Author Archives: saltandserenity

A Sweet New Year with Honey Sticks

Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, begins next Sunday night. We have 20 coming for lunch next Monday and I have been busy planning my menu. I wanted to do something creative and pretty for the table setting, somehow incorporating honey which we dip apples in to signify our wish for a sweet new year.

There is no shortage of inspiration on Pinterest. I loved these honey dipper place cards and thought these place cards, tied to the cutlery were just adorable. In theory, I really like the idea of place cards. They are a great way to dress up a table. In practice however, in my family at least, no one really sits where they are told. On my husband’s side of the family, they just ignore the place cards and sit where they want. On my side, we at least attempt to be polite about it. Someone, quietly goes into the dining room, before the meal and rearranges the place cards to suit their preferences. (Not mentioning any names here!). So no place cards at my house.

My problem with those spiral wooden honey dippers is the drippy mess they make all over the table. When I did an online search of honey dippers, I discovered these honey sticks. They are the perfect size and I am hoping they will be quite tidy. I ordered 2 varieties, wildflower and blackberry. honey-sticksI created these stickers using the Avery online label design program.  It’s very user friendly and has many design options. I used these 2 inch round glossy labels  and stuck them on some scalloped round cardboard gift tags I found at Michaels craft store. I tied everything up with a bright red ribbon.

I’ll put one at each place setting. Everyone can sit where they want! Wishing you all a sweet and healthy new year.table-setting

 

 

 

Apple Custard Cake

sliced-cakeI have a recipe for an apple caramel cake that is outstanding. But some occasions (maybe breakfast if you’re my husband) call for a simpler cake. This cake is perfect for those times. This is a dense cake. Not that there’s anything wrong with that! I mean dense in the best possible sense. This is yellow cake at it’s finest. Owing to butter, eggs, whole milk and sour cream it has a compact velvety texture.

My dad would have described this cake as plain. And he would have meant it as a great compliment. He liked subtle flavours, nothing too sweet, ornate or fancy. The inspiration for this cake comes from Sarabeth’s Good Morning Cookbook. Sarabeth knows good breakfast!

The first tweak I made to the original recipe was to toast the sugar. Stella Parks over at Serious Eats convinced me to give it a try. The bottom line is that toasting sugar in the oven tames sugar’s sweetness and the longer you toast it, the more intense the caramel flavour will be. Check out her article if food science is your jam.

I toasted my sugar for about 2 1/2 hours. The toasted sugar is on the right. I tasted both, side by side and did find that the toasted sugar tasted less sweet. You can toast 4 pounds at one time and it will keep forever, just like white sugar. toasted-sugarStart with a 9 inch tube pan (also called an angel food cake pan). Butter and flour the pan very well.brushing-panI made this cake twice last week. The first time I made it, I found it too plain. (Sorry dad!). On the second go-round I added an additional layer of apples and coated the apple slices in cinnamon-sugar.

Half the batter goes into the pan. Smooth it out.smoothing-batterI used the first Honeycrisp apples of the fall season! Pink Lady or Granny Smith would also be great choices.slicing-applesTop batter with cinnamon apples.arranging-applesRepeat with a second layer of batter and cinnamon apples. Then drizzle with custard mixture.drizzling-custardResist the urge to turn the cake out of the pan until it has completely cooled. Your patience will be handsomely rewarded. 3-slicesThe ribbon of cinnamon coated apples that runs through the center of this cake is quite beautiful.one-slice-1

Click here to print recipe for Apple-Custard-Cake.

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Coconut Corn Soup

3-bowlsGetting dressed in September is tricky business. I’m longing to pull on my over-the-knee suede boots and let the sweater layering begin, but it’s still too warm to fully embrace fall. Transitioning from summer to fall requires a skilled hand in the kitchen as well as the closet.

This month, the markets are still full of fresh corn, but I’m craving something a little heartier than corn on the cob or corn salad. This soup perfectly bridges the gap between summer and fall. The recipe for this soup comes from epicurious.com. Food editor Anna Stockwell intended this to be a pureed chilled soup for the dog days of summer. I decided to transition her recipe to fall by serving it hot. I added a large diced jalapeño to give the soup a little moxie and only pureed half the soup so that it was still chunky.sauteeing-onions-and-spicesGrated ginger adds a welcome zing and turmeric makes the soup a very vibrant yellow. Save the corn cobs and add them to the simmering soup. They really bump up the corn flavour. Coconut milk makes a splendid replacement for  chicken stock in this soup. adding-cobsAvocado, lime and toasted coconut flakes are beautiful and delicious garnishes. I can’t think of a lovelier way to ease into fall.pot-of-soup

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Click here to print recipe for coconut-corn-soup.

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Margherita Socca Pizza (Socca Palooza: Chapter 4)

Margherita pizzaThe final entry in my Socca Palooza is the classic Margherita; roasted cherry tomatoes, buffalo mozzarella and fresh basil. Start with some sweet little tomatoes, assorted colours are pretty.rainbow tomatoesCut them in half, mix with olive oil, salt and a bit of minced garlic. Roast them for about 20 minutes. roasted tomatoesTop the soccas with roasted tomatoes and buffalo mozzarella. Pop it under the broiler to melt the cheese. Finish with fresh basil, a drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkling of sea salt. Margherita pizza toppingsThis is a drippy messy socca. Serve with a knife, fork and lots of napkins and dig in. Margherita pizza have a slice

Click here to print recipe for Margherita Socca Pizzas.

Za’atar Roasted Carrot and Avocado Socca Pizzas (Socca Palooza: Chapter 3)

carrot avocado pizzaThis socca pizza is the creation of Gwyneth Paltrow. Regardless of your feelings for Gwynnie, this socca is pretty awesome! (For the record, I’m a fan) It was featured in this spring’s In Style Magazine. Bookmark this one for when you have to cook for those annoying vegan friends. (No judgement here!!)

Toss sliced carrots with olive oil, salt and za’atar. Bonus points if you can find some purple and yellow carrots to mix in with the orange ones. Roast them in a hot oven for about 20 minutes. roasted carrotsAvocado, cilantro and lime join the party. A lemon-tahini sauce makes a fine accompaniment to drizzle on top.carrot avocado pizza toppings

Click here to print recipe for Za’arat Roasted Carrots with Avocado Socca Pizzas.