R is for … Rainier Cherry Puree Pops

R is for … Rainer Cherry Ice Pops – Candy Coated Culinista

Ranier cherries are the best period. I love them even though they are so expensive and I really should just stay away. I was grocery shopping and saw these peculiar looking cherries and to me they just looked a little anaemic; but low and behold these were Ranier cherries and I decided to purchase a 2lbs container up and give them a try. These were so sweet and succulent that I could eat a whole container myself in one sitting. I still find these are still too pricy, but they are only around for maybe a month in the summer, so I will splurge to taste these wonderful fruit gems.

Yield/Serving: approx. 10 popsicles (depending on your mold size)
Prep Time: 5 min.
Cook Time: 8 min.
Difficulty level is: Easy

Ingredients
• 2 cups ranier cherries, pitted
• ¼ cup sugar
• 2 cups water

Assembly
1. Combine cherries, water and sugar in a small saucepan.
2. Over medium-high heat let simmer for 8 minutes, until the sugar has dissolved.
3. Let the mixture cool.
4. Pour mixture into a blender and pulse slightly.
5. Fill the ice pop molds and freeze overnight.
6. Unmold and serve.

Tips
• Run over luke warm water to unmold.

Please Enjoy

My thoughts
Yum immediately came to mind and this is a great way to have rainier cherries. I added strawberries to a few popsicles to give a variety to the puree pops and they still tasted wonderful.

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Autumn Beetroot Smoothie

Autumn Beet Smoothie – Candy Coated Culinista

I remember a short while ago I couldn’t tolerate a vegetable smoothie and then I started enjoying them. Slowly I added more and more vegetables building up my tolerance and now I’m at the point where I have a veggie smoothie more days than naught.

Yield/Serving: 2
Prep Time: 5 min.
Cook Time: 1 min.
Difficulty level is: Easy

Ingredients
• ½ raw beetroot, peeled and cut into chunks
• Handful of cranberries
• 1 small knob of ginger
• 1 banana, cut into slices
• 3 tbsp plain yoghurt
• ½ cup water
• Few ice cubes

Assembly
1. Prepare vegetables and fruit and place in blender jar.
2. Add yoghurt, water and ice and blend for one minute.

Please Enjoy

My thoughts
I’ve always loved beets and this smoothie with its natural sweet touch from the beetroot and slight kick from the ginger is a wonderful fall smoothie.

Ground Cherry (Physalis) & Rhubarb Thanksgiving Practice Mini Pies

Ground Cherry (Physalis) & Rhubarb Thanksgiving Practice Mini Pies – Candy Coated Culinista

I have been dreading making a pie because every time I have made a pie crust it has never turned out right. With Thanksgiving quickly approaching I wanted to practice making a pie before I make a pie for Thanksgiving dinner. To date when I make pies they are always a crumb crust and it’s time for me to work on the things that intimidate me.

Yield/Serving: 2 mini pies
Prep Time: 30 min.
Cook Time: 1 hour 30 min.
Difficulty level is: Medium

Ingredients
Pie Crust
• 2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for flouring
• ¼ tsp sea salt
• 11 tbsp cold unsalted butter, cut into pats
• 6-10 tbsp cold water
Filling
Ground Cherries

• Ground cherries
• 1 tsp cinnamon
• 1 tsp golden brown sugar
Rhubarb
• 2 stalks of rhubarb, chopped
• 1 knob of ginger, minced
• 1 tsp ground ginger
• 2 tsp sugar
Egg Wash
• 1 egg whisked
• 4 tbsp whipping cream

Assembly
Pie Crust

1. Preheat oven to 375°F.
2. In a large bowl combine the flour and salt and quickly whisk.
3. Add butter and work together with your fingertips until mixture is crumbly.
4. Add in cold water little by little until dough comes together.
5. Divide dough in half and roll out on a lightly floured surface and transfer to pie dishes.
6. Poke the dough with a fork all over.
7. Fill pie shells with dried beans or pie weights and bake for 12 minutes.
8. Remove the beans or weights and reduce the temperature to 350°F.
9. One bake set aside and quickly put together the pie fillings.
Filling
Ground Cherries & Rhubarb

