peperoncini Piccanti

(This post is sponsored by President’s Choice.  I used their PC Black Label Peperoncini Piccanti to make these Spicy Eggs)

If you know me, spicy eggs are my favourite!  I can eat them for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. I love eggs! But this post isn’t about my love of eggs but of a recipe I created just for you using this amazing #PCBlackLabel Peperoncini Picante. The heat in these chili’s is unbelievably hot and complements this egg dish superbly.

When #PresidentsChoice asked me to partner with them for their #PCBlackLabel products, I knew it would be a good fit as I love to try new products and incorporate them into new recipes.  It allows me to be CREATIVE and it’s always fun to #PlayWithYourFood!

As I opened the PC Black Label black box, I was delighted to see Caponata Eggplant Antipasto and Peperoncini Chopped Hot Chili Peppers.  I was immediately drawn to the Peperoncicni Piccanti as I love chili peppers.

Spicy Eggs with Peperoncini Piccanti

 

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 large potato, diced
  • 1/4 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tblsp olive oil
  • 1/4 tsp raw sugar
  • 1 small shallot, diced
  • 1 cup spinach, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 1 tblsp PC Black Label Peperoncini Piccanti Chopped Chili Peppers in Oil
  •  1 tblsp heavy cream
  • 2-3 large eggs, organic or farm fresh, if possible
  • salt and pepper to taste

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. In a large skillet add the olive oil, cumin seeds and diced potatoes and cook for 10 minutes on medium heat or until cooked through.
  2. Add the raw sugar and shallots and cook 5 more minutes.
  3. Lower the heat and add the spinach, crushed garlic clove,  PC Black Label Peperoncini Piccanti Chopped Chili Peppers in Oil and heavy cream. Cook for 2 minutes and mix thoroughly.
  4. Lower the heat to the minimum setting and spread the mixture evenly in the pan, creating 2-3 wells or indents for the eggs.
  5. Crack the eggs into the indents and cover the pan with the lid. Poach the eggs on low heat for 3-4 minutes until the eggs are cooked though but the yolks are still runny. Transfer to a plate and enjoy!


Spinach and Goat Cheese Tart with a Quinoa Crust *gluten-free 

I love this tart! It’s easy, simple and delicious.  And did I mention it’s vegetarian?

I’ll be honest, I was skeptical of my 6 year old son liking this tart due to the ‘green spinach’ layer under all that goat cheese but he devoured it for dinner alongside a vegetable soup. Yay!

It’s relatively easy if you follow my steps below and the pastry is quick and you can press it into the tart pan without having to fuss about rolling it out.  Easy peasy weeknight dinner sorted, great for meatless Mondays!

It’s the perfect main course served with a nice side salad or sliced into small squares or wedges and served as appetizers.
I hope you’ll enjoy it!

*And don’t forget, if you make this tart using my recipe below, please tag it #hautesucre on your social media accounts as I would love to see it!😊

Spinach and Goat Cheese Tart with a Quinoa Crust Recipe

Ingredients:

Crust:

1 cup quinoa flour

3/4 cup all purpose flour (or gluten-free flour)

3/4 cup cold butter, chopped

3-4 tablespoons cold water

1 tsp salt

1 tsp sugar

1 4×14 tart pan with a removable bottom 

Method:

1. Combine all the ingredients into a small food processor and pulse into a dough has formed.

2. Roll onto a flour surface or press the dough into a tart pan with a removable bottom. Set aside.

3. Preheat oven to 425°F

Filling:

Ingredients:

2 cups baby spinach

3 garlic cloves

1 large egg

1/4 cup cream

Salt

Pepper

Fresh thyme

200 grams fresh goat’s cheese

*Dried shallots (optional garnish or add to filling)

Method:

1. In a small food processor, add the spinach, garlic, egg and cream.  Pulse until the spinach breaks down and the egg is combined. Add the salt, pepper and fresh thyme.

2. Pour the filling into the prepared crust and smooth evenly.

3. Crumble the goat cheese over top the filling covering completely.

4. Bake for 30 minutes.

5. Remove and let cool 15 minute before cutting.

Enjoy!😊

Austin, Texas 

Recently, I had the amazing opportunity to visit Austin, Texas in partnership with Visit The USA, Official USA Travel Guide to American Holidays.

I had heard and researched great things about Austin’s food and music scene snd was really excited to visit as it would be my first time visiting Texas. I had little or no idea what to expect.

I flew into Austin on the first of September, expecting a cool, summer-is-almost over feel, but boy was I wrong! Upon leaving the airport, I was welcomed with a hot breeze, cowboy boots, and sweet southern music! The people were so friendly and helpful in directing me to my hotel downtown.

We checked into the Hilton Austin on 4th Street, close to the hustle and bustle of downtown Austin.

We enjoyed some drinks whilst admiring the city views from the 25th floor lounge before heading out for the night.

We had dinner reservations at the highly acclaimed Uchiko,  which serves upscale Japanese farmhouse cuisine. We had tried various menu items and the desserts were out of this world!

