Pavlova

Pavlova - Candy Coated Culinista

Pavlova – Candy Coated Culinista

One January morning I met a new co-worker who just arrived fresh from Ireland. Now Mr. C. has an Irish background but unfortunately has no accent and I soooo wish he did. He can do an accent on occasion but it’s just not the same. Needless to say I was immediately charmed by this lad, and he wasn’t even on my team yet. He was just a co-worker on the floor whose voice would make my ears perk up whenever he spoke. So when he joined my team full time I could hear that lovely accent all the time. My charmed state turned into a lesson in things Irish and just getting to know someone from a different place. I got to learn many things about him including what foods he loved and missed from his moms home cooking. He had mention that I needed to try these two things Vol Au vent and Pavlova and when he described to me what these were and I went and goggled it and they looked quite tasty. Now Christmas was coming and he hadn’t been home in almost a year, so I started practicing how to make meringues (the main component in Pavlova.) I tried 3 different times and my results varied depending on how long I beat the eggs. I noticed when I thought they looked done; it needed to go just that little bit more. Merignues can come in many forms whether it is chewy in the centre or light and airy. I honestly didn’t know I had these options until I made them myself and started to learn about Macarons. So I chose the latter thinking it would make more sense in the dessert. I was anticipating surprising my friend with my pavlova, but he got to go home for Christmas as a surprise from his loved ones. So I sat on my recipe and waited, but as quickly as I set it aside I learned he was moving on to Brisbane, Australia for a new adventure and this was the recipe I prepared for his last day. I made the meringues the day before and after a long day of work and going to the gym I was shopping in Metro picking up the fruits and the heavy whipping cream at 10:30pm before bed so I wouldn’t have to wake up too early. Now cut to me waking up at 4 am to prepare the fruit and assemble my treat. I don’t wake up any earlier than 5 am on purpose and Mr. C. can attest to that, I hate it. I am a morning person but that’s not morning yet, in my eyes at least. But this morning I gladly did it and would do it again to see the look on his face. When he came in I gave him his treat and prefaced it by saying, “It may not be like your moms, but it was made with love” he opened his special parcel and said “PAVLOVA!” His eyes lit up and all my tiredness went away. He ate every morsel and enjoyed it immensely; he even washed my container and gave me a big hug, totally not expected.

Yield/Serving: 8-10
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 1 ½ hour
Difficulty level is: Medium

Ingredients
Pavlova
• 6 egg whites
• 1 big pinch of salt
• ½ tsp cream of tartar
• 1 ¾ cups confectioners’ sugar
• 2.5 tsp apple cider vinegar
• 4 ½ tsp cornstarch
• 2 tsp vanilla extract
• Blueberries
• Raspberries
• Blackberries
• Strawberries, sliced
Whipped Cream
• 2 ½ cups of heavy cream
• 1 tsp vanilla extract
• Fresh mint leaves, to decorate (if desired)

Assembly/Method
Meringues
1. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
2. Preheat oven to 275°F.
3. Using an electric mixer with the whisk attachment, beat egg whites along with salt and cream of tartar until soft peaks form.
4. In a steady continuous stream add the confectioners’ sugar and beat until stiff peaks have formed.
5. Add the cider vinegar, cornstarch and vanilla and beat until peaks are thick and glossy.
6. Pour meringues on the parchment paper with a spatula into a circle.
7. Bake for 1 hour and 30 minutes.
8. Let cool in the oven to help the meringue crisp up.
Whipped Cream
1. Whip together the cream and vanilla extract on medium with an electric mixer, using the whisk attachment until stiff peaks are just about to form.
Fruit
1. Peel and prepare the fruits.
Pavlova (Cake)
1. Place one meringue onto a plate, then top with whipped cream, add a portion of fruit and serve.
Pavlova (Layered Crispy & Flat Meringue)
1. Place one meringue onto a plate, then top with whipped cream and add a portion of fruit and then add another meringue and add whipped cream and more fruit. Add one more meringue and top with a little more whipped cream.
2. Decorate with a mint leaves on top.

