Apple Bread

I had a sneaking suspicion I’d be craving some bread as the thought of more matzah is losing its already lacklustre appeal. So that’s why I made a loaf of Apple Bread the day before Passover. My thinking was that I could get one final “bread” fix in before matzah took over my life. Then I could write and look at pictures of it while I was in need of a boost.

I went the route of apple bread because it had all the needed ingredients of making the house smell phenomenal, complete with cinnamon in the topping mixture. And let’s be honest, a slice of warm apple bread with butter or maybe apple butter for breakfast is right up there with the finer things in life. The crunch texture from the topping is a perfect complement to the warm and moist bread chock full of apples.

Apple Bread (Recipe from the great-grandmother of Kimmie over at Full Circle Adventure)

  • 1/2 cup of butter or margarine – softened. (I went with butter)
  • 1 cup of sugar
  • 2 beaten eggs
  • 2 cups of flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • 2 tablespoons of buttermilk
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla
  • 2 cups of apples – peeled and diced (I used 1 Granny Smith and 1 McIntosh)

For Topping

  • 2 tablespoons margarine – softened
  • 2 tablespoons of sugar
  • 2 tablespoons of flour
  • 1 teaspoon of cinnamon
  1. Pre-heat over to 325F.
  2. In a large bowl, beat butter and sugar until well combined.
  3. Beat in the two eggs.
  4. Beat in the flour, salt, buttermilk, baking soda and vanilla.
  5. Stir in by hand the diced apples.
  6. In a small bowl, combine the ingredients for the topping and mix to consistency of coarse crumbs.
  7. Pour the battle into a greased and floured 9x5x3 loaf pan.
  8. Sprinkle topping over loaf and bake for 70 minutes at 325F.

30 Comments

Filed under Apple, Apple Bread, Matzah, Passover, Recipes

Nutella Avocado Brownies

We haven’t met and we’ll likely never meet, but that doesn’t stop me from wondering what it would be like.

For me, it always begins with a beautiful smile and I envision you having just that. In fact, I’m smiling right now at the thought of your smile.

Like me, you adore Nutella, that’s got to count for something, right?

I wonder how we’d manage in the kitchen together. I know I’d want to cook for you and I know you’d feel the same way. I guess it would depend on the size of the kitchen. Maybe one is responsible for wine and music while the other is busy cooking away. Or maybe we’re both in the kitchen regardless of its size because it would be fun to find reasons to reach around you and breath in your apple honey shampoo scent.

As much as we share a love of food, we also enjoy fresh air and exercise to burn off all those butter and deep-fried calories. Sure, I like seeing a girl get all dressed up for a fancy night out, but what I enjoy even more is seeing that same girl let her hair down, throw on a t-shirt and a pair of shorts (or capris) and toss a football or frisbee around. Maybe we’ll have a little picnic. Maybe brownies will be our dessert. Maybe the brownies will be made of Nutella and avocado.

Just like us, we’re unique and special in our own way and when we’re united, we become an even better unique, the crazy and awesome kind. Nutella and avocado are both delicious on their own, so why not together? The first bite is definitely Nutella and the lingering taste is absolutely no doubt avocado.

It really works. Believe it.

Nutella Avocado Brownies

  • 1/4 cup of butter – room temperature
  • 1/2 of brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 2 ripe mashed avocados
  • 1/3 cup of Nutella
  • 1 cup of all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon of baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla
  • 1/4 cup of sliced almonds
  1. Preheat the oven to 350F and grease a 9×9 baking pan.
  2. Beat the butter and sugar well.
  3. Add the egg, avocados, Nutella and beat together.
  4. Sift and add the flour, baking powder, salt and beat again.
  5. Mix in the almonds and vanilla and stir together.
  6. Pour into the pan and bake for about 25 minutes at 350F or until a toothpick is inserted into the center and comes out with just a little batter on it.
  7. Cool for about 15 minutes and cut into squares.
  8. Enjoy the magic of Nutella and avocado.

