Monday, December 10, 2018

Butter Tart Squares

Sorry this is a day late, I hadn't posted it in advance and had no power during an ice storm for 30 hours! 

Another recipe from our neighbors to the north! When I went poking around for typical Canadian sweets, I came across a lot of butter tart recipes. But I don't have a mini tart pan, and that's a lot of work. So when I came across a few bar cookie (or "squares") versions, I knew I'd found a good idea. People who received my lumberjack boxes got one butter tart square, and I heard from a lot of people that they liked these a lot. I did too, definitely my favorite bake from December so far.

I also discovered the marvelous site that is Canadian Living - kind of like the Canadian version of Sunset Magazine (northwest) or Southern Living (southern) and has great regional recipes.

Butter Tart Squares
(recipe from Canadian Living)

  • s
In bowl, mix flour with sugar; using pastry blender, cut in butter until crumbly. Press into 9-inch square metal cake pan; bake in 350 F (180 C) oven for 15 minutes.

Filling: In bowl, mix butter with eggs; blend in sugar, flour, baking powder, vanilla and salt. Stir in raisins and walnuts; pour over base.

Bake in 350 F (180 C) oven until top springs back when touched lightly, 20 to 25 minutes. Let cool in pan on rack. Cut into squares.

Monday, December 03, 2018

Polar Bear Paws

This year I'm giving away boxes of sweets that are Canadian or Alaskan inspired. One fun recipe I came across, one I liked more than I expected (as I am not a huge fan of white chocolate.) This is apparently a copycat recipe from something you can buy from See's Candies, but that's not local to me anymore. They were all over when I lived in the northwest.

The author of the copycat recipe links to her homemade caramel recipe but since I had so much to make this weekend I definitely took the easy way out of homemade caramel.

I ended up making two shapes, some that are flatter, and some that are thicker clusters. The thicker ones were harder to dip in white chocolate but nicer to bite into, and a better balance of salt (peanuts) and white chocolate (coating.) But it's not as sweet as you would think.

Polar Bear Paws


  • 1 (11 ounce) bag Kraft Caramel Bits or squares
  • 3 tablespoons heavy whipping cream
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 cup peanuts roasted and/or cocktail
  • 12 ounces vanilla almond bark or white melting wafers


  1. Line a large cookie sheet with Silpat mats (or parchment paper) and grease it with butter. Set aside.
  2. Melt caramels with butter and cream in the microwave in 30 second increments, stirring, and repeating until smooth.
  3. Mix in the peanuts and then let it sit in the bowl to cool for about 15 minutes, stirring every few minutes.
  4. Spoon onto the mats in tablespoon size mounds. Place in the fridge for 30-60 minutes until set.
  5. Place chocolate in a bowl and melt in the microwave on low in 30 second increments and stir until melted and smooth. Dip caramel cluster in the chocolate and use a fork to remove it. Holding it over the bowl, tap the fork on the edge to let any excess chocolate drip back down. Place cluster back on the parchment lined pan and repeat with remaining clusters.
  6. Put the pan back in the fridge for 30-60 minutes until chocolate is set. Remove and package up.

Monday, November 26, 2018

Pumpkin Spice Ruffled Milk PIe

I had this recipe on my radar for Thanksgiving dessert, but instead ended up making it for brunch on Thanksgiving weekend. The recipe creator has great photos you should peek in at, and she also made the recipe vegan. I went with regular butter and milk, and substituted the sugar for a lower-carb substitute. Most milk pies have eggs in the custard, so if I tried one again I'd use that kind of recipe, but this was different, and different can be good. I sometimes like using phyllo/filo dough for a less carby baked good without having to deal with nut flours, etc.

The recipe comes from Ful-Filled, but I think I probably encountered it in Pinterest. She directs the baker not to pack the spirals too tightly, but they looked prettier that way so I did anyway. And she was right, the custard had no room to go and I couldn't fit it all in the pan!