Tips
• The meringues can be any size really, depending on if you want to crumble the meringues or leave them whole. I have done it both ways. I keep them whole when I am making individual portions and crumble them when I am making it family style. (If you want a crumbly meringue make the circles smaller and flatter.)
• It is difficult to achieve the perfect meringue, so don’t fret if it’s not perfect.
• You don’t have to make the whipped cream, you can use store bought, but I highly recommend making your own. You can taste the difference.
• You can use any of your favourite fruits or what is readily available or in season.
• Meringues can be stored in an air-tight container for up to 7 days.
• If you have never made meringues before practice a couple of times, if you want this to turn out right. Please note- The perfect meringue will have no air pockets inside.
• Variations: Add 2 tsp of different extracts instead of vanilla extract of 2 tsp of cocoa powder for a chocolate flavour.

Please Enjoy

Reviews
Needless to say my Irish co-worker loved it and appreciated my effort. His face and the hug told me that. But considering when I told him how early I was up and making this, he said “I was rolling over in bed and you’re up making this for me, this was absolutely lovely”. I also made another set for the rest of my co-workers (family style) and they enjoyed it to, even some who weren’t meringue fans like Mr. C. This item seems to have a love it or hate it factor, but because it was mixed with other components the haters became lovers. This was a great feeling. I may have turned some people onto a new dessert.

My thoughts
This came out great, there was a perfect mix of sweet from the meringue and acidity from the fruit and the mellowness of the whipped cream. I will be making this again.

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Garlic Dill Butter

Garlic Dill Butter - Candy Coated Culinista

Garlic Dill Butter – Candy Coated Culinista

After my Mediterranean Inspired Dinner I had a lot of dill left over and as I am not one to waste, I immediately said “dill butter”.

Yield/Serving: 400g
Prep Time: 10 min
Cook Time: 5 min
Difficulty level is: Easy

Ingredients
• 1 cup fresh dill, finely chopped
• 8 cloves garlic, finely minced
• ¼ cup parsley, finely chopped
• 1 ¼ cup vegetable margarine, margarine or unsalted butter
• 1 tsp black pepper
• 1 tsp sea salt

Assembly
1. Chop and mince dill, garlic and parsley and pour into a bowl along with the margarine.
2. Season with salt and pepper.
3. Mix until well combined.

Tips
• Don’t over salt whatever you are putting the dill butter on.
• Use unsalted butter to control how much salt you want in the butter if any.
• Scoop out portions and freeze to use at a later date. Wrap in some wax paper and cover with cling film and place in a freezer bag.

Please Enjoy

My thoughts
I made these to accompaniment my baby potatoes and this tasted amazing. I could still taste the fresh dill and the aromatics of the garlic and dill. I also bought some mini ciabatta breads and prepared dill garlic bread for snacks and to accompany pasta dinners.

Caramel Gluten-Free Brownies

Caramel Gluten-Free Brownies - Candy Coated Culinista

Caramel Gluten-Free Brownies – Candy Coated Culinista

Less fat, more fibre, gluten-free and this is all going to taste good right? It seemed to me like a lot to ask of a little brownie and furthermore I don’t believe it! As is my usual process I made this once per the recipe and the second time I experimented. To my surprise this turned out so well that I couldn’t believe all that was promised was achieved. View my photo in the cooking club gallery here.

Altered From Chatelaine

Yield/Serving: 9
Prep Time: 10 min.
Cook Time: 40-45 min.
Difficulty level is: Easy

Ingredients
• 2 ½ cups confectioner’s sugar
• 2 cups ground almonds
• 2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
• 1/8 tsp salt
• 4 egg whites
• 2 tsp vanilla
• Confectioner’s sugar, to dust
• 1/3 cup caramel, to drizzle

Assembly
1. Preheat oven to 300°F.
2. Line an 8” x 8” pan with parchment paper and let the paper hang over the pan.
3. In a large bowl whisk sugar, ground almond, cocoa and salt until combined. (Don’t Over mix)
4. Pour batter into pan.
5. Bake for 40-45 minutes or until a cake tester inserted comes out clean.
6. Lift brownies out of pan using the parchment paper and let cool completely on a wire rack.
7. Dust with confectioner’s sugar.
8. Pour caramel into a small microwave safe bowl and microwave for 10 seconds and drizzle over brownies.
9. Serve and enjoy right away.

