Archive for the ‘vegetables’ Category


While I have not been writing on my blog, I have been accumulating large amounts of zucchini from my community garden plot. We  never tried this before and all I can say is , this is the plant to grow for people who want to do as little as possible in the garden and get amazing results. I might not be inspired to write about something, but I am always inspired to bake something.

This picture does not include the 5 other ones I have already baked bread with, or the countless smaller ones which got sliced and grilled on the BBQ, or diced and tossed with pasta, or baked into whoopie pies…..

This recipe is so simple and yet so tasty. It’s a nice change from the lightly spiced zucchini bread that we are all familiar with in one way or another.  The addition of cocoa powder takes this to a whole other level. That’s if you like chocolate.Which I do. This makes two loaves so you can be generous and give one to a friend, or freeze it for up to 3 months for a later date. If you know someone who shies away from veggies, just don’t tell them – they will never know!

Now, I hate sounding like a chocolate snob, but when using cocoa powder as your sole chocolate, it really is important to use the best cocoa powder that you get afford.  I personally like Cocoa Barry Extra Brute with a little black cocoa mixed in, but I also like the Rodelle gourmet cocoa powder (sold at Costco), Freys, and Hersheys Dark. With all that being said, use whatever you like or have on hand. If you only have a generic brand of cocoa powder then add a cup of mini chocolate chips to boost the chocolate flavor. Or add them even if you use the best cocoa powder….. I also add a little orange oil to my  batter since I love the flavor of orange. If you don’t own this, just skip it. Or add 2 Tablespoons of orange juice concentrate instead. What I’m trying to say is that you can always improvise. Don’t let little things stop you from baking something. Don’t have oranges? Okay, leave it out and fill your pans 1/3 the way with the chocolate batter. Scatter 1/2 cup frozen raspberries tossed with 2 tablespoons sugar over the top. Put the remaining batter in the pans. Scatter another 1/2 cup of berries of the tops. That’s 1 cup berries total per loaf. Easy right? Let your imagination flow and work with what you have in your kitchen. Bake on!


Makes two loaves

4 eggs
2  1/4 Cups granulated  sugar
1/2 Cup light brown sugar
1 1/2 cups vegetable oil  vegetable oil
3/4 cup dark cocoa powder
3 cups flour (750 mL) flour
1/4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
3 cups zucchini , finely grated
Zest of 2 oranges
1/2 Teaspoon orange oil (optional)

1/4 cup candied orange peel, divided  (optional, but really nice)

Raspberry loaf

Pre-heat oven to 350 F. Lightly grease and flour two loaf pans and set aside.
Beat eggs well, then add in sugar, 1/2 cup at a time. Add oil, then cocoa to the eggs and sugar.
In a separate bowl, combine dry ingredients: flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add into egg mixture. Mix in zucchini ,orange zest. and orange oil (if using)
Pour into two pans and sprinkle each loaf with some candied orange peel.  Bake for 1 hour 15 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.  Remove from oven and let cool on racks before removing from pans. Thoroughly enjoy!

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The September Baker’s Challenge is hosted by Patri from Asi Son Las Cosas. She has challenged her fellow bakers with a recipe for Empanada Gallega, which is a two crusted pie (usually savory), from Galicia, the northern region of Spain.

“My grandparents lived in a country house that my great-grandfather built a hundred years ago. It is in the northwest of Spain, right on top of Portugal, in the region called Galicia. Back in the 70s, the kitchen was the place of gathering, talking, reading… and there was always something cooking on the iron stove, be it a pot of caldo (a hearty soup), or a stew, or a cake in the oven. When I think back to those days, I can smell the sweetness of burnt wood or coal, the almost “chocolate” scent that rose up to your nostrils when you opened the door, the warmth of the air when coming in from a cool, windy and wet August morning…”

How wonderful is that memory????

