Saturday, December 22, 2012

Owl Wine Cozy

With the re-opening of my Etsy shop, and the start of the new year, I've decided I'd like to get back into blogging again. This time though, will be a little different as I will be posting about more things than just food! I'm thinking this will be more of a crafting blog, offering recipes, DIY projects and whatever else I'm up to.

Recently, I learned to knit. I bought the Susan Bates "Learn to Knit" Kit from Amazon, and I haven't stopped knitting since!
My first sold item on Etsy was this Owl wine cozy. I was given a sketch to work from, with some color ideas, and this is what came to be.

I knit this up using US11 round needles, in garter stitch (not on the round), until I got a big rectangle that fit around a wine bottle. Then, I sewed it shut, and added a felt bottom. I then knitted a small rectangle for the belly and sewed it on. Lastly I added the owl features and wove in the ribbon bow. I’m pretty happy how it turned out, and so is the customer.

Happy New Year Everyone! 

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

New Job Pie- 2 ways! Vegan and Gluten Free (GF)

New Job Pie
Apple Rhubarb with Streusel Topping

This new job has given me such inspiration in creating new flavour combinations, and has really challenged me since I have to work without the use of eggs, butter, milk, cream! But, I'm loving it.

This pie was created for the current Chef's Tasting Menu at ZenKitchen and I must say I am pretty proud of it.

What's more awesome about this? It can be made two ways, with just a simple adjustment- Gluten free or not!

First, the crust:
-1 cup margarine or all-vegetable shortening
-3 cups all purpose gluten free flour, sifted
-2 tbsp sugar
-pinch of salt
-4-8 tbsp cold water

Preheat oven to 375*F.
Combine dry ingredients. Cut flat into dry ingredients. Add water gradually until dough just comes together.
Press into 10" tart pan and pre-bake 10 minutes.

Second, the filling:
-1 cup rhubarb jam
-2 rhubarb stalks
-1 large macintosh apple
-2 smaller spy apples
-1/2 tsp cinnamon
-1 1/2 tbsp cornstarch

Peel and dice rhubard into 1" cubes. Peel and slice apples thinly. Combine all ingredients except cornstarch. Sprinkle first tablespoon of cornstarch, let sit for 10 minutes. Add remainder of cornstarch.
Spread jam in crust evenly. Evenly distribute rhubarb pieces. Layer apple slices neatly.

Lastly, the topping:
-1 cup either all-purpose gluten free flour (sifted)/ gluten free oats (if you can find them) OR regular oats (not gluten free)
-1/2 cup sugar
-1/2 tsp cinnamon
-1/4 tsp nutmeg
-1/4 cup cold margarine/shortening

Combine first four ingredients, cut in fat until all dry ingredients are coated. Sprinkle evenly over pie.

Bake in preheated oven for 45-55 minutes or until filling bubbly and crust is done.
Serve with vegan vanilla ice cream.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Vegan Gluten Free Best Friend Tart

Remember when I shared this recipe with you? It's really one of my favourite tarts. Recently though, I've gotten a new job as a pastry chef at a vegan restaurant where I also do quite a bit of gluten free baking. So I reworked the original pie recipe to make it vegan, gluten free, and extra tasty!

Vegan GF Best Friend Tart
1 cup vegetable shortening
2 1/2 cups all purpose gluten free flour, or white rice flour
2 tbsp sugar
pinch of salt
1/2 cup of cocoa
4-8 tbsp of water

Combine dry ingredients. Cut in fat until it becomes a sandy texture with pieces of shortening the size of peas. Gradually add water until dough just comes together. Chill in fridge until ready to use. Because this recipe uses shortening and gluten free flour the dough is ready to use right away, but store it in the fridge while you make the filling.

1 cup water
1 cup sugar
3 cups mixed berries (raspberry, cranberry, blackberry is my fave combination)

1/4 of a can of coconut cream
1 cup chocolate chips

Combine water and sugar in a saucepan and bring to a boil to dissolve sugar. Once dissolved, add berries and cook until thick, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking. Cook until all cranberries have burst and the syrup sticks to the back of the spoon so that when you run your finger through it, that stripe stays dry.

In a bowl over a double boiler combine chocolate chips and coconut cream. Stir to melt.

Preheat oven to 375*F.

Press dough into a 9" tart pan. Pre bake 5 minutes until just set.
Spread a layer of the chocolate coconut cream on the bottom of the pie shell. Pour in the jam. Bake for another 20 minutes or until crust is done.

