Category: cinnamon

Habichuelas Con Dulce

A taste of the CaribBEAN. (Yes. I am punny.)

Being vegetarian often encourages me to explore new flavours, new textures, and new colour combinations. I’m inspired by exotic dishes, and I love to try new things. If I see a vegetable, a grain, a bean or a fruit that I’ve never tasted, I’m likely to bring it home and experiment. The same goes for interesting, out-of-the-ordinary recipes. For those of you with a limited food-comfort zone, I encourage you to step outside of the box for a few moments and open up your palates to this amazing dessert. The flavours sound unusual, but that is exactly what drew me to it.

My interest in this dish came earlier this week, when a challenge was posted in one of the Facebook groups that I belong to. The moderator suggested that during the month of March, members should each cook some type of Caribbean style food, and should share pictures and recipes with the group. As the week unfolded, I watched as members shared photos of some really interesting creations, from drinks to starters to mains. That’s when I decided to hop on board the bandwagon and make something of my own.

Being a pastry chef, I immediately began researching desserts. Because I mean, what’s a meal without a proper dessert, amirite? I stumbled upon a site where someone listed their ten favourite Caribbean treats, Habichuelas Con Dulce being one of them. “Sweet beans?” I thought. Sweet! Beans!

I just happened to have some cooked kidney beans leftover from earlier this week, as well as some left over coconut milk in the fridge. Perfect! A way to try something new and use up my scraps. So, let’s get onto it, shall we? Oh, for the record, the original recipes that I searched up all call for condensed milk, or evaporated milk mixed with coconut milk. I decided instead to use only the coconut milk, making this recipe completely vegan, and completely delicious.

Habichuelas Con Dulce
an original vegan recipe by allison sklar. inspired by El Mejornido.

ingredients 
1 1/2 cups cooked (or canned, rinsed) red kidney beans
1 cup sweet potato, peeled and chopped (about 1 medium sweet potato)
3 cups water
1 tsp cinnamon or 1 small cinnamon stick
2 whole star anise
3 cloves (or 1/4 tsp ground)
250 ml full fat coconut milk
2 tsp coconut oil
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup raisins

method
Bring water with cinnamon stick, cloves and anise to a boil.
Add sweet potato, cooking 10 to 15 minutes or until tender.
Remove cinnamon stick, cloves and anise. (Very important!!!)
Transfer liquid and potatoes to blender, add beans. (Keep saucepan aside)
Purée mixture until completely smooth.
In saucepan, add raisins, coconut oil, coconut milk and sugar. Bring to a simmer on medium heat, whisking frequently. Slowly incorporate bean and potato mixture into milk. Continue cooking over low heat, stirring frequently, until mixture is homogenous and raisins are plump.

Serve with shredded coconut and bananas if desired.
Enjoy hot or cold!

#PSL (Vegan Pumpkin Spice Soy Latte)

Well, folks. I did it. I went and made a homemade vegan Pumpkin Spice Latté.
Move over, coffee shops! Move over, Starbucks! This latté is the real deal.

No, but seriously. Real pumpkin. Real spices. Real coffee. It all makes for real good stuff!
I must mention that none of this would be possible without the great people over at Café Santo Domingo, who recently sent me some incredibly delicious coffee. It made for a wonderfully robust base for this delightfully satisfying little PSL. (Or maybe it should be a PSSL. Or a VPSSL?)

How cute is that mug? Joe from Café Santo Domingo sent me a set of them with matching saucers, along with some truly awesome beans and grounds. Seriously, you guys rock! The beans are SO tasty that I’ve gone ahead and made some dark-chocolate covered coffee beans with them to keep on hand as a quick snack, a great little afternoon pick-me-up. I would have included a photo, but the boy can’t stop eating them all up!

A few other exciting things

For those of you following my story, I have almost completed my studies in Professional Pastry, and I am looking forward to many new adventures come January. I have started to offer custom cakes and sweets, and I am in the process of creating an online portfolio attached to this blog. I will soon cater sweets for birthdays, anniversaries, engagements, weddings, or any other occasion (like, say, a girls night in!) where you may desire some custom goodies. Oh, and yes, I do vegan desserts like a champ!

On an unrelated, but very exciting note, I am pleased to announce that I will once again be participating in the 4th annual Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap (#fbcookieswap) hosted by The Little Kitchen and Love & Olive Oil. I can’t wait to receive my matches and see what kind of incredible edibles will be delivered to my doorstep in the coming weeks! SO MUCH EXCITEMENT!