As usual, I am typing this up the night the post date, but I actually started a round of these in the beginning of the month. Patri, provided a few recipe options for the dough and some savory fillings but  I immediately started thinking about how to turn this into a dessert. I still had a freezer-full of cherries that I picked last month, my raspberry bush out back is having a bumper crop this summer (what a nice surprise to come home to!) and I saw some lovely fresh figs at the farmers market. Mmmm…. Okay, this was going to be fun. With such beautiful fruit, the fillings could be simple and still shine. Time to turn the large savory pie into individual hand pies!

The dough for these were made using a recipe  “La Empanada Gallega”

3½ cups (500 gm) all-purpose (plain) or bread flour
3 Tablespoons granulated sugar
1 cup (240 ml) warm water
½ cup less 1 tablespoon (100 ml) of liquid fat (oil, margarine, lard)
1 satchel (1 tablespoon) (15 gm) dry yeast
1 teaspoon (5 ml) (6 gm) salt

Sift the flour into a bowl, make a well in the middle and add all the ingredients Mix with a wooden spoon until all the ingredients have been incorporated. Turn dough onto your counter and knead for 10  minutes or place in a standing mixing with the dough hook attachment and knead for 10 minutes.

Make a ball and allow to rise covered with a cloth for about half an hour before using.

Cherry and Frangipane Filling

Frangipane is just an almond cream filling. It is fantastic used as a base for tarts or for pastry filling.

1/2 cup chopped almonds ( or almond meal if you have it)
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 Tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 egg
3 tablespoons butter, softened
3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract

In your food processor, place the almonds, sugar, and flour. Process until finely ground. Then add the rest of the ingredients and process until you have a smooth paste. Transfer to a small bowl, cover and refrigerate until ready to use.

Balsamic Strawberries with Fresh Fig

2 cups fresh strawberries, roughly diced
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/2 vanilla bean, optional
2 or 3 fresh figs

Place the balsamic vinegar into a small saucepan. Scrape out the seeds from the vanilla and add, if using. Bring to a boil and reduce until half. This makes the vinegar sweet and syrupy. Cool and then toss with the strawberries. (This alone is amazing and even better spooned over vanilla ice cream)

Let macerate for 1 hour.

Raspberry and Sweetened Cream Cheese

3 oz cream cheese, softened to room temperature
3 Tablespoons granulated sugar
1/2 Vanilla bean
2 Tablespoons heavy cream
2 Cups fresh raspberries (one pint will probably be just fine if you make just a few of each)

Whip together the cream cheese, vanilla,and sugar. Slowly add the cream until smooth.


Roll the dough out quite thin so they don’t end up tot thick. I used a round pastry shell for my cutter. It is 4 inch across. If you are using the frangipane of cream cheese filling, add 1 full tablespoon of filling in the middle of your dough. Spread slightly. Top with 2 to 3 tablespoons of fruit. For the strawberry fig filling just lay 3 slices of juicy fig across the middle and top with the luscious balsamic berries.

Bring the top half of the dough over the filling ans line up with the bottom edge. Using you fingers, bring the two edges together, pinching the dough together.You can use a fork to press a design around the edges if you like.

Brush with an egg, lightly beaten, before placing into a 350F oven for 30 minutes or until golden brown.

All right. No, I mean that they were just all right. Don’t get me wrong, we ate them and enjoyed them.  The fillings were great ,I just think that I would prefer a tender, flaky crust for instead. But, I wasn’t giving up on this challenge. Onto a savory filling.

I hardly ever post savory recipes. I love to cook just as much as baking and am constantly thinking of menus in my head, but I am a “little bit of this, little bit of that” cook so please bear with me in quantities. I will say that this was delicious and we enjoyed it even more the next day. It started with a layer of carmelized onions followed by a thick layer of cheddar cheese polenta. I finished it off with sautéed carrots, zucchini (from the garden), and peppers. This was a very tasty dinner served with a side salad.

