Author Archives: saltandserenity

Cinnamon Brickle Rugelach

with tea 2 dpiAccording to my sister Bo, if I post any more of Melissa Clark‘s recipes I will be veering dangerously close into stalker territory. We both have a bit of a girl crush on Melissa. She is pretty awesome. To date, I have posted 9 of her recipes on my blog. I think that 10 is the line I must not cross or the restraining order will be shortly forthcoming.

Not to worry Melissa, I have a new girl crush. Her name is Mindy Segal. Although her book, Cookie Love, was released in 2015, for some reason, I just discovered it last month. Which, for a cookie fanatic like me, is kind of surprising. Mindy has turned the cookie world on it’s ear, taking the classics and updating them into fun and most decidedly delicious little bites.

Deciding which cookie to bake first, from this gem of a book, was not easy. As you can see, I have bookmarked lots.cookie loveThis is not a book for those looking for simple mix and scoop cookies. Many of the recipes in this book involve multiple steps and several “mini recipes” within a recipe. If that sort of thing bugs you, then this is not the book for you. If you are looking to up your cookie game, and enjoy spending time in the kitchen, creating little master pieces, then look no further, you have found your guru.

I decided to start with her cinnamon brickle rugelach. Rugelach, for the uninitiated, are a small Jewish pastry, of Eastern European origin. You can learn more about the history of rugelach in this post.

For these cookies you need to make a cream cheese dough, cinnamon nut brickle, and caramel sauce. All three of these components can be done several days ahead and you can assemble and bake the rugelach on another day if you like.

I started with the caramel sauce. Mindy’s recipe makes a generous 4 cups, and you really only need about 1/4 of this amount for the rugelach. But the caramel sauce keeps in the fridge for 6 months and it’s always a good idea to have some caramel sauce around in case of emergency.  I don’t know about your emergencies, but some of mine can be resolved with a spoonful of salted caramel sauce. You can of course buy caramel sauce in a jar, but please don’t. Homemade is so much better. caramel sauceWhile the caramel sauce is cooling, make the cream cheese dough.cream cheese doughcutting circleThis is a supple dough, easy to roll, with no cracking. Mindy suggests you roll it into a rectangle and then cut it into triangles. I read her instructions for doing this 3 times and could not figure it out. Geometry was never my strong suit. I decided to form mine into a circle, and used a 13 inch round plate to make my circle perfect, because that’s how we roll around here.

The dough needs to chill for about 30 minutes before you can make the rugelach, so go on to the cinnamon nut brickle. Brickle refers to something with little elasticity; hence it is easily cracked or fractured or snapped. Does anyone else remember Butter Brickle Ice Cream from their childhood? My mom used to buy the “light” version and we’d end up eating twice as much.

We’re essentially making nut toffee here. Butter, sugar and cinnamon are heated until melted. Mixed salted nuts are coated in this concoction and then tipped out onto a baking sheet to harden.nut brickleThen get out the food processor and make some noise. There will be leftover brickle after forming your rugelach. It will keep for over a month, and is excellent on yogurt or ice cream, in case of another emergency.chopped brickleNow for some fun.

 

I altered Mindy’s recipe slightly, using less caramel sauce and less brickle than she does. spreading caramel saucesprinkling brickleA pastry wheel or pizza cutter make quick work of forming the wedges. You could also use a sharp knife. cutting rugelachrolling rugelachMake sure you brush with beaten egg whites so that the cinnamon sugar will stick. Mindy topped her rugelach with more brickle, but I found that most of it just fell off and burned on the baking sheet, so I left that step out. I did however, sprinkle them lightly with flaked sea salt (Maldon), before baking. The salt really balances out the sweetness of the caramel sauce and brickle filling. ready for bakingThe rugelach will ooze quite a bit of their filling so don’t be alarmed. Those little pools of ooze will harden into a delicious toffee. Keep a ring of the toffee around each rugelach for a more delicious treat. caramel oozing on baking sheet