Oh, right, so I guess by now you’re probably all like, “That’s nice, but I WANT ME A PSL!” Alright, alright, don’t get your legwarmers in a bunch. Here it is, without further adieu… The one, the only, the real, vegan pumpkin spice latte. Or, if you prefer, the Pumpkin Spice Soy Latte. Whatever you want to call it, just make it, then sit back and drink it!

Caution: this latte is extremely addictive!

Vegan Pumpkin Spice Latté (from scratch!)
an original recipe by allison sklar           yields: 3 lattés


what you’ll need 
(ingredients)

2.5 cups soy milk (or other non-dairy milk)
1.5 tbsp pumpkin purée
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp clove
1/2 vanilla bean (or 1 tsp vanilla)
1 tbsp + 2 tsp sugar (more or less, to taste)

1 cup freshly brewed coffee

how to do it
(method)

Combine all ingredients except coffee. Whisk well. Simmer in small saucepan over medium heat until mixture begins to bubble. Whisk. Reduce temperature to very low. Simmer about 10 to 15 minutes or until mixture begins to reduce. Combine milk mixture with coffee. Use a hand frother to create some foam on top. Sprinkle with additional cinnamon and nutmeg and serve immediately.



A Rustic Apple Tarte Tatin

Even though the weather might say otherwise, apple season is in full bloom! Never having been a traditional apple pie kind of girl, I’ve always enjoyed showcasing my freshly picked apples in something slightly out-of-the-ordinary. Whether it is my go-to German apple cake, or cinnamon and spice apple sauce, apple desserts are the epitome of fall comfort food. When I saw that Canadian Living’s October issue was going to feature the “Ultimate Tarte Tatin”, I knew that I had to try it out!

This exquisite tart combines warm skillet apples with a buttery, salty caramel and a melt-in-your-mouth flaky pastry shell. Oh, even writing this description makes my mouth water! A word of warning: make sure to invite someone over when you make this, because you will eat the entire thing in one sitting.

Some tips from the pastry kitchen:

Do NOT overwork your dough. It will come together crumbly, and that’s good! If you work it too much, you may end up making a dough that is tough and chewy, missing out on the flaky, delicate texture that it is meant to have.

DO chill your dough before rolling it out.

DO flour your work surface. And your rolling pin.

DO use granny smith apples as suggested. I made the mistake of using another variety and they nearly turned into apple sauce. While it will still be tasty, you won’t end up with the prettiest of tarts.

DO make this recipe, and do enjoy yourself! Though it takes a little while to complete, it is very, very worth it.

Oh, and a nifty bonus: your kitchen will smell divine!
To get the full recipe, visit Canadian Living’s website here.

Roasting Season (Roasted Pear, Spiced Pecan & Blue Cheese Salad)

The autumn leaves, vibrant and warm not long ago, seem to be turning dull and brown faster than the temperatures are dropping. There is a place, however, that is brighter than ever at this time of year. Adorned with rich autumnal hues, brimming with the season’s best squash, tubers and root vegetables, you can count on your local farmer’s market stands to bring some vibrancy back into your day. Behind the stands, stacks of mason jars line the walls, adjacent to pies overflowing with seasonal fruits. An intoxicating smell of mulling spice is in the air… Suddenly, when you’re here, the word autumn becomes synonymous with comfort. 

Trading flowy dresses for chunky cable knits, replacing bonfires with fireplaces, comfort is the word of the season – especially when it comes to our meals.
Is it possible for a salad to be a comfort food?
Don’t dismiss the idea just yet. Enter caramelized pears, spiced pecans, and blue cheese. Cheese is always comforting. (Unless you’re vegan. Horrah for Daiya shreds!) 
Toss these three things with a head of lettuce and voila! Autumn gourmet – comfort salad. 
So sit back, pull up your legwarmers, and breathe in that oddly comforting, subtle smell of burning insects of seasons’ past as you turn on your electric heater for the first time. And then, enjoy this salad. Let it warm your body and your soul. 
Or at least just your body. 
Or, eat it cold if you prefer.
You know, you should just eat this no matter what. 
Like now. 
Trust me.
Caramelized Pear, Spiced Pecan and Blue Cheese Salad 
an original recipe by allison sklar 
what you’ll need
1 head boston lettuce, chopped
1/4 cup crumbled blue cheese
2 medium sized just-ripe pears (fruit should be firm)
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp brown sugar 
Pinch sea salt
1 cup pecan halves
1 egg white
2 tsp brown sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp paprika 
1 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp powdered ginger
1/4 tsp ground cloves (optional)
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp mayo or vegan mayo
1 tsp balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp honey or agave nectar 
how to do it

Roast your pecans
Preheat oven to 300F. Toss pecans with beaten eggwhite in a medium bowl. In seperate bowl, mix all of the spices together. Toss coated pecans with spice mixture. Spread evenly on parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake for 23 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool completely. While pecans are roasting, prepare your pears.