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Total Time: 50 minutes
Yield: 8-10 slices
  • 10-14 sheets frozen phyllo dough, thawed
  • 6 tablespoons (85g) butter, melted (use vegan butter or olive oil for a dairy free option)
  • 1 1/2 cups (192g) milk (full fat coconut or nut milk for dairy free option)
  • 3 tbsp cornstarch
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup (225g)of pumpkin puree (about 1/2 of a 15oz can)
  • 1/2 cup (100g) sugar (I used light brown sugar)
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp fresh ground nutmeg
  • 1/8 tsp ground cloves
  • 1 tbsp powdered sugar + 1/2 tsp cinnamon, for dusting
  • Preheat your oven to 350°F (175°C). Brush a 9-inch round cake pan lightly with melted butter and line with a sheet of parchment that is large enough to come up the sides of the baking pan. Lightly brush the parchment with butter.
  • Place 1 sheet of phyllo dough on a clean surface and brush it with melted butter (a light coat will do just fine). Place another sheet of phyllo over the top of the first one and brush with butter. Use your fingers to scrunch up the fillo long ways, into a loose ruffled strip (its okay if the phyllo tears a bit). Wind up the dough into a loose, ruffled spiral, place it in your prepared pan and repeat with the rest of the phyllo dough until your pan is filled. (you should have 5-7 spirals depending on the size of your phyllo)
  • Brush the tops of the spirals with the remaining butter. Bake in the pre-heated oven for 20-25 minutes, until the phyllo is golden brown.
  • While the phyllo bakes, prepare the pumpkin custard by whisking together the milk, cornstarch, pumpkin, vanilla, spices and sugar.
  • Remove the pan from the oven and pour the pumpkin custard mixture over the spirals. Return pan to the oven and bake another 20-25 minutes or until the custard is set in the center.
  • Let cool for 15 minutes, then lift from the pan and serve dusted with cinnamon and powdered sugar. Best eaten warm, but leftovers store beautifully in the fridge for up to 3 days (if it even lasts that long ;)

Monday, November 19, 2018

Black Walnut Pumpkin Bread

There is this cake I have wanted to make, the "Black is the New Jam Cake with Sorghum Sea Foam Icing" from Victuals: An Appalachian Journey, with Recipes by Ronni Lundy. First it was that I had to track down sorghum, and I did, from a guy standing by the side of the road on a drive through the North Carolina mountains. It's legit, it's Appalachian, check. But then I used some of that sorghum in another recipe. The other rare ingredient is the black walnuts which are only available a certain time of year. When I saw them this year, I proudly purchased them, knowing I had sorghum at home, and I was going to make! that! cake! Except I needed a jar of jam and didn't have any in the pantry.

I went looking for alternate black walnut recipes. One day I will conquer that cake, but I didn't want to go back to the store just to make it. I also have quite a bit of canned pumpkin on hand, so I decided it would be great to find something that combined both. I ran across this Black Walnut Pumpkin Bread recipe from the Never Enough Thyme when Lana's Cooking blog. I went for it and mixed the batter while I boiled water for dinner too. Opening the black walnuts, which I'd never had, was quite an experience. They almost smell like perfume, it is really a strange experience.

The fragrance of the bread with the walnuts filled the house, and I couldn't wait to try it. We do have a slight walnut allergy in my family, and I found my throat felt a little scratchy, so I will have to give most of this away. But I did enjoy this distinct flavor of a regional nut!

Black Walnut Pumpkin Bread
(recipe from Lana, the directions are mine as per her request, but please visit her blog to see her longer post, her directions, and her photos)

  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup oil
  • 1 cup canned pumpkin
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 cup chopped black walnuts
1.  Preheat oven to 350 F and prepare a 9x5 (6 cup) loaf pan.
2. Stir dry ingredients together.
3. Mix in wet ingredients.
4. Stir in walnuts.
5. Bake for an hour or until a toothpick comes out clean (I needed almost 75 minutes for my loaf.)

Monday, November 12, 2018

Apple and Cheddar Scones

These are slightly more involved than most scone recipes I make, due to the roasting of the apples and the shredding of the cheese, but I would like to say: WORTH IT. I've had my eye on this recipe from Smitten Kitchen for several years and finally had a chance to make them on a late morning. I had two wrinkly Mutsu apples leftover from fall apple trips and used those for this recipe. Their paleness and the paleness of the white cheddar (from Canada) makes for a deceptively monochromatic scone. But the flavor is anything but.