Click here to print recipe for Cinnamon Brickle Rugelach.

with tea 1one rugelach

 

 

 

Roasted Butternut Squash and Israeli Couscous Salad

in white round bowlHope life is treating you well this week. We are in full-on purge mode around here. We’re planning to downsize shortly. It’s amazing the amount of junk you can accumulate in 23 years.  Getting rid of stuff is not my husband’s forte. He still has all his high school essays. (He got an A+ in his Family Studies paper on “The cost of setting up a home for newlyweds” – it was the 70’s!) He kept all the cards from our wedding. We have been married for over 30 years. He also kept every birthday and father’s day card from me and the kids.

I wasn’t hopeful that he would be able to dispose of very much. But once he began shredding, he couldn’t stop. And then he discovered Kijiji. Things have been flying out of here at an alarming rate. It has become quite cathartic for him. I’m afraid that if I stay still for too long he might put me up for sale on Kijiji. I can just imagine the ad:

“Pre-owned, but very well-maintained wife for sale. All parts original. A little slow to start up in the morning, but motor begins purring after an extra-hot latte.” Will accept any reasonable offers.”

This salad was inspired by a forgotten bag of Israeli couscous I discovered sitting at the back of my pantry in a cleaning spree. The addition of roasted butternut squash is the clever idea of Daniel Gritzer over at seriouseats.com. Start by toasting the uncooked Israeli couscous in a bit of olive oil.Toasting cous cousAdd boiling water and salt and cook couscous.adding boiling waterI recently learned that squash is an excellent source of potassium. Apparently acorn squash is the champion, but butternut is a close second, and I find it much easier to peel. All those ridges in acorn squash scare me. If you need a primer on peeling and cutting butternut, check out the video in this post.chopping squash Toss squash with some olive oil, salt and pepper. Add some smoked paprika too, because everything is better with smoked paprika.ready for roastingA jolt of freshness is provided by lots of green (scallions, mint and parsley) and yellow (lemon).lemon and herbsready to assemble

Click here to print recipe for Roasted Butternut Squash and Israeli Couscous Salad.

in white oval bowl

 

Grilled Asparagus and Farro Salad

On blue oval platterAs parents, I believe one of our most important jobs is to create memories for our children. Certain aromas or sounds can instantly evoke specific memories or feelings. It only takes a shake of Ajax cleansing powder and a squirt of Joy dishwashing liquid to transport me right back to the kitchen of my childhood. The combo of Ajax and Joy was my mom’s special recipe for disinfecting the sink after dinner each night. The scent was sinus clearing and most certainly  responsible for the loss of a few brain cells. But we had the shiniest sinks in the neighbourhood.

If you were to ask my children, undoubtedly, they would tell you that the annoying whir of my cobalt blue Braun immersion blender was the soundtrack to their childhood. Each morning, they were roused from a deep sleep to the sound of their mom frothing milk for her morning latte. (This was before Nespresso machines with milk frother attachments) No need for alarm clocks in our house.

I hope that I have created other memories for my children, that were perhaps a bit more pleasant.3 platesLast weekend was the start of cottage season and we had a full house. My youngest son was there as well as my daughter and 3 of her friends. A few days earlier the girls had decided that they wanted to eat healthy for the weekend, so I was instructed to please not bake anything tempting. I made this salad for our lunch on Friday. It was met with rave reviews. It’s not really a grain salad, as the farro only plays a supporting role. The real star of this salad are the fat spears of sweet asparagus, charred to perfection on the outside but still maintaining a bit of crunch in the center.

