holidays

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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Roasted Rhubarb with Nuts + Oats

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Roasted Rhubarb with Nuts + Oats

Ingredients::

7 stalks of rhubarb, cleaned and chopped
1/2 cup raw sugar
1/8 tsp fleur de del
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground vanilla bean
1/4 cup water

Topping :

1 granny smith apple, sliced or chopped
1/2 cup oats
1/4 cup Hazelnuts
1/4 cup Pistachios
1/4 cup raw sugar
1/4 cup unsalted cold butter, chopped

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Recipe:

Preheat oven to 400°F

Place the rhubarb in an even layer in a baking dish.

In a small bowl combine the sugar, salt, cinnamon and vanilla.

Sprinkle over the rhubarb and add the chopped apple or arrange along the perimeter as I have done in the photo.

Pour the water around the base.

For the top layer, sprinkle the oats evenly and repeat with the nuts.

Sprinkle with the remaining sugar and dot with the chopped butter.

Bake at 400°F for 30 minutes. Let cool slightly before serving.

Also great for breakfast with Greek yogurt or as a topping over your favourite ice cream. Enjoy! 🙂

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Havarti Cheese Puff Pastry Sticks

The lovely folks at Arla Dofino contacted me to create a delicious holiday recipe and how could I refuse given its for one of my favorite cheeses, Havarti!

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I decided to go with a classic appetizer that’s easy to eat and fun to serve! I tried the Havarti Inferno Cheese with Chipotle and Habanero.  If you follow my posts on Instagram, then you know my love of spice.  This cheese is the perfect balance of creamy and delicious with a kick of heat! Yum!

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Puff pastry is easy entertaining and you can have these Havarti Cheese twists ready in no time. In addition to the cheese, I also added my favourite fresh herb, thyme and my current favourite spice, nigella seeds.  Nigella seeds are a mysterious spice with a crunchy texture and with a flavour of toasted onions.  They’re often used in Indian cooking and adorn the tops of flatbreads such as naan. If you cannot find them, you can leave them out and replace with black sesame seeds, but they’re well worth getting and really highlight the flavour profile of these cheeses.

Havarti Cheese Puff Pastry Sticks Recipe
Makes approximately 24 sticks

Ingredients:
2 sheets puff pastry, thawed
300 grams Havarti Cheese (any variety) I used a blend of Creamy and Inferno
6 sprigs fresh thyme
Sea salt
Fresh cracked pepper
Nigella seeds or black sesame seeds
Egg wash (1 beaten egg + 2 tblsp water)

Instructions:

Preheat the oven at 425°F and line 2 baking sheets with parchment or silpat mats.

1. On a dusted surface, roll out 1 sheet of puff pastry at a time and brush with egg wash.

2. Sprinkle the cheese over top evenly and gently

3. Sprinkle the fresh thyme, salt and pepper on top of the cheese.

4. With a sharp knife or kitchen scissors, cut 12 puff pastry strips.

5. Roll each strip gently starting from the top and overlapping to create a spiraled strip. Place on baking sheet and repeat with remaining strips.

6. Once you have all of your twists ready, brush them gently with egg wash and sprinkle the nigella seeds over top. You can add more salt and pepper if you’d like.

7. Bake at 425°F for 15- 20 minutes until golden.

Let cool before serving. Enjoy!

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Apple & Castello® Blue Cheese Fritters

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Friends! My recipe for these delicious Apple and Castello Blue Cheese Fritters is apart of the Melt Recipe Blogger Challenge!  Please help me WIN by clicking the link below and please share this link with your friends and family! Thank You!!!

http://meltrecipechallenge.com/vote.php?rcp=1

http://meltrecipechallenge.com/recipe.php?rcp=1#.VcNYU8tZTqA

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Apple & Castello® Blue Cheese Fritters

1/3 cup 75 mL all-purpose flour
1 tsp 5 mL baking powder
1 large russet potato, peeled and shredded
1 granny smith apple, shredded
1 shallot, finely diced
1 green onion, thinly sliced
2 tbsp 15 mL fresh parsley, chopped
2 tbsp 15 mL fresh dill, chopped
2 egg whites, lightly whipped
1/3 cup 75 g Castello® Blue Cheese, crumbled
1 tsp 5 mL sea salt, or to taste
1 tsp 5 mL fresh cracked black pepper, or to taste
Vegetable oil for frying

Recipe:

In a large bowl combine all the ingredients and gently fold in the Castello® Blue Cheese.

Add 2 inches of vegetable oil to a large skillet. Heat until just smoking, and then reduce to medium low.

