Bobbette & Belle Cookbook Review

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I am absolutely dessert obsessed. When this gorgeous cookbook arrived at my doorstep, (Thank you Penguin Random House for generously sending it over in exchange for a review!) I was absolutely thrilled! Needless to say I had it all tabbed up with my favourites within minutes.

French-inspired pastry shop Bobbette & Belle based in Toronto, Ontario released this beauty late last year. This cookbook features a collection of over 100 recipes and variations of desserts all of which they sell in their pastry shop. While I have not had the opportunity to visit the shop (new mom problems), they have a line of treats they sell at The Bay Eaton Centre. Whenever I feel sorry for myself I will purchase a pack of their Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies. They definitely aren’t cheap so I consider it an absolute treat and let me tell you….they are soooo worth the price. I was head over heels when I discovered this cookie recipe was revealed in the cookbook and yes they do taste almost the same!

The beginning of the book takes us to the Bobbette & Belle Story, essential tools and ingredients, general baking tips, tips for specific pastries and alternative baking & dietary restrictions. The sections are brief and not overwhelming (thank you!)

Chapters are divided into the following:

  • Classic Cookies and Bars
  • Cupcakes
  • Layer Cakes
  • Loaves, Scones, Bundts and Tortes
  • Crumbles, Tarts and Pies
  • French Macarons
  • Chilled Crème Desserts
  • Confections and Sweets
  • Buttercreams, Frostings, and Fillings

Also included at the end: A source guide, conversion chart and a cross-referenced index.

The Recipes

Recipes are fairly easy to follow. Ingredients are listed in order of use and each recipe begins with a story, which I love. Ingredients are basic and most can be found at your local grocery store. All recipes have little tips at the bottom to help you through your baking. Hands on and total time are not included in the recipes however you will find the amount each recipe yields. The photography is GORGEOUS and each recipe has a picture.

Some of the recipes I have tabbed up:

  • Double Chocolate Fleur De Sel Cookies
  • Shortbread Cookies
  • Amaretti Cookies
  • Death by Chocolate Brownies
  • Pecan Caramel Churchill Squares
  • Cinnamon Pinwheels
  • Double Chocolate Cupcakes
  • Dark Chocolate Brownie Fudge Cake
  • Chocolate Hazelnut Gianduja Cake
  • “No Raisin” Carrot Cake (and may I add no pineapple too! Yay!)
  • Apple Cinnamon Coffee Cake
  • Blueberry Scones
  • Sharp Cheddar and Chive Scones
  • Cinnamon Pull-Apart Bread
  • Apple Crumble
  • Apple Galettes
  • Salted Caramel Tart with Dark Chocolate Glaze

I managed to recreate the Amaretti Cookies as well as the Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies. I didn’t have much success with the Amaretti and I am reluctant to blame the recipe for being poorly written until I reattempt it. I would like to give it the benefit of the doubt and hope that I made an error somewhere along the way! The Chocolate Chip Cookies are amazing and I have made 3 batches of them with pure success every time! Find the recipe and pictures below.

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Ultimate Chocolate Chip Cookies

Makes 24 Cookies

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature but not soft
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • ½ cup loosely packed brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 cups large-flake rolled oats
  • ¾ cup dark chocolate chips

Directions:

  1. Put oven racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven and preheat the oven to 350 F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter, granulated sugar and brown sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the egg and vanilla and beat just to combine.
  4. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the flour mixture to the creamed butter mixture, mixing until just combined and scraping down the sides of the bowl at least once. Add the oats and chocolate chips and mix until fully incorporated.
  5. Spoon 12 heaping tablespoons of cookie dough onto each lined baking sheet, leaving ample space between them.
  6. Bake for 8 to 12 minutes or until the cookies are light golden brown on the bottom. For even baking, rotate the sheets front to back and top to bottom halfway through. Allow the cookies to cool slightly on the baking sheets before transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely. The cookies can be stored in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.

Bobbette & Belle Tip: This recipe is particularly sensitive to the temperature of the butter. It needs to be room temperature but not too soft. If your kitchen is warm, use the butter before it reaches room temperature.

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Ultimate Chocolate Chip Cookies

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Overall I am in love with this cookbook and it is most definitely one that I will be baking from often!

A big thank you to Penguin Random House for sending me this cookbook in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions in this blog post are 100% my own.

Chewy Coconut Granola Bars with Sprinkles

IMG_3788.JPGI made these on a whim today with my 3 year old. Everything has to have sprinkles on it so of course…sprinkles it is all over these tasty bars! I used PC brand Natural Smooth Peanut Butter but you can use any kind of peanut butter you like. Comment below if you try them out!

