Carrot gingerbread muffins with maple cream cheese icing

Posted on: March 12th, 2012 by admin 1 Comment

What a delicious idea these were!  These muffins are really easy to make, although I don’t like grating carrots.  Gingerbread and carrot cake merged into one muffin, topped with maple cream cheese icing, I mean, what’s not to love?

  • 2 1/4 c (550 mL) all-purpose flour
  • 2  tsp ground ginger
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/2 c (112g) unsalted butter, softened
  • 3/4 c packed brown sugar
  • 2 Tbsp molasses
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 c plain yogurt
  • 2 c carrots, grated
  • 1/2 c toasted walnuts, broken into pieces (optional)

Preheat the oven to 180ºC (350ºF) and grease to line a 12 hole muffin tin.

In bowl, whisk together flour, spices, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

In large bowl, beat the butter and brown sugar until light, about 1 minute. Add in the molasses and vanilla, then beat in eggs, 1 at a time. Stir in flour mixture and then stir in yogurt until just combined. Gently fold in the carrots and nuts. Spoon into paper-lined or greased muffin cups.

Bake for 20- 25 minutes. Transfer to rack and ice when cool.

Maple cream cheese icing/frosting

  • 1/2 c (4 oz) cream cheese
  • 2 Tbsp unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 c icing/confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 Tbsp pure maple syrup
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla

Mix all these ingredients together in a bowl, if it’s too thick add a little more maple syrup, or a splash of milk.

Original muffin recipe adapted from: Canadian Living Magazine, September 2010.

Song for this recipe:

“More Love” Smokey Robinson and the Miracles More Love - Make It Happen (Tears of a Clown)

Oh Smokey, thanks for your awesome songs.  They make me dance around the kitchen with joy, using the spatula as a microphone while the muffins bake.  More love is particularly poignant because that’s what you’ll most likely feel for these muffins.  Smokey might be my favourite singer from the 60′s (he’s still singing mind you) which is a big call considering the talent in that great decade.

Tea cake – with yogurt

Posted on: March 4th, 2012 by admin 5 Comments

I’m not sure why I always seem to need a dessert fast.  Obviously on occasion I have taken the day to make a strudel, but generally I prefer something that can be eaten quite quickly after my initial craving.  Especially when I bake during the week.  Also many times I do not have a fully stocked pantry – oh I know I should, but alas there are times when I just run out of butter, or icing sugar, or milk.  In any case, I find this type of baking the most fun.  Always proudly proclaiming “look what I made – and I didn’t even have any…”

It was by chance I stumbled across Two Spoons recipe for what she called a Three-sugar cake.  It looked fantastic and used yogurt and oil, no butter- perfect.  I have made it a few times now, so my recipe is modified.  I baked a couple vanilla cakes and a couple with citrus and I liked the citrus with the yogurt best.  Also I found I couldn’t discern between the three separate sugars, so I switched to two (I actually did have three in my pantry though!  Outrageous).

  • 1 1/4 c plain flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 c plain, natural yogurt or sour cream
  • 1/2 c brown sugar
  • 1/3 c white sugar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla essence
  • 1 tsp zest of any citrus you’re craving (we used Meyer Lemons)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/3 c oil

If you don’t want a citrus cake, just omit the zest and make the vanilla a whole tsp.

This makes a nice loaf, or you can bake a round 8in cake.

Preheat the oven to 180ºC (350ºF) and lightly grease your pan.

Mix the flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl to combine.  In another large bowl, whisk yogurt, eggs, oil, sugars and vanilla together until smooth. Gradually mix in the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, until uniformly moist.

Pour batter into your pan and pop it on the middle rack of your oven, baking for about 40 minutes, or until a skewer inserted comes out cleanish. Let cool in pan until warm before serving. Can be served the next day, and can last for several days if kept covered.

This cake is delightfully moist.  Quite yogurty if you use yogurt, sour cream is a little less flavourful.  You can leave out the citrus zest if you want a regular vanilla teacake, but also feel free to add some berries maybe, or nuts, almond essence instead of vanilla.  It’s quite versatile and totally delicious.

With thanks to Two Spoons for the original recipe.

Song for this recipe:

“Vanilla’s the Killer” – Amon Tobin The Killer’s Vanilla - Foley Room

Amon Tobin is a Brazillian electronic musician. I think his music is more like sound design, sophisticated experimentation.  He’s noted for his unusual methodology while making music.  In 2007 he released Foley Room an album based entirely on the manipulation of field recordings and this is my favorite album still.  He lives in Montreal too so I feel a little connected to him, even though that’s silly.

