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  • Written by Amiee White
  • Category: Food Je t'Aimee

T'ga Za Jug

I got used to drinking wine out of tumblers because of a Spanish restaurant I used to frequent while living in Germany. Conveniently, the restaurant - Lizarran - lent a touch of class to the fact that my first, sparsely furnished German kitchen had me drinking wine out of old mugs from the Christmas market until I could start earning a better salary. 

Now, whenever I'm enjoying one, indulgent, weeknight glass of wine, I prefer to drink it out of a tumbler. 

Drinking wine this way makes it a little more casual and relaxing, somehow, and always makes me nostalgic for Bonn and old, wonderful friends. (Maria, amiga, te extraño!) For any special occasion, or just when we needed a night out, Lizarran became our go-to food and wine retreat. In the heart of Altstadt (city center), it was hip and atmospheric enough to make us feel like we were treating ourselves, while still fitting nicely within our junior professional budgets. It was often over tapas and tumblers that Maria would tutor me in Spanish, trying (in vain) to help me improve my accent and learn new words. To this day, the names of tapas are still what I understand and pronounce best in Spanish, despite Maria's best efforts to broaden my vocabulary! Nonetheless, I can attest to the fact that alcohol does magically enhance anyone's ability to speak a second language. 

Admittedly, it really doesn't take much to make me miss Bonn (and Maria), but some things pack more punch than others. Isn't it funny how something as simple as a tumbler can conjure up so many memories? Food and drink can be such powerful conduits that way. Like how a scent or taste can immediately transport you somewhere else. 

T'ga Za Jug
Ever the photo-tourists, here is Maria and me attempting to capture ourselves in Sardinia in April 2007.

T'ga Za Jug
When not drinking wine out of tumblers, we had our other obsession in hand: Latte Macchiatto!
Tonight, I finally cracked open the lovely little bottle of wine that Elena sent to me in my foodie care package from Macedonia. The wine is called T'ga Za Jug, and according to the internet gods, it means "longing for the south" in English and is named after a famous, Bulgarian poem by Konstantin Miladinov. Longing, you say? Something like nostalgia? And, interestingly enough, 'Konstantin' was the road (strasse) I first lived on in Bonn. Hmm. This Monday night glass of red is quite meant to be, don't you think? 

The wine is a deep purply-red and beautifully berry-rich. It paired wonderfully with my dinner (and my memories) tonight.

Yessir; a fine start to the week.

T'ga Za Jug
Thanks again, Elena!

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  • Written by Amiee White
  • Category: Food Je t'Aimee

Muffin Monday: Honey Lemon Olive Oil Muffins

After what feels like an achingly long 2.5 months away from the Muffin Monday community, I have made a comeback this week, joining the crew in making some Honey Lemon Olive Oil muffins with Lemon Glaze. I've missed you guys! 

With a little extra (and rare) downtime on my hands last week, I emailed Anuradha to see what the week's recipe was, and was delighted to see that these muffin contained so many of my favourite things.

There are few flavours I love more than lemon. Lemon anything and I'm in. I typically buy the large lemons at the grocery store, but considering Meyer lemons are still in season in the US right now, I thought I'd give those a try. What a difference! Their juice was much darker, and their flavour that much richer. They were also much softer and easier to squeeze. Considering lemons don't thrive in this part of the world - yes - this was a new discovery for me! As if my first (and thus far, last) batch of lemon curd wasn't already good and luscious enough, I couldn't help but wonder how much better it'd taste using Meyers. 


Muffin Monday: Honey Lemon Olive Oil Muffins


Muffin Monday: Honey Lemon Olive Oil Muffins

My other addiction? Cranberries. It's why I make that dang Spiced Cranberry Bundt so often. I can't get enough of the tart little beauties, so I threw some into this recipe, too. It was such a bright and sunny flavour combination! In keeping with the theme of using local ingredients in this recipe - lemons aside - I dipped into my frozen stock of cranberries I scored from the Noggins Corner stall at the market back in January.

