Archives for posts with tag: cinnamon

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This winter has been rough on me, and I’m sure it’s been tough for a lot of you too.  I check the weather on my phone and see no hope for days.  Temperatures lingering well below freezing seem to be the norm now.  Of course, there are snippets of beauty amongst this snow and ice.  Scenes that would rival any tropical paradise in their splendor.

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On the positive side, I do love me some winter fashion.  I love chunky knits, boots, pom-pom hats, and huge scarves wrapped around a thousand times. I’ve gotten to wear crimson and berry-toned lip colors, which look out-of-place in the warmer months.  I have also been loving  goth-inspired nail polishes – very moody and a far cry from the fuchsias and tangerine reds I wear in the summer.

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There have also been cozy times I get to share with my husband.  Him and I exploring the city and finding a new café.  I will get a latte and he will get a hot chocolate because he has an abhorrence that stems from childhood towards coffee.  We’ll share a cookie or a croissant or both and discuss things in the world that we don’t understand or can’t wrap our heads around, future vacations we want to take, or whatever may come up.

We’ll also laze around at home more often on the weekends.  In the summer I like to be out and about.  This winter I’m enjoying staying in more. Usually I’m the type of person who gets in a very bad mood if we don’t have weekend plans.  But this winter I’ve been happy to stay-in on a Friday night and cook a nice dinner for just the two of us.  Of course friends are always welcome, but rather than going out, sometimes it’s nice to stay snug and comfortable at home.  When Sunday morning comes around I’m also skipping the usual restaurant brunches and opting for an omelet or pancakes or French toast at home.  I’m not big on sweets for breakfast, but sometimes a nice french toast satisfies like nothing else.

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When making French toast I don’t really measure anything out.  It’s an effortless dish that will come together if you have the basic ingredients.  That’s why I love making it.  I paired it here with ruby-toned fruits: blood oranges, pomegranates, and raspberries.  And I always use cinnamon and vanilla in my french toast.  You can add other spices like cardamom or ground cloves.  But the combination of cinnamon and vanilla is my favorite and will make your whole kitchen smell very welcoming.

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Cinnamon and Vanilla French Toast with Ruby Colored Fruits

I am providing a loose recipe here, because I really feel French toast is foolproof unless you burn it in the pan. ;)

Ingredients

oil or butter for frying

bread of your choice, sliced a little thicker than usual and day old is best.  I usually have whole wheat or sunflower toast, but brioche and challah are optimal.

eggs, use 1 egg for every 3 slices of toast

milk of your choice, use about 1 cup for every 3 slices of toast

sugar, to taste – I like to use raw sugar or sugar with larger crystals so that it caramelizes nicely on the toast.

vanilla extract or a vanilla bean scraped, start with 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract

ground cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon for 3 slices of toast, you can  adjust the amount according to your taste

a pinch of sea salt

an array of fruits or your choice, I used blood oranges, pomegranates, and raspberries. (fruit combination inspired by @thedelicious on instagram)

chopped nuts, for serving (optional)

to serve: whipped cream or sour cream or crème fraîche or yogurt, orange zest, cinnamon, and pure maple syrup

Method

Beat eggs with milk, add in sugar, cinnamon, vanilla, and a pinch of salt in a wide rectangular dish.  Soak the bread until the egg custard is absorbed on each side.

Heat a large frying pan with oil or butter on medium heat.  Add the soaked toast pieces in the pan.  Cook for about 2-3 minutes per side or until golden.  Top with the blood oranges, pomegranates, raspberries, nuts, and other topping of your choice.

I got a new camera, a dSLR.  Yes, I know it’s quite exciting.  I have been a nag (even nag would be an understatement) to my husband about this for several months.  I would intentionally show him blurry photos with my point and shoot just to show him the inadequacies with it.  So, on my birthday last month he took me to Best Buy, probably just to shut me up for a little while.  I must admit, I love my camera, but I’m back to yapping about something else now. *hehehe*

The point and shoot was the birthday gift I got from my husband over 4 years ago.  When I opened the box, I was expecting something totally fab and girly but instead it was a Canon Powershot camera.  At that point our relationship was in its early stages and still blossoming, so I was nice about and said I loved it, I mean I loved it in a way but for my birthday, not so much.  You see, I’m a girly girl.  Give me bags, shoes, accessories and I will be in love with you.  But looking back now I appreciate my husband’s gesture immensely.  At that point he was a graduate student working in a lab and he did go out of his way with the camera.  Don’t worry, no need to feel bad for him, I used that point and shoot to its full capacity *even* after drowning it in the ocean a few times and resuscitating it many times.  Needless to say, I feel a little guilty now that I am not using it much anymore.