Salt and Vinegar Kale Chips

Posted on: February 29th, 2012 by admin 3 Comments

When you have a massive bunch of Kale, sometimes it’s hard to know what to do with it all.  I mean I know it’s healthy – really healthy, but there’s only so much I can steam and eat and enjoy.  In fact I don’t totally enjoy it steamed, but I eat it because I know it’s good for me.  When I read this easy recipe for Kale salt and vinegar chips, I knew it was the answer/recipe I’d been looking for.  Literally gone in 60 seconds after photos, these chips are a great, crispy salt’n'vinegary way to enjoy  Kale.

  • 1 bunch kale, about 6-8 big leaves
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tsp white vinegar (The original recipe called for balsamic, but we went off Foodess’ recommendation to use white vinegar and loved it)
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 180ºC (350ºF) and line or lightly oil two baking trays.

Wash and dry the kale and tear into bite-size pieces. Toss leaves with the olive oil and balsamic vinegar in a large bowl. Give the leaves a quick rub to make sure each gets a coating of oil- this will make sure they crisp up well.

Place the kale on the baking sheet in a single layer – no overlapping leaves. Sprinkle with salt to taste. Bake for 6 minutes, then stir and turn kale, and bake for another 6 minutes. Remove crisp pieces as they are done to prevent burning (if they get too brown they can taste kind of charred) and allow remaining kale chips to get even heat. (A single layer is important for crispy results, they tend to steam when they overlap).

Original recipe from Foodess

Song for this recipe:

“Walk on gilded splinters” – Dirty Dozen Brass Band Walk On Gilded Splinters - Medicated Magic

Last week my sister went to Mardi Gras in New Orleans.  She said it was an amazing bonanza of bedazzled performers, drinking all day, necklace throwing and good music.  I want to go.  This song is a tribute to southern USA and their talent for making ‘greens’ more edible.  Fry them, add pork or smother them in butter.   The Dirty Dozen are an awesome band, apparently they revolutionized the New Orleans brass band style by incorporating funk and bebop into the traditional New Orleans style, and have been a major influence on the majority of New Orleans brass bands since.  I believe they have many albums, but Medicated Magic is my favourite – now someone throw me a necklace.

Perfect vanilla cupcakes

Posted on: February 14th, 2012 by admin 2 Comments

A while ago I stumbled across this blog- Form V Artisan, a scientific approach to baking, which totally intrigued me.  It makes sense anyway, all those molecules being beaten and whipped and warmed and cooled.  I was first drawn to Christina’s authentic Pad Thai, but after having tried many of her recipes – I have a new fav.  These cupcakes are nothing fancy, but their texture is so delightfully soft and perfect, I will never use another recipe for fluffy vanilla cupcakes again.

1 3/4 c all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 c granulated sugar
1/2 c butter, at room temperature
2 large eggs
1/3 c full fat sour cream
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
2/3 c milk

Preheat oven to 180ºC (350°F). Line 18 standard muffin cups with paper liners.

In the bowl of an electric stand mixer, sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add sugar and mix on low speed until well blended. Add softened butter and beat on medium-low speed until butter is coated with flour and mixture resembles dry crumbs, about 3 minutes. Increase speed to medium and beat 30 seconds longer. If you don’t have a mixer – mix the above dry ingredients together with a fork and then rub in the butter by hand (like making scones or pie crust).

In another bowl, whisk together eggs, sour cream and vanilla extract until smooth. Add this to the flour mixture and mix on medium-low speed until moistened, about 45 seconds. With mixer on low speed, gradually add milk and beat until batter is smooth, about 20 seconds. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and mix until batter is light, airy and creamy looking, another 15-20 seconds on medium to medium-low speed. Whether mixing with the mixer or by hand make sure you do not over mix.

Divide batter evenly among muffin cups, filling them about two-thirds full. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cakes comes out clean, about 14 minutes. Transfer cakes to wire racks to cool completely and ice however you choose.

Original recipe from Christina Marsigliese.

Song for this recipe:

“Lonely Boy” – The Black Keys Lonely Boy - Lonely Boy - Single

We’ve loved this band for a long time – so it’s no surprise that eatpress is excited by the Black Key’s new album, El Camino, that was released in Dec.  This is the first single released and it is classic Keys.  Classic like a good vanilla cupcake.  I’ve always enjoyed the way Dan and Patrick make their band sound like there are at least half a dozen members in it.  Especially live – they play so hard you seriously think some extra musicians hiding backstage.  It’s raw and bluesy.  Songs feel like you might already know them, but Dan’s voice makes you want to hear them over and over.  They make me want to take a road trip in an old car with my dog, a fully packed lunch-box and just follow sunsets.

Whether you’re alone or ‘en semble’ this Valentines, treat yourself.

