Mini Apple & Honey Upside-Down Cakes

Apple Honey Upside Down Cake

Well, it’s that time of year again, Rosh HaShanah! The Jewish New Year is just 5 sleeps away! Now is definitely the time to get out there and start stocking up on apples and honey, amongst other traditional New Year’s treats, some of which I will be giving out recipes for this week!

For today’s recipe, a co-worker of mine showed me a recipe for mini honey cakes with apples, and I thought that it was so clever to serve up cute little portions instead of a traditional loaf style cake. But then I started thinking, hmm… let’s break out even further from the traditional and make a mini upside-down cake, with apples, honey and a touch of orange zest! So here you go readers: A recipe for mini upside down apple & honey cake that will make 8 portions to serve up this new years! Enjoy!

Ingredients:
For the caramel:
½ cup toasted whole almonds, coarsely chopped
1 ½ large Granny Smith apples
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice (from 1 large lemon)
3 tablespoons unsalted margarine, plus more for coating the ramekins
¾ cup granulated sugar
⅓ cup orange blossom honey
¼ teaspoon fine salt

For the cake:
1 ⅔ cups all-purpose flour
1 ½ teaspoon packed finely grated orange zest (from 1 large orange)
¾ teaspoon baking powder
¾ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¾ teaspoon fine salt
1 ½ cups unsalted margarine (1 ½ sticks), at room temperature
¾ cup orange blossom honey
¼ cup granulated sugar
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
3 large eggs, at room temperature
¼ cup soy milk/non-dairy creamer, at room temperature
non-dairy ice cream for serving, optional

Note: If you wish to make this as one large cake, instead of mini individual ones, follow the directions as outlined below, but then bake the cake in an 8-inch cake pan for 45 minutes or until cooked through when tested.

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees and arrange a rack in the middle of the oven.

For the caramel:
Coat 8 (6-ounce) ramekins with margarine and evenly space them on a baking sheet. Divide almonds among the ramekins.

Peel, core, and cut the apple into medium dice. Place in a medium, non-reactive bowl, add 1 ½ tablespoons of the lemon juice, and toss to combine; set aside.

Melt margarine in a medium frying pan over medium-high heat until foaming. Add sugar, honey, and salt and stir to combine. Cook, swirling the pan occasionally, until mixture just starts to turn a light caramel colour, about 5 minutes. Add the remaining ½ tablespoon lemon juice and stir to combine.

Remove the pan from heat and carefully place about 2 tablespoons of the caramel in each ramekin. (Work quickly—the caramel will start to set after a few minutes.) Divide the apple pieces among the ramekins, leaving any juice in the bowl; set the ramekins aside.

For the cake:
Place flour, orange zest, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt in a medium bowl and whisk to aerate and break up any lumps; set aside.

Place the margarine in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and beat on medium high until light in colour and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add honey, sugar and vanilla and continue to beat until incorporated and fluffy, about 3 minutes more. Add eggs one at a time, letting the first incorporate before adding the second. Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl and the paddle with a rubber spatula.

Return the mixer to low speed, add the soy milk/non-dairy creamer, and mix until just incorporated. Add the reserved flour mixture and mix until just incorporated, about 30 seconds; do not overmix. Evenly spoon the batter over the apples and smooth the tops. Bake until a cake tester comes out clean, about 35 minutes. Immediately run a knife around the perimeter of each cake. Using a dry kitchen towel to grasp the ramekins, invert the hot cakes onto serving plates. Top with non-dairy ice cream and serve.

Homemade Ketchup – And 5 Ways to Take It For a Spin!

Ketchup

So how can you have a week on condiments and not touch on ketchup? It is quintessential! Here in Canada we’re just nuts about the thick, slightly sweet treat, boasting the second highest per capita consumption of ketchup in the world, second only to Finland, (Finland?!). With that said, I really don’t know anyone that makes their own, when buying a bottle is just so convenient. However, that being said, how could I not offer up a recipe? Don’t worry though, for those of you who are not going to actually make their own (I count myself amongst you), I’ve added 5 bonus recipes below on ways to spice up your homemade or purchased ketchup! Enjoy!

