Thursday, September 13, 2012

Thumbprint Cookies with Homemade Apricot Jam and Walnuts

From my summer jamming efforts, I have several jam jars in my fridge that didn't seal. I've been slowing eating my way through them on toast and PB+J sandwiches, but one person can only eat so much jam! 

Then I thought of the wonderful idea to make thumbprint cookies to use up the jam! 

Thumbprint Cookies

1 cup unsalted butter

1/2 cup white sugar
2 large eggs, seperated 
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cup walnuts (hazelnuts, almonds or pecans would also be fine), toasted and finely chopped
1/2 cup apricot jam (any jam would be fine as well!)


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 

2. To toast the nuts: spread nuts on a baking sheet and bake in the oven for 8-10 minutes until golden-brown in colour and fragrant. Watch out - these cook fast! Let cool completely, and then chop finely by hand. 
3. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter with the sugar until light and fluffy. Add the egg yolks and vanilla extract, and beat until combined. 
4. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour and salt. Add the flour mixture to the batter and beat until just combined. 
5. In a small bowl, whisk the egg whites until frothy. Place the chopped walnuts on a plate. Roll the dough into 1 inch balls. Dip the dough into the egg white, and then lightly roll on the walnuts. Place on the prepared baking sheet about 1 inch apart. Using a wooden spoon, make a indentation in the center of each cookie and fill with a dollop of jam. 
6. Bake for 12-15 minutes until the cookies are set and have nicely browned. 

Zucchini Chocolate-Chip Walnut Loaf and Muffins

A few weekends back, Thomas and I made a trip out to his parent's house in Glen Valley. His parents grow a variety of herbs, vegetables and fruit on their property. Apart from some delicious blackberries and apples that we picked, his mom gave me a summer zucchini the size of about my arm. 

I've never been a big fan of zucchini, probably due to the fact that I don't really know what to do with it. So faced with a huge zucchini that I really didn't want to see go to waste, I decided to bake with it. My big inspiration was the vegan zucchini chocolate-chip muffins that are sold at JJ bean. Their muffins are moist, nutty, chocolate-y and delicious - so delicious that you forget that there is even zucchini in them! 

I found a recipe for a zucchini chocolate-chip loaf smitten kitchen which looked yummy, so I decided to give it a shot! 

Zucchini Bread
(I've made a few adjustments to the smitten kitchen recipe)

Yield: 2 loaves or approximately 24 muffins

3 eggs 
3/4 cup olive or vegetable oil
1 1/4 cup sugar 
3 cups grated zucchini
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 cups all-purpose flour (next time I would use a mixture of whole wheat flour and all-purpose) 
3 teaspoons cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup chopped walnuts, plus 1/3 cup to sprinkle on top
1 cup chocolate chips


1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour loaf pans and muffin tin. 

2. In a large bowl, beat the eggs with a whisk. Mix in oil and sugar, then zucchini and vanilla.

3. Combine flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking soda, baking powder and salt, as well as nuts, chocolate chips and/or dried fruit, if using. Stir this into the egg mixture. Divide the batter into prepared pans, or muffin tins. 

4. Bake loaves for 60 minutes, plus or minus ten, or until a tester inserted into the center comes out clean. Muffins will bake far more quickly, approximately 25 to 30 minutes.

Amelie's Plum Cake

If you've seen the movie Amelie (Le Fabuleux Destin d'Amélie Poulain), I'm sure, like me, you've always wanted to be able to make her famous plum cake. 

A few weeks ago, I was looking at recipes on the internet and came across this website, which claims to have THE Amelie plum cake recipe -->

I tried the recipe out and it turned out fantastic! Be forewarned - this recipe takes about 4-5 hours in total to make, due to letting the dough rise and chill multiple times. A good lazy, rainy day activity! 

When baked, the butter and sugar turn into a smooth and silky caramel - delicious! 

Amelie's Plum Cake

1 tablespoon yeast, not rapid rise
¾ cup warm water
2 cups all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar, which will be used in 1/4 cup incriments
(Plus an additional bit of sugar for yeast feeding and dough rolling)
1 stick salted butter cut into inch square pieces, chilled
2-3 tablespoons additional salted butter, melted
2-3 ripe plums

For a step by step guide with pictures, check out this website.  

