Saturday, 27 April 2013

Vanilla Lemonade - A New Favorite!

I know that Spring has truly arrived up here in the's windy!!!!! Very Windy.......Mary Poppins wouldn't even come here....that or she is stuck against a wall because the wind current is so strong.....

"Just a spoonful of sugah......."  Supercalafragilisticexpealidoious...Hmmm, I won't spell check that one. ANYWAYS!!!

This week's post is a lovely wonderful spring like drink.  One to sip on the veranda on a non-windy day.  These are my plans for May... To sit outside, watch my tomato plants grow and drink copius amounts of Vanilla Lemonade. Yep, Vanilla!!!

This is truly a smooth drink.  The vanilla takes away the acidity but still allows the lemon to shine through.  I LOVE IT!! A Pair made in Heaven.  I tried it on some family members and they were pleasantly surprised.  Sweet, smooth, and yet...lemonadey!

Here is the recipe.

Vanilla Lemonade

What you Need:

1 cup lemon juice (fresh squeezed or bottled)
7 1/2 cups cold water
1 cup sugar
2 tsp of vanilla extract (if you can find the clear vanilla even better, but no worries if ya can't)
lemon slices and ice

What you Do:

Combine ingredients and stir until sugar is dissolved.  Add lemon slices and ice.  Enjoy!!

Saturday, 20 April 2013

Let's Try Artichokes!!!

OOOH lets!!!

Ok, I know I am deviating from the original plan of pies....but I have to admit, I am finding it why stick to that my blog, I can do what I want!!! 

Soooo, artichokes.....I have always been intrigued by the big ol' bulb shaped things as I pass them in the grocery store, but then the curiosity has always turned to trepidation....until now!  I bought my first artichokes!!!

I am excited to try these babies, and have done some research in how to "deal" with them.  Doesn't seem too bad actually.  I'll let you know in a couple of hours.....

Hours later...

I LIKE THEM!  Neat little things....Though the person who first tried them must have been quite desperate for food, and then pleasantly surprised that they were actually a good little morsel.  All I did was prep the artichokes by taking off the stem and also cutting a couple of centimetres off the tip.  I then cut the tips off the artichoke's "leaves" with scissors.  I then put them in a pot of salted water (half way up the choke) and poured 1/4 cup of lemon juice on top of them.  This prevents browning.  They were then steamed for 35 minutes.   I served them with a lemon butter.

To eat the artichoke you place the "leaf" in between your teeth and scrape the meat out of it as you pull the leaf out.  (seriously, I had to watch a video on it)  hardcore stuff here...:)

(my plate "apres" enjoying - yes I speaka de francais)

The second recipe saw the steamed artichoke sliced in half length ways, the "choke" removed and then a topping of bread crumbs and Parmesan cheese, tomatoes, basil and parsley sprinkled on top.  I then baked the artichoke for half an hour at 375 degrees.  ALSO GOOD! (sorry no pic - I forgot as I oohed and ahhhed and devoured....)

Recipe for topping:

1/4 cup of bread crumbs
2 tablespoons of diced tomatoes
1 teaspoon of dried basil
1 teaspoon of dried parsley
salt and pepper to taste
1 tablespoon of grated Parmesan cheese

Place artichoke in a baking dish.  Combine ingredients and sprinkle on top of steamed artichoke. Cover dish with tinfoil.  Bake in a 375 degree oven for 30 minutes, taking off tinfoil half way through. Enjoy! 

What should I try next????

Friday, 12 April 2013

Aparagus Mozerella Tart.

Alas, there is still snow on the ground....Optimistic thinking - its covering up the brown grass!  :)  Such is the life in Northern Alberta.  Spring is more of a Winter Tantrum as it knows its days are numbered, but OH will he make each day count!  So as the wind blows and the warm air fights with the cool, I ponder a pie....An Asparagus Pie...