Tips
• Serve with a glass of milk, ice cream or whipped cream.
• Look for a caramel sauce that doesn’t have a high sugar content or make your own.

Please Enjoy

My thoughts
The piece Mr. C. and I shared fresh out of the oven tasted delicious. It was sweet, rich, dense, and scrumptious and the caramel added an extra complexity, but not adding any sweetness. I would suggest eating these immediately as the shelf life is very limited. The first batch I made was decent the next morning, but the second time I made it the brownies firmed up much faster. They where rock hard, and when I say rock hard I mean they could be weapons, a sock filled with these brownies or baker brownie throwing stars. Mr. C. said “It’s the lack of Gluten that made it get hard so fast” This made me crack up. I will make this one more time with the remaining ground almonds I have and see if the third time I can lengthen the shelf life.

**Upon further research I probably over mixed this batter. The first time I did this recipe I hand mixed in a bowl vs. the second time I used the electric mixer. Also all baking is an exact science where proper measurements must be used. I have a feeling in gluten-free baking you must be extra precise, and with my approach of experimenting by adding a dash or this and more of that, I may have added a little too much of an ingredient and spoiled the recipe. Gluten-Free baking is quite finicky I gather and I have barely started my adventures into it, but these mistakes will only help me get better.

Caramel Gluten-Free Brownies - Candy Coated Culinista

Caramel Gluten-Free Brownies – Candy Coated Culinista

Flourless Almond Butter Triple Chocolate Chip Cookies

Flourless Almond Triple Chocolate Chip Cookies - Candy Coated Culinista

Flourless Almond Triple Chocolate Chip Cookies – Candy Coated Culinista

I made these Monday night on a whim. I left work feeling energized and wanting to bake even though on Sunday I had done 3 recipes during my hectic day: Cupcake Decorating #1, Gluten-Free Brownies and Garlic Dill Butter– (the last two to be posted very soon). I got great reviews from this recipe by Mr. C’s co-workers so this baby is being fast-tracked to post. So his colleagues can enjoy this recipe.

Yield/Serving: 12 cookies
Prep Time: 10 min
Cook Time: 8-12 min
Difficulty level is: Easy

Ingredients
• 1 egg
• 1 ¼ cup almond butter (100% almonds)
• ¼ cup golden brown sugar
• ¼ cup Demerara sugar
• 1 tsp baking soda
• ¼ cup bittersweet chocolate chips
• ¼ cup milk chocolate chips
• ½ cup swirl milk chocolate chips (white & milk chocolate)
• 1 tsp coconut extract

Assembly
1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
2. Line two cookie sheets with a silicone baking mat or parchment paper.
3. Whisk egg in a large bowl.
4. Add almond butter, sugars and baking soda and combine until well incorporated.
5. Add the chocolate chips and fold until combined.
6. Using a tablespoon, scoop out about one to one and one half tablespoons onto the baking mat or baking sheet.
7. Brush coconut extract onto the top of the cookies and bake in 2 batches of 6 cookies.
8. Bake for 8-12 minutes for a softer cookie. If you would like a crispier cookie increase the cook time by 2 minutes, but keep an eye on the oven.
9. Let cookies cool on the baking mat/parchment paper for 15 minutes, as they will seem too soft. They will require this time to firm up.
10. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Tips
• 3 days later the cookie the almond cookies is still soft. This probably can last 5-7 days in a sealed container at room temperature.