I will point you to Deb's recipe for step-by-step photos and a different method for the recipe, and merely copy and paste the ingredients here. I made them my normal scone method which I will put below, but that is not her original instructions.

Apple and Cheddar Scones
(from Smitten Kitchen!) 

Makes 6 generous scones

2 firm tart apples
1 1/2 cups (6.75 ounces or 195 grams) all-purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar plus 1 1/2 tablespoons for sprinkling (total of 2.2 ounces or 63 grams)
1/2 tablespoon (7 grams) baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt (3 grams) plus additional for egg wash
6 tablespoons (3 ounces or 85 grams)unsalted butter, chilled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes plus additional for baking sheet if not lining it with parchment
1/2 cup (2.25 ounces or 65 grams) sharp cheddar, shredded (white is recommended, I assume for aesthetics)
1/4 cup (2 ounces) heavy cream
2 large eggs (NOTE: only one go INTO the scones - JennyBakes)

Position a rack at the center of oven and preheat oven to 375 °F. Line baking sheet with parchment paper.

Peel and core apples, then cut them into one-sixteenths. (I assumed this meant chunks, not slivers.) Placed them in a single layer on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and bake them until they take on a little color and feel dry to the touch, about 20 minutes. They will be about half-baked. Let them cool completely. Leave oven on.

Sift or whisk flour, sugar, baking powder and salt together. Cut chilled butter into chunks and rub into dry ingredients with fingertips. Stir in cheese and apples. Beat together ONE egg and cream, and pour over the mix, stirring the most minimum required to bring the dough together and not one bit more.

Generously flour your counter top and place the scone dough on top of it. Sprinkle with flour. Use a rolling pin to gently roll (or use your hands to pat) the dough into a 1 1/4-inch thick, 6-inch circle. Cut circle into 6 wedges. Transfer them to a baking sheet that has either been buttered or lined with a fresh sheet of parchment paper. Leave at least 2 inches between each scone.

Beat remaining egg in a small bowl with a pinch of salt. Brush the scones with egg wash and sprinkle them with remaining tablespoon of sugar. Bake until firm and golden, about 30 minutes. With a spatula, lift them to a wire rack to cool for 10 minutes.

Notes from JennyBakes:

-Well I misread the recipe originally and had to dump out the TWO eggs plus cream I'd mixed together.
-I only baked for 20 minutes and they could have gone longer but I'm skeptical about the 30 in my oven, anyway.
-I added more than 1/2 cup cheese. I just shredded what I had on hand and used it. So they were a bit cheesy (this was not a bad thing.)
-I did not add salt to my egg wash. I was worried about getting too salty.....

Monday, November 05, 2018

Curry Cauliflower Christmas Pasty with Almonds and Apricots from Home Made Christmas by Yvette van Boven

The first time I heard about hot water crust was whilst watching The Great British Bake Off. I had great plans to try a version, although many of the recipes called for lard, I'd encountered a few with butter or shortening. I knew that the important things were to make sure the filling was not too liquidy so as not to end up with a soggy bottom.

As I was perusing this cookbook, the pasty really stood out for several reasons - it is vegetarian (so many aren't!), it had centerpiece potential, and the flavors were interesting. And it looked like it started with a hot water crust of some kind, a technique I'd never used.

Curry Cauliflower Christmas Pasty with Almonds and Apricots

Serves 6-8 people

For the filling:

1 tbsp olive oil
2 onions, diced*
4 ribs celery, finely diced
2 small cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp curry powder
1 tbsp paprika
4 heaping tbsp (70 g) tomato paste
1 head cauliflower, ground into crumbs in the food processor*
1/2 cup (100 g) red lentils
2 cups (500 ml) vegetable stock
3/4 cup (100 g) almonds, finely chopped
3/4 cup (100 g) dried apricots, halved*
1 1/2 cups (150 g) grated aged cheese*
4 eggs, beaten
A generous bunch of fresh, flat-leaf parsley, chopped
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the dough:

 3 1/2 cups (450 g) all-purpose flour
2 tsp salt
3/4 cup + 1 tbsp (200 ml) milk
7 tbsp (100 g) butter
1 egg, beaten

On the side:

1 2/3 cups (400 ml) sour cream
Some scallion rings
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
Optional: fresh garden herbs


Make the filling: in a large, heavy-bottomed pan, heat the oil. Saute the onions and celery until soft. Add the garlic. Cook everything for a while. Add the curry powder, paprika, and tomato paste. While stirring, cook for several minutes, until it starts to smell sweet and spicy. Then, stir in the cauliflower crumbs and the lentils. Douse with the stock. Cover and let simmer gently for about 20 minutes. Stir occasionally while reducing it into a thick paste that is no longer wet but does not burn and stick to the pan either. Remove from the heat and let cool somewhat.