1. In your first small bowl; mix ground cherries, cinnamon and golden brown sugar until ground cherries are coated.
2. In your second small bowl; mix rhubarb, ginger, ground ginger and sugar until rhubarb is coated.
3. Fill each pie and roll out the remaining dough.
4. Decorate pie with cut outs and a lattice design if you want to get creative. Just ensure you crimped the edges with a fork to seal the two pieces of dough together.
5. Wash with the eggs wash and sprinkle the ground cherry pie with golden brown sugar.
6. Bake for 1 hr to & 1 & 30 hrs depending on your oven and how thick your crust is. (Ensure the bottom of your crust is golden brown to ensure it has baked through.

Tips
• Have fun decorating the pie crust if you can. It was one of the more enjoyable parts of baking the pie besides eating the filling.

Please Enjoy

My thoughts
Ground Cherry & Physalis are also known as Golden berries, they all have the same cherry tomato look. Except the Farmer’s market variety were smaller as a whole and less sweet than the non-organic Golden berries from Colombia. Funny enough I actually enjoyed making this dough; because it actually turned out; which never happens for me. I even tried to decorate the pie because I was on such a high. The taste was not bad and I honoured these limited and very seasonal produce. I will have to avoid making pies with tops on them for now as the top was to0 thick and not flaky. This will probably be solved by rolling out the dough thinner; but for now open faced pies will continue to be my thing. I feel confident in making pasta now and I even pulled out my Ravioli stamper for sometime in the near future.

Plantains Assados con Queso

Plantains Assados con Queso – Candy Coated Culnista

One of the few Caribbean foods I have always loved was plantain whether fried or boiled and put in a soup. Probably it was the sweetness of the plantain as is ripened that caught my attention as a child; but even today when I find plantain in the store I think back to my mom frying it when it was over ripped and ooey gooey to serve alongside my breakfast. I went to a food market at lunch, and I saw this wonderfully fried whole plantain just staring back at me and I just knew I had to try it and it didn’t disappoint.

Yield/Serving: 1
Prep Time: 5 min.
Cook Time: 10 min.
Difficulty level is: Easy

Ingredients
• 4 tbsp canola oil
• 1 plantain, peeled and sliced in the centre, but not all the way through
• 3 tbsp cream cheese
• Fresh rosemary, removed from sprig
• Pinch of sea salt

Assembly
1. Over medium-high, using a frying pan heat up canola oil.
2. Place plantain in and fry all sides until golden brown and the colour has changed.
3. Drain on a paper towel if necessary.
4. Using a small bowl mix cream cheese & rosemary and stuff into the plantain.
5. Sprinkle with sea salt and serve.

Tips
• If you have time bake this bake at 400° for 30 minutes; instead of frying.

Please Enjoy

My thoughts
I did my own spin on this Ecuadorian dish as the way it was prepared had ricotta stuffed inside. I used cream cheese and added some fresh thyme because it just felt right to me. This is a new preparation for me that I never knew even existed. I am very happy to have stumbled upon this in the market. Plantains Assados con Queso means baked plantains with cheese; but I took a quicker approach and fried it. Try baking it as it would turn out just as well. I made this while preparing breakfast before work yesterday morning, so I had less time. The plantain was soft on the outside and firmer as you got further in. The filling was creamy with the punch of thyme. I’m not really a fan of cream cheese unless it’s on my bagel; but it works so well and I gave a piece to my testers and they loved the cream cheese and thyme combo.

Lime Meringue Tart

Lime Meringue Tart – Candy Coated Culinista

Once again I was making a dish and found myself with 5 leftover egg yolks. There were a few recipes that immediately came to my mind and I thought to myself I have only made a curd a couple of times with varied results. So this time I went for a lime version and then after a week I decided to make a Lime Meringue Tart.