Makes 3 cups

2 (796ml) cans crushed tomatoes
½ cup water, divided
⅔ cup white sugar
¾ cup distilled white vinegar
1 teaspoon onion powder
½ teaspoon garlic powder
1 ¾ teaspoons salt
⅛ teaspoon celery salt
⅛ teaspoon mustard powder
¼ teaspoon finely ground black pepper
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 whole clove

Directions:

Pour the crushed tomatoes into a slow cooker. Swirl ¼ cup water in each emptied cans and pour it into the slow cooker. Add the sugar, vinegar, onion powder, garlic powder, salt, celery salt, mustard powder, black pepper, cayenne pepper, and whole clove. Whisk everything together to combine. Cook on high, uncovered, until the mixture is reduced by half and becomes very thick, about 10 to 12 hours, stirring every hour or so.

Once the ketchup has reduced, you can smooth the texture of the ketchup by using an immersion blender on it for about 20 seconds (optional). Ladle the ketchup into a fine strainer and press mixture with the back of a ladle to strain out any skins and seeds. Transfer the strained ketchup to a bowl. Cool completely before tasting to adjust salt, black pepper, or cayenne pepper.

Five-Spice Ketchup:
In a small bowl, mix together 1 cup ketchup, the juice of 1 lime and 2 teaspoons of five-spice powder. Season with salt and pepper.

Curry Ketchup:
Cook ¼ cup minced onion in a saucepan with 1 tablespoon margarine until soft, about 3 minutes. To the onions, add 1 teaspoon each of curry powder and paprika, and a pinch of cayenne pepper. Cook for another minute, then add 1 cup of ketchup and ½ a cup of water. Simmer the ketchup until thick, about 25 minutes.

Spicy Peanut Ketchup:
In a small bowl, mix together ¾ cup ketchup, ⅓ cup peanut butter, the juice of 1 lime, 1 tablespoon harissa or other chili paste and ¼ teaspoon each of coriander, smoked paprika, cinnamon and cayenne.

Bloody Mary Ketchup:
In a small bowl, mix together ¾ cup ketchup, ¼ cup horseradish, 2 teaspoons hot sauce, 1 teaspoon celery salt and ½ teaspoon Worcestershire sauce.*

Jerk Ketchup:
In a small bowl, mix together ¾ cup ketchup, 2 tablespoons jerk seasoning, 1 tablespoon pineapple or peach preserves and 1 tablespoon lime juice.

* Click here to learn about using Worcestershire sauce with meat dishes.

Roast Bison or Venison with Red Wine and Onion Jus (Northwest Territories)

Roasted Venison

Wanna hear something cool about the the Northwest Territories (NWT)? Did you know that the Northern Lights (that crazy natural laser light show seen in the utmost northern part of the globe) can be seen about 243 nights out of the year? In the NWT, game meat such as Bison and Venison are a big seller, as they tend to have readier access to such meats, rather than beef. Personally, I’m jealous! I kinda feel that today’s game meat, tastes the way that beef used to taste before we over commercialized the industry. Keep in mind though that game meat is always leaner than domestic meat, so special care must be taken when roasting to prevent it from drying out. It’s important to never cook it past medium. This roast will serve 8.

Ingredients:

5 pound bison or venison roast
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons fresh thyme, minced*
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon ginger
½ teaspoon pepper
1 onion, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
2 bay leaves
1 ½ cups dry red wine
2 cups pearl onions
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
¾ teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons margarine
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, finely chopped*

* Click here to learn how to clean these herbs.

Directions:

In small bowl, combine the garlic, thyme, cinnamon, ginger and pepper. Make some slits (about 8) around the roast, about an inch wide. Stuff some of the spice mixture into the slits, and use the remainder to rub over the whole roast.