Using a tablespoon, scoop the mixture into the hot oil and slightly flatten with the back of a spoon.  Cook until golden and flip the fritters to cook the other side. Work in small batches and do not overcrowd the pan.

Drain on paper towels to soak up excess oil.

Pairs well with a cool dip of Greek yogurt and fresh dill.

Makes approximately 20 fritters.

Please Vote! 🙂

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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.

Financiers (Almond Tea Cakes with Fig Jam)

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Recently, I was asked to create a recipe on behalf of Bonne Maman using their Fig Jam.  Many of you may know them by their familiar jam jars with the checkered lids.  The first thing that popped into my mind was Financiers. These delicious golden gems pair filled with this delectable jam served with tea. For as long as I can remember, I have enjoyed eating Bonne Maman jams with my morning baguette and salted butter.  It’s such a treat!  Just one bite transports me back to France.
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For decades, Bonne Maman has created special preserves following traditional and cherished recipes. Today, Bonne Maman continues shaping the sweetest moments by producing their preserves in France using all natural ingredients with no artificial colorings, no additives or preservatives.
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The recipe for Financiers is straightforward and requires little fuss or expertise.  As these are petit fours, you can be creative with your choice of moulds or filings.  I have used rectangular financier mounds,  savarin ring mounds as well as mini cupcake liners.  You can also use a greased mini or standard muffin tin for ease. For best results, the batter must be prepared hours in advance or best if left rested overnight in the refrigerator.

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Recipe: Financiers (Almond Tea Cakes with Fig Jam)

Makes approx 12-15 mini cakes

Ingredients:

3/4 cup unsalted butter

1 cup granulated sugar

1 cup ground almonds

3/4 cup egg whites (from 6 large eggs)

2/3 cup all purpose flour

1/2 vanilla bean scraped or 1 tsp pure vanilla extract

2 drops of almond extract

1 cup Bonne Maman Fig Jam

Mini baking moulds

Method:

Brown Butter:

In a medium sized saucepan, bring the butter to a gentle boil until it turns a light golden brown. Take it off the heat and set aside to cool. Strain the browned butter into a small bowl.

Preparing the Financier Batter:

  1.  In a large saucepan mix together the sugar, ground almonds and egg whites. Place the pan over low heat and stir for approximately 2 minutes until it’s heated through and the colour has changed slightly to white without overcooking the egg whites.
  2.  Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the vanilla, almond extract and the flour. Mix thoroughly and slowly incorporate the brown butter into the batter with a whisk.
  3.  Transfer the batter to a bowl and tightly seal with cling wrap.
  4.  Refrigerate for approximately 2 hours or overnight to allow the batter to rest and the flavors to infuse.

Baking:

  1.  Preheat oven to 410°F and if you are using silicone bake ware, you do not need to butter them. If you are using metal molds or a cupcake tin, butter the insides and dust the interior with flour, tapping out the excess.
  2.  Remove the batter from the fridge and place the contents into a large piping bag or a cookie scoop for even results and ease of preparation.
  3.  Measure 1 cup of the Bonne Maman Fig Jam and set aside until you’re ready to use.
  4. Fill the bottom of each cavity with an equal portion of the Financier batter.
  5. Pipe or scoop a thin even layer of the fig jam followed by a layer of the Financier batter.
  6. Set the molds on a large baking sheet and bake for approximately 15 minutes or until the Financiers are golden brown and cooked through.
  7. On a large sheet of parchment invert the molds and transfer them to a cooling rack.

Serve with your favorite cup of tea and enjoy!
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*Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Bonne Maman. I received a free sample of the product for the purpose of this review. All opinions are my own.

Gougères with Gruyère Cheese

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Gougères Recipe

Choux:

125 ml milk
125 ml water
100g room temp butter, diced
5g salt
15g sugar
150g flour
4 eggs
2 tsp fresh thyme or very finely minced fresh rosemary

1 tsp fresh ground black pepper

1/2 tsp red chili powder (you may omit)

Good sea salt (to sprinkle on top)

1 cup grated Gruyère cheese (or any other hard cheese you like – but, it should have a pronounced flavour)

Preheat oven 425°F and line 2 sheets with parchment or silpats

1. In a saucepan, combine milk, water and cubed butter.  Combine and stir in salt and sugar – bring to a rolling boil.

2. Sift flour into a separate bowl

3. Crack eggs into a small bowl

4. Once mixture has boiled, add flour and stir vigorously to form a paste. (Do this in intervals on/off the heat). When the paste dries out (no longer sticks to spatula), it’s ready. Do not brown

5. Add paste to stand mixer bowl and add eggs one by one, on med speed – approx 3 min (when it’s all combined)
6. Add in black and red pepper, thyme or rosemary and cheese.