Let cool to room temperature and serve with a vegan whipped cream substitute (for example, Lite Nutriwhip), and a berry coulis drizzled over the top, if you have some.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Homemade Stove top Mac N Cheese- As quick as KD!

Ever have a night where you're just too tired to cook anything so you quickly make up a box of Kraft Dinner? And of course, you feel guilty afterwards because you know it has 0 nutrition and the flavour is just sub-par. Well, no longer! This mac n cheese recipe is ready in the same amount of time it takes to cook your elbow macaroni (10 minutes)!

Stove top Easy Mac n Cheese
-1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons butter
-1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons flour
-2 1/2 cups milk
-1 cup aged cheddar, grated (do not buy the pre-shredded stuff or it will not melt correctly)
-1/2 cup parmesan
-1 teaspoon yellow mustard
-pepper, nutmeg, salt 
-2 cups uncooked elbow macaroni

Start your water for your macaroni, and as you are waiting for that to boil, grate your cheese. 
Throw your macaroni in and add a good pinch of salt. Create your roux in a separate pot
Melt your butter, and once melted, stir in your flour until you have a pasty substance. 
Slowly (no more than 1/4 cup at a time) add your milk, stirring after each addition. 
Once all milk is added, add your mustard, nutmeg, pepper and salt, to taste. Heat until hot to the touch but NOT boiling. 
Add your cheese, remove from heat and stir until melted. Taste and adjust seasoning if needed. Drain your pasta well and add to the sauce. Stir to coat and serve with broccoli, bacon or on its own!

Monday, March 19, 2012

My favourite smoothie recipe

Spring is officially here! Do you know what that means? It's Smoothie Season! Sure, you COULD drink smoothies year-long, but it just feels weird to me to drink something so cool and refreshing during colder months. Besides, winter is hot chocolate and eggnog season anyway.

I've made this smoothie twice in the last two days, it's that good. It's been quite warm these past two days (20*C each day- summer weather!) and while it seems like we barely even had a winter, I've very happy to be wearing shorts as I type this.

This smoothie is for the berry lover for sure. You can't be one of those people who forgo the deliciousness of raspberries and strawberries because they dislike having seeds in their teeth. The seeds are full of vitamins, and the taste is definitely worth flossing for.

Raspberry-Strawberry-Banana Smoothie
-1 cup FROZEN raspberries (don't you hate how ice dilutes the flavour for most smoothies!)
-4-6 fresh strawberries
-1/2 of skim milk (plus a splash more)
-half of a banana
-4 tbsp whipped cream (plus more for topping)

Throw all the ingredients into a blender and blend until smooth. If it is too thick and not blending properly, add a splash of milk. The whipped cream is a low-cal delicious way to sweeten the raspberries, which taste slightly tart after being frozen.

Oh, did I mention that this smoothie is also SUPER HEALTHY?! It is. This recipe makes one THICK, LARGE smoothie, and is only 250 calories and 15.6 grams of fibre! That's most of your required daily fibre intake in one delicious glass. (On average you should try to get at least 25g per day of fibre.) Perfect for a healthy snack or quick, light breakfast!

I hope you are all having as good weather as we are here! Enjoy!

Comment Questions:
1. What's your favourite smoothie flavour combination?
2. Where's your favourite place to get smoothies? I love booster juice!

Friday, March 16, 2012

St. Paddy's Day: Chocolate Cinnamon mini Irish Bundt Cakes!

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

While you're still sober I have a little recipe for you to make as a special St. Paddy's treat! It's a semi-traditional recipe, with my own spin on it. I just can't stand the overly sweet, overly GREEN treats that usually grace tables for this holiday. So I searched for something special, and here's what I found...

Light, fluffy, delicately chocolate and perfumed with cinnamon. Delicious! Enjoy and have a safe St. Paddy's Day!

Chocolate Cinnamon Irish mini Bundt Cakes
  • 1 cup butter
  • 2 1/3 cups granulated sugar
  • 4 eggs, separated
  • 3 1/2 ounces of baking chocolate, finely grated 
  • 1 3/4 ounces wheat germ (originally the recipe called for an equal weight of ground almonds, but I'm allergic and the texture is similar)
  • 1 cup sieved or riced cooked potato 
  • 2 1/2 cups flour 
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 rounded tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2/3 cup milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 tsp cocoa

For the pan:
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons flour
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons cocoa
  • Shortening or cooking spray