Place roast in re-sealable plastic bag, along with the regular onion, carrots, bay leaves and wine. Seal the bag, and let it marinate in refrigerator for 6-24 hours, turning occasionally.

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Once the roast is finished marinating, remove the roast from the bag, reserving the vegetables and the marinating liquid separately. Place the vegetables and bay leaves in the bottom of a roasting pan, and pour in about 1 cup of water. Set the roasting pan aside for now.

In a large enough skillet to fit the roast, heat the vegetable oil over high heat, and then sear the roast, turning it in the skillet so that all sides get seared. Lay the seared roast over the vegetables in the roasting pan, and sprinkle with half of the salt.

Cover the roast loosely with foil, and roast for about 2 hours, or until meat thermometer inserted in centre reads 125 to 140 degrees for rare to medium. Do not cook beyond medium. Transfer to warm platter and tent with foil; let stand for about 10 minutes before carving.

To prepare Onions and Jus:
In heatproof bowl, cover the pearl onions with boiling water and let stand for 1 minute. This will loosen their skins. Drain the water and peel the onions.

In the same skillet you browned the meat in, melt the margarine over medium-high heat, and brown the pearl onions. You are not cooking the onions through at this point, just browning them. Using a slotted spoon, transfer onions to bowl (keeping the oil in the skillet).

Add the sugar to the skillet and stir over medium heat until it turns a nutty brown, about 5 minutes. Add the reserved marinade and remaining salt. Bring the jus to a boil over high heat and boil until reduced by half to about ⅔ cup, about 5 minutes. Strain through fine sieve or cheesecloth into small saucepan.

Strain liquid found in the roasting pan into glass measuring cup, and add enough water, if necessary, to make ½ cup. Add the roast liquid to the reduced marinating liquid and bring to a boil.

Add the pearl onions to the saucepan, and cover, cooking over a medium heat until the onions are tender, about 5 to 10 minutes. Stir in the parsley. Spoon a little sauce over the roast slices and serve with remaining sauce.

Chicken Fricot (New Brunswick)

Chicken Fricot

New Brunswick is one of Canada’s three Maritime Provinces, boarding on Quebec and sharing its entire southern border with the state of Maine. Its eastern border is entirely coastal – along the Gulf of St. Lawrence and Northumberland Strait. It even has warm sandy beaches, with the warmest salt water north of Virginia. It is probably most well-known though for the Bay of Fundy and the Confederation Bridge, which connects it with Prince Edward Island. It’s food however has quite a French flavour, with it being so close to Quebec and having many Acadians living in the province. So with that I bring you today’s recipe, Chicken Fricot, which is like the southern classic Chicken and Dumplings, but highlights the herb savoury, which is very popular amongst the New Brunswickers. This hearty one-pot meal will serve 6-8. Enjoy!

Ingredients:

1 whole chicken, divided (about 3-4 pounds)
4 tablespoons unsalted margarine
1 teaspoon olive oil
3 carrots, chopped
3 ribs celery, chopped
1 large onion, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
2 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and chopped (about 6 potatoes)
2 teaspoons dried savoury
¾ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper
6 cups chicken stock
2 ice cubes

Dumplings:
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
½ teaspoon dried parsley
½ teaspoon dried savoury
½ teaspoon salt
2 egg yolks
⅔ cup cooking liquid from soup

Directions:

In a large Dutch oven, heat the margarine and oil over a medium-high heat. Season the chicken pieces with salt and pepper, and then add chicken pieces to the pot. Brown the chicken all over, turning the pieces as needed. You are not cooking this all the way through at this point. Once browned all over, (about 8 minutes) transfer the pieces to a plate and set aside. Drain all but 2 tablespoons of fat from pot.