As a pastry chef, I enjoyed them immensely and appreciated the various techniques that were showcased. Overall, the service and food were excellent and the ambiance was lovely.

The following day, we had brunch at the Magnolia Cafe, a classic 24 hour eatery which serves Southwestern/Mexican food.  My particular favourites were the migas, huevos rancheros, sweet hibiscus ice teas and the yummy grapefruit mimosas. This place was full of locals and definitely a classic Austin eatery with good eats!

After brunch, we headed out to do some shopping on South Congress Avenue, a favourite spot among tourists. We visited some interesting eclectic shops filled with a wide vaiety from vintage props to old fashioned candies to Mexican dolls.

After purchasing some cool souvenirs and candy, we headed out in search of tacos for lunch.

I had heard about the infamous Torchy’s Tacos and couldn’t wait to try them.  My favorites included the Baja Shrimp and the Democrat!  What a fun place!

We continued shopping along the South Congress strip after brunch stopping in some very nice retail clothing shops when all of a sudden, it started to storm like crazy.  That’s Austin weather for you, sunny one minute and hailing rain the next!

We ran for cover and ducked into a cute coffee shop called Mañana, a great little shop with a cozy atmosphere and very chic vibe. I tried some silky cortados with strawberry Macarons. Yum! I’m so happy that we stumbled upon it!

After a full day of walking under the Texan sun, we headed back to the hotel to relax and enjoy some snacks and cocktails in the Hilton hotel’s lounge.

Dinner was at the infamous Barley Swine headed by Chef Bryce (he was named Food & Wine’s best chef in 2010.) We were seated at the Chef’s table with a great view of the kitchen. It was a delight to watch the magic of the kitchen happen right before our eyes. Beautiful plates of food being served one course after the other.

Some of my favourites included the Hatch chile cheese pretzel, Akaushi Ribeye with corn pudding and bone marrow marrow hash as well as dessert; the lime mallow sorbet with cucamelon and olive oil cake and the Mango Koji rice pudding. A not to be missed restaurant!

After dinner, we headed back to the hotel and crossed through the infamous 6th Street in downtown Austin.  The hustle and bustle of the bars, clubs and loud music keeps this street alive until the wee hours of the morning. Popular amongst the students from University of Texas and tourists alike.

We reached our destination Voodoo Doughnuts, a 24 hour bakeshop. I finally had the chance to try these colourful, creative and quirky doughnuts and they did not disappoint!

The next day we walked our way around the city and explored Lady Bird Lake where we walked along the trail to the boardwalk. The lake is beautiful and it’s a great place where locals go to workout, kayak or stroll.

After a lovely walk through the city and visiting the Texas State Capitol, we ventured over to Second Bar & Kitchen for some amazing cocktails paired with a burger, fried chicken and biscuits for lunch. One of my favourite spots.

After lunch, we stopped into Con’ Olio Oils & Vinegars,  a lovely local foodie shop in downtown Austin selling a wide range of high quality olive oils and balsamic vinegars. We learned about how they are made and had an opportunity to do a tasting. We puchased a few lovely flavours such as Grapefruit balsamic and South African Chili oil. Can’t wait to pair them with my meals.

A great place to relax and grab a drink is the historical Moonshine Patio Bar serving classic American food and drinks. With an equally delicious cocktail menu, it’s hard not to find a favourite. I’m still dreaming and missing this Bourbon Renewal!🍹❤ The Bourbon Renewal quickly became my favourite drink which is made with Rye, créme de cassis, lemon and Angostura! Yum!😋

Moonshine Patio Bar also serve a tasty buffet style brunch on Sundays worth checking out, but get there early as the line ups can be very long (mostly filled with locals, they know good food!)

Another dinner restaurant worth mentioning is Emmer & Rye by Chef Kevin Fink on the ever popular Rainey St. We chose this restaurant as Chef Fink was named Best Chef of 2016 by Food & Wine.

Dishes are served small plate and dimsum style. Truly farm to table cuisine worth sharing that showcases up to 15 different kinds of grains milled in their kitchen, which demonstrates Chef Fink’s  passion for incorporating local ingredients into his cuisine.

For dessert, I tried the cocoa bean ice cream with red fife cookies. A great twist on a classic with this hearty grain, a nice highlight dessert on my trip.

Further down Rainey Street there are more bars and food trucks that are worth checking out for quick fare ranging from Grilled Cheese to Indian to Greek. It’s a really lively street lined with bars and lounges, similar to 6th Street but with a slightly older vibe (post graduate crowd).

Another cafe that is hip and upcoming is Launderette, which is a converted gas station serving gourmet new American fare such as Fried chicken and Asparagus eggs Benny.  The food was hearty and delicious with another great cocktail list, including the Rose Grapefruit cocktail which was the perfect accompaniment to the hot weather.

Not to be missed and truly Texan is the BBQ scene! While there are plenty of places to choose from,  I had the pleasure of trying La Barbecue and it did not disappoint but be prepared to wait as there are long wait times, but it’s worth it!

Be sure to try the Valrhona 70% chocolate gelato from Gelateria Gemelli next door. It’s the perfect afternoon treat!