51 Comments

Filed under Brownie, Brownies, Nutella

Vegetarian Coconut Thai Soup

You ever go into the same restaurant and order the exact same thing every single time because it’s just that good? Well, I rarely do, except for this one Thai restaurant that makes a Thai Coconut Soup that if it were a blanket, it’d be your most favorite blanket. You know, the one that keeps you warm on the sofa when you’re not feeling well and is long enough to tuck under your toes. Yes, that blanket. Alright, moving on because I don’t think the mention of toes belong in a food blog.

For whatever reason, it never occurred to me to make my own, but after seeing Dr. Winnie’s look so good over at the Healthy Green Kitchen, I knew I’d have to open up the pantry and create my own version.

The end result was exactly what I was hoping for. It was the comforting and familiar taste I wanted with the right amount of heat yet still soothing from the coconut milk. The tofu, noodles and enoki mushrooms gave it the perfect texture. Based on what is available in the kitchen, this soup can be tweaked a bunch of different ways.

Vegetarian Coconut Thai Soup

Serves 6

  • 8 cups of vegetable stock
  • 1 398 ml can of coconut milk
  • 1 package of enoki mushrooms
  • 1 package of firm tofu – cut into cubes
  • 1 package of Udon noodles
  • 2 tablespoons of Hoisin sauce
  • 2 tablespoons of Soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons of sweet red chili sauce
  • 2 garlic cloves – chopped fine
  • 3 tablespoons of fresh ginger – chopped fine
  • a pinch of red pepper flakes
  • zest of 1 lime
  • chopped cilantro
  • chopped mint
  • salt
  • pepper

Directions

  1. Bring the stock to the boil over medium heat in a soup pot and add the hoisin sauce, soy sauce, sweet red chili sauce, garlic, ginger and red pepper flakes.
  2. Lower the heat to a simmer and cover for 10 minutes.
  3. Add in the coconut milk, mushrooms, tofu, udon noodles and lime zest. Let simmer for another 10 minutes.
  4. Season with salt and pepper and ladle the soup into the bowls and garnish with fresh mint and cilantro.

Now go grab that blanket and eat some soup!

29 Comments

Filed under Coconut Milk, Enoki Mushrooms, Thai, Tofu, Udon Noodles, Vegetarian Coconut Thai Soup

Finding a Cure for Diabetes with “The Meal”

Every family has a cause that is near and dear to them and in our household that cause is the Canadian Diabetes Association. As is usually the case, the reasoning behind such a devotion to an organzation is connected to a family member. In the mid 1980’s at a far too early age, my sister was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes. As soon as my parents found out, they did what any devoted parents would do…they jumped in to the proverbial pool and promised to swim until a cure was found.

A cure has yet to be found, but as each day passes with the time and energy given by volunteers to raise money, a cure is that much closer.  One such fundraiser for diabetes research is called The Meal. Now in its 29th year, The Meal has raised over $1,000,000 to fund research, patient support and education awareness of diabetes.

Duo of asparagus and Maui onion soup garnished with ginger-spiced duck dumplings with wild mushrooms

Since my parents are a part of the organizing committee of The Meal, I was asked to join them for the menu tasting at the London (Ontario) Hilton where The Meal has called home since it began in 1982. The Meal began as an opportunity for chefs to push their culinary boundaries and that continues today with this year’s menu. It will begin as always with a reception of champagne, martinis, caviar and other amuse bouches to awaken the senses. The first service is a duo of asparagus and Maui onion soup garnished with ginger-spiced duck dumplings with wild mushrooms. Not only was the soup rich and smooth but it was soothing in its yin yang presentation.

The fish course was butter-poached kingfish served with a crushed pea ravioli, carrot puree and a walnut vinaigrette. Anything poached in butter is a winner and this was no exception. As my fork touched the fish, it just flaked off and fell into the vinaigrette and shortly after it melted in my mouth.

Blue Dragon sorbet of Absolut Mandarin and Blue Curacao

The palette cleanser was a Blue Dragon sorbet of Absolut Mandarin and Blue Curacao which did just that. It was refreshing and the electric blue sorbet just popped off the bowl.