Ingredients
Lime Curd

• 5 egg yolks
• ½ cup granulated sugar
• 2 limes, zested & juiced
• 1 stick of butter, cut into pats, cold
Crust
• 1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
• 2 tbsp granulated sugar
• 1 tbsp lime zest, about 1 lemon
• ½ cup cold unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
• 1 egg yolk
Meringue
• 1 egg white
• ¼ cup granulated sugar
• ¼ tsp cream of tartar
• Confectioner’s sugar, to decorate (optional)

Assembly
Curd

1. Using a medium saucepan pour an inch of water to the pot and let simmer on medium-high heat.
2. Using a metal bowl combine egg yolks and sugar and whisk until smooth, about a minute. (Metal bowl should be able to fit into the pot without touching the water in the saucepan leaving a gap between the water and the bowl.)
3. Add lime juice and zest to mixture.
4. Once pot has reached a simmer reduce to low heat and place bowl over saucepan.
5. Whisk mixture until thickened, about 8 minutes or when mixture coats the back of a spoon and is a light yellow colour.
6. Remove from saucepan and stir in butter pats one at a time allowing each pat to melt before adding the next.
7. Pour into a container and place plastic wrap directly on the surface of the curd.
Crust
1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
2. In a food processor or electric mixer combine flour, sugar and lemon zest until mixed.
3. Add in butter and egg yolk and combine until crumbs start to clump together resembling peas.
4. Pour mixture into a 9” tart pan with a removable bottom.
5. Press mixture down and up the sides of the tart pan with your fingertips.
6. Bake crust for about 35 minutes or until golden brown and let cool.
Tart
1. Pour lime curd over tart and bake until curd jiggles about 25 minutes and let cool.
2. Refrigerate for at least an hour or overnight to let the curd set.
Meringue
1. Using an electric mixer pour in egg white and whisk on high speed until frothy.
2. Add in cream of tartar and sugar until still peaks are achieved.
3. Place meringue in a piping bag and pipe around the edges of the tart.
Decoration
1. Decorate with sprinkled confectioners’ sugar in a pattern if desired.
2. Serve

Tips
• Curd can be refrigerated for up to 2 weeks.

Please Enjoy

My thoughts
A punch of tart with some sweet is a great flavor combination. The crust was crisp and crumbly. This curd recipe came from a prominent American Food Network personality and it was excessively sugary. I was not the only one who thought so and I halved the sugar in the lime curd. I will make an alternate for Thanksgiving or Christmas perhaps. I have some great ideas running through my head as I type this.

Mango Salad

Mango Salad – Candy Coated Culinista

Mango salad has always been a favourite of mine since I first tasted it many years back being surrounded by so many Filipino co-workers. Back then I thought mango salad was only a Filipino thing; but since I have learned it is also a Thai dish and this is the probably the only way you can get me to have chilies in anything I consume.

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

Ingredients
• 2 mangoes, sliced into match sticks can be green or a little more ripe, your preference
• ¼ red bell pepper, sliced
• ¼ green bell pepper, sliced
• 1/2 medium red onion. Sliced
• Cilantro, handful
• 3 leaves of romaine or a leafy lettuce, chopped
• 1 green onion, chopped
• Freshly squeezed lime juice, from 1 lime
• Sweet Thai chili sauce, to taste

Assembly
1. Prep all the vegetable & fruit and place into a large bowl.
2. Squeeze in lime juice and add sweet chili Thai sauce and serve.

Please Enjoy

My thoughts
Sweet, spicy and full of mangoes; I mean how can you go wrong. Whether you prefer the mango more green or a little more ripe it’s just a great salad with a slight kick.