Grandmas recipe for dough

5-1/3 cups (1280 ml) (750 gm) bread flour
2 cups  (480 ml) of lukewarm water (about 85°F/30ºC), approximately
1 satchel (1 tablespoon) (15 gm) dry yeast or  (1 oz) (30 gm) fresh yeast
2 teaspoons (10 ml) (11 gm) salt
4 tablespoons (60 ml) oil (you can use oil from the pan where you have cooked the filling)
1 large egg, for egg wash

Sift the flour into a big bowl and add the yeast. Make a well in the middle. In a small bowl, mix the water and the salt.Now, using your fingers or a wooden spoon, start adding the water and mixing it with the flour-yeast mixture. Keep on working with your fingers or spoon until you have added enough water and all the flour has been incorporated and you have a messy ball of dough.On a clean counter top, knead the dough by  hand or use a standing mixer with the dough hook attachment  for approximately 10 minutes.Clean and oil the big bowl you used for mixing and place the kneaded dough in it. Cover it with a napkin or piece of linen and keep it in a warm, draught-free place for approximately 40 to 50 minutes.

Carmelized Onions (my way)

1 Large sweet onion, sliced
1 Tablespoon olive oil
2 Tablespoons granulated sugar
1 Tablespoon salt
3 Tablespoons red wine vinegar
Place the onion, salt and olive oil in a small saucepan over medium low heat.Cook, stirring frequently for 10 minutes. Turn the heat to low, add the sugar and continue to cook another 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in the vinegar, stir again, and  cook for another final 10 minutes. Cool completely.

Cheddar Cheese Polenta

2 cups (16 oz)  water
3 Tablespoons butter
1 Cup yellow cornmeal
2 cups (16 oz)  milk , divided (I use skim)
200 g sharp cheddar cheese, grated
pinch salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
3/4 teaspoon cumin

Place 2 cups water, 1 cup milk and the butter in a medium sauceopan and bring to a boil. Meanwhile, stir together the  remaining cup of milk and the cornmeal. Gradually stir this into the boiling liquid, reduce the heat to low, and cook, stirring constantly until the cornmeal is thick and creamy, about 15 minutes. Sprinkle with the salt, cumin, black pepper and cheddar cheese. Stir until the cheese is fully melted into the polenta. Set aside to cool.

Sautéed Summer Vegetables

This is what I had on hand. Please use the vegetables you like; this also goes for the seasoning

1 large zucchini, chopped, equalling about 2 cups
1 Cup chopped carrots
1 red pepper, chopped
1 purple or green pepper chopped
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon smoked Serrano chili powder
1/2 teaspoon chipotle chili flakes
1 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons olive oil

Heat the olive oil in a large pan over medium heat. Add the carrots, salt, cumin, chili powder and chipotle flakes; cook for 5 minutes. Add the peppers and cook for another 5 minutes. Add the zucchini and cook for 2-3 minutes, you still want the zucchini to be crisp since it will continue to cook in the oven. Set aside to cool.


Preheat the oven to 350 F

Once risen, turn the dough back into a floured counter and cut it in half. Cover one half with the napkin to prevent drying.Spread the other half of the dough using a rolling-pin. You can use a piece of wax paper over the counter, it will make it easier to move the dough around. Depending on the shape of your oven pan or cookie sheet, you will make a rectangle or a round.Now, the thinness of the dough will depend on your choice of filling and how much bread you like in every bite.  For your first time (like me), make it about 3mm thin (about 1/10th of an inch) and then adjust from that in the next ones you make.

Lightly flour your pan or tray.

Cover the base and sides with the dough. Using the rolling pin or a knife, cut the extra dough.

Place the filling, making sure it is cold and that all the base is covered. Using a hot filling will make the bottom layer of the empanadas become soggy. Be careful to avoid adding too much oil from the filling, try to make it as “dry” as possible

Take the other half of the dough and spread it out to the same or less thinness of the base.  Take into account that this “top” dough needs to be smaller around than the bottom, as it only needs to cover the filling. roll out the second piece of dough and transfer to cover the top.Trim away excess dough.Using your fingers, join bottom and top dough, when you have gone all the way around, start pinching top and bottom together with your thumb and index finger and turning them half way in, that way you end up with a rope-like border. As a picture is worth a thousand words, please watch this video to see how it is done: http://youtu.be/CNpB7HkTdDk

When you are finished, make a 1 inch hole in the middle of the top layer. This will help hot air exit the empanada while it’s baking without breaking the cover.In a small bowl, beat an egg and add a tbsp of cold water. With the pastry brush, paint the top of the empanada with the egg wash.Place the empanada in the oven and bake for about 45 minutes. Check that the bottom part is done. Enjoy!