Reduce the heat to medium and cook the carrots, celery, onion and garlic, stirring occasionally, until onion is softened but not coloured, about 3 minutes. Stir in the potatoes, savoury, salt and pepper. Sauté for about 2 minutes, letting all of the ingredients combine. Return the chicken pieces and any juices that have rendered to the pot, and stir in the chicken broth. Bring the soup to a boil, skimming any foam or debris from the surface as needed. Once boiling, reduce the heat and cover, letting the soup simmer for about 45 minutes.

Next, place the 2 ice cubes in a measuring cup, and add enough of the soup to make ⅔ cup. Set this aside to cool. Meanwhile, remove the pieces of chicken with slotted spoon, and transfer them to a plate. Let the chicken cool enough to be handled, and then strip the meat from the bones, discarding the bones and skin. Shred or coarsely chop the chicken. Before returning the chicken to the pot, skim any excess fat the surface, then return the chicken to pot and bring it back to a simmer.

Dumplings:
In a medium sized bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, parsley, savoury and salt. Stir the egg yolks into reserved the cooled soup, and slowly add it to the flour mixture. Bring the dumpling dough together with a fork. It will make a sticky, stretchy dough.

Increase the heat on the soup to medium, and drop the batter in 8 mounds evenly spaced around the soup. Cover the pot and simmer until the dumplings have puffed and a knife inserted into centre of dumpling comes out clean, about 8 to 10 minutes. Serve the soup hot with the dumplings.

Classic Tourtière (Quebec)

Tourtiere

Ahhh…. La belle province! The nickname for Quebec is “The beautiful province” and it is easy to see why. Quebec has a little bit of everything when it comes to its geography, and it has more culture than any one province has a right to! While most major cities are bilingual to an extent, the majority of Quebecois speak French as their daily language. But with French life, comes French food! And there is so much to choose from! Unfortunately, most of this tends to be not kosher, as there is a large amount of pork and shellfish in these dishes, along with the combinations of dairy and meat products (oh, but a REAL poutine would be so delicious!) However, I’ve taken a French classic, a Tourtière or meat pie, and given it a kosher twist, changing the pork to beef, and taking the lard and butter out of the pie crust. It may not be authentic, but I’m sure you’ll love it just the same! This pie will serve 6-8 people.

Ingredients

1 ½ cups cubed peeled potatoes (about 2 medium sized potatoes)
2 pounds lean ground beef
2 cups sliced mushrooms (about 1 pound of mushrooms)
¾ cup finely chopped celery (about 1 ½ stalks)
¾ cup chicken stock
2 onions, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
¾ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper
½ teaspoon dried savoury
½ teaspoon dried thyme
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
1 bay leaf
1 Really Flaky Pastry (see below)
1 egg yolk

Directions:

In saucepan of boiling salted water, cover and cook potato until tender, about 12 minutes. Drain and mash; set aside.

Meanwhile, in deep skillet, sauté the beef over medium-high heat, mashing with fork, until no longer pink, about 8 minutes. Drain off fat.

Add mushrooms, celery, stock, onions, garlic, salt, pepper, savoury, thyme, cloves, cinnamon and bay leaf; bring to boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer until almost no liquid remains, about 25 minutes. Discard bay leaf. Mix in potatoes. Let cool.

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. On lightly floured surface, roll out 1 of the pastry discs to scant ¼ inch thickness. Fit into 9-inch pie plate. Spoon in filling. Roll out remaining pastry. Brush pie rim with water; cover with top pastry and press edge to seal. Trim any excess dough from around the edges, and crimp them to create a tight seal.

If you like, you can use the leftover scraps of dough to cut out nice shapes to decorate the top of your pie. Mix egg yolk with 2 teaspoons of water. With a pastry brush (or your fingers) brush the egg wash over the top of the pie. Cut steam vents in the top of the pie. Bake in bottom third of a 400 degree oven until hot and golden brown, about 50 minutes. Let stand for 10 minutes before serving.

