The Sweetest Crumb

Archive of ‘Savouries’ category

Fig Compote and Goat Cheese Crostinis

Hi, friends!

As many of you know, I work in public accounting. By default, that means April is busy. To make things even busier, I am part of our personal tax pool at work – essentially preparing personal taxes for the whole month. This translates to 11 or 12 hour work days all month. I actually really enjoy personal taxes, love the change for a month and interacting closely with clients. However the hours are tiring, especially with 3 months of our busiest season already behind me… So I apologize if my blog posts have not been as frequent lately.

If you’re as stretched for time as me, you are probably always on the hunt for quick (but delicious) recipes. This fig compote is amazing. Our fantastic instructor, Erin Howe, shared it with us at the NAIT Valentine’s Day cooking class and I have made it for so many people since.

The compote is so simple to make – you take dried figs, brown sugar, red wine and thyme and reduce the mixture until the majority of the wine has been simmered off and the mixture thickens.

Once the mixture cools, add a bit of good quality balsamic vinegar. During the class, we used Dark Chocolate balsamic vinegar from Evoolution in Edmonton and it definitely made a strong impression on me. The rich, sweet cocoa flavour pairs perfectly with the figs and goat cheese! When I was re-creating the appetizer on my own, I decided not to skimp out on the balsamic and stopped by Evoolution to pick up a bottle of the chocolate goodness. That was my first time in Evoolution and I was in heaven! This cute boutique store specializes in olive oil, vinegars and salts and carries everything from traditional flavours to exotic ones like coconut, truffle and blackberry ginger. Oh yea, and did I mention they’re a tasting bar? Yup, you can just go in, try a dozen flavours and get inspired for your next food adventure – truly a foodie’s heaven! ;)

Ok, back to the fig compote… after you add the balsamic, your compote is ready to serve on baguette bread with goat cheese and fresh thyme. It’s so easy and a great appetizer for entertaining or having friends over for a movie night.

Fig Compote and Goat Cheese Crostinis

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By Genia Rodnyansky Published: April 6, 2013

    Hi, friends! As many of you know, I work in public accounting. By default, that means April is busy. To make things even busier, I …

    Ingredients

    • 1/2 cup dried figs chopped
    • 1/2 cup brown sugar
    • 1 cup red wine
    • 1/2 tsp fresh thyme plus more for garnish
    • 1/4 tsp salt
    • 1 tbsp Dark Chocolate Balsamic Vinegar
    • goat cheese
    • baguette
    • olive oil

    Instructions

    1. Combine figs, brown sugar, wine and thyme in a small saucepot. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer for about 15 minutes or until the mixture thickens. The mixture will continue to thicken once it cools.
    2. Allow the mixture to come to room temperature. Add in the balsamic vinegar.
    3. Drizzle your baguette with olive oil and bake until light golden. Spread goat cheese on each baguette slice, top with compote and garnish with lots of fresh thyme.

      Butternut Squash Gnocchi and Lots of Other Things

      Happy Sunday, friends!

      I’ve been wanting to give homemade gnocchi a try for quite a while now. However, the process of making any sort of dumpling is time consuming and not just something you quickly throw together for a fast weeknight dinner. So… a couple of weekends ago, me and Sean decided to have my best friend, Tasha, over for a nice homemade butternut squash gnocchi dinner. We decided to pair the gnocchi with pork meatballs and kale and serve a green salad to start. Tasha was bringing the wine :)

      gnoc·chi - thick, soft dumplings made traditionally with flour and potato but can also be made with squash, cheese, spinach, etc.

      We also decided to go all out and purchase the best ingredients we could find – buying local, organic pork and organic, tasty squash from Blush Lane Organic Market and our cheese from the Italian Centre Shop. We even bough this fancy butter to use in our sauce – apparently it was listed in Saveur Magazine’s “World’s 30 Great Butters” list (who knew there were best butter lists?!). I felt like I had spent my whole paycheque on organic, quality ingredients and Tasha joked that she would have to bring a $2,000 bottle of wine to pair with this dinner :)

      We may have been a little over-ambitious in our undertakings (between getting groceries and cooking everything, it took us from about 4pm until almost 9pm). However, everything turned out delicious in the end (although there were a few points in the night where we really questioned how things were going).

      So here is a recap of our dinner adventures that night.

      To start I quickly assembled a green salad with oranges (blood and tangelo), walnuts and basil. I drizzled the salad with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Considering the gnocchi is very filling, the salad was light and refreshing.