Mustard seed encrusted veal accompanied with roasted fingerling potatoes, petit pan squash and madjool date compote

The last course (before dessert of course) was mustard seed encrusted veal accompanied with roasted fingerling potatoes, petit pan squash and this incredible madjool date compote. All I know is I need to find the recipe for the compote. And as usual, each course will be paired with a wine showcasing the vineyards of Ontario.

Like any good event to be successful, it takes the generosity of others and the Hilton has provided the resources of the hotel and their Executive Chef. This year, as in the last few years, Executive Chef Todd Pylypiw will work with his fellow chefs from the London area that have also donated their time and knife skills for a gastronomic event for a worthy cause.

The Meal will be held on April 17th, 2011 at the Hilton hotel in London, Ontario. The reception commences at 17:00 and dinner begins at 18:00. Tickets are $150 and a tax receipt will be issued for part of it. For tickets or futher information, please call Robert or Mina at 519-432-8327.

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Filed under Uncategorized

Applesauce Cookies Version 2.0

Update – the “secret” project has been unveiled. Please have a look.

Friends help each other out, right? Actually, I think that might even be the first rule of friendship. So when I was asked recently to lend a hand for a great cause AND it involved cookies, the answer every single time is going to be “YES!”

I can’t get into the specifics of the project, but it involves cookies, so already you know it’s going to be fun. As for the cookie selection, well, that was easy. Ever since I baked my grandmother’s applesauce cookies, I have been wondering what it would be like to add chocolate chips to the original recipe. I know, applesauce and chocolate chips don’t necessarily sound as if they go hand-in-hand, but the applesauce is really just a way to reduce the amount of sugar in the recipe while making the cookies extra soft.  I said it before and I’ll say it again, this cookie is like a muffin top and I don’t know about you, but I love the top of a muffin, especially filled with chocolate chips!

While we wait a few more days (I think) for the special project to be completed by some VERY (hint) talented people. Let’s enjoy Version 2.0 of the Applesauce cookie…Chocolate Chip & Raisin Muffin Top Cookies.

Applesauce Cookies V2.0 – Chocolate Chip & Raisin Muffin Top Cookies

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup of butter
  • 1 cup of sugar
  • 1 cup of applesauce (
  • 1 tsp. of baking soda
  • 2 cups of all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp. of salt
  • 1/2 cup of raisins
  • 1/2 cup of chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup of chopped walnuts
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp of ground cloves

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 375F.
  2. Cream shortening and sugar, then add applesauce, blending in.
  3. Sift flour with baking soda, salt and cinnamon.
  4. Add sifted ingredients to applesauce mixture and stir until smooth.
  5. Add chocolate chips, raisins and nuts and stir until combined.
  6. Drop by teaspoonfuls onto greased baking sheet, spacing the cookies 2 to 3 inches apart.
  7. Bake about 12 minutes or until lightly browned.

Makes 4 dozen cookies.

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Filed under applesauce, Applesauce cookies, Chocolate Chips, Muffin Top

We’re All Pat On The Back Worthy

Most days I see very talented people tweeting with glee that “Thank you ‘insert food porn site here’ for approving my picture!” However, on most days, I also see very talented people bemoaning through Twitter “Can you please tell me what’s wrong with the ‘insert reason for rejection’ in this picture!?!?”

I’ve felt both emotions of this very fine line. Although, truth be told, I have only felt the sting of rejection for the handful of pictures I’ve submitted since I last shared my honest feelings about the subject of food porn sites. I’m not into conspiracies, but for those that are, knock yourselves out.

What I took out of the comments that so many of you passionately wrote about was that it is a very subjective matter and while it’s understandable to be disappointed, it’s not worth the frustration. So in the meantime, individually, we must pat our own backs and remind ourselves that we are talented and more importantly, always looking to improve. Some random person who has nothing personally invested in you will not tell you how good you are nor really do they care. If you are honest with yourself, you will be your own worst (and helpful) critic.