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End Of Summer Tomato Jam


After a nice long break at my mom’s filled with gardening, swimming at the pool and sunsets at the beach, I am back at home (2 weeks now!) with all the craziness attached.  We had 4 days of relaxation before the school began- 1st grade, full day!!! School starts at 8:10 so we must be in the car no later than 8am. Easier said than done. I wish I could say that I was the sort of parent that prepared my child for the early start time by going to bed at a set time all summer. Yeah, no can do. More like we stayed up late (like 10:30) 2 days before school began. And we are not the type of people who like to naturally wake up early. Our natural body clocks are more like 8:30. Okay… reality check.  So the first week was a challenge. A few crying fits, but we made it through. Now if we can only do it for the rest of the year. Oh, we are also the last ones to arrive every day. Kind of feel like a loser mom but at least I am personally taking her every day and picking her up. And volunteering at the school library. And volunteering to put together a stone mosaic in the schoolyard. Oh, how I miss summer already. Except…

End of summer tomatoes. Everywhere. In abundance. .80 cents a pound. Ready to be peeled, canned, stewed, sun dried, roasted and… made into jam. Savory and sweet luscious jam. While tomato jam has been around forever, I am just reminding you to make it. It is so off the hook amazing.  Wether you spoon it over poached eggs, spread on over a burger, or slather it on crusty bread with oozy cheese, it’s all good.


makes  approx.  1 1/2 pints

3 1/2 pounds tomatoes, coarsely chopped
1 small onion, chopped fine
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon coriander
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon ground ginger (or fresh if you prefer)
1/2 teaspoon smoked chili powder (or chipotle, or leave out altogether)
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
juice of one lemon or 1/2 teaspoon citric acid

Put everything into a large pot and bring to a gentle boil. Stir, lower the heat and simmer until the liquid has evaporated: about 3 hours. You want it to be a thick jam consistency. Transfer into sterilized jars and can or refrigerate for up to two weeks. Enjoy immensely.

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Well, the time has finally arrived. School. Kindergarten, that is. It’s sounds so cliché, but really, where did the time go? With out a doubt, the fastest (and best) five years of my life. We made it through the first week, and for us, the hard part wasn’t school itself, but getting up at 7am everyday. You see, we are a family of late risers. 8:30 is more like it for this bunch, so for us to be out of the house by 8am for an entire week is a big accomplishment. I guess this is the new me; an early riser. Maybe if I just  keep saying it I just might start believing it. I’ll keep you updated….

With school comes snacktime. Another new normality; no nuts. That is tough one for us since we all love nuts of every kind – but since we want to be kind to other little ones, a conscious effort will be made to make school snacks sans nuts. But….. if you wanted to add nuts to this recipe, by all means, please do! Add some for me! Walnuts are a great choice, but sunflower seeds (1/2 C) are truly perfect in this. I haven’t confirmed if they are okay yet to be in the classroom; I think they would be but I want to be polite and make certain before adding them to anything.

This falls into the healthy category while still being really tasty. Veggies, whole wheat, ground flax.. all good things. Oh, and dairy free. Once your veggies are grated it takes moments to get this whipped up and in the oven. So wish me luck with the whole early rising thing and, as always, Bake On!

Carrot Zucchini Bread 

Makes 2 loaves, or 1 loaf and 12 muffins

Eat your veggies!