Austin was a great experience for a city girl like me. The food scene is amazing and the city is really up and coming. There is new construction everywhere and you can feel the tech boom moving in.

It has a great vibe and I highly recommend visiting it, especially if you’re into the music scene. There are many amazing music festivals that I would love to catch on my next trip, until next time!

A special thank you to Visit The USA and Visit Austin for this opportunity and the hospitable staff at the Hilton Austin for a great stay.

Chocolate Zucchini Cupcakes

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Chocolate Zucchini Cupcakes
(Makes 12)

Ingredients:

Wet Ingredients:

1 zucchini, shredded
Pinch of fleur de sel (sea salt)
1 cup sugar
1 large egg
1/2 cup olive oil
1/3 cup plain 2% yogurt

Dry Ingredients:

1 1/3 cup all purpose flour
1 cup cocoa
1/2 tsp cinnamon powder
1/2 tsp ground vanilla bean (or extract)
1 tsp baking powder
Pinch of fleur de sel (sea salt)

1/2 cup Guittard super cookie chips or any other dark chocolate,  chopped

Method:

Preheat oven to 350°F, prepare 12 baking cups or cupcake liners

1. In a large bowl, combine all the wet ingredients and whisk well.

2. Slowly incorporate dry ingredients and mix slowly, careful to not create any air bubbles.

3. Add the chocolate chips or chopped chocolate and gently fold into the batter.

4. Measure 1/4 cup of batter into each baking cup for 12.

5. Bake for 25 minutes. Remove and let completely cool.

6. Dust with powdered sugar or top with your favourite buttercream.
Enjoy!

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Aquafaba Meringue:

1/2 cup of strained chickpea water (from a can)
3/4 cup powdered sugar
Pinch of salt
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
1/4 tsp ground vanilla bean

1. In a stand mixer, whisk the aquafaba, salt and cream of tartar on medium until frothy.

2. Slowly add the powdered sugar and continue mixing on high speed until you reach a meringue consistency, approximately 15 minutes.

3.Add the vanilla and whisk until combined.

4. Pipe or spoon the meringue over the tops of the cooled cupcakes.
Enjoy!

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Blueberry and Lemon Muffins

 

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Lemon + Blueberry Muffins Recipe:

Wet Ingredients:

1 large egg
3/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup olive oil
1/3 cup Greek yogurt
Zest of 1 lemon or 1 clementine
1 tsp lemon extract
Pinch of ground vanilla bean or 1/4 tsp pure vanilla extract

Dry Ingredients:

1 1/4 cup flour
1 1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp fleur-de-sel (or kosher salt)
Pinch of baking soda
1 cup blueberries

Preheat oven to 350°F and line muffin tin with 9 liners.

1. Whisk wet ingredients well until the batter has doubled in volume.

2. Slowly fold in the dry ingredients and then the blueberries.

3. Divide amongst your baking cup liners and sprinkle the tops with raw sugar.

Bake at 350°F for 20 min.

Let cool + serve or serve warm with a dusting of icing sugar and some clotted cream and jam.

Tips for Hosting a Successful Dinner Party

I recently held a backyard bbq dinner party to celebrate the changing of the seasons in partnership with Cascade Platinum #sparklingclean.

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I had the opportunity to put the product to the test and I must say, I’m impressed! Not only did it remove the hard, cooked on food residue, it left all of my dishes sparking clean!

In order to host a successful dinner party, there are a few rules that are important to follow in my repertoire.  I’ve hosted numerous parties, whether they’re fancy affairs or simple gatherings, it all boils down to a few essential steps and making sure you’re always prepared.  I share my views with fellow Chef, Michael Smith who offers a few essential entertaining tips below:

1. Spend Time To Save Time:
Prep as much as you can in advance, from setting the table to prepping food. This allows you      to spend more time with your guests entertaining, instead of being in the kitchen.

2. Make Your Guests Feel Special:
It’s important to go the extra mile in making your guests feel special.  I love to decorate the house with fresh flowers, music, lovely table setting and sparkling dishes.

3. Clean As You Go:
While cooking, load the dishwasher so that you don’t have to do all the clean up after. This saves time and with Cascade Platinum, you don’t need to worry about pre-rinsing.

4. Share The Work:
Lighten the load and enlist the help of your guests if possible, this will help ensure the party runs smoothly between courses.

5. Grand Finale:
End the evening with a bang! Perhaps with a spectacular dessert, sparkling Champagne or a little gift for your guests, making the night memorable.

Here are a few highlights from our delicious backyard bbq dinner party. I’m so happy that my cleanup was made easy with the help of Cascade!

Rhubarb Lemonade:
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Marinated Garlic and Rosemary Lamb:
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Roasted Potatoes:
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Papaya Chicken with Roasted Cashews:
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Roasted Vegetables:
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Mexican Corn:
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Fire Grilled Jumbo Shrimps with Cilantro and Chipotle:
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Fresh Feta Salad:
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Mint and Cilantro Gremolata:
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*This post was sponsored by Cascade. All opinions are my own.