Please Enjoy

Reviews
I had intended to make almond cookies with flour awhile back along with my PB & JJ Thumbprint & Ultimate Chocolate Chip Cookies, but I felt I was making too many cookies. Mr. C. and I attempted to consume the almond butter but he in particular found it to be “too grainy for (his) taste and was a little dry on its own”. However, in the form of these cookies, this almond butter tasted much better. Mr. C. emailed me at work and said “Your cookies are a hit”. I even got one comment from one of my email subscribers that is also Mr. C’s co-worker: “I love your wife”. With a response like that I can’t help but want to make more treats. I got a big smile from that comment.

My thoughts
Soft, sweet and gooey. This tasted much better than I expected. I am used to making cookies with flour and I also expect when recipes are changed at the base ingredient level they will taste funny. My hopes weren’t high at all, but this time I was really pleasantly surprised. They looked and tasted like cookies and I didn’t miss the flour. The cookies were quite crumbly so maybe the flour is what binds all the ingredients into one cohesive mass. In any event I enjoyed this thoroughly and could taste the lightness to this recipe.

Kale, Ham & Cheddar Quiche

Kale, Ham & Cheddar Quiche - Candy Coated Culinista

Kale, Ham & Cheddar Quiche – Candy Coated Culinista

For a ham lover I actually have prepared too much ham for Christmas dinner and surprisingly I couldn’t finish it all “Quelle Surprise”. I froze the leftovers and I chopped and cubed the ham thinking omelettes, but then I decided to make a quiche even though I’d be partaking alone as Mr. C. doesn’t care for Quiche.

Yield/Serving: 6-8
Prep Time: 1 hour
Cook Time: 45 min
Difficulty level is: Easy

Ingredients
Crust
• 1 ½ cups flour
• ¼ tsp sea salt
• 1 tsp sugar
• ½ cup (1 stick cold butter), cut into small pieces
• 4-5 tbsp ice water
Filing
• 1 ¼ cups kale
• ½ cup onion, chopped
• 2 cloves garlic, minced
• 1 tbsp unsalted butter
• ½ cup ham
• 4 eggs
• 2 cups light cream 20% fat
• 2 tsp salt
• 1/8 tsp nutmeg
• 1/8 tsp black pepper
• Pinch of cayenne pepper
• 1 ¼ cups sharp cheddar cheese, shredded

Assembly
Crust
1. Mix flour, salt and sugar and combine in a food processor.
2. Add cold butter and pulse until butter is pea sized.
3. Add 3 tbsp of ice water and pulse to combine. Continue and add 1 to 2 tablespoons of ice water one tablespoons at a time pulsing until the dough comes together. Don’t over mix.
4. Roll out dough to fit in a deep dish pie plate.
5. Wrap in plastic and chill for 1 hour.
6. After an hour has passed remove dough from the fridge and place into pie plate and crimp the edges.
7. Preheat oven to 450°F.
8. Bake the crust for 8–12 minutes, with pie weights or dried beans on the bottom. (Increase the cook time if your crust is thicker.
9. Allow to cool.
Filling
1. In a saucepan steam kale until it wilted and drain, squeeze and pat dry. (Make sure all the excess water has been removed from the kale)
2. Reduce the temperature in the oven to 425°F.
3. Using a frying pan sauté onions and garlic in the butter until translucent.
4. Add in ham and kale in the last two minutes of the sauté and then let cool for 5 minutes.
5. Add the kale and ham mixture to the pie crust.
6. In a bowl beat eggs, and then add cream, salt, nutmeg, pepper and cayenne and whisk until well combined.
7. Ladle the egg mixture over the filling and add sprinkle the shredded cheese on top.
8. Bake for 15 minutes at 425°F.
9. Lower the oven temperature once again to 350°F and bake for 20-25 minutes, or until a knife inserted in the centre comes out clean.
10. Let cool for 30 minutes to allow quiche to set.
11. Serve in wedges.

Tips
• Ensure your crust isn’t too thick. Thick enough to support the weight of the quiche but not too thick that the dough doesn’t cook through.
• Serve with a fresh salad or soup.