The inspiration for this recipe came from Melissa Clark, over at www.cooking.nytimes.com. She roasted the asparagus in the oven, but I wanted to officially start grilling season. I like fat spears of asparagus and I peel the bottom third of each spear because that’s how I was taught to do it at my very first restaurant job.peeling asparagusready for grillinggrillingThe dressing for the salad packs a flavour punch. Lime juice, garlic, soy sauce and olive oil are whisked together and mixed with the cooked farro. This is a great make ahead salad as the farro can sit in the dressing for several hours. The asparagus and green onion can sit for about 30 minutes before serving. Lime Soy DressingI decided on a bed of peppery arugula and bitter radicchio. Toss the farro with the salad greens and top with the grilled vegetables. Using a vegetable peeler, shave thin shards of Parmesan cheese over the top of this salad. close up

Click here to print recipe for Grilled Asparagus and Farro Salad.

2 plates

Rhubarb Upside-down Cake

3 slicesHappy Mother’s Day! I fully intended to post about this cake last week so you would have ample time to plan ahead and make this cake for your mom. But unfortunately, the ultimate mother (Mother Nature), did not cooperate. Local rhubarb only showed up at my market yesterdayfresh rhubarbThe hardest part about making this cake is arranging the rhubarb in this gorgeous chevron pattern. I have been going through a chevron phase for a few years now and I’m still not tired of it. I alternated the rows, cut side up and cut side down, for an ombre effect. Rhubarb Cable Knitbaked 1It really links like a chunky cable knit sweater! Sadly, with my poor fine motor skills, this is as close to knitting that I am ever likely to get. Arranging the rhubarb is really not that difficult to do. It just takes some planning, patience and precision. If that’s not for you, feel free to slice the rhubarb into 1/2 inch thick pieces and just scatter them on the bottom of the pan.

I created this video to walk you through the process.

If you were one of those kids that excelled at Leggo and puzzles, this will be a piece of cake for you. Once you get the main chevron pieces in place, you need to go back and fill in the top and bottom gaps with little wedges of rhubarb. For the record, I am spatially challenged, so if I can do it, anyone can. spooning batter Raw rhubarb is quite astringent, not to mention tough and fibrous. But blanket it with butter and brown sugar and it just it melts into silkiness in the oven.  The sour cream in the batter makes for a super moist cake.

Click here to print recipe for Rhubarb Upside-down Cake.

ready to serve 1

one slice

 

 

Granola Bark

3 bowlsIf you’re one of those people that pick all the big clumps of granola out of the bag, leaving the little crumbs for the rest of your family, then this granola bark is for you.broken into piecesThe recipe comes from the cookbook Tartine All Day, by pastry chef Elizabeth Prueitt. She and her husband, bread baker extraordinaire, Chad Robertson, are the owners of the Tartine Bread empire in San Francisco.

I recently sorted through all my cookbooks and got rid of a big pile that just didn’t bring me joy anymore. I wasn’t planning to buy any new ones.  We’re in declutter mode around here these days. But I’m happily willing to make room for this book on my shelf. It is filled with inspiration for way we want to eat now, melding new ingredients with old techniques. These are the recipes that Prueitt cooks for her family everyday.

Start by gathering the dry ingredients. Rolled oats (not quick cooking), pumpkin seeds, unsweetened coconut, golden flax seed, sesame seeds, cinnamon, whole almonds and ground almonds (almond flour). Feel free to substitute other seeds and nuts. Chia seeds and sunflower seeds would be good. Pecans instead of almonds would be delicious. For Nutella fans, try using hazelnut flour instead of the almond flour.Dry ingredientschopping almondsFor the liquid ingredients, maple syrup is simmered with water, coconut sugar, and salt until the sugar dissolves. Prueitt calls for vegetable or olive oil, but I used coconut oil. The final liquid ingredient is an egg white, which helps make the granola bark extra crispy.Liquid ingredientsall mixedspreading out barkBefore baking, it is important to press the granola quite firmly into the pan. The easiest way to do this is to cover the granola with a sheet of parchment paper and press a second pan over the  bark.
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Once baked and cooled, break bark into big pieces and pile them into a big glass jar and set it on the counter for snacking.
in a jarOr crumble it up into your yogurt for breakfast.one bowl

Click here to print recipe for Granola Bark.

with a latte