Meringue Nests with Rhubarb Curd

Meringue Nests with Rhubarb Curd – Candy Coated Culinista

A trip to St. Lawrence Market had me excited to use a particular ingredient I have wanted to cook with for years. I have searched at many different markets over the past 3 years all over the GTA and I could never find them. I was always being told, “We had them yesterday or just sold the last bunch.” Not to mention there is this fear associated with rhubarb as the leaves are poisonous; which of course had me a little apprehensive. Let’s face it I have ackee all the time and I’m actually consuming the poisonous pieces if they were picked to early and here I’m not even touching the rhubarb leaves, so those fears were quelled and I carried on.

Curd
Yield/Serving: 750 ml to 1 liter
Prep Time: 10 min.
Cook Time: 45 min.
Difficulty level is: Easy

Meringue Nests
Yield/Serving: 20
Prep Time: 15 min.
Cook Time: 2 hrs.
Difficulty level is: Medium

Ingredients
Curd
• 2 eggs
• ¾ cup granulated sugar
• 2 cups of rhubarb, shopped, about 6 stalks
• ¼ cup water
• Juice from half a lemon
• ¼ cup cold unsalted butter, cut into pats
Meringue
• 7 egg whites
• 1 cup granulated sugar
• 2 tbsp cornstarch
• 2 tsp white vinegar
• 2 tsp vanilla extract

Assembly
Curd
1. Whisk eggs with 1/ cup of sugar in a medium sized bowl.
2. Using a medium sized saucepan add rhubarb with the remaining ¼ cup of sugar and water over medium-high heat.
3. Bring to a boil and then reduce to medium heat for 8 minutes.
4. Then whisk rhubarb until smooth and squeeze in lemon juice.
5. Ladle in the rhubarb into the egg mixture and slowly incorporate.
6. Add mixture back into the saucepan over low heat and continue to cook for 10 minutes, stirring constantly using a wooden spoon until mixture thickens.
7. Remove mixture from heat and stir in pats of butter one at a time allowing each pat to melt before adding the next.
8. Blender mixture for 30 to 45 seconds to achieve a smoother texture.
9. Pour into a jar and place plastic wrap directly on the surface of the curd.
Meringue
1. Pre-heat over to 250°F.
2. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
3. Using an electric mixer with the whisk attachment, beat eggs on high until soft peaks are formed about 2 minutes.
4. Slowly add in sugar 1 tablespoon at a time until stiff glossy peak have formed. About 2 more minutes.
5. Beat in the cornstarch, vinegar and vanilla until combined.
6. Pipe meringue into nests and bake for 2 hours.
7. Turn off the oven and let them dry in the oven for one more hour and leave on the parchment paper to completely cool.

Tips
• Blend the curd just before pouring into a jar to cool to achieve a smoother texture if desired.
• Let meringue cool in oven over night.

Please Enjoy

My thoughts
Rhubarb is a fibrous vegetable and I highly recommend blending the curd, especially if you are using it in a tart or topping a pavlova, meringue cookies, macaron, pancakes or crepes. You’re really going to want that smooth creamy texture to the curd. The meringue cookies were crispy, chewy and marshmallowy and with the addition of the tart silky curd it balances out the sweetness of the cookies. I loved that I got to practice my piping skills and it was enjoyed by all who had and this is a perfect summer recipe. I really wish I knew someone who had rhubarb in the backyard garden though as these sell at a premium. I paid 3.99 a pound, which came to $9.50 for seven stalks. As this has such a small season a splurge once a season is ok; but still it’s so pricy. If you want an eye-catching seasonal dessert to catch the eye; this is a must make.