Please Enjoy

My thoughts
I took a piece for lunch and it tasted great. Mr. C. even said that smells good, granted he didn’t try any. He thought the kale would make it taste bad, but to me it tasted just like spinach just a little more robust in flavour. My twp complaints were I didn’t have a food processor to make this easier on myself and the dough was too thick; next time I will ensure I roll my dough out thinner.

Cupcake Decorating Practice #1

Cupcake Decorating Practice #1 - Candy Coated Culinista

Cupcake Decorating Practice #1 – Candy Coated Culinista

I planned on making homemade cupcakes for my birthday post, but like usual I got too busy and too many things preoccupied my time surrounding my birthday. One of my closest friends from childhood and also one of my bridesmaids is a January baby also; just 6 days after me. I made sure that over the weekend I was going to makes cupcakes, whether homemade or box and just jazzed up. I ended up making a box cupcake and added sprinkles and flavoured extracts, and premade frosting. My goal here was to practice icing a cupcake with a decorating bag/piping bag. For my first attempt I used one of my Christmas presents from 2012 a Dessert Decorator (a cylinder tube with a plunger top) along with the Star Tip. I found this to be so easy that after my first try it came out pretty well. I made cotton candy flavored blue frosting as this is her favourite colour.

Supplies:
• Dessert Decorator/ Decorating Bag/ Piping Bag
• Decorating Tips
• Cupcakes
• Frosting
• Food Colouring
• Star Quinns

Tips
• I tried both decorating piping the cupcakes with no stream (tail) and with and I found that with a tail seemed to work easier. I would suggest just don’t give it too much of a lead until you’re proficient in decorating.

Assembly
1. Arrange cupcakes.
2. Prepare frosting and add flavourings or colouring as desired.
3. Fill the decorator.
4. Pipe frosting onto cupcakes.
5. Decorate with star quinns

Please Enjoy

My thoughts
I had a blast decorating these cupcakes and my friend was so excited when she saw them. She also loved that I remembered her favourite colour. I also gave a bunch to another friend (also a bridesmaid) and my second mom’s family. Mr. C said “great job hun” and of course I set aside some house cupcakes.

Cupcake Decorating Practice #1 - Candy Coated Culinista

Cupcake Decorating Practice #1 – Candy Coated Culinista

Mediterranean Inspired Dinner

Mediterranean Inspired Dinner - Candy Coated Culinista

Mediterranean Inspired Dinner – Candy Coated Culinista

Secondo : Parmesan Crusted Salmon
Contorno : Rapini with Caramelized Onions & Grape Tomatoes
Insalata : Bulgur Wheat & Organic Black Beluga Lentils Salad

It’s 2014, and the New Year is upon us and after all the heavy foods in excess we consumed during the holidays, those light dishes in January are really needed. I was surfing through Food Network Canada and came across their Cooking Club Challenge and for the month of January its salmon. Everyone seems to be on the same wavelength with starting off the year right by eating healthy. So Monday night I went home and made a Mediterranean inspired salmon dinner, with some of the grains I promised myself I would start integrating into my meals.

Secondo : Parmesan Crusted Salmon

Yield/Serving: 4
Prep Time: 10 min
Cook Time: 10-15 min
Difficulty level is: Easy

Ingredients
• 4 salmon fillets
• ¼ cup shredded parmesan cheese
• ¼ cup Panko breadcrumbs
• Sea salt, to taste
• Black pepper, to taste
• Lemon juice, from half a lemon
• Extra virgin olive oil

Assembly
1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
2. Mix together the Parmesan and breadcrumbs until well combined.
3. Season salmon with salt and pepper and then squeeze lemon juice on.
4. Coat the un-skinned side of the salmon with the parmesan mixture.
5. Preheat an oven proof non-stick pan to medium-high heat and pour in olive oil.
6. Once pan and oil is hot place salmon in crust side down and don’t touch.
7. Cook for 3 to 5 minutes or until golden brown.
8. Flip over salmon and place in oven to cook for 6 to 8 more minutes.