The final stage of the dough - ready for the plums, butter and sugar.  

After adorning with plums. 

The final result! 

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Apple Cake

This recipe is from a cookbook that I rashly bought at the Dublin airport in Ireland, and to which I am very glad that I so rashly purchased. Since being home, I have made four or five recipes from it, all with excellent results. 

A couple of weekends ago, Thomas and I went to his parent's house in Langley and picked about ten pounds of apples from their apple tree. After making a couple of pies, there were still plenty of apples left so I decided to try this recipe out. 

The cake is just perfect! The combination of the cinnamon-y cake, the soft apples and the sweet, crispy strudel is delicious. I liked this recipe so much that I made the cake twice in the course of five days! 

Apple Cake
1lb cooking apples
175g self-raising flour 
1 tsp ground cinnamon
pinch of salt
115g butter, plus extra for greasing cake tin
115g white sugar
2 eggs
1-2 tbsp milk (I used plain yogurt, as I don't keep milk in the house)

115g self-raising flour
85g butter
85g white sugar

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9-inch round springform cake tin. 
2. To make streusel topping, sift the flour into a bowl and rub in the butter until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Stir in the white sugar and reserve. 
3. Peel, core and thinly slice the apples. To make the cake, sift the flour into a bowl with the cinnamon and salt. Place the butter and white sugar in a seperate bowl and beat together until light and fluffy. Gradually beat in the eggs, adding a little of the flour mixture with the last addition of egg. Gently fold in half the remaining mixture, then fold in the rest with the milk.
4. Spoon the mixture into the prepared tin and smooth the top. Cover with the sliced apples and sprinkle the streusel topping evenly over the top. Bake in the oven for 1 hour, or until browned and firm to the touch. Leave to cool in the tin before removing the sides. 
5. Serve with warm with vanilla ice cream or creme fraiche. 

Wednesday, September 5, 2012


Perch is quite possibly my favorite restaurant in all of Vancouver. The menu is quite simple really - appetizers, pizzas, sandwiches and burgers - but the combination of ingredients and flavor make this place unique.

The main reason I go to perch is for the pizzas. All the pizzas are gluten-free, made with fresh ingredients and offer the option of vegan cheese. My favorite is the #2 - spinach, brie, portobello mushrooms, caramelized onions and pesto. But, really, any one of the pizzas on the menu is delicious. Seriously, I probably daydream about these pizzas on an every-few-days basis, they're that good!

The other reason I love this place is the yam salad. Arugula, cooked yams and cashews, with a pesto-hummus dressing. Perfecto!

Also, did I mention that they have free two-player tetris?

Perch up until this weekend was located at 1701 Powell Street (at the foot of Commercial Drive), but will be opening at a new location on East Hastings street in the middle of September.

Jars and Jars and Jars!

This summer I went a tad bit canning/preserving/jarring crazy!

I just love the feeling of opening up a cupboard or pantry and finding a row of beautiful and colorful jars of jams, sauces, pickles and yes, even granola, to look at!

Next on the list - pickles, pickles and more pickles!

Peach and Raspberry Galette

One of my favorite parts of summer is the berry desserts! I had never tried to make a galette before, but was always drawn to the idea of them. This one is a peach and raspberry galette, but you can use any combination of fresh berries and stone fruits - whatever's in season and local!

Peach and Raspberry Galette

Pate Brisee
1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup butter, chilled and cut into inch cubes
1/4 cup cold water

1 pint fresh raspberries

3-4 fresh peaches, pitted and sliced
1/3 cup sugar
1 tbsp cornstarch

1 egg, lightly beaten

white sugar

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

2. Make the dough and let chill thirty minutes before rolling out into a flat circle.
3. Mix the fruit with the sugar and cornstarch. Place the fruit in the center of the dough and fold edges over fruit. Brush edges with egg and sprinkle with sugar.
4. Bake for 45 minutes to an hour in the oven, until golden brown and fruit is bubbling. If the crust starts to brown too quickly, cover with tin foil and reduce heat to 375 degrees F.