7. Add to piping bag and pipe 1″mounds, 1/2 ” high onto sheets
Brush with eggwash and slightly flatten tops with a fork – sprinkle tops with rosemary and sea salt.

8. Bake for approx 25 – 30 min ~ until they have doubled and are golden brown.
Makes approx 30 Gougéres.

*can be filled or served warm as is.  They also freeze well.

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Ferrero Rocher Chocolate Bûche de Noël

Are you looking for the perfect holiday dessert?  Look no more!  I created this exquisite Chocolate Bûche de Noël just in time for the Holiday season!
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A very simple and elegant cake to put together and you can make some of the components ahead of time.  From start to finish, if you have all the ingredients on hand; it shouldn’t take more than a few hours to prepare and decorate.
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A few notes about this cake: I make many cakes for the holiday season and there is no limit to the variations possible.  I like to add rum and/or a shot of espresso to my simple syrup as it goes very nicely with chocolate.  If you don’t like alcohol, leave it out as I have in the recipe below. Also, try to use the best cocoa and chocolate couveture possible as the flavours are very pronounced in this type of cake.
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I hope you enjoy the recipe and please leave a note in the comments if you try it as I would love to hear from you.
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Wishing you a safe and happy Holiday Season, Enjoy!

Asima 🙂

Ferrero Rocher Chocolate Bûche de Noël 

Serves 8

Bakers half sheet (13 x 18) lined with parchment paper or silpat

Preheat oven to 400F

Ingredients:

Chocolate Sponge Cake:

3 large eggs at room temperature

1/2 cup sugar

1 tsp vanilla extract

80 grams of all purpose flour

1/2 tsp baking powder

pinch of salt

30 grams of cocoa

Method:

In a small bowl sift the flour, cocoa powder, salt, baking powder and set aside.

In a stand mixer or large bowl, whisk the eggs and sugar on high speed for 8 minutes until tripled in volume and you have a thick ribbon-like texture.  Whisk in the vanilla and then slowly incorporate the flour mixture by folding it into the batter with a spatula with quick movments and becareful not to deflate the batter.

Spread the batter evenly on the lined baking sheet and bake on 400F  for approx 6 minutes.  Allow it to cool while you prepare the buttercream.

Flip the sponge over onto a clean parchment sheet, set aside until you’re ready to assemble.

Chocolate Buttercream Filling:

120 grams or 3/4 cup chocolate couveture melted

115 grams of softened butter

125 grams icing sugar

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Method:

In a stand mixer or a large bowl, whisk the softened butter and icing sugar for a few minutes until no lumps remain.  Add the vanilla and cooled melted chocolate and whisk until combined. Set aside until you’re ready to assemble the cake.

Simple Syrup:

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 cup boiling water

coffee extract or one shot espresso

Method:

In a small pot bring the water and sugar to a boil.  Take it off the heat and allow it to cool slightly.  Add the espresso or coffee extract and set aside.

Chocolate Ganache/Glaze:

1.5 cups of dark chocolate couvture melted

3/4 cup heavy cream (35%)

8 Ferrero Rocher Chocolates or more (to decorate the top)

Method:

In a large heatproof glass bowl boil the heavy cream (microwave on high for 2 minutes) or bring to a gentle boil in a small pot.  Add the chopped chocolate and let it stand for 1 minute.  Whisk until the chocolate has completely melted and the mixture is smooth and silky.

Assembly:

Working with the sponge cake first leaving it on the parchment. With a pastry brush, gentlely brush the syrup all over the cake until it is absorbed.  Spread the prepared buttercream evenly across the entire sponge.

Starting lenthwise with wet hands, start rolling the cake towards the opposite end keeping it fairly tight, but not so tight that the filling comes out.  Roll it over and ensure that the end seam is underneath.

If you have any syrup left, you can brush the remaining on the top of the cake.

You have two options here.  You can either simply glaze or ganache style frosting and decorate the cake into a log.  Glaze the cake while the chocolate is warm by pouring the warm ganache over the cake using a cake rack with a ladle and allowing it to cool and then frosted it again with an offset spatula as the ganache firms up.

Just before the ganache hardens, adorn the top with whole pieces of Ferrero Rocher Chocolates so that each cake slice will have a piece on top. You can further design the cake however you like with crushed Ferrero Rocher Chocolates on the top or around the bottom.  Dust the set cake with icing sugar (optional).  Enjoy!