Tips
• An ovenproof pan will make this process so much easier. I had to transfer my salmon from a frying pan to a baking pan.

Contorno : Rapini with Caramelized Onions & Grape Tomatoes

Yield/Serving: 4
Prep Time: 5 min
Cook Time: 15-20 min
Difficulty level is: Easy

Ingredients
• 2 tbsp Extra virgin olive oil
• 1 large yellow onion, sliced
• 3 garlic cloves, minced
• 1 cup grape tomatoes, halved
• 1 bunch rapini, washed and trimmed
• Sea salt, to taste
• Black pepper, to taste
• 1 tbsp red chilli flakes

Assembly
1. In a large frying pan over medium heat, sauté the onions and garlic in the olive oil until sweated.
2. Add in the grape tomatoes and the rapini and cook until rapini has wilted.
3. Season with salt, black pepper and pepper flakes.

Insalata : Bulgur Wheat & Organic Black Beluga Lentils Salad

Yield/Serving: 4
Prep Time: 1 hr
Cook Time: 20 min
Difficulty level is: Easy, labour intensive

Ingredients
• ¼ cup organic back beluga lentils
• ½ cup bulgur wheat
• 3 springs, green onion, diced
• 1 baby zucchini, diced
• ½ red pepper, diced
• ½ green pepper, diced
• 4 garlic cloves
• 1 handful or fresh dill, chopped
• 1 handful or fresh parsley, chopped
• Extra virgin olive oil
• Sea salt, to taste
• Black pepper, to taste
• Lemon juice, from half a lemon
• 1 ½ tbsp red wine vinegar

Assembly
Organic Black Beluga Lentils
1. In a small sauce pan soak lentils in 1 cup of water lightly salted for 1 hour.
2. Simmer lentils on low-medium heat until tender, about 15 minutes, and drain.
Bulgur Wheat
3. Boil 1 cup water in a saucepan.
4. Rehydrate bulgur wheat in the boiling water and simmer for 5 minutes.
5. Turn off heat and cover until all the water is absorbed, about 15-20 minutes.
6. Fluff up wheat with a fork and pour into a large bowl.
Salad
7. Prep the green onion, zucchini, red pepper, green pepper, garlic, dill & parsley and place in bowl.
8. Once lentils and wheat are tender pour into same bowl and add olive oil, salt, black pepper, lemon and red wine vinegar.
9. Stir until well incorporated.
10. Serve.

Please Enjoy

Reviews
“The dinner was excellent. I really liked the crust on the salmon it added a nice crunch to the flaky salmon which was cooked perfectly. The bulgur wheat and dill salad was very tasty. I especially liked adding it to a bite of salmon for that burst of flavour from the dill and the texture of the bulgur wheat and lentils. The fried veggies were especially tasty and there was a very sweet veggie in there that I couldn’t quite put my finger on.”

My thoughts
This was an amazing dinner: healthy, vibrant and flavourful. I thought I wasn’t going to like the bulgur wheat or the lentils, as I really really really hate lentils but this tasted delish. The mix of all the veggies and herbs complemented the lentils and even Mr. C. enjoyed it. Usually I like to introduce new recipes one at a time. Something familiar mixed with something new; however with this recipe I went in feet first with 3 new recipes off the top of my head with just the idea of salmon. The bulgur wheat salad tasted better the next day when the flavours married. I had the leftover bulgur wheat salad and rapini for lunch the next day, and this was one of the few lunch dishes that I had with no meat. It was so flavourful that I didn’t even miss the meat and to me that means I did real good.

Fruitcake & Mint Chocolate Shortbread

Fruitcake & Mint Chocolate Shortbread - Candy Coated Culinista

Fruitcake & Mint Chocolate Shortbread – Candy Coated Culinista

I have never made shortbread before and I was a little apprehensive to get this started. This is a part of the cooking club and I couldn’t decide between icebox cookies or shortbread. Mr. C. said “shortbread please” so my choice was made. I am making 3 desserts for Christmas dinner and only one I know will be perfect (because I have done it before is the Sky-High Pumpkin Pie). There is a saying that you never try out new recipes when you are expecting company. I however, don’t seem to follow this rule.