Chewy Coconut Granola Bars with Sprinkles

  • Makes about 20 bars (depending on how big you cut them)
  • Active time: 20 min
  • Total time: 2 hours, 20 minutes

Ingredients: 

  • 1/2 cup coconut oil
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1/2 cup peanut or almond butter
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 2 cups rolled oats
  • 1 cup shredded sweetened coconut
  • 3/4 cup nuts (pecans, cashews or almonds)- I used cashews
  • 1/3 cup mini chocolate chips

Directions:

  1. In a medium saucepan melt together the coconut oil, honey, peanut or almond butter, salt and ginger stirring until smooth. Remove from heat.
  2. In a large bowl mix together the oats, coconut, nuts and chocolate chips. Pour the warm coconut oil mixture over the oats and stir together to combine.
  3. Pour mixture into a parchment-lined 9 x 13 inch baking dish and spread in an even layer. Sprinkle with extra coconut, mini chocolate chips and sprinkles if desired. Cover and refrigerate for 2 hours or until firm.
  4. Use the parchment to remove the bar from the dish and cut into squares or bars. Store bars, separated with parchment, in the fridge. Can be stored for up to 2 weeks.

Enjoy!

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Chickpea Pasta!

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photo taken from choosechickapea.com

I have recently fallen in love with this pasta and just had to let the world know my latest obsession so here is my quickie review!

This pasta is made of only 2 ingredients: Organic chickpea flour and Organic red lentil flour. Each 227g box contains a significant amount of folate (Hello pregnant mamas..so good for you!) Iron, zinc, vitamin B5, and magnesium are a few others that make it big. No artificial flavours, colours or added sugar…literally just 2 ingredients.

I first discovered this pasta at my local Longos and knew I just had to try it! I have tried all kinds of pasta and my family currently eats spelt, whole wheat and Catelli Greens. Being of Italian decent I just can’t get pasta out of my diet. I have tried on numerous occasions to eliminate it, eat less of it, and pretend I don’t like it anymore and I have to face reality that it’s just not going to happen.

At $5.99 a box for 227g I would not recommend using it at your next dinner party but in my opinion it is a small price for huge nutritional rewards for you and your family. All it really means is you can stop buying a bunch of .99 cent pasta bags and splurge a bit on a quality box of Chickpea Pasta once in a while. I have to confess that I bought a couple boxes and have almost entirely replaced my pasta stash.

How does it taste?

Hmm…good question. It definitely doesn’t taste like normal pasta. It tastes like a mix of bean, whole wheat and spelt. I have made it with my homemade tomato sauce and it is perfection! (see pic below)

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Chickapea Pasta Spirals with my homemade tomato sauce

The best part of this product? Created by a Canadian Mama. I love supporting Canadian anything.

The pasta comes in 3 varieties: spirals, penne, and shells. You can purchase it online or check out their website to find your local grocery store that carries it.  If you sign up for their newsletter you will receive 15% off your first order. You better believe I am taking advantage of that!

All thoughts and opinions in this blog post are 100% my own. I purchased Chickapea Pasta from my local Longos at $5.99/box. I have never seen it on sale, but just deal with it and buy it already! 😉

“Holiday Cookies” Cookbook Review

Christmas cookie baking for our family starts around mid November, when the Downtown Toronto Santa Clause Parade all goes down. To me this signifies the start of the Christmas season. I am trying to create memories and traditions for my young family and one of them is baking gingerbread with my 3 year old for the big day with her cousins. We bake and decorate all day and wrap up our tasty treats in plastic and she proudly shares them with her aunts, uncles, and cousins.

I loved reading some of the essays in this book and the memories each unique cookie played in that person’s life. “Holiday Cookies” is filled with a collection of recipes and essays from the history of the Chicago Tribune’s Holiday Cookie Contest. For the contest, readers submitted a brief essay and a recipe describing what made the cookie special to the writer. The book is divided into the following chapters:

  • Simple Drop Cookies
  • Sugar & Spice
  • Fruit & Nut Treats
  • Chocolate Delights
  • Sandwich Cookies
  • Brownies & Bars

Most recipes are accompanied by a picture of the cookie, as well as a photograph of the writer. The recipes are all quite simple to follow and most ingredients are readily available at your local supermarket.

I managed to recreate Dorie’s Dark and Stormies recipe which included chocolate of course. This recipe was used by contest winner Colleen Frankhart to get her through a rough romantic patch..and I can totally see why! Let’s just say they got me through the night with my 3 month old colicky baby! Comment below if you get around to trying the recipe.

 

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Dorie’s Dark and Stormies

Prep time: 25 minutes

Chill time: 1 hour

Bake time: 14 minutes per batch

 

Yields: 3 dozen cookies

Ingredients:

  • 1 ¼ cups flour
  • 1/3 cup Dutch process cocoa powder
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • 1 stick plus 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2/3 cup packed light brown sugar
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • 1-teaspoon vanilla
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • 5 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped into small bits.