Peel, dice and boil 3 small or 2 regular sized potatoes for 15 minutes, or until very tender. Drain and place back into the pot on very low heat, just until the steam dissipates, to dry the potatoes. Once dry, remove from heat and let cool. Once cool, push through a mesh sieve, or if you're fancy, use a potato ricer. Gently push into a cup, being sure not to pack. Be sure NOT to add the potatoes until they are very cool, or they will ruin the cake batter!
Preheat the oven to 350° F / 275° C. Prepare the mini bundt pans by greasing, then dusting with second amounts of flour and cocoa. Please note that one large bundt pan, or a springform pan are okay too. They will require a longer baking time though. (About an hour- 1hr 45mins.)
Grate the chocolate on a fine grater or crush with a mortar and pestle, until very fine. When this is done, sift the flour once by itself. Then sift it a second time with the cinnamon, baking powder, salt, and first amount of cocoa.
Cream the butter with the sugar until light and fluffy. Separate the eggs. Add the yolks, one at a time, to the creamed mixture, beating well after each addition. Stir in the grated chocolate and wheat germ. Add the sieved potato and stir again.
Add the vanilla to the milk. Add the flour alternately with the milk mixture, beating gently until smooth after each addition. Finally, whip the egg whites in a clean, grease-free bowl until stiff, be careful not to over whip and dry out the eggs. Fold the whipped egg whites carefully into the cake mixture.
Spoon the batter into mini bundt pans and tap once to settle. Bake for 45 mins, checking for doneness at 30. Mine only needed about 35 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to rest in the pan for at least twenty minutes before removing from the pan, then cool on wire racks.
Dust with icing sugar, serve with coffee, tea, or maybe even a pint. Enjoy!

Comment Questions:
1. What are you doing for St. Paddy's Day?
2. Do you have any Irish blood in you?

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

New Home Pie (Mandarin-Cranberry Meringue)

My boyfriend and I just moved into a new cute little two bedroom apartment in a quiet little neighbourhood just over the bridge from Ottawa. We're about 99% unpacked at this point (we still have to hang pictures and put up a couple of shelves here and there), and once we're finished I am definitely going to post a quick house tour.

After a long day of unpacking, nearly two weeks ago, I put my feet up and lit a new scented candle for the first time in the new house. It was a 3-wicked orange-cranberry candle and it smelled divine! Instantly I was inspired to invent a new pie with these flavours. I named it New Home Pie. 

In honour of Pie Day (3.14) I thought I would share this recipe with all of you! This recipe is definitely a keeper and is one of many that will be in the pie cookbook I am currently writing. So here's a sneak peak of the type of recipe you'll see once the book is finished... Pictures to come later!

New Home Pie

Mandarin- Cranberry Meringue

One half batch of this pie dough, chilled

Mandarin custard:
  • 8 tbsp butter
  • 3/4 cup freshly squeezed mandarin juice
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • zest of all mandarins
  • juice of half a lemon
  • pinch of salt
  • 3 egg yolks, slightly beaten
  • 3 whole eggs, slightly beaten

Cranberry jam:
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 cups fresh cranberries

Swiss Meringue :
  • 3 egg whites
  • ½ cup of sugar
  • Pinch of cream of tartar

Preheat oven to 400*F.

Mandarin custard:
Warm butter, juices, sugar, zest and salt in a medium saucepan. Once the butter has melted, mix egg yolks and whole eggs and temper with juice mixture. Whisk eggs back into the saucepan. Cook over low heat, whisking constantly to prevent curdling and burning. Whisk until filling thickens and holds its shape when you dip your whisk in. Press through sieve to make silky smooth. Let cool slightly before using, press plastic wrap onto the exposed custard to prevent a skin from forming.

Cranberry jam:
Boil water and sugar while stirring to dissolve. Add cranberries and boil about 10 minutes, or until cranberries burst. Use a potato masher to crush berries and cook until thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Let cool before using.

Roll out chilled pie dough and press into a tart pan, trimming excess. Cover with foil and fill with baking beads or dried beans. Pre-bake for 20 minutes, remove foil and bake for no more than 5 minutes further, until crust is lightly golden. Let cool until ready to use.

Lower oven temperature to 375*F.

Spread cooled cranberry jam onto cooled tart crust in a thin layer. Gently pour in mandarin filling. Bake for 10 minutes. Remove tart from oven and allow to cool down before applying meringue.

