Maple Pecan Pie Squares

This makes a fantastic dessert to share in potlucks and gatherings.

Ingredients
For the crust
1 cup unsalted butter, to room temperature (2 sticks)
2/3 cup sugar
2 2/3 cup flour
1/4 tea spoon salt

For the filling
1/2 cup salted butter (1 stick)
1 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup maple syrup
2 table spoon milk (or cream)
2 cups halved pecans

ingredients

***

1. Pre-heat the oven to 350F. Line a 9 x 13 baking dish with aluminum foil and spray with non-stick cooking spray. Use a paper towel to spread on any missed spots and remove the excess.
foil

2. In a mixer or food processor, cream together the sugar and butter.
crust1

3. Add the flour and salt. Mix on low speed.
crust2

4. You want to have pea-sized chunks of butter. crust3

5. Transfer to the prepared baking dish and press down into an even layer. Bake for 20 minutes.
crust4

6. While the crust is baking, combine the butter, maple syrup, brown sugar and milk into a sauce pot. Allow to simmer for 1 minute.
filling1

7. Stir in the pecans.
filling2

8. Remove the crust from the oven. it should barely be starting to get golden.
crust-cooked

9. Pour the hot filling unto the hot crust and spread the pecan as evenly as possible. Return to the oven for 12-18 minutes. It’s best not to overcook, the filling will thicken and set as it cools.
pour

10. Allow to cool fully.
cook

11. remove from the dish using the aluminum foil sling. Discard the foil.
remove

12. Cut into small squares and eat.
cut

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Mechoui Lamb

This makes for succulent, spice-crusted lamb that falls off the bone. Makes the whole house smell delicious too.

Ingredients
1 leg of lamb
70g butter
3 cloves of garlic
2 tea spoon cumin
1 tea spoon paprika
3 tea spoon coriander
1/4 tea spoon salt
ingredients

***

1. Pre-heat oven to 425F
Grind the spices and combine with the butter.
butter1

2. Crush the garlic and add to the butter. Mix until smooth and incorporated.
butter2

3. With a small sharp knife, make little incisions into the lamb all over, making little pockets.
meat1

4. Rub the butter mixture all over, making sure some goes into those pockets. Place on a grill in a roasting pan. Cover with aluminum foil.
meat2

5. Put in the oven. Bake for 10 minutes. Baste the meat and lower the oven to 315F. Cook for an other hour, hour and a half, basting every 30 minutes. The roast is done when the meat pulls easily from the bone (or starts to fall apart, if you have a boneless roast).
meat3

6. Slice and serve.
serve

Soft Pretzels Two ways

For some reason, my brain thinks anything bread-like is hard. But these came together super easily.

Because I can’t ever make up my mind between wanting a salty pretzel or a sweet one, I split the dough and made both,

Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups warm water (110 to 115 degrees F)
1 tablespoon sugar + 1/2 cup
2 teaspoons salt
1 package active dry yeast
22 ounces flour
2 ounces butter, melted + some for brushing
Olive Oil
10 cups water + 1 table spoon
2/3 cup baking soda
1 egg yolk
1 cinnamon stick
ingredients

***

1. In the bowl of a mixer, combine the salt, one table spoon sugar, and active dry yeast. Make sure you have a dough hook attachment installed.
yeat1

2. Add the warm water, stir gently to dissolve. Leave alone for the yeast to wake up, about 5 minutes.
yeast2

3. It should start being a bit foamy and bubbling.
yeast3

4. Add the two ounces of melted butter and the flour.
flour

5. Turn on to speed 1 and mix to combine.
mix

6. Increase the speed to 2 and knead until it pulls away from the bowl, about 2-3 minutes.
knead

7. Remove from bowl and hook. Clean the bowl and lightly oil the surface. Return the dough to the bowl and cover with a plastic wrap. Allow to proof for 55 minutes in a warm place with no draft (inside the cold oven with the light turned on is good).
rest

8. While the yeast is doing its thing, grind the cinnamon stick and combine with the half a cup of sugar. Combine the baking soda and 10 cups of water in a large soup pot. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and lightly oil the paper. Beat the egg yolk in a small bowl with a table spoon of water.

