mini baklava recipe

Friday, April 30, 2010

WARNING -- The following recipe is a labor of love. And that's probably an understatement. Though this is like daisy picking in comparison to making homemade pasta without a pasta machine (what was I thinking?), it's still a lot of work. However, the end almost always justifies the means, right? Right. The hard work contained in this recipe is well worth it, I promise.

This is my rendition of Giada de Laurentiis' mini baklava recipe.

You'll need a mini muffin tin.

1/2 cup almonds
1/2 cup walnuts
1/4 cup plain bread crumbs
2 tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
Pinch of sea salt
1 cup unsalted butter, melted
3 tablespoons honey (I use President's Choice Organic Creamed Wildflower Honey because it adds another dimension of floral flavour)
6 sheets fillo dough

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

2. Place the almonds, walnuts, bread crumbs, sugar, cinnamon, ground cloves, and salt in a food processor until the mixture is very finely chopped.

3. Transfer the mixture to a small bowl. Add 2 tablespoons of the melted butter and the honey and stir to combine. (You might want to soften the honey in the microwave just so it's a little easier to mix in.)

4. On a dry work surface place 1 sheet of fillo. Using a pastry brush and the remaining melted butter, lightly cover the entire sheet of phyllo with melted butter.

5. Cover the first sheet with a second sheet of phyllo and brush with melted butter. Continue this process with all six sheets of fillo.

6. Cut the stacked fillo rectangle into 12 equal pieces (Cut lengthwise into 4 pieces and widthwise into 3 pieces.)

7. Very carefully press each cut piece of phyllo into the mini-muffin tin cups.

8. Fill the fillo cups with the nut mixture (approximately 1 tablespoon -- eye ball it)

9. Pinch the fillo cups closed with your fingers.

10. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until edges are golden brown.

11. Allow to cool before transferring to a serving plate.

vegan vanilla cupcake

Monday, April 26, 2010

I've conquered the vanilla side of vegan cupcakes.
From the very first vegan cupcake I baked a month ago, to the pretty little vanilla cupcakes I baked for my brother and his crude, pimply-faced friends (4/20 MUNCHIES!!!!) I feel like my vegan cupcake journey is far from being over.

The basis for this recipe came from Jennifer McCann, author of the cookbook "Vegan Lunch Box." I changed it up only slightly for the first time using it. You can find the original recipe here.

1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 1/3 cups plain soymilk
2 cups pastry flour (or regular all purpose)
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp sea salt (or kosher or table)
1 1/8 cups sugar
1/2 cup canola oil
1 3/4 tsp. pure vanilla extract

(This recipe should yield 22 cup cakes, but I make them slightly larger so I got about a dozen.)

Line your muffin pan with your cupcake liners. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Place the apple cider vinegar in the bottom of a liquid measuring cup and fill the cup with soymilk to equal 1 1/2 cups. Stir well and set aside (the mixture will curdle).

In a medium bowl, combine all dry ingredients.

In a large bowl, combine all wet ingredients.

Sift dry into wet ingredients, and then quickly incorporate with a whisk, and then completely mix together with  an electric beater for about a minute. (Or until it looks like everything is mixed and smooth)

Fill muffin cups with 1/4 cup of batter each (or more if you want bigger cupcakes. You'll just have to adjust baking time accordingly)

Bake for 15-20 minutes. If you're making larger cupcakes like I did, do a toothpick test after 20 minutes and sort of use that as a guide. It took about 22-23 minutes for mine.

Let cupcakes cool completely before icing.

Et voila!

simple is sweet.

I know it's not quite strawberry season yet, but I can't help the $1.99 boxes at the grocery store. Strawberries just excite me. So, when I get them home, chop them up, and take a bite, I'm a little let down. They just don't taste like July to me.

"Probably because it isn't July, you moron."


Rejoice! All is not lost. I've found a way to breath a little life into out-of-season strawberries. And it's quite simple.

For every 1 cup (ish) of chopped strawberries, add a tsp each of fresh lemon juice and fresh lime juice. You might feel like that's too much, so just play around with the amounts to find which best suit your palette.

Not only does the acidity of the lemon and lime awaken the tired strawberry flavour, but it also adds just a hint of bright and bitter citrus flavour. Like a little morsel of a hot July day by the pool in every bite.

Sweeten with a little fruit sugar (just eyeball it), and then use this delicious and wonderfully fragrant creation as a topping for vanilla ice cream/frozen yogurt/gelato. Oh baby.


vegan chocolate cupcake recipe

The recipe I use is closely based on that of Jinxi Boo, though I have changed it up a little bit. Hope you enjoy!

1 cup soy milk
1 teaspoon lemon juice
3/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup canola oil
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract (you can use artificial, too)
1 cup pastry flour
1/3 cup cocoa powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon sea salt

1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place your cupcake liners into muffin tin.

2) In a large mixing bowl, stir together the soy milk, lemon juice, sugar, canola oil and vanilla. (What I usually do is quickly mix everything together with a whisk and then I use an electric mixer on the slowest setting for about 25-30 seconds)

3) In a separate bowl, stir together the flour, cocoa, baking soda & powder, and salt. Sift the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients, and stir until all the lumps are removed. (Again, first I used to whisk to incorporate all ingredients, and then I use the electric mixer on slowest setting for approximately one minute.)

