Monday, August 18, 2014

6 Years

Is anyone else finding this year going by way too quickly? How are we into the last few weeks of August, with back-to-school looming over students and fall weather creeping in? Stores are displaying Halloween decorations and in just another few weeks, the winter holidays will be upon us. Does time go faster when you're older? It sure feels like it.
Well, our blog has reached six years today, not a pretty milestone like last year's five or the next four year's ten. But we celebrated by defrosting some puff pastry, brushing egg, sprinkling cinnamon sugar, and then folding the puff pastry in half to repeat the process again. Baked at 375°F (190°C) for thirty minutes. The result? Layers of flaky goodness that resembles another popular donut on the market.
Enjoy the rest of summer, which reminds us . . . we have some Las Vegas posts (from our trip in June/July!) to upload.

Friday, August 15, 2014

All-Clad's Open House

During a summer afternoon in June, I was invited to the St. Lawrence Market Kitchen for All-Clad's preview and cooking demo. Being someone who loves to browse cookware and look at shiny things, I went to the media release.

I was warmly received and given a nice welcome, drinks and snacks were laid out by the entrance. I could see that the group before me was still lingering near the demo, so I went to check out the products.
Placed around the room were new All-Clad pieces that were coming out this fall for the holiday market. Above, a 6-piece gadget set. I wasn't sure that the pair of oven mitts and kitchen towel counted as "gadgets" but the set also included a can opener, garlic press, peeler, and pizza wheel. No doubt it would make for a nice housewarming or holiday gift!
A waffle maker has been on my wish list for the longest time. So I'm not surprised that I gravitated towards it. I seriously think my weekends would be better if I started the mornings with waffles. Howard may or may not agree.
Again, more in line with my love for weekend brunch, the electric griddle!
In our new home, we don't own a slow cooker, but I met Cynthia from DelectablyChic! who told me that she roasted a whole chicken in one before. Looking at the slow cooker with renewed interest, I'm thinking that I might have to look into this.
Sitting all pretty on the island was the d7 stainless steel slow cooker, meant to preform like Dutch ovens and other slow cookers. It was explained to me that d7 represented their 7 layers of metal, alternating between stainless steel and aluminum. Some of the perks of this cooker compared to the cast iron/ceramic/clay Dutch ovens is that it's lighter in weight, heats up faster, and doesn't have an enamel layer that chips.

I don't own a slow cooker or Dutch oven, but there appears to be lots of competition now as other well-known brands that produce these are also coming out with their own stainless steel editions.
The All-Clad lineup of 8-inch stainless steel, d5, and Copper Core pans.
As for the food demo utilizing All-Clad products, Chef Tony Cammalleri from Pusateri's was on hand to showcase a few fresh ingredients and how to cook them.
Searing scallops looked like a breeze.
A delicious sample of seared scallops with Peruvian Ají sauce and salsa.
Next up, assembling the Chimichurri flank steak with peppers and asparagus.
Just a little seasoning before serving. This was rather large for a bite-size sample, but had great flavours.
When I first saw TK, I thought of our publishing industry shorthand, to come. So I was curious as to what was to come. Then it was revealed to me as the All-Clad TK collection. A collection inspired by Chef Thomas Keller. If you have a large budget for cookware, this is probably the set for you! To make it even more exclusive, there will be 100 limited edition All-Clad TK sets available in Canada.
The TK lid that raised the spirits of the chefs in the room.
TK lid in action. Probably not a huge concern for home cooks, but lids seem to be the talk of the professional cook. A few cooks raised the point that they rarely use the designated lids, in the rush of the moment, they grab pans to cover their cookware. And this lid allows for stacking because of it's flat top. The TK lid comes in three sizes to fit and cover the cookware in this line. So one of the practical reasons is storage, you might just need the two lids instead of five.
The discreet copper trim detail that distinguishes the TK editions from the others. I obviously won't be able to gather round a set to use at home, so I look forward to reading reviews of those who are getting one!

Disclaimer: I was invited to the media preview and was gifted with an All-Clad d5 stainless steel reduction pan with measuring tool. I have used it a few times, mostly for making caramel, pudding, and creams - can you tell I'm a baker? Thank you to Brittney from Butter Public Relations Inc. for the invitation!

Monday, August 11, 2014

Banana Pecan Loaf

I'm finding that bananas (and other fruits) ripen very quickly in my new home. Maybe it's a bit warmer and dryer than my previous home, but I feel that I'm constantly rushing to finish the bunch before they get too ripe.