As for the topping, I was inspired by a dessert F. and I had in Toronto a few weeks back, at a place called Pure Spirits in the Distillery District. We shared some sugar beignets, sitting prettily on a bed of lemon curd and topped with toasted, crispy lemon zest. I had never thought to toast lemon zest before trying it this way, and nearly caught the house on fire in the process! Luckily I had bought a whole bag of lemons, so I started over and managed to get something similar to what we had at Pure Spirits. (Note: If you try this at home, do not - do not - take your eyes off the zest! It can catch in an instant! My first batch had glowing embers when I looked away for 20 seconds!)
As if I didn't already love this recipe enough, I really liked that it was slightly healthier, too. With the additions of honey and olive oil, and significantly less sugar and fat content than is usually found in muffins, it's definitely heading in the right direction. I've been rebuilding my relationship with the gym over the past few weeks, and baking infinitely less than I was in 2011 (much to F.'s dismay!), so any help in the healthy baked goods department is most welcome around here.
Muffin Monday: Honey Lemon Olive Oil Muffins
Muffin Monday: Honey Lemon Olive Oil Muffins

While certainly not the prettiest muffins I've ever made (what happened to my domes?), they certainly were a spongey and brightly-flavoured addition to my breakfast this morning. And, honestly, it was really nice to be back in my kitchen baking muffins.

Muffin Monday: Honey Lemon Olive Oil Muffins
Muffin Monday: Honey Lemon Olive Oil Muffins

Honey, Cranberry, Lemon & Olive Oil Muffins with Lemon Glaze

Adapted from Pinch My Salt

Makes 12 muffins

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/3 cup honey (preferably local)

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

1/2 cup buttermilk, at room temperature

2 large eggs, at room temperature

2 tablespoons grated lemon zest (from about 2 lemons)

2 tablespoons fresh-squeezed lemon juice

1 cup frozen cranberries

Glaze:

1/2 cup powdered sugar

2 tablespoons fresh-squeezed lemon juice

2 tablespoons toasted lemon zest

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 12-cup muffin tin with non-stick baking spray or line with paper cups (spray the inside of the cups with baking spray to prevent muffins from sticking to the paper).

In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt until well combined. Set aside. In a separate medium bowl, combine honey, sugar, olive oil, buttermilk, eggs, lemon zest, and lemon juice. Whisk together until well combined.

Pour liquid ingredients and cranberries into the flour mixture and stir with a wooden spoon just until all of the flour is incorporated. Don’t overmix. Divide batter between muffin cups using a large spoon or mechanical ice cream scoop – the cups should be mostly full.

Bake for 17 – 21 minutes or until the center of a muffin springs back lightly to the touch or a toothpick inserted into the middle of a muffin comes out clean. Check early and watch carefully, they will brown fast.

While muffins are baking, make glaze and toast your lemon zest. WATCH CAREFULLY! It takes very little time and can burn very easily.

Let muffins cool in pan for 5 minutes then remove to a wire rack. Brush the tops of the muffins with glaze while they are still warm and sprinkle with toasted zest. Let cool completely.

Muffin Monday: Honey Lemon Olive Oil Muffins


Muffin Monday is an initiative by Baker Street. A culinary journey of sharing a wickedly delicious muffin recipe every week. Drop in a quick line to join her on her journey to make the world smile and beat glum Monday mornings week after week.
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  • Written by Amiee White
  • Category: Food Je t'Aimee

Food Wine Magazine February Cover Recipe

Flax-Coconut Pancakes
Rating: 4 out of 5 (Fabulous pancakes, but quite an investment!)
Food Wine Magazine February Cover Recipe

My goodness we love breakfast in our household. Breakfast for breakfast, breakfast for lunch, breakfast for dinner, breakfast for snacks; it's definitely a favourite meal and in all its manifestations.


While I was unable to participate in Cook That Book's cover challenge in February, I simply could not resist the allure of that beautiful stack of pancakes on the front of March's cover, and neither could F. Since he picks up the mail every day, he actually gets to see what's on the cover of my new F&W mags before I do, so it's usually the first thing out of his mouth as he walks through the door. "Are you gonna make this one?!"

And who could refuse him with that hopeful gleam in his eye?