I submitted these for the Cooking Club Holiday Cookie Challenge. See my picture here in the Chatelaine gallery.

Fruitcake Shortbread

Yield/Serving: 16 squares
Prep Time: 1 hour (to let the butter reach room temperature)
Cook Time: 45 – 50 min
Difficulty level is: Easy

Ingredients
• 1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
• ½ granulated sugar
• 1 tsp vanilla
• ½ tsp sea salt
• 1 tsp mixed spice (nutmeg, cinnamon, cinnamon)
• 1 ¾ cup all-purpose flour
• 3 tbsp red & green glace cherries
• 3 tbsp candied lemon peel
• 3 tbsp dark rum

Assembly
1. Preheat oven to 300°F.
2. Beat butter until creamy and then gradually beat sugar and vanilla in. Continue to beat for 2 minutes.
3. Sift flour and salt into a medium bowl and mix with a whisk.
4. Pour flour into the butter mixture gradually until well combined.
5. Add the glace cherries & lemon peel and dark rum until well combined.
6. Spray a 9” x 13” glass dish and press dough into dish.
7. Prick the dough with a fork every ½”.
8. Bake in centre of oven for 45-50 minutes, or until top is golden brown.
9. Once baked prick again and cut into squares while still warm; then let cool completely in pan.
10. Serve.

Tips
• Use sea salt vs. kosher salt. The kosher salt granules are too big.
• Store in an airtight container in a cool place for 1 week or freeze up to a month.

Mint Chocolate Shortbread

Yield/Serving: 20 cookies
Prep Time: 1 hour (to let the butter reach room temperature)
Cook Time: 45 – 50 min
Difficulty level is: Easy

Ingredients
• 1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
• ½ granulated sugar
• 1 tsp vanilla
• ½ tsp sea salt
• 1 tsp mixed spice (nutmeg, cinnamon, cinnamon)
• 1 ¾ cup all-purpose flour
• 1/3 cup mini dark chocolate chips
• 1 tbsp peppermint extract

Assembly
1. Preheat oven to 300°F.
2. Beat butter until creamy and then gradually beat sugar and vanilla in. Continue to beat for 2 minutes.
3. Sift flour and salt into a medium bowl and mix with a whisk.
4. Pour flour into the butter mixture gradually until well combined.
5. Add mini chocolate chips & peppermint extract until well combined.
6. Form dough into a log and slice into ¼” rounds.
7. Bake in centre of oven for 45-50 minutes, or until top is golden brown.
8. Once baked prick again and cut into squares while still warm; then let cool completely in pan.
9. Serve.

Tips
• Use sea salt vs. kosher salt. The kosher salt granules are too big.
• Store in an airtight container in a cool place for 1 week or freeze up to a month.
• If you have leftover teas you want to get rid of try finely grinding them and adding to shortbread mixture.

Please Enjoy

My thoughts
Yum. I find shortbread to be a very simple and fool-proof recipe. I managed to alter this first time out and the results were great. I made these a second time a few days back and the results were even better as I chilled the dough. I think I will be making shortbread more than just at the holidays.