Preheat your oven to 350 F

1 1/2 C finely grated carrot
1 1/2 C finely grated zucchini (or a combination to make 13 oz)
zest and juice of 1 lemon
1/3 C (3 oz) Orange Juice
4 Eggs
1 C (8 oz )Canola Oil
1 Vanilla Bean,seeds scraped (save your pods for the sugar bowl) or 2 tsp pure vanilla
1 1/2 C (6 oz) Whole Wheat flour
1 3/4 C (5.3 oz) All-Purpose Flour
1/4 C (1 oz) Ground Flax Seed
2 tsp Baking Powder
1 tsp Baking Soda
1 C (7 oz) Light Brown Sugar, packed
1 1/4 C (8.5 oz) Granulated Sugar
2 tsp Cinnamon
1/4 tsp Cardamom
1/2 tsp Nutmeg, freshly ground if possible

Lightly grease 2 loaf pans or line 2 muffin tins with paper liners (or 1 of each as I did)

In a medium glass bowl, mix together  the zucchini, carrot, lemon zest/juice, eggs, orange juice and oil (the wet ingredients) until well blended.

In a separate large bowl, sift together the flours, the cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg, baking soda and baking powder. Add the ground flax seed and the sugars. Stir together well, making sure to get out any brown sugar clumps that might remain. I usually just use my fingers to make sure there are no clumps.

Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix until thoroughly blended. This is one of those lovely recipes that an electric mixer is not needed, it comes together easily with a wooden spoon. Pour into your prepared pans. Bake at 350 for approximately 45 minutes if using a loaf pan or 25 minutes if using a muffin tin. Either way, just bake until fragrant and golden brown.  A toothpick inserted should come out clean. Cool thoroughly before eating.


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Carrot Souffle

While I hardly ever post recipes for savory dishes (I hardly ever use recipes), this one is worth mentioning. I also promised some people out there to get this recipe out there. I first made this as a Thanksgiving side dish in 2002. It was my first holiday dinner with my now husband, then boyfriend. Here in Canada, Thanksgiving is celebrated in October, where in the States it is in late November. Since I had a few days off from work, I flew to Calgary to make a traditional dinner for my boyfriend (now husband) and his closest 12 friends. The menu? here  it is:
Stuffed turkey breast w/saugage,fennel and golden raisins
Stuffed pork roast w/winter fruit
Creamed onions
Carrot soufflé
Butternut squash with orange, ginger & honey
Sweet potato casserole
Brussel sprouts with maple and mustard
String beans with pine nuts and basil
Cranberry sauce with dried apricots and cardamom
Blue cheese biscuits
Spiced pumpkin muffins

And that didn’t even include the dessert! We have such great memories of that evening. Good food and great friends, you can’t really beat that, can you?

Now I realize I am going on about Thanksgiving when it is late May, but it all comes back to the carrot souffle. I still make this a few times a year and each time remember how delicious it is. It originally had 1/4 c more sugar in it but I have found that it is too sweet, so over the years I have cut down on the sugar, but it is up to your own taste when baking things. I recently made this for a pot luck brunch at a friend’s house and had every husband and child raving about it. Children who can’t stand veggies love this- I swear.  It’s almost sweet enough to be dessert. Oh, did I mention  the best part? It is one of the easiest things to prepare. It’s springtime, so get some veggies into the ones you love today. Bake on…


7  Cups chopped carrot (I use a 2lb bag)          
1/3 cup sugar
¼ cup light  sour cream
3 tablespoons flour
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
¼ tsp salt
3 large eggs, lightly beaten

1 tablespoon powdered sugar for garnish after baking

Preheat your oven to 350.  Lightly spray a 2 quart baking dish with cooking oil (such as PAM)

Cook carrots until very tender, about 10-15 minutes, drain. Place in food processor until smooth. Add sugar and next 7 ingredients- pulse to combine.Spoon mixture into 2 quart baking dish coated with cooking spray. Bake at 350 for 40 minutes until puffed and set. Let cool. Sprinkle with powdered sugar before serving.

Can be prepared the night before and then baked the next day.

Source: Cooking Light, November 2002

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