4) Pour the batter into the cupcake liners.

5) Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean (about 18-20 minutes).

6) Allow to cool

Mad props to Jinxi Boo for the basis of this recipe. Check out her blog here.

“Confidence is going after Moby Dick in a rowboat and taking the tartar sauce with you.” ~Zig Ziglar

There are few things in life we can't live without: Air, water, sleep, tartar sauce.

I'm making Scottish style Haddock for dinner tonight, and as I was making the tartar sauce, I thought I'd share the recipe for this little bowl of heaven with you.

1/3 cup mayo (get the real stuff, you hippie)
3/4 tsp prepared mustard (really, though, you can use any kind of mustard you'd like)
1 tbsp chopped mini sweet green pickles (or sweet relish if you're having a lazy day)
1 tsp lemon juice (fresh is best, but again, laziness is okay)

SUPER simple. SUPER delicious.



I KNEW there was a reason I started this ridiculous endeavour of trying to read 10,000 pages in five months.

In the midst of reading Tony Bourdain's Kitchen Confidential, I was struck with an urge. Like a crack-addict looking for a fix, I ran, literally RAN, to the grocery store in search of a culinary fix. And thank the gods it's almost spring. My grocer's produce section is now riddled with decent bushels of fresh herbs. Among them: Thyme.

The heavens open up.
Rays of sunlight shower the shelf in front of me.
Angels sing the sweet sounds of deliciousness.

I. Love. Spring.

So I bought a bag of thyme sprigs, and, as usual, I had no idea what I was going to do with it. I brought it home, put it in the fridge, and sat at the kitchen table. What can I do with fresh thyme? In walks my veg-head brother.
Perfect. He loves pasta. AND!  I'm sure there's a box of whole wheat penne in the cupboard. So it went.

Creamy parmigiano and white wine sauce with thyme and slow roasted garlic, on whole wheat penne. And then I quickly roasted a bunch of fresh asparagus with freshly ground sea salt, freshly ground black pepper, and extra virgin olive oil. Quickly roasted, as in, roasted for 10 minutes at 400 degrees, until they've just turned that beautifully irresistible crispy green colour, and you just smell that orgasm-inducing roasted asparagus smell. No..? Just me..? Okay..

Anyways -- INCREDIBLE. This was the first time I'd ever made a pasta sauce from scratch, and I gotta say. I'm quite impressed with myself, and more than a little relieved to find that, even if I do nothing else over the course of this entire Quest for 10,000, it will not have been in vain.

Good food equates a happy life.

Oh, in case you were wondering why there's no picture...
Yeah. It didn't survive long enough. Sorry.

venturing into vegan territory.

A strange, strange place to be, with nary an animal protein to be found. But surprisingly (or not surprisingly,) it's actually pretty tasty here. And healthy. And pretty. And fucking tasty. Did I say that already?

I know I'm a little late playing into the vegan cupcake craze, but I was hit with a sudden urge to venture into the unknown the other day, and I figured using baking as an outlet was the safest way to satisfy the craving. You know, aside from hopping into a blackhole or something -- as inviting as that sounds.

The recipe for the cupcakes was created by Jinxi Boo. And if you're at all interested in vegan cuisine, I suggest you  check out her blog. She's ultrafab, and I think I've already fallen in love with her beautiful and funny-shaped head. Now, Jinxi says this recipes makes 12 cupcakes, but I only got nine out of it. Not a big deal.

The recipe for the icing came from a quick Google search for "vegan cake icing." GENIUS. I know, right. I basically read the words "butter cream" and was immediately sold on it.

...WTF are calories? Who cares?! Not me.

I did, however, cut the recipe in half because this particular recipe yields enough waistline-unfriendly icing to fill a small-to-medium sized bathtub. Unless, of course, you're into that. In any case, in the the interest of not being wasteful, cutting the icing recipe in half will give you enough for the cupcakes, with just enough left over to eat with your finger.

Or a spoon. Go for it. Be fearless.


sinfully delish.

This culinary adventure started, as they usually do, in the grocery store. I usually make a point of stopping by my grocer's spice rack to stock up on the essentials, occasionally stumbling upon something new and exciting. Enter: lavender.

I'd heard tell of people using lavender as an aromatic element in chicken and lamb dishes. And since I haven't quite conquered my fear of protein yet, I've always b-lined around lavender. I guess I just had a bout of bravery for split second because I decided to pick up a bottle of dried lavender. I read the label, and it informed me that I could stop being a wimp and start doing some herbal research. Apparently lavender is a great element in baking, too. So, I picked it up and inspiration ensued.

This is what I came up with:

toasted almond chocolate pudding, topped with lavender vanilla whipped cream, garnished with shaved white chocolate and a thin butter crumble cookie. A.k.a. YUM.

A dessert that is just layers upon layers of flavour and texture contrasts; a deliciously decadent sensory adventure.

Yes, it's overindulgent and sensory overload, but I wanted to really showcase lavender's ability to be subtle and still be the star of the dish, even with all of the other elements that were present.

Forgive me Robert for I have sinned.

I'll post the recipe and instructions later on. Right now, I'm going to go enjoy the leftovers.

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