Beware: your house is going to smell amazing.

PrePEAR (oh come on, you laughed.)
Slice pears into about 6 sections each. Remove seeds and stem. In a microwave safe bowl (or on the stovetop) melt butter and brown sugar together. Whisk in salt. Toss pears with butter/sugar mixture.
Lay evenly on parchment lined sheet. Once pecans are done, turn oven up to 325F. Roast pears for 15 to 18 minutes, or until they begin to soften and brown.

While pears are roasting, prepare dressing by combining all ingredients and whisking until smooth. Toss finished pears with chopped lettuce and pecans. Top with cheese and drizzle with dressing.

Enjoy!

The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap (Cinnadoodle Cookies)






This year, I had the most wonderful opportunity to participate in the 2nd annual Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap. I was the lucky recipient of a box of absolutely addictive cinnamon swirl cookies from Dana over at Hot Pink Apron. I also received 2 boxes of chocolate chip “World Peace” cookies (from two different bloggers, and one huge coincidence!) IF YOU SENT THESE TO ME, PLEASE CONTACT ME! I’d like to link to you on my blog, and I’ve somehow lost the folder that I had put your letters/contact info into! 

So when this whole swap started, I felt as though the pressure was on for me – make something amazing that I haven’t yet blogged? Generally, if I’ve made something amazing in the past, it’s been blogged in a Montreal Minute. Except for one thing – my Cinnadoodles! Vanilla-almond cookies coated in cinnamon sugar. You read that correctly. Vanilla. Almond. Cinnamon. Go ahead, wipe the drool off your chin. This is some seriously good stuff. The main reason that I haven’t yet blogged these addictive little buggers is simply ’cause they haven’t lasted more than 24 hours in my apartment! I actually had to package and hide the boxes that I was sending away in fear that they’d be gobbled up before I awoke the next morning. 

A little note that I discovered while baking for the challenge: this recipe does NOT multiply well. I’ve made it countless times, and it’s always worked for me, but the first attempt at tripling it, was the biggest baking flop I’ve had in a long time. So please, go and make these, they are delicious and cute and perfect with tea or all on their own. But don’t alter the measurements. (Oh, but if you must, triple all of the ingredients, except the flour – use 2.25 cups.)

Oh, and did I mention how they’re oh-so-seasonally appropriate with their super sparkly crispy outsides and ooey gooey almondy insides? Well they are. Which also makes them the perfect gift. I truly hope that my three recipients appreciated them as much as I enjoyed mine!



Cinnadoodle Cookies
an original recipe by allison sklar

what you’ll need
1/2 cup olive oil
3/4 cup sugar
1 egg

1 tbsp vanilla extract
1 tsp almond extract
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 1/4 cups flour
1 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp coarse ground sea salt

For the coating: 1/4 cup semi-coarse ground sugar mixed with 1/4 cup ground cinnamon

how to do it
Preheat oven to 400F. Combine oil, sugar and egg. Using electric mixer, beat until light in colour. Add extracts, mixing well. In seperate bowl, combine dry ingredients. Slowly fold in flour mixture into sugar and oil mixture. Dough will be very sticky. Refrigerate mixtue for about an hour, or overnight. Once it is cold, form into walnut-size balls and roll generously in sugar coating. 

Place the cookies a few inches apart on a parchment-lined cookie sheet. Bake 8 minutes. Cool on pan for 1 minute, then transfer to cooling rack.

Winter Sparkle (Molasses Cookies)

Spice and sparkle: two things that my winter cannot be complete without. I’m not talking spice in the form of cayenne & capsicum. I’m talking cinnamon, ginger, cardamom and cloves. Whether you’ve got lattes-a-brewin’ or cookies-a-bakin’, nothing beats the cold weather comfort derived from something warm and spiced. The fragrances alone are enough to entice you to curl up under a blanket in front of a fireplace (or radiator) with your favourite person (or book) occasionally glancing outside to appreciate the aesthetics of the season. While this festive time consistently inspires twinkling lights, glittery greeting cards and sequinned attire, Winter’s ultimate shine comes from that iridescent sparkle that only truly occurs for a precious few moments as the sun rises over the blanket of an overnight snowfall. 
If only I could have something that was both sparkled and spiced…

Oh! That’s right. I can. These cookies. Molasses, cardamom and cinnamon come together to produce this chewy delicious magic. The sparkle comes from rolling the dough in raw sugar just before baking. As they stay soft and chewy for many days after baking, these make the perfect edible gift for that hard-to-shop for person on your list.  Or, you know, for yourself!