Clean the kitchen. Anything, you have 55 minutes to wait.
sugar

9. Once the dough has doubled in size, set up a shaping station. For easier shaping, the surface should be lightly oiled. Turn the oven on to 450F.

You’ll need to cut the dough into 8 parts. Roll each part into a rope and fold into a pretzel shape.set-up

10. To make the shape: make a horseshoe shape with the dough, open end facing you. Twist the ends over each other. Flip the twisted bit into the middle of the circle, reshaping the circle if required, then push the ends into the edges.  It took me a few tries to get it right. They taste good when misshapen anyway.
shape

11. I was running out of hands so no pictures of this… Bring the water and baking soda to a rolling boil. Drop each pretzel into the alkaline solution for 30 seconds, then remove with a slotted spoon to the prepared baking tray.

Brush the salty pretzels with the beaten egg yolk, and sprinkle coarse salt over them.
salt

12. Bake for 12-14 minutes or until golden brown.
salt-baked

13. For the sweet ones, brush melted butter over the baked pretzels, then toss in the prepared cinnamon sugar.
sugar-baked

 

Fudgy Brownie

The type of brownies you dream about. The ones you hope show up at the potluck because you want to stuff all of them in your face. Also the ones you have to plan to have a sharing option because you will eat the entire pan by yourself otherwise.

The recipe also works gloriously well in a gluten-free option, just swap the flour one for one with your gluten-free all purpose mic (no adding xantham or guar gum). The first time I tasted those they were done with quinoa flour and I am immensely sad that quinoa flour went up in price. It added a little something that I miss.

Ingredients:
1 1/2 cup butter (3 sticks)
1 1/4 cup cocoa, sifted
2 3/4 cup sugar
1/2 tea spoon salt
5 eggs
2 tea spoon vanilla extract
1 2/3 cup flour
1 cup good dark chocolate
ingredients

***

1. Line a 9×13 baking mold with aluminum foil. Spray with Pam (or grease with butter) and set aside. Pre-heat the oven to 325F.
pan

2. In a medium to large pot, melt the butter.
butter

3. Once the butter is melted, turn the heat off. Add the cocoa.
cocoa

4. Whisk until smooth.
cocoa2

5. Add the sugar and the salt.
sugar

6. Whisk together. It will turn into a gritty mess. Don’t panic. If it’s still hot, set aside. You need it warm, not hot,
sugar2

7. Add two eggs and whisk them in.
eggs

8. It should smooth out as soon as the eggs get incorporated. Add the remaining 3 eggs and whisk well.
eggs2

9. Add the vanilla extract. The batter should be smooth and shiny by now.
vanilla

10. Sprinkle the flour on top.
flour

11. Switch to a spatula and fold the flour in until just incorporated.
folded

12. Add the dark chocolate and mix until distributed.
chocolate

13. Transfer to the prepared foil lined pan. Bake for 35 minutes.
pour

14. Remove from the oven and let cool fully in the pan, on a cooling rack. This will take a minimum of 3 hours.
cool

15. Once cooled, turn over on a cutting board, using the foil sling to help things along.
turn

16. Cut into small squares.
cut

17. Serve room temperature. Can keep 3 days or so in a sealed container. If you have sufficient will power.
brownies

Chai Masala Macarons

Because I had a day off and wanted a project. Chai Masala Macarons, with garam masala spices in the cookies and salted caramel as the filling. You get a punch of black pepper to offset the sweetness and the other spices round it up.

Ingredients:
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup heavy cream
85g butter, in small cubes
1/2 tea spoon fleur de sel
140g egg whites
90g sugar, two times
160g almond powder
160g icing sugar
1 tea spoon garam masala
gel food coloring
ingredients

***

1. In a large, thick bottom pot, combine the sugar and water. Try to avoid the sugar getting on the sides.
sugar1

2. Turn the heat on medium and let the sugar bubble away. Gently swirl the pan if needed, but leave it mostly alone. It will bubble up and thicken.
sugar2

3. Then it will go from light yellow to amber to copper. The second it reaches copper, remove from the heat.
sugar3

4. Drop in the butter and whisk it in. The sugar will foam and bubble up. Add the cream and whisk it in. Stir in the fleur de sel. Transfer to a heat proof vessel and set aside to cool.
caramel