Sunday breakfast

Posted on: February 5th, 2012 by admin 1 Comment

I know I’m not alone when I say that Sunday breakfast is probably my all time favourite thing in the world.  I am very lucky because when it comes to a big breakfast – no one makes a better one than Beans.  He is a breakfast master chef.  He is calm cool and collected in the kitchen at all times, but at breakfast, his timing is so impressive, I like to just sit with a cup of tea and watch the coordination in awe.  (I make the double cappuccino’s that keep him going).

There are a lot of recipes for treats on eatpress, but we eat other things too!  So today I thought I would show you a couple of our Sunday breakfasts we’ve had the last few weeks.  If we don’t have a big one like this we have scones – devonshire tea style, or I make crepes, using Helga’s amazing recipe.

As you can see we usually like poached eggs, crispy bacon, tomatoes, home fries, French bread (one of the great perks of living in Montreal) and assorted fruits or veggies.  I drink strong tea and Beans drinks strong coffee.

This morning Beans made an extra special treat – a pink grapefruit ‘soup’ made with pink grapefruit wedges and juice, halved grapes and thin slices of Meyer lemon.  What is your favourite breakfast?

Song for Sunday:

“Sunday Sun” – Neil Diamond  Sunday Sun - Velvet Gloves and Spit

I never really knew about old Neil or his songs much – just that he’d been around forever, and written and released a million songs.  But I have a bunch of albums of his now, collected recently and this song winds up getting played in my Sunday playlist for obvious reasons, which I love.  Neil’s getting married for the 4th time soon, so look out for a new beaded shirt at his next concert.

Mini Pavlovas

Posted on: January 28th, 2012 by admin 2 Comments

January 26th was Australia day, we celebrated this year with a delicious Aussie favourite – Pavlova.  It’s long debated origins are constantly discussed, but regardless of whether it was Australia or New Zealand, pavlova is delicious.

We made mini ones, quick and easy.  Basically pav’s are big meringues topped with whipped cream and fresh fruit.  Like a not so messy Eton mess.  The combination of these three things is something wonderful.  Crisp sweetness, with a chewy meringue centre, whipped cream and tangy fruits.  Needless to say after being photographed there was nothing left on the plate 60 seconds later.

  • Makes 4 – 6 mini pavlovas
  • 2 egg whites
  • 1/2 cup (110g) caster sugar
  • a pinch of cream of tartar (it’s not totally necessary though)
  • 300ml cream, whipped
  • 2 bananas, sliced
  • 1/2 punnet (125g) fresh blueberries
  • 1/2 punnet (125g) fresh strawberries, hulled
  • 2 passionfruit, pulped
  • (You can use almost any fruit you prefer – as you can see we only had blueberries, but passionfruit pulp and strawberries are traditional and very awesome).

Preheat oven to 150°C (300ºF).  Line a baking tray with baking paper.

Place egg whites into a clean bowl. Beat until soft peaks form. Gradually add caster sugar, beating well between each addition. Beat until mixture is thick and glossy this will take at least 5 minutes.

Spoon heaped tablespoonfuls of meringue onto baking trays. Flatten meringues into discs. Bake for 20 minutes then turn the oven off and let them cool completely in there, you can crack the oven door after another 20 minutes or so.

When they’re cool, top the meringues with cream and decorate with fruit. Serve immediately.

Song for this recipe:

“I should be so lucky” – Kylie Minogue I Should Be So Lucky - Kylie Minogue

She’s been around so long now you can’t help but love her.  Kylie Minogue is one of Australia’s biggest pop stars of all time – pretty sure everyone knows that.  Anyway when I feel nostalgic I like to listed to her.  Plus it’s especially patriotic this week.  Some of her songs are so silly, but all of them are danceable, so crank up any of her dozen albums and enjoy.

Happy Australia day.

If you’d like to make a chocolate pavlova, we have an awesome recipe here.  Or another Aussie favourite, Anzac biscuits.

Fruits and Veggies at home

Posted on: January 9th, 2012 by admin 1 Comment

While holidaying here on my parents farm, there is so much fresh fruit growing, I get a stomach ache from noshing on everything.  I am making a lot of regular recipes -  Lemon yogurt loaf, lasagne, zucchini bread and some fresh fruit crostata’s.  But really my favorite thing about summer is just fruit salad.  Here’s some of what’s growing right now.

Macintosh Apples.

Pistachios

Nashi/Asian pears

Figs

Plums

Lemons

There are also a lot of regular veggies we collect every day.  Zucchini, carrots, assorted lettuce, nasturtium flowers, tomato’s, silverbeet, Vietnamese mint, cucumbers, basil, purple beans and radishes.  It really is awesome to have a massive veggie garden and orchards.  I dream of having more than my little balcony to grow these tasty treats on.  One day.  For now, I’ll just enjoy someone else’s hard work.  Hope you’re all having a good first fortnight of 2012.