Combine the sugar and cream of tartar with the eggs in a double boiler. Whisk constantly to prevent curdling and heat until mixture feels hot. Take off the double boiler and pour into a machine bowl fitted with the whisk attachment, or use a hand mixer and whip until meringue cools down and holds medium peaks.
Turn on the broiler in your oven and let preheat, or have a hand torch at the ready. Pipe meringue onto pie, making sure that the meringue touches the crust and completely covers the filling. Put under broiler for no more than 2 minutes, or torch by hand until peaks are golden.
Serve immediately. 

(c) Jamie-Lee Cuerrier 2012

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Healthy Whole Wheat Banana muffins

Like many of you, this month I'm on a complete health-kick. While it's been hard I've seen a good amount of progress. The problem was that baking is my favourite pass-time, but what's the point of baking something if I can't even taste it?

Well guess what guys? I've developed a delicious AND healthy muffin recipe!

Introducing whole wheat, banana muffins -with cranberries, sunflower seeds and yoghurt! Each muffin has 2 grams of fibre and only 150 calories- not bad considering many muffins from local coffee shops can be as much as 400 calories!

Healthy Whole Wheat Banana Muffins

1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking soda
2 tsps ground cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
1/8 cup old fashioned rolled oats
1/8 cup wheat germ (optional but adds to fibre content. You may replace with an additional equal amount of rolled oats)
1 egg, beaten
1/2 cup packed brown sugar (dark or light)
1/2 cup low-fat plain yoghurt
3 tbsp vegetable oil (or olive oil if you prefer)
1 cup mashed ripe bananas (I needed about 2.5)
1 tsp pure vanilla
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
12 cranberries

Preheat oven to 400*F.
Combine flour, baking powder and soda, salt, spices, rolled oats, and wheat germ.
In a separate, slightly larger bowl, combine beaten egg, brown sugar, yoghurt, oil, bananas and vanilla.
Add the dry ingredients to the wet and mix until just combined- do not over-mix!
Divide among 12 greased muffin tins.
Push one cranberry into the centre of each muffin. Sprinkle with sunflower seeds.
Bake in preheated oven for 20-25 minutes, until golden brown. Let cool in tray for 5 minutes before serving!

These can be frozen individually for up to 1 month as a convenient healthy snack. Just reheat in the microwave or let thaw on your counter.

And don't forget to leave a comment!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Sweet-Tart Sweetheart Apple-Cran Pie!

Hello lovely people!

Hope everyone's having a great new year, and that you're sticking to your New Year's resolutions. It's been a little quiet on this blog lately, but now I'm back and ready to keep some sort of schedule!

This year has been great to me so far- my boyfriend and I have been working out nearly everyday, and have been eating a lot more healthily. I've even finally started to lose some of the weight I gained while being in Panama this summer.

All this does not mean that I haven't been baking though! Last week was my first week of pastry school. As some of you already know, last semester I was in a culinary program for chef training, but in my heart I always wanted to be in the pastry program. I was lucky to be given one of the last spots for this semester. To celebrate my first week, I baked this pie.

This pie is sweet from the sweet crust, the apples, and the streusel topping, and it is balanced out with delicious tart cranberries. The subtle flavour of citrus just brightens the rest of the flavours.

I like to make these in mini pie tins because it's cuter, and an easier way to potion it out so you don't end up eating 6 pieces of this pie in one day!

-1 batch of this pie dough recipe, with the zest of 1 lemon or orange and 2tsp cinnamon added in.
-2 cups fresh cranberries
-2 large apples (I like Gala for this), peeled and cut into small cubes
-2/3 cup sugar
-juice from half a lemon or orange (about 1 1/2 tbsp)
-1/2 cup AP flour
-1/2 cup AP flour
-1/2 cup sugar
-1/2 tsp cinnamon
-1/4 tsp nutmeg
-1/4 cup cold butter, cubed

Roll out dough and fit into the pan of your choice. Trim excess, leaving about 3/4 inch hanging out. Turn the extra dough underneath itself to create an upstanding rim. Chill in fridge until ready to use.

Preheat oven to 400*F.

Put all ingredients for the filling into a bowl and let chill out in the fridge for half an hour.
Pour the filling into the chilled pie shell(s) and bake in center of preheated oven for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, combine first 4 topping ingredients. Cut in butter and rub together until the mixture is the consistency of coarse sand. Chill until ready to use.

Remove pie from oven. Turn down temp to 375*F. Sprinkle topping onto pie and press down gently. Return the pie to the oven, rotating so that the side that faced the back of the oven now faces the front. Bake for another 20-25 minutes, or until the filling bubbles thickly around the edges.

Transfer pie to wire rack and cool for at least 1 hour.

Adapted from Ken Haedrich's Pie.