5. Measure out the rest of the ingredients.
prep

6. For the spices, you want to grind them finely.
spices1

7. But remove the cardamom pods.
spices2

8. In a food processor, combine the almond powder, icing sugar, and spices.
dry1

9. Pulse until blended. Set aside.
dry2

10. In a stand mixer with the whisk attachment, pour the egg whites.
egg1

11. On low speed, beat until foamy. Add the first 90g of sugar. Increase the speed and beat for a further 2 minutes.
egg2

12. When it gets shiny and more opaque, add the remaining sugar. Increase the speed again and beat for an other minute or two.
egg3

13. Add the food coloring of your choice (I used yellow).
egg4

14. Beat until stiff peaks form. Remove from mixer.
egg5

15. Add the dry ingredients to the bowl.
combine1

16. Using a spatula, fold the dry ingredients into the eggs.
combine2

17. Keep folding, from the outside in and going underneath the mixture until it becomes more supple, and ribbons slowly, slowly meld back into the mass.
combine3

18. Transfer to a piping bag. If you have someone to help you have them hold the bag. if not, a mason jar will do.
piping

19. Pipe cookies of about equal sizes on a baking tray lined with parchment paper. Bang tray on the counter top a few times to let air bubbles out. Set aside so the outer shell dries (about 15-30 minutes)
bang

20. Heat the oven to 290F. Bake the shells 15 minutes.
cookies1

21. Allow to cool fully on a cooling rack. Then smear one cookie with caramel and sandwich with another. Transfer, uncovered, to the fridge for 24h. Cookies will keep, covered, for about a week.
assemble

 

Baked cider doughnuts

Tiny bites, perfect with tea or coffee or just to eat by the handful. Slightly modified from the recipe found here.

Next time I make them I might add a shredded Granny Smith apple to the dough.

Ingredients:
1 1/2 cup apple cider
2 cups flour
1 1/4 cup sugar
1 tea spoon baking soda
1 tea spoon baking powder
1 tea spoon ground cinnamon
1/2 tea spoon salt
1 egg
3/4 cup milk
2 table spoon melted butter
1 tea spoon vanilla extract

For the glaze:
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tea spoon cinnamon (or more, to taste)
4 table spoon melted butter
ingredients

***

1. Pre-heat the oven to 350F
Pour the apple cider in a pot and boil for 15-20 minutes until reduced and syrupy.
reduced

2. Meanwhile, combine all of the dry ingredients.
dry

3. Whisk the wet ingredients in with the reduced apple cider.
wet

4. Combine the wet into the dry ingredients and stir until just combined. If you over-reduced the apple cider, add some more until the batter is loose enough that no more dry flour remains.
combine

5. Spoon into a non-stick mini-muffin pan (or spray the thing with something like Pam). Or use a doughnut pan if you own one.

Put in the oven for 15 minutes.
spoon

6. In the meantime, melt the butter for the glaze. In a large shallow plate (pie dish, here) combine the sugar and cinnamon.
dusting

7. Remove the warm little doughnuts from the pan (they should just fall out).
baked

8. Using a pastry brush, brush some melted butter on each doughnut. Dust with the cinnamon sugar (or roll it in the sugar for a thicker glaze) then allow to cool fully.

Yields 48 mini doughnuts. Enjoy!
dust

Celeriac and Parsnip purée

A delicious side dish to go with flavorful meats. I like serving it with duck or lamb.

Ingredients
1 celeriac
3-4 parsnips
Milk
Butter
Salt and Pepper
ingredients

***

1. Remove the wiggly parts of the celeriac and the tough outer skin.
celeriac

2. Cube and put in a pot. Peel the parsnips and cut in chunks about the same size as the cubes. Aim for equal levels of celeriac and parsnip.
parsnip

3. Add milk until just barely covering the vegetables.
milk

4. Simmer for 30-40 minutes until fork tender. Keep an eye on the pot, milk tends to boil over.
cooked

5. Ladle into a blender, leaving behind the excess water in the pot.
blend1

6. Add a few knobs of butter and season to taste. Purée until smooth. Serve warm.
blend2