Really Flaky Pastry:

Ingredients:

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
½ cup cold unsalted margarine, cubed
½ cup cold Crisco or other vegetable shortening, cubed
1 egg
2 teaspoons vinegar
ice water

Directions:

In a large bowl, whisk the flour together with the salt. Using a pastry blender/cutter or 2 knives, cut in the margarine and the vegetable shortening until the mixture forms coarse crumbs with a few larger pieces.

In liquid measuring cup beat the egg with the vinegar and add enough ice water to make ⅔ cup. Drizzle over the flour mixture, tossing with fork until ragged dough forms. Divide the dough in half, pressing each half into a disc shape. Wrap each disc tightly with plastic wrap, and refrigerate until chilled, about 30 minutes. If you like you can make this dough up to 2 days in advance.

Roasted Chicken with Vegetables

Roast ChickenOkay, so back in Queen Victoria’s day, she had multiple main courses, there was the entree course, the removes course and the roast course… for me, that’s about 2 courses too much, but what do I know, I’m not the queen. So in her honour I’ve found a modern take on one of the dishes from her roast course. She served (or more accurately was served) Rots les Poulets (see picture below), or Roasted Chicken. My modern take uses garlic, lemon and thyme and roasts the chicken with onion, carrots and fennel. It will serve 6-8 people, and I hope you enjoy!

Poulet RotiIngredients:

1 (5 to 6 pound) roasting chicken
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 large bunch fresh thyme, plus 20 sprigs*
1 lemon, halved
1 head garlic, cut in half crosswise
2 tablespoons margarine, melted
1 large yellow onion, thickly sliced
4 carrots cut into 2-inch chunks
1 bulb of fennel, tops removed, and cut into wedges*
olive oil

* Click here to learn how to clean fennel and thyme.

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Remove the chicken giblets, or any other extra chicken parts that were stuffed inside the carcass. Rinse the chicken inside and out, and remove any excess fat and leftover pin feathers and pat the outside dry. Liberally salt and pepper the inside of the chicken. Stuff the cavity with the bunch of thyme, both halves of lemon, and all the garlic. Brush the outside of the chicken with the margarine and sprinkle again with salt and pepper. Tie the legs together with kitchen string and tuck the wing tips under the body of the chicken. Place the onions, carrots, and fennel in a roasting pan. Toss with salt, pepper, 20 sprigs of thyme, and olive oil. Spread around the bottom of the roasting pan and place the chicken on top.

Roast the chicken for 1 ½ hours, or until the juices run clear when you cut between a leg and thigh. Remove the chicken and vegetables to a platter and cover with aluminum foil for about 20 minutes. Slice the chicken onto a platter and serve it with the vegetables.

Potage à la Julienne (Julienne Soup)

Julienne Vegetable SoupWhat gives this soup it’s name is the way all of the vegetables are sliced in it. They are all done up “Julienne Style” or in thin matchstick pieces. Back in Victoria’s time, this was all done by hand, but if you have a food processor, it will definitely help with the cutting. For those of you that get a kick out of this kinda thing (like I do), I found an old recipe for this soup that was published during the time. I hope you find my modernized version a little easier to make 🙂

Potage a la JulienneVegetable Soup Julienne
Serves 6-8 people

4 carrots (if you are able to get them use a purple carrot as well, it looks amazing)
4 turnips
2 celery stalks
4 red cabbage leaves*
4 green cabbage leaves*
6 stalks of chard*
4 leeks*
4 spring onions*
12 French green beans
2 litre vegetable or chicken stock
4 tablespoons margarine
salt, pepper to taste
Few sprigs of tarragon or marjoram*
1 clove of garlic, grated into a paste
2 cups cold water and a squeeze of lemon juice

* Click here to learn how to clean these vegetables and herbs.

Once all your vegetables are cut into thin batons, add the red and green cabbage, the chard, and beans to the cold water with lemon juice.

