Category: comfort

Comforting Cobbler

When it comes to summertime desserts, I tend to opt for all things simple and refreshing. Fruits are often the star, especially when they’re fresh and local. So, when I got my hands on a giant container of juicy blueberries last weekend, I knew that I had to make them into something special. In an act of perfect timing, I got the chance to sneak a peak at Canadian Living’s August cover recipe – a deliciously comforting blueberry cobbler.

If blueberry pie and cornbread got together and had a baby, this dessert would be their offspring! When a crispy, crumbly topping sits on top of a mountain of sweet blueberries, it’s a challenge not to devour it straight out of the oven. Not only does this comfort food taste as incredible as it smells, but it’s super satisfying to crack through the cobbler crust with your spoon for that very first bite!

You can whip yourself up one of these babies at home in no time flat, just follow the link below to take you to the original recipe on Canadian Living’s website.

Tip: top with a dollop of ice cream for an extra summery touch!

Semi-Guilty Pleasures (Baked Donuts with Cinnamon Sugar Glaze)

And so, it begins.

Pastry school, that is!

Courses began this week, and so far we’ve learned some introductory basics on health and safety measures, as well as basic sanitation practices. Many of the unsettling facts made me happy to be vegetarian – a life choice that made me feel almost safe, until I learned that one of the worst outbreaks of botulism came from an infected jar of mushrooms, of all things. Still, the majority of contaminated food items are ones of animal origin, (poultry, beef, dairy, eggs) so vegans, you’re generally in the clear. I say generally, because there are still certain precautions that should be taken, especially when dealing with low-acidity canned foods, and unwashed fresh produce. I’ll be posting more about good hygiene practices in the weeks to come, once I’ve obtained my MAPAQ certification. 

I’m quite excited for today, as we get to go into the Pastry Lab (the name itself excites me!) where we will be learning about basic ingredients, measurement and weight. Every ingredient in classic French pastry is measured by weight (grams and millilitres), instead of measured by volume (teaspoons and cups). This allows for the most accurate reproductions of recipes, as measurement by volume is often skewed due to air pockets. In the future, as I blog certain pastry recipes, I’ll offer approximate conversions from volume to weight, for those of you who prefer one method over the other.

Alright, time for the sweet stuff… Drum roll please…
I introduce to you, the deliciously moist, sweet on the outside, fluffy on the inside, ultimate home baked donut! I won’t go as far as to say that these little babies are healthy, because, well, they are coated in sugar and then rolled in even more of the powdery white delight, but they are healthier than your average donut shop donut, as they’re baked instead of fried. They’re also far tastier, more wholesome, and it doesn’t get fresher than straight out of the oven! You can opt out of the sugar dusting part, though personally, I found that the sugar coating kept them fresher longer, and added a mighty fine taste to them.

Baked Doughnuts (& donut holes!)
recipe adapted from Châtelaine magazine, February 2014 issue.

Note: the original recipe calls for regular milk and butter, but I’ve replaced them with equal quantities soy milk and vegetable shortening (I used Crisco brand). If you want to make this completely vegan, simply substitute the egg with egg replacer. Voila! Doughnuts for everyone. Mmm.

Side Note: There are two spellings of donut (doughnut), and I’ll use both, as you’ll notice, throughout this post. They’re both correct. I’m just really indecisive over which one I prefer.

what you’ll need
1 cup soy milk
8g packet instant yeast
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup vegetable shortening, melted
1 egg (or equal amount egg replacer)
1 tbsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp salt
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour

4 cups icing sugar
3 tbsp ground cinnamon
5 tbsp water

vegetable or olive oil (cooking spray works fine)
stand mixer with dough hook attachment

how to do it
warm soy milk on stovetop or in microwave. Do not boil! Add yeast and whisk. Pour into bowl of stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment. Let stand about 10 minutes. Add granulated sugar, shortening, egg, vanilla and salt to yeast mixture and beat until combined. Remove paddle and affix dough hook to stand mixer. Gradually add flour, increasing speed until dough forms a ball and pulls cleanly away from the bowl.

Transfer dough into oiled bowl. Lightly oil top of dough and cover with damp tea towel. Let stand in a warm place until doubled in size, about an hour.

Roll dough onto floured surface until 1/2 inch thick. Do not roll any thinner than this, or your doughnuts will become cookies, as I discovered in my first batch! Use a 2-inch cookie cutter to cut rounds out of dough, and a 1 inch cookie cutter to cut holes out of the middles. Pat together excess dough and roll into 1 inch balls, to make doughnut holes. Place on parchment-paper lined baking sheets and cover with damp tea towels. Allow to rise for another 45 minutes.

Meanwhile, whisk together 1 cup icing sugar and 2 tbsp cinnamon.

Once 45 minutes has passed, Preheat oven to 350F.
Dip donuts and roll donut holes in sugar & cinnamon mixture.

Bake in preheated oven at 350F for about 10 minutes, or until centers are golden.
Remove from oven and cool immediately on cooling rack.

GLAZE AND POWDER TIME!
Give your donuts a delicious glaze by mixing 1/4 cup water with 2 cups icing sugar and 1 tbsp cinnamon. Dunk cooled donuts into glaze mixture. Reserve last cup of icing sugar in separate bowl, and roll sticky donuts in powdered sugar until fully coated. Donuts are best eaten immediately, but keep well at room temperature for about 2 days.

Final Note: this recipe looks lengthy, but it’s totally worth the time, and it’s not difficult at all, just requires a wee bit of patience. Give it a go – impress your friends and family! Or, just make them and then eat them all to yourself while watching the entire 3rd season of Community… whatever works for you.

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!