      We used this recipe from T’s Tasty Bits for the pork meatballs, kale and sauce. The sauce was a bit too runny for our liking so we added only 1/2 of the required chicken stock. The meatballs were fantastic – adding parmesan and nutmeg really made them flavourful and perfect to pair with gnocchi.

      For the kale, remember to sprinkle copious amounts of table salt on the leaves and let sit for at least 15 minutes before rinsing – this will get rid of the bitterness which is characteristic of kale. Make sure to rinse off all the salt carefully before cooking as it easily gets in between the curved leaves.

      Now for the gnocchi… First we roasted our delicious squash – sprinkled with sea salt, pepper and drizzled with olive oil before baking.

      Then we mashed the squash using a potato masher (we also used a hand held blender to speed up the process). The recipe I had suggested using only 1 cup of flour for a 2lb squash. Thinking that this didn’t sound like it would make enough gnocchi (and I love having leftovers!), we doubled the recipe. After actually adding the recommended amount of flour, I realized the dough was still much too runny – so runny that there was no hope of possibly rolling the dough into ropes and forming gnocchi with it. After some troubleshooting and frazzled online research, I realized that other recipes suggested using much more flour to make a workable dough. After adjusting the dough by adding more and more flour, I had a workable dough (and probably enough of it to feed the whole block… I was regretting doubling the recipe now…). I have posted the approximate ingredient amounts we ended up using below. However, these are just approximations and will vary depending on the size and moisture of your squash. The finished dough will still be quite sticky, will pull away from the bowl when mixing and can be shaped into ropes with generously floured hands and floured surface. The seasonings should also be adjusted to suit your taste.

      The dough was then divided into smaller sections are rolled into ropes about 2cm thick. Each was cut into small section and pressed down with the tines of a floured fork.

      We cooked the gnocchi in salted, boiling water. Once the dumplings float to the top in just a few minutes, they are done!

      We combined the gnocchi with the sauce, meatballs and kale as per this recipe. We garnished the gnocchi with spiced pumpkin seeds (from Blush Lane Organic Market of course) and freshly grated parmesan cheese. In the end, it was well worth the effort!

      Has anyone else tried making butternut squash gnocchi? What about tradiitonal potatoe gnocchi? Any tips you’d like to share?

      Butternut squash gnocchi dough

      By Genia Rodnyansky Published: March 24, 2013

        Happy Sunday, friends! I've been wanting to give homemade gnocchi a try for quite a while now. However, the process of making any …

        Ingredients

        • 1 butternut squash about 2 lb
        • 2 egg yolks
        • 1/8 cup parmesan cheese
        • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
        • 1/2 tsp salt
        • 1/4 tsp pepper
        • 2 1/4 + cups all-purpose flour

        Instructions

        1. Slice your squash lengthwise, seed, and cut into smaller sections. Roast at 400F until the squash is soft, about 20 - 30 minutes. Remove the squash from the skin, mash until smooth and let cool.
        2. Add egg yolks, cheese, nutmeg, salt and pepper to the squash and mix until combined.
        3. Next gradually add the flour to the squash - you may need either more or less flour to form a dough of the right consistency. Begin by adding 1 1/2 cups of flour and add about 1/2 cup at a time thereafter. Mix after each addition until combined. The dough is ready when it begins pulling away from the bowl. Butternut squash dough will still be quite sticky when ready - you will need to roll it on a floured surface with floured hands.
        4. Divide dough into smaller sections. Use floured hands and a floured surface to roll into ropes, about 2cm thick. Cut each rope into small cushions and use a floured fork to press down each cushion slightly.
        5. Cook immediately in boiling water - when the cushions float to the top, they are done. The formed gnocchi can also be easily frozen.

          Weekend and Salad Rolls

          Happy Sunday!

          How is everyone’s weekend? I’m trying to make the most of mine since I will be off to small town Alberta starting tomorrow for 2 weeks of work. Last night, some friends had us over for a fantastic beer tasting! They prepared 10 beers for us to taste and each was of a different style: lager, india pale ale, porter, stout, etc. Each beer was selected because it provides a good representation of that style of beer. I am no beer connoisseur by any means, but had a great time tasting the beer and deciding which styles I liked and which I wanted to avoid. My favourites of the night included:

          • Schöfferhofer Hefeweizen (German wheat beer)
          • Wild Rose Hoptimal (Double India Pale Ale from Calgary, Alberta)
          • Het Anker Gouden Carolus Tripel (Belgian Tripel)

          If anyone needs some beer recommendations, check out our friends’ blog!