Make the dough:

Grease a 9-inch (22-cm) springform pan (or a pie pan) and dust it with flour. Mix the flour and salt. Put the milk and the butter in a saucepan, and add 1/2 cup plus 2 tbsp (150 ml) water, and heat until the butter has melted.

Add the flour in one batch and thoroughly stir everything into one ball. Remove it from the pan and quickly knead it on a floured countertop into a coherent dough. Let the dough rest for a while. Divide the dough into 1/3 and 2/3. Roll out the larger part and use it to line the springform pan, allowing some overhang over the edges.

Preheat the oven to 350 F (180 C.)

Stir the almonds, apricots, and cheese into the cauliflower filling, followed by the beaten eggs and the parsley. Season with salt and pepper.

Spoon the filling into the dough-lined springform pan. Roll out the remaining dough and use it to cover the pasty filling.

Use an apple corer to cut three holes in the top crust. Trim the edges and roll out the trimmings. Cut Christmas decorations from the dough and stick them onto the pasty with a beaten egg. Glaze the entire top of the pasty with the remaining egg.

Bake for 1 hour. Use a skewer to check whether the filling is done: every oven is different. Sometimes it takes a little longer, sometimes it doesn't. Loosely cover the pasty with aluminum foil if the top is browning too fast.

Serve immediately while still warm, or let cool and serve cold. You can always reheat the pasty later.


You can heat up the pasty covered with aluminum foil. It will take about 20 minutes in an oven preheated to 350 F (180 C.) Serve with sour cream (seasoned with some scallion rings, salt and pepper, and some fresh garden herbs if you want.)

* Notes from JennyBakes

I only used one onion because I didn't want it to overpower. I also lightly chunked the cauliflower rather than grind it to have more texture. If you really only half the apricots but grind everything else, the only chunks you will encounter are apricots and I think that's a bit unbalanced. (Especially since if you have leftovers, the apricots get more and more savory and it starts tasting like curry grapes or something.) I wasn't sure what kind of cheese to buy (it just says aged!) so I used a nice hard cheese like Parmesan. I only had a six inch springform so I made that size and cooked for a shorter time, then put the rest of the filling into ramekins with crust toppers, and they were tasty too!

Home Made Christmas
by Yvette van Boven
Abrams Books
Publication Date: 16 October 2018

Recipes are divided into the type of dish, with fun menu ideas in the back. Others I've marked to try include Ginger Hot Chocolate, Squash, Feta & Sage Pull-Apart Bread, Carrot Tatin with Goat Cheese, Trifle with Salty Caramel, Cheesecake Cream & Chewy Brownies, Hazelnut Meringue Log with Frangelico Cream & Caramel. Last week I posted the Vegetable Spiral Tart.

This post is sponsored by ABRAMS Books, as part of the ABRAMS Dinner Party.

Monday, October 29, 2018

Vegetable Spiral Tart from Home Made Christmas

As a part of the ABRAMS Dinner Party again for 2018-19, I will be sent most of the cookbooks for their season. This is how I ended up thumbing through Home Made Christmas by Yvette van Boven several months before Christmas! I marked a few sweet recipes to try, as I tend to do, but I kept coming back to a few savory dishes. One that topped the list is the vegetable spiral tart. In the cookbook, Yvette has made a beautiful tart with all one spiral. As I attempted to force my vegetables into submission, I decided it was going to be easier to make rosettes surrounding a central spiral. It isn't quite as perfect as the picture but it was tasty, and will do just nicely for lunch later this week as well!

