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.

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Cornish Game Hen with White Heirloom Haricots

Cornish Game Hen with White Heirloom Haricots – Candy Coated Culinista

Thanksgiving is this weekend and I was in the mood to do a little trial run for the big day.

Yield/Serving: 2
Prep Time: 35 min.
Cook Time: 1 hour
Difficulty level is: Medium

Ingredients
Rock Cornish Game Hen

• White onion, slices from half a small onion
• Garlic, 2 cloves whole
• Dijon Mustard
• Dried basil
• Dried rosemary, crushed
• Lemon, slices from half a lemon
Smashed Potatoes
• Yellow skinned gem potatoes
• Fresh thyme, sprinkle on top
White Haricots with Chives
• White haricots
• Chives, finely chopped
Sauteed Mushrooms
• Handful button mushrooms, quartered

Assembly
Rock Cornish Game Hen

1. Preheat oven to 375°F.
2. Slice onions and place inside the cavity of the hen along with whole garlic.
3. Rub spices over hen and spread Dijon mustard over top.
4. Bake for 1 hour and until the skin is a golden brown.
Smashed Potatoes
5. Over high heat boil a pot of salted water with the gem potatoes.
6. When the potatoes are slightly tender drain; set aside and let cool.
7. Once cooled place potatoes on a cutting board and smash overtop with a mug base and sprinkle with fresh thyme.
White Haricots with Chives
8. In a medium size saucepan steam haricots until just firm.
9. Immediately place haricots in an ice bath to shock them and stop the cooking process.
10. Set aside in a bowl and add chives and mix.
Sauteed Mushrooms
11. Using a small frying pan, place a little extra virgin olive oil and sauté mushrooms.
12. Place of platters and serve.

Tips
• Make a quick scratch gravy from the pan drippings

Please Enjoy

My thoughts
These little hens are such a simple, gourmet way to enjoy your Thanksgiving. If you are not in the mood for Turkey or have guests that dislike turkey; this is the way to go. One hen per person is a wonderful idea and also having an intimate dinner for two splitting the rock hen in half works just as well. This meal felt very farm to table with the Farmer’s market finds and a more unique protein. I have already bought another hen for a rainy day when I want to make something just a little more special for my guests.

Cornish Game Hen with White Heirloom Haricots – Candy Coated Culinista

Cornish Game Hen with White Heirloom Haricots – Candy Coated Culinista

Zucchini & Fennel Spinach Pesto Salad

Zucchini Fennel & Spinach Pesto Salad – Candy Coated Culinista

I was given the hugest Zucchini I have ever seen from a co-workers garden and now. I could cradle the thing like a new born baby if that give you any indication of size. Since I clearly have zucchini for the week and for weeknight dinner with friends I figured a new recipe was in order.

Yield/Serving: 4
Prep Time: 30 min.
Difficulty level is: Easy

Ingredients
Pesto

• 1/2 cup fresh basil
• 1 cup fresh spinach packed
• 2 tbsp pine nuts
• 3 tbsp parmesan cheese
• 2 clove garlic, rough chop
• ½ tsp sea salt
• ½ tsp black pepper
• ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
• Squeeze of fresh lemon juice
Salad
• ½ small red onion, thinly sliced
• ½ small fennel, thinly sliced
• 4 medium sized zucchini, trimmed and sliced into ribbons
• ½ pint cherry tomatoes, halved
• ¼ Yellow bell pepper, diced
• ¼ Orange bell pepper, diced

Tips
• Serve with grilled chicken breast for added protein and pour leftover pesto sauce over top of the chicken breast.

Assembly
Pesto

1. In a food processor place basil, spinach, pine nuts, parmesan cheese, garlic, sea salt, black pepper and blend until finely chopped.
2. With the machine running pour in the extra virgin olive oil until pesto is uniform and set aside.
3. Squeeze lemon juice at the end and stir in with a spoon.
Salad
1. Slice red onion..
2. Using a mandolin slice the zucchini lengthwise into ribbons and fennel thinly into strips.
3. Halve the grape tomatoes and dice yellow and orange bell pepper.
4. Place all ingredients into a bowl add pesto and incorporate.

Please Enjoy

My thoughts
This salad was delicious and flavourful. I was surprised how tasty the spinach pesto was considering I couldn’t find arugula at the supermarket. I even went to the expensive fancy grocer to collect it and there was no arugula to be found. Considering the ingredients for this recipe aren’t the cheapest and I got the zucchini for free this would be perfect for a dinner party or with guests and these are some quality ingredients being used; don’t save it just for yourself.