I spent 2 weeks taking pictures with my new dSLR of random things, like a vase of flowers, or a mirror hanging in my living room, or my lunch.  Then one day, I decided to go to my fridge and make something.  What I had no idea.  One way or another I ended up making ricotta fritters and began shooting away, making myself more comfortable with all the functions on the new camera.  I’m glad I ended up make these on a whim because they were delightful and so very easy.  They tasted like mini airy doughnuts and though I can’t say I eat doughnuts often, (haven’t since childhood).  But they are a staple and my husband requested I make them again and they were delicious again-all warm and comforting.  They make you feel all warm, they way only cinnamon-y goodness can.  These have been added my frequently-made dessert list.  Just talking about them is making me want to make some now!

my husband, taste tester *and* hand model

Sweet Cinnamon and Almond Ricotta Fritters

inspired by Gale Gand

Makes about 12

Ingredients

canola oil, for frying

1 egg, beaten

2 tablespoons sugar

1/2 cup fresh ricotta cheese

1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon powder

1/2 cup ground almonds (ground in a spice grinder is fine)

1 tablespoon unbleached all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

small pinch fleur de sel or any fine sea salt

confectioners’ sugar, for dusting

fruit preserves, for dipping (or anything you prefer: caramel, chocolate ganache, melted white chocolate, nutella)

Method

Have a frying pan ready on medium heat and add about 1/2 inch of oil to the pan and allow the oil to heat to about 350-375 degrees.

Mix the egg with the sugar, vanilla extract, ricotta cheese, and cinnamon together using a rubber spatula until combined.

Next, add in the ground almonds, flour, and baking powder until mixed into the egg and ricotta mixture.

Take teaspoon-fulls and drop the batter into the oil and cook until golden brown on all sides, about 3-5 minutes.   Drain excess oil from the fritters and allow to dry on a rack lined with paper towels.  Serve warm with preserves (or any of the other choices specified above) and dust with confectioners’ sugar.

*you can deep-fry these in oil at 375 degrees, but I didn’t find it necessary.

I’m no accomplished baker, this is my humble attempt at an apple galette.  I “ooh and ahh” at other bloggers’ baked delights.  Sure, I can make a chocolate chip cookie (well, who can’t) and brownies and the like.  However, I scare away from sophisticated desserts.  I shouldn’t though, with enough practice I think I could muster up something half-way decent.  I also have another excuse-Autumn.  If you don’t bake during this season, I’m sorry to say it, but you are pretty lame.  Jokes aside, something in the crisp fall air draws some inner baker out of me and has me craving all things warm, comforting, and gooey.

Apples are just that-warm and comforting.  They remind me of simpler times when hayrides and apple cider were enough to lift one’s spirits.  I take that back, maybe they are even today.  I like to knock down my “rural” roots and pretend I am a city girl, because that’s where I feel I belong.  Yet, I have ended up in small-town Canada (hopefully, not for much longer).  As much as I love cities, the charm in a small place is undeniable.  I have sweet grannies living in my building, always smiling and sharing in small talk.  In my apartment building hallway, I get wafts of sweet aromas of sugar, spice, and everything nice.

As I do every Autumn, I went crazy with apple buying.  I had lofty plans to make this and that, but I only ended up with this apple galette, so far.  As I mentioned earlier, I need to expand my baking repertoire.  I was proud of my galette, the dough wasn’t rock hard after being baked, that is my most common problem.  It was soft and flaky, perhaps I didn’t overmix.  No matter where your home is, I don’t know what gets more comforting and homey than an apple dessert.  This is something global, something that you could bring to anyone, anywhere and they would enjoy it.  And even the people who say they aren’t dessert people will be asking for seconds.

Apple, Pecan, and Crème Fraîche Galette

Serves 6

for the galette dough: (slightly adapted from David Lebovitz via Simply Recipes, I halved the recipe)

Ingredients

1 1/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon Demerara sugar

1/4 teaspoon fleur de sel

4 ounces (8 tablespoons) of butter, chilled in the freezer for 30 minutes

2.5 ounces ice water

Method

Mix together the dry ingredients in a bowl and  transfer them to the food processor.  Add the butter into the food processor until you get pea sized lumps of flour.  Next, stream in the water until the dough just forms.  Tranfer the dough to a lightly floured surface and knead very lightly until it just comes together into a disc.  Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour.  After the dough has chilled roll it out in between two pieces of parchment paper into a 13″ by 11″ circular shape, it doesn’t have to be perfect because this galette is very rustic.  Transfer the rolled out dough onto a baking tray covered in parchment paper and into the fridge until ready for assembly.

for the filling:

Ingredients

2 tablespoons apricot jam

3 cups honeycrisp apples, peeled, cored, and sliced into 1/4″ slices

1 teaspoon grated orange zest

2 tablespoons orange juice, fresh is best

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

2 tablespoons Demerara sugar

1/2 cup brown sugar

1 tablespoon crème fraîche

pinch of salt

1/4 cup whole pecans

2 tablespoons of butter, cut up into small pieces

1 egg beaten with 2 tablespoons of milk for eggwash

Method

While the dough is chilling, you can make the filling.  Combine all the ingredients in a bowl, but only use 1/4 cup of the brown sugar and don’t add in the pecans, butter, or eggwash.  The remaining brown sugar is for sprinkling over top.  Allow the apple mixture to marinate for 30-45 minutes in the refrigerator.

to make to galette:

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.  Lay the apples over the rolled-out dough leaving a 2-3″ border.  The apple may have leached some liquid, only spoon over up to 1/4 cup of the liquid onto the dough, we don’t want it to become soggy.  Roll up the sides of the dough in a rustic fashion, pinching the dough into place-this does not have to be perfect.  Assemble the pecans over the apples and sprinkle with the remaining brown sugar and dab the butter on top of the apples.  Brush the exposed galette dough with the eggwash.  Bake at 425 degrees for 25 minutes and then reduce the heat to 375 degrees for an additional 20-25 minutes.  The crust should be light golden brown when done.  Serve warm or at room temperature with whipped cream or à la mode.

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