Vegetable Spiral Tart with Avocado-Curry Cream

For the crust:

About 1 pound (450 g) sweet potatoes, peeled*
1 egg
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the filling:

3 large carrots (about 11 oz/300 g, peeled)
2 parsnips, peeled
1 eggplant
2 eggs
1/2 cup plus 2 tbsp (150 ml) heavy cream
1 small clove garlic, pressed or grated
1 tsp curry powder
1 tsp caraway seeds

On the side: 

1 avocado
1 tsp curry powder
Grated zest and juice of 1/2 lemon
1/2 cup (125 ml) crème fraîche

Preheat the oven to 350 F (180 C).

Cut a piece of parchment paper to size so it fits a 9-inch [tart] pan. Grease everything, including the parchment paper.**

Grate the sweet potatoes in a food processor using a coarse grater.*** Beat the egg with some salt and pepper and combine it with the sweet potato. Press the sweet potato mixture into the [tart] pan, forming an even layer on the bottom and up the edges. Prebake the crust on the lower rack in the oven until half done and the edges begin to brown, about 25 minutes. Let cool somewhat on a rack.

Increase the oven temperature to 400 F (200 C).

Meanwhile, make the filling. Shave the vegetables as thinly as you dare into strips. I use a vegetable peeler for the carrots and the parsnips. That works better than you might think. For the eggplant I use a chef's knife to cut very thin slivers.

Whisk the eggs and cream together with the garlic, curry powder, and caraway. Season with salt and pepper.

Fit the vegetables in the pan in circles, artfully alternating among different colors so it will look beautiful. Continue until all have been used up. After filling the whole pan I always stick the final slivers left on the counter in between the vegetable spirals. You can really use everything!

Pour the egg mixture over the vegetables, carefully spreading it out. Bake the tart for at least 45 minutes, until done. Let rest for 10 minutes before removing it from the pan. If you are planning to serve the tart later you should bake it for only 35 minutes. In that case it will go back into the oven just before serving. Let cool, cover, and store in the fridge until ready to serve.

Make the avocado cream. Puree the avocado together with the curry powder and the lemon zest and juice in a food processor until completely smooth. Stir in the crème fraîche. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Allow the tart to reach room temperature (if it's been in the fridge.) Preheat the oven to 400 F (200 C). Bake the tart for about 15 minutes, until nicely done and warm throughout. Serve with the cold avocado cream.

Notes from JennyBakes:

Overall, this was tasty if a bit fiddly. The crust was simple but delicious, so I'm already thinking of other ways I can use it... maybe as a crust for a savory cheesecake! I would like to know if I could do a simpler version of this without having to shave and arrange the vegetables. Also for my tastes, eggplant is not really working here, but I know I'm not a huge fan the way other people are.

* This was just one average sweet potato

** Really listen to this step. I skipped it and will have a messy oven floor to clean sometime soon.

*** I didn't pull out the food processor, just used a handheld grater and it was fine.

I keep saying [tart] when she says pie pan, because the ingredients fit perfectly in a tart pan, the recipe title is tart, the picture looks like a tart, and I think there wouldn't be enough to fill a pie pan. The cookbook author is Dutch so I wondered if tart and pie are the same English word. No big deal, but you might want more of at least the egg mixture if you're going pie plate.

I didn't make the avocado-curry cream but it would have been good, adding some acid it probably needed. The curry flavor in the egg mixture comes across pretty strongly already, so you may want to reduce it in one of the two places if you're making both the tart and the cream.

Home Made Christmas
by Yvette van Boven
Abrams Books
Publication Date: 16 October 2018

Recipes are divided into the type of dish, with fun menu ideas in the back. Others I've marked to try include Ginger Hot Chocolate, Squash, Feta & Sage Pull-Apart Bread, Curry Cauliflower Christmas Pasty with Almonds & Apricots, Carrot Tatin with Goat Cheese, Trifle with Salty Caramel, Cheesecake Cream & Chewy Brownies, Hazelnut Meringue Log with Frangelico Cream & Caramel. (I actually bought everything for the Curry Cauliflower Pasty except... the cauliflower. Doh! So I need to make another trip to the store.)

This post is sponsored by ABRAMS Books, as part of the ABRAMS Dinner Party.