Garden Zucchini – Candy Coated Culinista

Canada 150 Sugar Cookies

Canada 150 Sugar Cookies – Candy Coated Culinista

Since its Canada’s 150th birthday this was my push to do something I have never done before. This is the first time I have ever attempted to make a sugar cookie as I seem to have an aversion to rolling out doughs; whether cookie or pie. My cooking dreams have been filled of me making sugar cookies for two plus years now. Visions of these perfectly decorated cookies that I see in the shops and I just never tackled it in fear of a terrible finished product.

Yield/Serving: 16-20 cookies depending on size
Prep Time: 15 min.
Cook Time: 12 min.
Difficulty level is: Medium, and time consuming and much patience

Ingredients
Cookies
• ¾ cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for rolling
• ½ tsp baking powder
• Pinch of seas salt
• 1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature
• ¼ granulated sugar
• 1 egg yolk
• ½ tsp vanilla extract
• ½ tsp almond extract
• 3 tbsp of milk
Icing
Red Icing
• ¼ cup confectioners’ sugar
• 2 tsp milk
• ½ tsp vanilla extract
• 1 tsp red food colouring
White Icing
• ¼ cup confectioners’ sugar
• 2 tsp milk

Assembly
Cookies
1. In a medium sized bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and sea salt.
2. Using an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar together using the paddle attachment.
3. Once the butter and sugar is fluffy and light and pale in colour, add in the egg yolk and extracts until well incorporated.
4. Pour in over half the flour mixture and combine and then add the remaining flour mixture remaining.
5. Add milk and allow the dough to come together.
6. Preheat oven to 350°F.
7. Place parchment paper onto cookie sheets.
8. Sprinkle flour onto a marble pastry board or floured clean counter top and over rolling pin and roll out dough.
9. Cut out cookies and place on the cookie sheets.
10. Gather the dough scraps and re-roll and cut more cookies.
11. Continue step 10 until all the dough has been used up.
12. Place cookies on the cookie sheet in the freezer for 5 minutes.
13. Bake cookies for 10-12 minutes, until the edges of the cookies are golden brown.
14. Let the cookies remain on the cookie sheet for 5 minutes before moving them to a wire cooling rack to cool completely.
15. Prepare the icing and first outline the cookies and let that icing dry before flooding the interior with icing and then let that dry. (Ensure the icing isn’t too runny as it will run off the cookie. There is a subtle balance regarding the consistency of the border icing and flooding icing. You may want to add a touch more milk after doing the borders to get the icing to flood across the cookie easier.)

Tips
• Add more or less milk depending on how your dough is coming together.
• Don’t add vanilla extract to white icing as then the icing will lose its white colour.
• You can make the cookies ahead of time and decorate the next day.
• Sprinkle flour onto cookie cutters to minimize sticking.
• Remember you will need to set aside a nice chunk of time to decorate.

Please Enjoy

My thoughts
I made a test run recipe to see how everything would come together and I was almost annoyed. I knew I couldn’t use my own recipe as I have no clue how to make a sugar cookie and yet the recipe didn’t turn out well at all. The cookies were floury and I wasted way to much butter, egg yolks and flour; which is why I could make the meringue cookies recipe last week. I had 7 egg whites to use from all the fails for this recipe. Since I had already purchased two specialty cookie cutters from the U.S. months ago and I wasn’t going to waste that money; I just persevered. In the end I used another recipe and it still was too crumbly and the dough didn’t come together. Was it a humidity thing? Not today as it wasn’t humid; so I did my own thing and adjusted to my needs. For the next time I have to work on my finer lettering and decorating skills; but for my first go I’m happy with how it turned out. These are decent enough to give away to my friends for Canada Day celebrations. Everyone enjoyed the look of the cookies and even figured out the shape of Canada. The Ontario cookie shape was a litter harder to distinguish; even with my “x marks the sport” on Toronto where we live lol. Overall the Canadians did well in my book and these were not to sugary, which I liked. I’m excited to make another batch soon and keep refining my skills as I have 50 plus cookie cutters to my name and they’ve been in my cooking box for 7 years now unused sadly.

Canada 150 Sugar Cookies – Candy Coated Culinista

Canada 150 Sugar Cookies – Candy Coated Culinista

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.