Spiced Molasses Cookies
inspired by Bon Appetit Magazine, November 2011

what you’ll need
2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 ½  teaspoons baking soda
1½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
½ teaspoons ground cardamom
½ teaspoon kosher salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
¾ cup (packed) dark brown sugar
½ cup vegetable shortening (preferably trans-fat free)
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 large egg, beaten
½ cup molasses
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup raw or sanding sugar 


how to do it
Preheat oven to 350F and position rack in centre. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. 
Combine all dry ingredients and set aside. On medium speed of electric mixer, beat butter, brown sugar and shortening until light and creamy, about a minute. Scrape down sides of bowl with spatula. Add in egg, molasses and vanilla, beating on low just until blended. With spatula, fold in dry ingredients just until combined. Using a tablespoon measure, grab dough, 1 tbsp at a time and roll into a ball. Drop the ball into the bowl of raw sugar to coat. Place on baking sheet, leaving some space in between, and pressing down very lightly on each one. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes. Cookies will be very soft immediately out of the oven. Let cool for about 10 minutes before removing from sheet. 
Tip: for best results, chill dough for about 10 -15 minutes in fridge before baking.



Pomme Cannelle

The arrival of autumn comes hand in hand with the comforting aroma of cinnamon in my kitchen. Handfuls of freshly-picked apples are constantly baking in some form in my oven. My apples have taken many forms this season: apple pies, apple crisps, apple sauce, failed-apple-crumble-turned-discovery-of-gigantic-apple-cookie, and, my absolute favorite, apple cake. Other than it’s perfectly balanced taste, something else makes this cake my favorite: it’s simple. Now, I’m not a shortcut kind of girl. You’ll never see me with a cake (or heaven forbid muffin) mix in hand. Not that I’m a food snob, I just truly enjoy the satisfaction of making something entirely from scratch. That being said, I do enjoy a recipe that allows me to whip up something fabulous in a snap, then leaves me with very little to clean afterward. The toughest job here? Peeling the apples. Plus, I usually coax someone else into doing that part anyhow.

Two-Bowl Apple Cake
adapted from Second Helpings, Please! By Norene Gilletz.

what you’ll need 
• 1 1/2 cups flour
• 2 tsp baking powder
• 1 cup white sugar
• 2 eggs
• 1/2 cup vegetable oil (I used canola)
• 5 apples, peeled, cored, thinly sliced
• a few tbsp cinnamon
• 1/4 cup brown sugar
• dash lemon juice
• dash vanilla


how to do it (long version with all the details)
First, peel your apples. Slice them thinly, so that you have half-moon shapes. Now, halve your half-moons. See the photo above for what your apples should look like. Don’t worry about making them perfect, you won’t see them once they’re in the cake! Coat them immediately with lemon juice (orange or apple juice works just as well, but the acidity in the lemon keeps them from browning!), brown sugar and cinnamon. I’ll leave the amount of cinnamon that you use up to you. I just throw a few dashes in, about 3 tbsp. You can put more or less, depending on your taste. Now, wet your hands. Mix it all together, turning the apples well into the sugary cinnamon mixture. Make sure they’re all coated. Sometimes, I’ll add a dash of vanilla here, or, if I’m feeling nutty, a dash of amaretto. Now, put the mixture aside. (Put the bottle of amaretto aside too.)

In another bowl, combine eggs, sugar and another dash of vanilla. Beat with a fork just until blended. Pour the oil in. (Now, this part might be tricky if you haven’t blended oil much before – using your fork, beat the oil, like you’d beat an egg, spinning around the bowl. Start from the outer edges, and work your way into the middle. Beat vigorously, as you want to make sure that the oil doesn’t separate from the rest.) Once this is all done, add your flour and baking powder. Yes, into the same bowl. Mix it all together, again, folding the flour mixture into the wet ingredients. Once it’s blended, you’ve got your batter ready. Told you it was easy.

Now, time for the apples and batter to mate and make a beautiful cake baby. Preheat your oven to 350F. Spread half of the batter into the bottom of a 9×9” cake pan. I lined mine with parchment paper, but if you don’t have any on hand, grease the pan with spray or a very light coating of oil. Spread the apples over the top of this. Now, spread the rest of the batter on top. A tip – wet your hands and spread it by hand. Wet hands won’t stick to the batter, and it should spread perfectly. Don’t worry if an apple or two are peeking out. Your baby is ready for the oven.

Bake it for 45 to 60 minutes, or until the top is golden and your entire kitchen smells like heaven.