I decided recently to have a look back at the very humble beginnings of my blog. About a year ago I wrote about Cabbage Soup. It was my 33rd post (needless to say, I was still very new to the food blog world) and I want to guess maybe averaging 20 hits a day (if that). It told a fun little story (I thought) and the accompanying picture I thought told its own story. A big pot of warming to the soul cabbage soup in the middle of winter. I enjoyed the steam caught in the picture to show it was hot and ready to be served. Even the messy wooden spoon was shown in the picture displaying that it had worked hard to stir what was a thick pot of cabbage, tomatoes and raisins.

Looking back at that picture, I still like it and maybe I could have played with the lighting or removed whatever happens to be poking through at the top left hand corner. But I know now it’s not a picture that would make someone say “Wow, I need to visit this blog again.”

The cabbage soup was made again recently, so I decided to see what I could do a year later and possibly wiser.

I know I still have work to do on many things, including lighting and dealing with shadows, if you look closely, you can see my reflection in the spoon. But, the pictures are cleaner and more aesthetically pleasing. However, to me at least, I feel as if I’ve misplaced part of the soul of the big pot picture. I’m sure I could accomplish that goal if I had the skill and knowledge of someone like Matt Armendariz of Matt Bites but he too had to go through these growing pains, right? Or maybe he was just born with it. So not to depress me too much, I’m going to say he learned how to be as good as he is and in the meantime, I’ll keep shooting and learning.

With all that said, I was very pleased with how my pictures came out and for that, I will pat myself on the back.

19 Comments

Filed under Cabbage, photography

What is expected of a food blogger?

Being  a food blogger can certainly be a full-time job. It involves cooking, photographing, writing and that doesn’t even include planning, editing or searching for that one nowhere-to-be found ingredient. All these steps should be done with pleasure, otherwise, why bother blogging at all, right?

There is one thing I have struggled with lately and it’s a by-product of being part of a wonderful community of food bloggers in the ever-expanding social media world. I want to support as many bloggers as I can in a variety of ways but that too seems to be turning into a full-time job.  So I’ve recently asked myself what is the expectation of one food blogger to another food blogger? Or better yet, is there even an expectation? Let me paint a scenario that should be all-too familiar for most of you.

Blogger X posts an entry on his/her blog. You may subscribe to the blog on Google Reader so you read it there or they may they tweeted it, so you click and read. After taking the 3-5 minutes of reading the post, you are inclined to leave a comment. The comment may be as simple as “Looks great” or it may be something more in the form of a follow-up question or recounting your own memory that was triggered while reading the post. Afterwards, you may have the option to click on any number of social media “share” buttons. You can Tweet it, Facebook Like it, StumbleUpon it, Reddit it, Foodbuzz it or do “it” to any number of sites that you’ve never heard of. As far as these buttons go, this blog isn’t that fancy…yet.

For me personally, I love comments on my blog. I appreciate the time and effort people put into sharing something that sparked something within them simply from them reading my words. Recently, I weaved the eulogy I gave when my Bubbie passed away into a post. It was a story I’ve wanted to share for quite some time and I was overwhelmed with the responses and the raw emotions that people friends shared with me in comment form. For me personally, I’d take a heartfelt comment over a retweet. However, if Jamie Oliver, Ree Drummond – the Pioneer Woman or Lady Gaga want to retweet me and expose me to millions of people, who am I to say no? (1 of the 3 names there doesn’t quite belong in a food blog, does it?)

The whole process of commenting and sharing may not sound overly daunting when it’s crammed into a few sentences like I’ve just done. I do my best to comment and retweet, but sometimes there are just not enough hours in the day and when you fall behind, there is no catching up. When it’s multiplied by the 10, 20, 30 blogs that you follow, it’s just not possible to give them all their proper due, is it?

1st note – I do get the irony that you may comment or “share” this post.

2nd note – Tastes Better With Friends will be getting a facelift soon and there will be additional “share” buttons on the new site. And yes, I get the irony there too.

53 Comments

Filed under Jamie Oliver, Lady Gaga, Pioneer Woman