Spring Asparagus Medley

Spring Asparagus Medley – Candy Coated Culinista

An easy peasy evening spring vegetable medley to accompany a chicken or beef dish.

Yield/Serving: 4
Prep Time: 5 min.
Cook Time: 5 min
Difficulty level is: Easy

Ingredients
• 2 tbsp Extra virgin olive oil
• 20 Asparagus; hard bottoms cut off
• 5 button mushrooms, sliced
• 10 grape tomatoes, sliced in half
• ½ small red onion, sliced
• Celery salt, to taste

Assembly
1. In a large frying pan pour olive oil over medium-high heat.
2. Add asparagus, mushrooms. Tomatoes, red onion and fry for 5 minutes until tender.
3. Add celery salt.

Please Enjoy

My thoughts
A simple yet satisfying spring dish. This would be a great side dish for a springtime BBQ. Crunchy asparagus, and softened mushrooms, tomatoes and onions is a great combination.

Easter Egg Brownie Bars

Easter Egg Brownie Bars – Candy Coated Culinista

Yield/Serving: 12
Prep Time: 15 min.
Cook Time: 25 min.
Difficulty level is: Easy

Ingredients

• 2 1/3 cup of all-purpose flour
• 1 ½ tsp baking powder
• 1 tsp salt
• 1 ½ stick unsalted butter, at room temperature
• 1 ¾ cup golden brown sugar, packed
• 2 eggs
• 2 tsp vanilla extract
• ¾ cup whoppers, coarsely chopped
• ½ cup whoppers, to place on top

Assembly
1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
2. Spray 9” x 9” pan with non-stick cooking spray.
3. In a medium bowl, add flour, baking powder and salt and mix together.
4. Cream butter and sugar using an electric mixer at medium speed until well combined.
5. Add eggs and vanilla and incorporate.
6. On low speed at the flour mixture until combined.
7. Fold in whoppers and then pour batter into baking pan.
8. Bake for 25-30 min. or until a cake tester inserted comes out clean.
9. Let cool, cut and serve.

Tips
• If you prefer your cookies more chewy then under bake them by 2-5 minutes.

Please Enjoy

My thoughts
As usual too sweet for me; but enjoyed by others. I like that bars give off that Easter feel. This was a mix of a brownie and a cookie and great for children and adults alike.

Good Friday Shrimp Scampi

Good Friday Shrimp Scampi – Candy Coated Culinista

A beautiful dishes that is perfect for Good Friday if you are off meat for the day like myself.

Yield/Serving: 4-5
Prep Time: 10 min.
Cook Time: 30 min.
Difficulty level is: Easy

Ingredients
• 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
• ¼ small white onion, diced
• ½ bulb of garlic, finely chopped
• Shrimp, 40 pieces of smaller sized shrimp
• sea salt, to taste
• black pepper, to taste
• paprika, to taste
• spaghetti, 2” circumference of pasta
• pasta sauce with basil
• 2 handfuls of spinach, stems cut
• ¼ green pepper, diced
• ½ small red inion, diced
• Tomato, cut into chunks
• Dried oregano, to taste
• Dried basil, to taste
• Crushed red pepper, to taste

Assembly
1. In a large frying pan over medium heat, sauté white onion and garlic along with 2 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil for a few minutes.
2. Boil a large pot of water with a little oil and salt over high heat.
3. Using the same frying pan add the shrimp and season with sea salt, pepper and paprika and cook.
4. Once water is boiling add spaghetti and cook until al dente.
5. Drain pasta and coat with pasta sauce.
6. Add spinach, green pepper, red onion, tomato, dried oregano, dried basil and crushed red pepper flakes; along with shrimp and garlic mixture and incorporate.
7. Serve

Tips
• Add 2 pieces of bacon cut into pieces if this isn’t for Good Friday and you eat meat.

Please Enjoy

My thoughts
This recipe was made with everything on hand in my fridge with no pre-planning or for-thought and it turned out wonderfully. This it will be perfect for Good Friday and I can’t wait to make it again next week.

Red Velvet Cheesecake Brownies

Red Velvet Cheesecake Brownies - Candy Coated Culinista

Red Velvet Cheesecake Brownies – Candy Coated Culinista

Valentine’s Day is tomorrow and this is a recipe I have made many a time and for many different occasions and this is always a favourite.