Intentions are one thing, however, but actually getting down to the nitty gritty of reading the recipe and preparing to make it are another. I knew for weeks I was going to make these pancakes, but what was so special about them? I'd plan to read the recipe over the following day's lunch break, which turned into the next day's lunch, and the next day's, and the next day's... and so on. So last week when Jasmine and I were coming up with a mutually acceptable post date, it occurred to me that I should probably see what all the fuss was about and read the recipe. Since they were just pancakes - I bet they have yogurt in them - I suspected I'd find everything in my pantry with the exception of the fruit for topping.

How wrong I was!

What makes these pancakes special? They're GLUTEN FREE. So what did I have in my pantry to make them? NOTHING.

These Flax-Coconut Pancakes were hands-down the most expensive pancakes I have ever, ever made. It hurt to buy all of these new ingredients when I needed so very little of each one to make the recipe.

I know Jasmine has been experimenting quite a bit with gluten-free flours and starches over the past several months, so I'm very curious to see what she thought of these pancakes! Be sure to hop over to Cook That Book to read her post on the subject. (And in the meantime, you can also check out her gorgeous rendition of the Tomboy Cake, which she submitted for the Monthly Miettes challenge!)

Food Wine Magazine February Cover Recipe

THE TEST

So, when I say I'm a food lover, I really, really mean it. Yes, I love eating meat, for example, but I equally love vegetarian dishes. I love vegan dishes. I adore gluten-free goodies. But how many of these things do I actually make and consume in my own home? Very little, with the exception of the odd vegetarian dish.

Desiree, from The Full Woman, wrote a hilarious account of her first foray into gluten-free cooking. Her post is called Here There Be Monsters - it's one of my all-time favourites - and I highly encourage you to give it a read. She couldn't have been more apt in describing my own feelings on the subject, too. When I see 8 different ingredients, none of which I recognize, which are all supposed to equate a version of flour in the end? Admittedly, I throw up my hands and dig into the flour bin.
Now, if you can't consume gluten products (and are probably are better off for it!), I'd imagine it's a big relief that you are able to eat a myriad of dishes with these substitutes, especially if you were used to eating plenty of gluten-filled products before giving it up. I'm also guessing that once you made that initial investment into the substitute flours and starches, replacing one or two of them from time to time gets a little easier to swallow, financially.

This recipe called for white rice flour, brown rice flour, potato starch, tapioca starch, coconut flour, flaxseed meal, and coconut oil, among a few other, more average pantry staples. The only thing I did have was coconut oil, but since there was maybe a teaspoon left in the bottom of the jar, I had to replenish that, too! This ingredients list is infinitely less intimidating than some of the others I've seen, but I still approached this breakfast and this recipe with trepidation.


Food Wine Magazine February Cover Recipe
Food Wine Magazine February Cover Recipe
I learned that coconut flour smells delicious - but of course it would!
Food Wine Magazine February Cover Recipe
Food Wine Magazine February Cover Recipe
Here goes nothing!

THE RESULT

So how were these pancakes? Fabulous. I might even go so far as to say they were better than most pancakes I've tried. The flax gave them a great texture, and despite the trace amounts, they tasted beautifully of coconut. It was also gratifying to know they were better for me than most run-of-the-mill pancakes.

I topped them with some Nova Scotian maple syrup, fresh raspberries, and more of those preserved peaches I used on Valentine's Day.

Now, I do have a dirty little secret: I had leftover buttermilk from those Lemon, Cranberry, Olive Oil Muffins I made last week, so I used that in these pancakes rather than the milk the recipe called for. I'm not sure how they'd turn out without it, but these were nice and fluffy as a result. I'll definitely get to find out how they'd be without the buttermilk, however, because with these new ingredients gracing my pantry shelves, we'll be eating gluten-free pancakes for months!

Food Wine Magazine February Cover Recipe
Food Wine Magazine February Cover Recipe

If it weren't for this Food & Wine Cover Challenge, we probably never would have purchased of these ingredients. But isn't that the beauty of it all, cost aside? Every month that I take part in this challenge  with Jasmine, I learn something new. It gets me out of my box and making a recipe I probably wouldn't have tried before. A big win.