I sounds fancy shmancy......"Apsaragus Tart" (in my hoity toity voice) but man is this little pastry as easy as slapping some butter on some bread!  Seriously!!!!  This one is a "doooer" as my little 3 year old would say.  So take his word and Doooo this recipe.  :)

PS: You can serve this little gem with the basalmic reduction if it is your fancy to do so....It is my fancy....:)

Asparagus Tart
adapted from Joy the Baker

What you need:

1 sheet frozen puff pastry, thawed but still cold.
1 egg, beaten
1 1/2 cups finely grated Mozzerella cheese
1 pound slender asparagus
1/2 cup sliced mushrooms
salt and coarse ground black pepper
olive oil
balsamic reduction***

Balsalmic Reduction recipe: 

- 1 cup of balsamic vinegar
-1/8 cup of sugar
-pinch of salt

Over medium high heat bring to a rolling boil - stir until sugar is dissolved and continue to cook until reduced to 1/3 - 1/4 cup this is very potent and a little goes a long way


What to do:

1.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

2.  Unfold thawed puff pastry onto a lightly floured work surface.   Unfold the pastry and slice into six equally sized rectangles.

3.  Gently press each rectangle with your fingers, flattening slightly.  With a small pairing knife, score a 1/4 inch boarder along the inside of each rectangle.  Arrange 1 inch apart on the prepared baking sheet.

4.  Brush each square lightly with beaten egg. Sprinkle with salt and coarse ground black pepper.  Top with a generous sprinkling of grated cheese.  Press five to six asparagus spears, along with some mushrooms into the cheese. Brush the asparagus with olive oil and sprinkle with more coarsely ground black pepper.

5.  Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until puff pastry is golden brown and asparagus is cooked through.  Remove from the oven, allow to cool for 10 minutes before serving.  Serve with thick balsamic reduction.   

Saturday, 6 April 2013

Apple Cream Cheese Tart

April is upon us.  The sun is shining and the snow WILL melt....yep, we had another "spring" snow storm up here last night.  All I it will go away.  Can't stay forever!!!!  April showers will bring May flowers.  So excited about that.  My husband and I have already talked about going to visit our local greenhouses...gonna try a beefsteak tomato plant this year!  EEK!  I already have my cherry tomato plant seedlings started. Last year my crop came in abundance around the end of August... This year, I want my tomatoes a bit earlier! the task at hand.  With Easter happening last weekend, and my lovely sister, beautiful mom, and my sweet niece coming for a visit my blog priorities haven't really been on the ball.  Too busy having a GREAT VISIT (miss you guys)  But I am back and ready to blog. This month.....PIES!

I really like pies!  I don't make them too often but I really like them...I think the part that I find intimidating is the crust making.  I make a good crust....its just the recipe is so big I always have lots of crust dough left over.  So I usually opt to buy a crust...I know.....not the best option.  Laziness at its best...:)  This month I look forward to trying out and sharing some lovely sweet and savoury pies and tarts, with different crusts....Who says ya gotta stick with the same old same ol'....

This beautiful tart is a cinch to make and looks like you spent hooooouuuurrrrrs making it...But ya didn't. :)  I has a sweet sugar cookie crust, a creamy filling, topped with a spread of apples and almonds.  So yummy!  I made this particular tart last month for a dinner that we had with some friends.  I don't like to show off but I do enjoy to serve a dessert that says "You are special - so glad you came"  This dessert does that!  Enjoy!

 Apple Cream Cheese Tart
- adapted from Laura Calder

What you need:

Crust: - 1/2 cup butter
          - 1/3 cup sugar
          - 1/2 tsp vanilla
          - 1 cup flour

Filling: - 1 egg
           - 1/2 tsp vanilla
           - 8 ounces cream cheese softened
           - 1/4 cup of sugar

Topping:  3 apples ( I used Gala) thinly sliced
               - 1/4 cup sugar
               - 1/2 tsp of cinnamon
               - 1/4 cup of toasted sliced almonds

What to do:

1.  Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees F. 
2. Cream the butter and sugar for crust.  Stir in vanilla.  Mix in flour to make smooth dough.  Add a splash of milk if need be.  Press into bottom of a 8 or 9 inch spring form pan or tart pan, giving it about a 1 inch rim.  Bake 15 minutes until lightly golden brown. Remove from oven.

Filling:  Beat all the ingredients together until smooth. Spread over baked tart shell.

Topping: Toss apple slices with cinnamon and sugar.  Arrange slices on top of the filling.  Bake until the apples are tender and golden, about 40 minutes.  Cool.  Top with toasted almonds.  Enjoy!