Yield/Serving: 12 servings
Prep Time: 20 min.
Cook Time: 30 – 35 min.
Difficulty level is: Medium

Ingredients
Red Velvet Brownies

• ¾ cups unsalted butter, melted, plus more for greasing pan
• 1 cup granulated sugar
• ½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
• 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
• 2 tbsp red food coloring
• ¼ tsp sea salt
• 1 tsp white vinegar
• 3 eggs
• 1 ¼ cup all-purpose flour
Cheesecake Filling
• 340g container cream cheese, softened
• 3 tbsp sugar
• ½ tsp vanilla extract
• 1 large egg yolk

Assembly/Method
1. Preheat the oven to 350ºF.
2. Spray the pan with non-stick cooking spray.
3. In a large bowl, combine the melted butter with the sugar, cocoa powder, vanilla, food coloring and salt, stirring to combine. Then stir in the white vinegar.
4. Whisk together the eggs in a small bowl, and then stir them into the brownie batter.
5. Fold in the flour until just combined, then pour the batter into the prepared pan, reserving 1/3 of the batter for the topping.
6. In the bowl of a stand mixer (or using a handheld electric mixer), blend together the cream cheese, sugar, vanilla and egg yolk until well combined.
7. Spread the cream cheese mixture in an even layer over the brownie batter then top the cream cheese with dollops of the remaining brownie batter. Using a sharp knife, swirl the cream cheese together with the dollops of brownie batter.
8. Bake the brownies for about 30 minutes.
9. Remove them from the oven and let them cool completely before lifting the parchment out of the pan then slicing and serving.

Tips
• Serve with a scoop of French Vanilla Ice cream.
• Add more food colouring if you want the brownies to be redder. I don’t like to add to much dye to my baking so I held back here.
• I made these twice in a couple of weeks and found that the ones I baked in a glass Pyrex 9” x 9” dish came out more fudgey and moist than the ones I baked in a steel pan made for brownies specifically. (The ones with the grid make, so each slice is the perfect size). I prefer the Pyrex and suggest saving your money unless you got them on clearance like I did. This pan seemed to work much better for my blondies than brownies. Unless you prefer your brownies to be more dense.

Please Enjoy

My thoughts
I not a fan of cheesecake, but this is the first cheesecake like recipe I could eat and say I enjoyed every bite. The mix of brownie and cream cheese lessened the “cheesecakey” taste. The brownie was dense and rich and decadent. All the taste testers loved it. I got told I’m running their diet; this is sooooo delicious; I’m taking one home for my BF; but he’ll be lucky if he actually get this and so one. Brownies to me is very subjective as to how you like to enjoy your brownie on the brownie spectrum.

Caribbean Christmas Sorrel

Caribbean Christmas Sorrel - Candy Coated Culinista

Caribbean Christmas Sorrel – Candy Coated Culinista

This is my absolute favourite Christmas drink. Once the Christmas season is upon us I know I’m getting Sorrel and I’m elated. Sorrel is made from sorrel leaves; which are from the hibiscus family and with its deep, rich red colour it just screams Christmas to me. Not to mention all of those other Christmas spices.

Yield/Serving: 9 cups
Prep Time: 5 min.
Cook Time: 20 to 25 min.
Difficulty level is: Easy

Ingredients
• 1 cup sorrel leaves
• 9 cups water
• 1 hand of peeled ginger, cut into pieces
• 1 cinnamon stick
• A few cloves
• 2 star anise
• 1 cup cane sugar, to taste
• Lemon to taste

Assembly
1. Place all the ingredients except the sugar and lemon into a large pot and bring to a boil covered.
2. Reduce to low heat and let simmer for 20 to 25 minutes.
3. Remove from heat to allow to steep for a few hours.
4. Strain away the solids and add sugar and lemon to taste.
5. Chill and serve with ice.

Please Enjoy

My thoughts
I have tasted two types of Sorrel: the Bajan (Barbados) way; which I am accustomed to and more recently the Jamaican way which a lot of the time has Rum added to it; but I have only enjoyed the rum-free version to date. Both islands ways taste great in their own right; the Bajan having more of that Christmas smell and so dark and dense when the drink is put up to the light, no light is getting through. On the other hand the Jamaican way has a lot more ginger and the addition of orange peel and the drink is not as dense. So when I made my first attempt at this I did a combination of both recipes. This tasted alright to me I was really hoping for it to taste like the originals; but it tasted like a Caribbean Canadian version if you will. I think I watered it down too much. I did get my Bajan & Jamaican recipe originators to taste it and they said it tasted good. I will say it tasted better over the next few days as the ingredients blended more and I will definitely add less water next time.

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