COVER RECIPE

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NOTE: If any of you would like to follow along with Jasmine and I and join in on the fun, we'd love to compare notes! So pick-up a copy of the latest issue of Food & Wine and get cooking. Be sure to send your comments and photos to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

The mission of Food & Wine Magazine is to find the most exciting places, new experiences, emerging trends and sensations in the culinary and wine industries. From travel and entertaining to luxury and design, this magazine brings an energetic and stylish take on food and wine. For more information on Food & Wine Magazine, please visit www.foodandwine.com

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  • Written by Amiee White
  • Category: Food Je t'Aimee

Monthly Miettes: March Round-Up

I decided I'd wait to write about my experience making the Tomboy Cake until I posted the round-up for March. It seemed like a good idea at the time, but now I'm feeling a little bashful after seeing the beautiful cakes made by everyone else who participated in this challenge! Ladies - bravo!

I have to be mindful of the fact that I started this challenge to challenge myself in the baking department, fully knowing I might not have the prettiest cake or that it might not turn out every time. My goal is to come out on the other end of this book as a more accomplished baker. I was definitely quite proud of my Tomboy when I made it, however, and even more proud when I tasted it! 

I am thrilled that I'm in such fine company and among such wonderful bakers for this first month's challenge - thank you so much for participating! Readers and vistors, before you read on, please go visit their posts and prepare to swoon over their stunning recreations. Below are links to their posts, as well as a preview of what you'll find there.

Monthly Miettes: March Round-Up
Monthly Miettes: March Round-Up
Monthly Miettes: March Round-Up
Monthly Miettes: March Round-Up
Monthly Miettes: March Round-Up

And now it's my turn!

When I first set about to make this cake - which was actually early in January - it was right around the same time that a pastry chef I was working with befriended me. Sue Morrison, of Sue Morrison  Baking Arts (who will have a gorgeous, new website any day now - check back soon!) has been an awesome person to get to know, both as a friend and as a professional. We had thrown around the idea of having baking dates from time to time, because, being equal parts baker and teacher, Sue could help me learn more about certain aspects of pastry, or just baking in general. When I told her I was having the jitters about making my first Miette, she suggested she come over to bake alongside me and teach me a trick or two. That was an offer I simply could not refuse! It's not every day you get pick the brain of a pastry genius in your very own kitchen!
Monthly Miettes: March Round-Up
Meet Sue!

Monthly Miettes: March Round-Up
Buttercream flavoured and coloured with Pomegranate juice.

Monthly Miettes: March Round-Up

Sue showed me how to make roses from modelling chocolate, and aren't they just the loveliest? My first try is below and it was much easier to do than I expected! Check out this About.com article on how to make roses like these. 

Monthly Miettes: March Round-Up

Something that happens when Sue and I get together (and should come as no surprise to anyone who knows me) is... wetalk! We both get so excited talking about food, that before we know it, several hours have passed. When Sue came over that Friday, it was certainly no exception. As a result, I was left to my own devices for the part I feared most - decorating the cake - by the time Sue had to leave.

Since we only used one, flower-shaped, 9-inch cake pan, we put the leftover batter into a ramekin and made the Tomboy's mini-me, which Sue took home to her family. 



Monthly Miettes: March Round-Up
Mini-me.

Monthly Miettes: March Round-Up
My one, 9" cake sliced in half.

Now, let me tell you something about this cake: it is phenomenal. Luscious chocolate cake (the richest, moistest, most decadent you'll ever taste) with beautiful, pink buttercream to contrast (in both colour and flavour), this cake was one of the tastiest things ever to come out of our kitchen.

The recipe seemed over-complicated at times, as you'll see some of the other bloggers note, but many of the extra efforts were worth it once you found your own path through the recipe.  I was only brave enough to cut my cake into two pieces. As a novice cake-baker, I'll probably never use those flower-shaped pans again! The cake was challenging enough, never mind trying to decorate it with all those curves. It wound up looking pretty uneven on the outside, but absolutely gorgeous on the inside.

But isn't it the inside that counts? After all?

Monthly Miettes: March Round-Up
Monthly Miettes: March Round-Up
Monthly Miettes: March Round-Up

Want to bake along with us? April's challenge is: TARTS. Rather than choosing one specific recipe for next month, how about you choose which of the 7 Miette tarts you'd like to make? It adds an element of surprise! The Tarts section runs from pages 104 to 121 in the book.