The solution for this baker? Banana loaf. This is the second time I've made this, so I can vouch for it's goodness!
Banana Pecan Loaf

3 ripe bananas, peeled
1/3 cup of unsalted butter
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon baking soda
Pinch of salt
1 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour
1/2 cup of pecans
  1. Preheat the oven to 175°C (350°F), and butter a loaf pan. Melt butter over medium heat in a sauce pan. Set aside to cool.
  2. In a mixing bowl or using your stand mixer, mash the bananas. Add in the melted butter. Mix until combined and then add in the baking soda, salt, sugar, egg, and vanilla extra. When batter is smooth and creamy, add in the flour and gently mix until combined. Don't over mix at this stage, otherwise the loaf won't be light and fluffy.
  3. Pour the batter into your buttered loaf pan. Top with pecans (I store mine in the fridge so they stay fresh this way). Bake for 1 hour or until a cake tester (or wooden chopstick) comes out clean after you insert it into the centre.
  4. Remove the loaf from oven and cool completely on a rack.
It smells so good cooling in the kitchen. I think two neighbourhood squirrels found the aroma irresistible as they tried to open my screen door.

Disclaimer: We received the pecan product samples from Diamond of California. They also sent us some pistachios! There was no requirement to produce a positive review of their products. All opinions are our own.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Vanilla Plum Swirl Pudding Pops

Ice cold pops are always a good sign on a hot summer day. Tasty and refreshing, these are easy to make, even for a newcomer like me. I went out a bought some ice pop molds at my local grocery store and proceeded to create wonderful swirls on the stove top.

Vanilla Plum Swirl Pudding Pops
Shopping List: granulated sugar, cornstarch, vanilla bean, milk, brandy, eggs, salt, plums, and lemon juice.
To make the pudding, give the sugar, cornstarch, and vanilla bean a quick whisk in a saucepan. Pour in the milk (omit the brandy if you're going alcohol-free) and cook over medium heat. Keep stirring with the whisk until the mixture starts to steam.
In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs and salt together. Slowly pour in half of the hot milk mixture and whisk constantly. You don't want to cook the eggs too quickly, if you do, you'll end up with scrambled eggs! Pour the egg mixture back into the saucepan, whisking over medium heat until it starts to get bubbly and thick. Strain through a sieve into a container, place plastic wrap on the surface, and refrigerate for at least 3 hours.
To make the plum swirl, bring the plums, sugar, and 3 tablespoons of water to a boil in a saucepan over medium heat. Simmer and stir until the plus are broken down. It should resemble the consistency of jam. Strain through a sieve into a container, stir in lemon juice, and refrigerate for at least 45 minutes.

If any of the pudding or plum instructions are holding you back, don't worry. Watch the step-by-step video here.
Here comes the fun part! Spoon the pudding into the tip of the molds, then alternate with the plum mixture. Make sure you start and end with the pudding.

Freeze until firm for about five hours. Take them out at the hottest time of day (or any time of day) and enjoy!

We loved how the vanilla pudding was a smooth and delicious base. We'd try this again with plum or another summer fruit, it would pair well with almost anything!
Share your Vanilla Plum Swirl Pudding Pops pics with @canadianliving on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram with the hashtag #CLIMadeIt.

Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post by Canadian Living and I received compensation for it. There was no requirement to produce a positive review of this recipe. All opinions are our own.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Seconds

Happy book birthday to Seconds by Bryan Lee O'Malley! I've waited a very long time for this book to release. You might be thinking, so what? Everyone had to wait a long time for this book. Well, that's true, so I guess I should rephrase and say that I've waited a very long time to share these cupcakes with you! I made these two years ago (May 2012) based on a rough draft of Seconds that Bryan's Canadian editor kindly shared with me. The rough draft I had was only 14 pages long at that time and thank goodness the look of the main character didn't change!
If you're still trying to place Bryan Lee O'Malley's name, he's the author of the bestselling Scott Pilgrim series (there's even a film, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World). Seconds is his new stand-alone graphic novel about a restaurant owner named Katie.
Katie is going through some tough times as she attempts to open up a second restaurant, make friends, find love, and keep a house spirit happy.
She's given a second chance to magically alter her outcome (by consuming mushrooms), but abuses her new-found power to keep changing destiny. So, uh, you know. Nothing good can come from that.
By the way, the cupcakes were vegan. Some of you might get that reference from Scott Pilgrim!
Hope you get a chance to read Seconds or pick up some of Bryan's other works. If not, I'm not sure that a magic mushroom will be able to help you!
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