          After that we headed over to the Parka Party at Latitude 53 to meet up with some friends and hang out on the outdoor winter patio. It was a great time and I love seeing events in Edmonton which celebrate our winters.

          Now for something a bit more healthy, and that won’t leave you with a hangover headache like the one I am currently dealing with ;)

          I LOVE salad rolls! What can be better than all those fresh ingredients, wrapped in soft rice paper and served with peanut sauce? They are so easy to make – the most time consuming part is just cutting up all the fillings. And let me tell you, the homemade ones are just as good, if not better, than restaurant rolls.

          I made two varieties of rolls.
          The first was a traditional roll made with: shrimp (cooked by simmering at about 165ºF with lemon, peppercorn, parsley and a bit of salt and sugar), vermicelli noodles, carrots, cucumber, lettuce, basil, cilantro and mint.

          The second roll was filled with: chicken (pan-fried with Asian Five Spice sauce), mango, avacado, vermicelli noodles, lettuce, crushed cashews, basil, mint and cilantro.

          I took the rice paper sheets, one at a time, and submerged them into warm water for a few seconds until they turned malleable. I took them out of the water, carefully wiped them off of excess water and laid them on a flat surface to fill, roll and seal.

          The end result was a bunch of delicious, perfect salad rolls.

          I served them with peanut sauce we purchased from the Asian supermarket but next time I will try this recipe from Oh She Glows. I’m sure it will be fantastic since it comes highly recommended by my friend, Sarah, who has a great blog on leading a healthy lifestyle.

          Have a good week, guys!

          Not Enough Time and a Kale Addiction

          Does anyone else have this problem where they feel like they want to accomplish so many things and there’s just not enough time? That’s what I’ve been feeling lately… Like there are a million ways I want to spend my time, but there’s just not enough of it.

          I want to eat healthier, to exercise more, to spend more time with those I love, to bake more and blog more, to spend a year in pastry school in France, to become more involved in the Green community in Edmonton and to be an advocate for the environment, to pick up more garbage (I’m not kidding, I love the Capital City Clean Up), to learn more and give more and just to sit and relax and do absolutely nothing sometimes. Basically, you name it and I probably want to do it ;)

          I feel like to accomplish all that I need one of those magic time stopper things which Hermione from Harry Potter had (while I’m at it, I’ll also take her magic powers, please!). And what I find is that with so many things on my mind, and with so little spare time, I just get overwhelmed. In the end, that makes me way less efficient and no closer to getting anything accomplished. So my advice to anyone in the same, unpleasant boat, is not to try and conquer everything at once, but instead to just focus on doing one more thing that you are currently doing. I first heard that advice in the Clean Bin Project movie (which I loved!) and it really stuck with me. I’m going to try to incorporate just one more yoga class into my week, and one more bowl of organic greens into my meals and maybe pick up just a few pieces of trash on my way in to work. Hopefully, if I’m not trying to conquer all my goals at once, they will be more manageable!

          So in the spirit of doing one more thing for your health, here is an amazing recipe for kale chips!

          Ok, it’s not really a recipe since its super easy. They are seasoned with just olive oil, sea salt, fresh ground pepper and lemon juice. You can add these to taste as well as any other seasonings or spices you like. The chips are so addictive and healthy that you just have to try them – trust me. They are light and crunchy and way better than I could have possibly expected. I made a batch on Sunday for the first time and then ended up making 3 batches within 24 hours. Basically the only reason I’m not currently eating some is that Safeway ran out of kale (possibly because of me).

          The key to having crunchy, perfect chips:

          1. Don’t drench your kale leaves in liquid. After you wash your kale, let it dry thoroughly before dressing. Then, put very little olive oil or other liquid seasoning on the leaves. You want the leaves to just be lightly covered in the oil. If you put too much, they will get soggy rather than crunchy when you bake them.
          2. When baking, the leaves turn very quickly from crunchy and perfect to burnt. Watch them closely in the last few minutes of baking to make sure you take them out at just the right time.

          Let me know if you guys love these as much as I do – I’m addicted and totally see what all the hype was about. (They were also a hit with my family and I couldn’t make a batch last more than a few hours.)

          Oh and I’ve had a few requests lately for recipes which aren’t all sweets and butter so I will try posting more of those in the future. I guess it makes sense to balance things out since I sadly can’t sustain myself on cookies and cupcakes alone. So stay tuned….

          (more…)