In a large soup pot, melt the margarine over a low heat until it is just foaming. Add the carrots, turnips, leaks and onions and garlic paste. Sauté in the margarine for about four minutes, or until tender.

Strain the water from the soaked vegetables, and add them to the pot, letting them sauté for a minute or two, then add the vegetable or chicken stock. Let the soup gently simmer for 15 – 20 minutes. Add half of the tarragon or marjoram, and a squeeze of lemon juice, then let simmer for 5 more minutes.

Taste and add salt, pepper as desired, adding the last of the herbs just before serving.

Lag B’Omer Carob Cake

Carob CakeThis Carob cake is very apropos for Lag B’Omer, but can be served any day of the year! It is especially good for those that want the flavour of a chocolate cake, without the chocolate. This cake will serve 9.

Ingredients:

½ cup margarine
⅔ cup honey
2 eggs
1 banana, mashed
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
¾ cup water
1 cup all-purpose flour
⅓ cup carob powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup chopped nuts (optional)
icing sugar (to garnish)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees . Grease and flour an 8 inch square pan. Sift together the flour, carob powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside.

In a large bowl, cream together the margarine and honey until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs one at a time, then stir in the banana and vanilla. Beat in the flour mixture alternately with the water. Stir in chopped nuts (if using). Pour batter into prepared pan.

Bake in the preheated oven for 40 to 45 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean. Allow to cool, then dust with icing sugar to decorate.

Chocolate Bourbon Pecan Pie

Chocolate Bourbon Pecan PieThere is nothing like a good pecan pie! This southern classic gets a kick from the chocolate layer and the hit of bourbon! You can make this dessert dairy free by using margarine instead of butter, and alcohol free by omitting the bourbon. Make sure that you get a deep-dish style pie shell though, or else you might get some spill over! This recipe will serve 8.

Ingredients:

⅔ cup white sugar
1 cup corn syrup
2-4 tablespoons bourbon* (depending on taste)
3 eggs
⅓ cup melted butter/margarine
½ teaspoon salt
1 ½ cups pecans (either halves or pieces)
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 (9 inch) refrigerated deep pie crust (brought to room temperature)

* Click here to see a list of kosher alcohols.

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Beat the sugar, corn syrup, bourbon, eggs, butter/margarine, and salt together in a mixing bowl until smooth and creamy. Fold in the pecans. Line the bottom of your pie crust with the chocolate chips, then pour the pecan mixture into the pie crust. Lower the oven temperature to 350 degrees. If desired, cover the edges of the pie with aluminum foil strips to prevent excessive browning. Bake in until the centre sets, about 60 minutes. Cool before serving.

Matzo Brei

Matzah BreiMatzo Brei is a long standing Passover tradition in my house, and we tend to be purists, using only the basic recipe below and topped with a little ketchup (’cause despite what you may think, ketchup pretty much goes with everything). My co-worker’s husband goes sweet, adding pancake syrup to his freshly cooked dish, while my boyfriend goes savoury, adding sauteed veggies and cheese to the dish while it cooks. To each his own I guess! No matter how you make it, I hope you like it! This recipe will serve 2-4 people.

Ingredients:

4 Matzos
4 large eggs
1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
3/4 stick (6 tablespoons) unsalted butter/margarine

Optional Ingredients:
For a savoury dish try adding any or all of the following: sliced mushrooms, sliced peppers, sliced onions, cheese
For a sweet dish try adding any or all of the following: canned fruit, applesauce, sour cream or syrup.

Directions:

Crumble matzos into a large sieve placed over a bowl to catch crumbs, then hold sieve under running cold water until matzos are moist and softened but not completely disintegrated, about 15 seconds. Transfer to bowl with crumbs, then add eggs and salt and mix gently with a fork.

Heat butter in a 10- to 12-inch skillet over moderately high heat until foam subsides. Add matzo mixture and cook, stirring constantly, until eggs are scrambled and matzo has begun to crisp, about 3 minutes.