Cookie Decorating – Practice #1

Royal Icing Decorating - Candy Coated Culinista

Royal Icing Decorating – Candy Coated Culinista

Truth be told I am about 3 months late practicing how to decorate cookies. The plan was to make El Dia Los Muertos (Day of the Dead) Sugar Skull cookies, as I love all things macabre and skulls being my focal point in this genre. There should have been a post November 1st 2013, but I had so many Halloween posts leading up to that day that I thought I should relax a bit. I also put a hold on it as I haden’t practiced or got myself all the tools needed, even though I had the sugar skull cookie cutters from my prize money for my Mini-Jumble Berry Tarts. Christmas rolls around and Bulk Barn is now selling pre-made gingerbread cookies and houses and royal icing. That’s perfect for me as I can just concentrate on the decorating aspect and not worry about making the gingerbread. I bought my supplies and what happens again, I have so many Christmas recipes and posts that I run out of time. Now it’s the first week in January and I am practicing now. The only good thing to my procrastination was that everyone in my life for Christmas either gave me cooking, baking or photography related presents and my second mom (she’s more like big sister and mom – my mom has always said if anything should happen to her this is my new mom) and that’s exactly how it worked out. Anyway back to the story, she and one of her sons (my god-son) gave me a unique measuring cup set that looks like seashells, as my god son thought they were unique just like his aunty C.C. and an icing pen set with all the decorating tips and the much needed offset spatula. Now I had everything I needed and I had no excuse, and I broke in my new icing set.

Supplies
• Gingerbread cookies
• Royal icing
• Sprinkles, quinns, coloured sugar (as decorations you like)
• Offset spatula

Assembly
1. Lay out cookies.
2. Pipe outlines around the edges of the cookie.
3. Let the outline set for 1 hour before flooding the interior.
4. Thin the icing in the microwave or add a little water at a time until runny.
5. Let the icing stand for 5 minutes to allow bubbles to rise to the top and then flood the cookies inside your outlines.
6. Use an offset spatula along with a toothpick to help the icing reach the edges.
7. Let cookies set for 1 hour and then pipe details or the next colour on top. Or when you have finished flooding the cookie sprinkle the sprinkles, quinns or coloured sugar on top immediately so they can adhere to the icing.

Tips
• I found it easier to work with the royal icing if it was slightly warm to get a more liquid consistency.
• Another option is to add water, a little at a time until the runny texture is achieved.

Please Enjoy

My thoughts
My first cookies was a real disaster, you can always tell your first when your practicing something new. By the second cookie I had the hang of it (I was expecting this to take me longer, but maybe my artistic background kicked it). For my first practice at cookie decorating I am quite pleased with myself. I just have to work on my flooding technique and using the offset spatula. I am now feeling more confident and by November 1st 2014 I will have that El Dia Los Muertos (Day of the Dead) Sugar Skull cookies post up for you to try.

Cauliflower & Carrot Soup

Cauliflower & Carrot Soup - Candy Coated Culinista

Cauliflower & Carrot Soup – Candy Coated Culinista

Toronto is under an extreme wind chill warning and after the ice storm we had 2 weeks ago; I am thinking will I ever get warm.

Yield/Serving: 1.5 litres (1500 ml)
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 60 minutes
Difficulty level is: Easy

Ingredients
• 7 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
• 1 cauliflower head, chopped at the florets
• 5 large carrots, peeled and diced
• 2 onions, chopped
• 1 garlic bulb, diced
• 1 cup chick peas, washed and drained
• 7 cups vegetable stock
• 2 tbsp ginger, minced
• 1 tsp salt
• 1 tsp black pepper
• Parsley, for garnish

Assembly
1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
2. Place cauliflower, carrots, onions, garlic and chick peas in a roasting pan and drizzle with olive oil. Roast for 45 to 50 min or until tender and turning a golden brown.
3. In a large saucepan bring vegetable stock and ginger to a boil and let simmer.
4. Pour the roasted vegetable in the saucepan and blend until smooth.
5. Continue to let simmer for 10 more minutes.
6. Serve with a crusty bread or baguette.

Please Enjoy

Review
“The soup was good last night, a little grainy at points and then watery at others, it didn’t mix well but I think that is mostly the carrots. Taste wise it was really really good.”

My thoughts
I was underwhelmed with this. For some reason I thought that this recipes would make me love cauliflower and carrots, and sadly it didn’t. I have never liked cauliflower (I am a broccoli girl) and I know cauliflower doesn’t really have a taste, but I can taste it and I don’t enjoy it. I found it hard to keep the texture consistent, but I also used an immersion blender. Give it a try but cut down the portion size if you’re not a fan like me of cauliflower.

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