Roast Chicken with Plums

Roast Chicken with Plums – Candy Coated Culinista

Yield/Serving: 3-4
Prep Time: 15 min.
Cook Time: 1 hour plus
Difficulty level is: Easy

From: Diner: Changing the Game by Melissa Clark

Ingredients
Chicken

• 1 large lemon, grated
• 1 tbsp ground sumac
• 2 tsp kosher salt
• 1/2 tbsp black pepper
• ½ tsp cinnamon
• ½ tsp allspice
• 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
• 2 garlic cloves, grated or minced
• 1 whole chicken, 4 pounds
• 1 bunch of thyme, for garnish
Plums
• 4 plums, halved & quartered
• 4 shallots, sliced into rounds
• 1 tbsp honey
• ½ tbsp extra virgin olive oil
• ¼ tsp kosher salt
• ¼ tsp cinnamon
• 1/8 tsp allspice
• 1 bay leaf, torn in half

Assembly
1. Grate the zest from the lemon and place in a small bowl.
2. Add and stir in the sumac, salt, pepper, cinnamon, allspice along with the olive oil and garlic.
3. Rub chicken and throughout the cavity of the chicken.
4. Split the thyme bindle into half and place into the cavity of the chicken.
5. Place in a roasting pan on a wire rack and let marinate for 1 hour and up to 24 hours.
6. Let chicken come to room temperature before cooking for 30 minutes.
7. Preheat oven to 450°F.
8. In a medium sized bowl mix together plums, shallots, honey, oil, salt, cinnamon, allspice, bay leaf and 2 tsp of water.
9. Spread mixture on the bottom of the roasting pan and place the chicken on top and roast for 30 minutes.
10. Squeeze 1 tablespoon of lemon juice and mix with remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil.
11. Drizzle over chicken and continue to cook for 30 to 45 minutes longer.
12. Let the chickens rest covered in foil for 10 minutes and then carve.
13. Serve with plums and add more fresh time for garnish.

Please Enjoy

My thoughts
I choose this recipe as I have been looking for interesting and new ways to serve my proteins. I have never cooked with sumac before and I had to research what the flavour and taste of sumac was. Once I learned it had a lemony taste I was delighted. I have never thought to incorporate plums into a dinner dish and this was a lovely addition. I found this to be a touch too savoury for myself though as I had leftover that hung around for more than two days. I batched down this recipe as the original called for 2 whole chicken, which I was not planning to invest in with new flavour combinations. Overall I think this could be a hit depending on the audience. I enjoyed this; but it wouldn’t go into my weekly menu; more like every two months to change things up and during plum season.

Cider-Braised Chicken with Apples

Cider Braised Chicken - Dutch Oven Version - Candy Coated Culinista

Cider Braised Chicken – Dutch Oven Version – Candy Coated Culinista

I really love apple cider!. So much so that I could consume a 3 litre bottle of Fresh-Pressed Mulled Sweet Apple Cider in one day if I’m not careful and therein lies the problem. I’m not usually one for sweet things; but I can’t resist apple cider and when I came across a recipe including cider I’m all in. Apple juice has always been my preferred juice of choice and almost any combination of apples and I’m sold. So when I came across this I had no qualms about trying it alcoholic or not.

Slightly altered from Epicurious

Yield/Serving: 4
Prep Time: 30 min.
Cook Time: 45 min.
Difficulty level is: Medium

Ingredients
• 8 chicken thighs
• 1 ½ tsp kosher salt
• ½ tsp black pepper
• ¼ cup Dijon mustard
• 3 tbsp canola oil
• 2 red delicious apple, cut into wedges
• ½ red onion, sliced
• 2 cups apple juice
• ½ cup apple cider vinegar

Assembly
1. Pre-heat oven to 450°F.
2. Season chicken with salt, pepper and rub mustard underneath the skin.
3. Using a heatproof skillet heat 2 tbsp oil over medium-high heat and sear chicken skin side down, until golden-brown, about 8 minutes.
4. Turn the chicken and then add apples and red onions around chicken.
5. Add liquid and transfer to oven to roast for about 20 minutes.

Tips
• If you want to make this with alcohol use 2 cup dry white win instead of apple juice. Also if apple cider is in season feel free to use fresh apple cider.