Here are the rules for the next round of Monthly Miettes:

1) Buy Miette. It will be the prettiest, daintiest addition to your kitchen/bookshelf.

2) Bake the challenge of the month and post about it on your blog/website by the 25th. Our challenge for April is TARTS - you choose which one - due April 25th, 2012.

3) Eat a slice of your tart for breakfast (as often or as seldom as you wish, but at least once!), photograph it, and enjoy this little morning ritual to the fullest. 

4) Link back to the original postplease and thanks! (And if you're tweeting about it, use #monthlymiettes.)

Leave me a comment below if you would like to participate and/or if your post is up! 

Happy baking!

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  • Written by Amiee White
  • Category: Food Je t'Aimee

Muffin Monday: Rice Pudding Muffins

There is nothing quite as soothing as a warm (or cold!) bowl of rice pudding. It's fine comfort food, and it's why I've always liked "Kozy Shack," at least for the aptness of the brand name. But, as usual, nothing beats homemade.

This past Saturday night, F. and I hosted my father's 60th birthday celebration. It was a fabulous evening with family and friends and - as always - tons of amazing food. It was the kind of night where the food is so good and we are all so uncomfortably full, that ideas get tossed around for a family cookbook full of all those wonderful recipes. I had to work quite a bit in the lead up to the party, so while I wasn't able to contribute a great deal to the spread, I was able to add these comforting muffins to the table. 

Muffin Monday: Rice Pudding Muffins

Muffin Monday: Rice Pudding Muffins

Muffin Monday: Rice Pudding Muffins
My mother was over, getting ready for the party, and thought it would be funny to capture me worrying over the muffins.
I was just making sure the pistachios weren't burning!

Muffin Monday: Rice Pudding Muffins
Muffin Monday: Rice Pudding Muffins

Rather than nutmeg and dried cherries, I opted for 1/8 a teaspoon of cardamom and a 1/2 a cup of chopped pistachios. I then used a buttermilk and cardamom glaze over the top.


Rice Pudding Muffins 
Adapted from The Ultimate Muffin Book

Makes 12 muffins

11/4 cups cooked white rice
1/2 cup heavy cream
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
11/2 cups all-purpose flour
2/3 cup sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 large egg, at room temperature
1 cup milk (whole, low-fat, or nonfat)
1/2 cup chopped pistachios
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Position the rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 400°F. To pre- pare the muffin tins, spray the indentations and the rims around them with nonstick spray, or line the indentations with paper muffin cups. If using silicon muffin tins, spray as directed, then place the tins on a baking sheet.

Combine the rice, cream, and melted butter in a large bowl, stir well, then set aside for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, whisk the flour, sugar, baking powder, cardamom, and salt in a medium bowl until well combined. Set aside.

Whisk the egg and milk in a small bowl until smooth; stir this egg mixture into the rice mixture. Stir in half the pistachios and vanilla extract until well blended. Finally, stir in the prepared flour mixture until the rice and pistachios are evenly distributed in the batter. Do not overmix.

Fill the prepared tins three-quarters full and sprinkle with remaining pistachios. Use additional greased tins or small, oven- safe, greased ramekins for any leftover batter, or reserve the batter for a second baking. Bake for 22 minutes, or until the muffins are well browned and a toothpick inserted in the center of one muffin comes out clean.

Set the pan on a wire rack to cool for 10 minutes. Gently rock each muffin back and forth to release and remove it from the tin. Cool the muffins for 5 minutes more on the rack before serving. If storing or freezing them, cool them completely before sealing in an airtight container or in freezer-safe plastic bags. The muffins will stay fresh for up to 2 days at room temperature or up to 2 months in the freezer. 

Muffin Monday: Rice Pudding Muffins
I put some excess batter in ramekins, as the recipe suggested.
Muffin Monday is an initiative by Baker Street. A culinary journey of sharing a wickedly delicious muffin recipe every week. Drop in a quick line to join her on her journey to make the world smile and beat glum Monday mornings week after week.
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