Please Enjoy

My thoughts
I made this recipe about one week to early. I thought two weeks into December would be late enough in the season to find apple cider; but it seemed this year apple cider only made an appearance purely for the Christmas dinner shopping schedule. So I had to improvise; which is what I seem to do best in a bind as this turned out great. The original recipe called for putting the chicken in a heatproof skillet and roasting the chicken; but I couldn’t really understand that part as I envision braising on a stovetop in a close container. This is when I split the recipe in half and did half in the oven per the directions and then I put the remaining in my Dutch oven. Personally I like the look of the Dutch oven version more as the sauce didn’t separate and it was creamier. Not to mention the chicken wasn’t as blackened. I’m glad I followed my instincts and split the batch.

Cider Braised Chicken - Skillet Version - Candy Coated Culinista

Cider Braised Chicken – Skillet Version – Candy Coated Culinista

Cranberry Coconut & Apricot Cardamon Banana Bread

Cranberry Coconut Banana Bread - Candy Coated Culinista

Cranberry Coconut Banana Bread – Candy Coated Culinista

As much as I try as sometimes my bananas spoil and I just hate wasting, so here we go again a couple more banana bread recipes for the New Year. This is what happens when it’s the Christmas season and you’re going out and enjoying time with friends and family. At the rate I’m going I will have enough banana bread recipes for a whole month.

Cranberry Coconut Banana Bread

Yield/Serving: 6
Prep Time: 10 min.
Cook Time: 1 hour
Difficulty level is: Easy

Ingredients
• 1/3 cup of butter, melted
• 1 egg
• 1 cup 2% milk
• ½ tsp vanilla extract
• 2 ripe bananas, mashed
• 1/3 cup fresh cranberries, roughly chopped
• 1/3 cup shredded coconut
• 1 cup all-purpose flour
• 1 tsp baking soda
• ¼ cup granulated sugar
• Dried cranberries
• Coconut slices

Assembly
1. Preheat oven to 375°F.
2. Grease pans.
3. Over low heat melt butter.
4. In a small bowl whisk together butter, eggs, milk and vanilla extract.
5. In a medium sized bowl mash the bananas and add the cranberries and shredded coconut and set aside.
6. Using a large bowl whisk flour, baking soda, sugar and add the bananas, cranberries and coconut.
7. Make a well in the center and add the wet ingredients and gently stir; but don’t overmix.
8. Spoon batter into pan.
9. Top with dried cranberries and coconut slices.
10. Bake for 1 hour or until a cake tester inserted comes out clean.

Mini Apricot Cardamon Banana Loaves

Mini Apricot Cardamon Banana Loaves - Candy Coated Culinista

Mini Apricot Cardamon Banana Loaves – Candy Coated Culinista

Yield/Serving: 8
Prep Time: 10 min.
Cook Time: about 1 hour
Difficulty level is: Easy

Ingredients
• 1/3 cup of butter, melted
• 1 egg
• 1 cup 2% milk
• ½ tsp coconut extract
• 2 ripe bananas, mashed
• 1/3 cup shredded coconut
• 1 cup all-purpose flour
• 1 tsp baking soda
• 1 tsp cardamon
• ¼ cup granulated sugar
• Whole dried apricot

Assembly
11. Preheat oven to 375°F.
12. Grease pan.
13. Over low heat melt butter.
14. In a small bowl whisk together butter, eggs, milk and coconut extract.
15. In a medium sized bowl mash the bananas and add the shredded coconut and set aside.
16. Using a large bowl whisk flour, baking soda, cardamom, sugar and add the bananas and coconut.
17. Make a well in the center and add the wet ingredients and gently stir; but don’t overmix.
18. Spoon batter into pan.
19. Top with dried apricots.
20. Bake for 1 hour or until a cake tester inserted comes out clean.

Please Enjoy

My thoughts
I just can’t get enough of banana bread no matter the combination and it’s such a great way to use those over ripe bananas. Both these recipes were lovely and I’m now becoming a fan of decorating the tops of my banana breads with dried fruits as it adds a nice classy touch.

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