Directions:

  1. Sift the flour, cocoa and baking soda together in a small bowl; set aside. Beat the butter until smooth in bowl of an electric mixer at medium speed. Add the sugars, vanilla and salt; beat 2 minutes. Reduce speed to low; add the flour mixture, mixing until incorporated but still crumbly, and being careful not to overload the dough. Stir in the chocolate pieces.
  1. Turn the dough out onto a smooth work surface; squeeze it so that it sticks together in large clumps. (If you need to, it’s OK to lightly flour the work surface.) Gather the dough into a ball; divide in half. Shape each ball into a log 1 ½ inches in diameter. Wrap logs in plastic wrap; chill at least 1 hour.
  1. Heat oven to 325 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment. Gently slice logs into ½-inch rounds using a serrated knife (some will crumble; simply press broken bits back onto cookie). Place 1 inch apart on the baking sheets.
  1. Bake, one sheet at a time, 14 minutes; cookies will not look done or be firm. Cool on pan 5 minutes; transfer to cooling rack. Cool to room temperature.

NOTE: Dough can be made ahead and frozen. Frozen dough doesn’t need to be defrosted before baking: just slice logs and bake one minute longer. Packed airtight, cookies will keep at room temperature up to 3 days or frozen up to a month.

 

I received a copy of Holiday Cookies from Agate Publishing. All opinions and thoughts in this blog post are 100% my own. You can purchase Holiday Cookies from Amazon.ca for the current price of $28.43 CAN.

“Try the World” Subscription Box Review

I love getting little goodies in the mail. Whenever something comes for me, it feels like Christmas and I get all giddy! When I received these 2 tasty gourmet food boxes, I was salivating at how yummy everything looked and I am always up for trying something new and different.

Let me first start by introducing one of the most unique and scrumptious subscription boxes. “Try the World” is a unique subscription box that is curated by expert chefs. Each item in the box is truly authentic and comes from the country of origin so you can be sure that you are only getting the absolute best. Each box comes with a variety of recipes, suggestions, and tips on how to use the products in the box and every product is accompanied by a little story about that particular item.

My particular favourites were the amaretti cookies from the Taste of Italy box and the Mexican hot chocolate tablets from the Holiday box. Scroll below to see all the goodies you can expect to find in these boxes!

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Try the World “Taste of Italy” Box
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Risotto al Funghi Porcini. This was SO GOOD and super easy to make. All you had to do was add a 1/2 cup of water every 5 min or so for 30 min. 
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Egg Pappardelle with Pesto all provided in this box. This fed both my husband and I and our toddler.

 

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Try the World “Holiday” Box
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Mexican hot chocolate tabs in hot milk. So good!

A variety of subscription options are available on the site. Starting at $29/month you can receive 7 to 8 gourmet delicacies from around the world each month. Both of my boxes came with a 20% off promo code (exclusive to subscribers) to use at the online store (more amaretti please!!) The shop carries all the products sampled in the box so you can purchase your favourites.

Thinking about subscribing? I’m including a link to a FREE “Taste of Italy” box with a subscription!:  http://bit.ly/2dyoH4K

A huge thank you to Try the World for sending over these 2 boxes for me to sample in exchange for an honest review. All opinions and thoughts in this post are 100% my own.

 

 

“2016 Christmas with Southern Living” Book Review

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With tips on entertaining, decorating ideas for the home and tons of super tasty recipes for the holiday season, this book is truly for the Christmas lover.

If your stuck on ideas on how to adorn your home with everything Christmas, this book has you covered. A fireside forest theme for your living room or a woodland mantel for your fireplace, each page is filled with beautiful Christmasy pictures on ideas for your home. Don’t know what to cook for your holiday feast? Full menus complete with recipes and pictures have you all set. My favourite part…the desserts of course! A huge bonus collection of all sorts of truffle recipes. A “Bake-and-Take Cookie Party” is a perfect activity to do with the kids with recipes for pecan linzer cookies, chai-spiced spritz cookies, dark chocolate crinkles and many more! Need some gifting ideas that don’t break the bank? A recipe for homemade all purpose biscuit, pancake, and waffle mix all in this 2016 collection complete with time-saving tips. Love it!

Short Rib and Stout Pies, Whole Roasted Cauliflower with Ricotta-Pecorino Crust,Amaretti-Chocolate Tart…yes this book is awesome! I am also loving the Cinnamon-Apple-Bourbon Bread Pudding that uses a package of frozen cinnamon rolls. I am usually a homemade everything kind of home cook but with a toddler and now a newborn, convenience recipes are becoming increasingly more appealing!

Pick and choose your favourites and make something unique and delicious for the holidays. The recipes included are super easy to follow and if you are familiar with recipes from Southern Living you will be well aware that they are SUPER delicious!

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One of my favourite parts of this book is the 2016 Holiday Planner included at the end of the book. How adorable is this; documenting everything you do for the holiday season including a calendar for November and December, a decorating planner, Holiday meal prep planning and tips and so much more. Areas to write your Christmas dinner plan, gifts and greetings checklist and holiday memories, notes for next year, absolutely perfection! I love it!

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I managed to recreate the Pear Salad and oh my goodness was it ever a hit with the family! We actually ended up eating this salad as a full meal for dinner one night (hence the picture below of the massive salad!) and it was absolutely to die for. Both my husband and I agree it will become a staple recipe in our cooking. I’ve included the recipe and picture below so you can taste for yourself. I can’t even imagine how tasty the rest of the recipes are!

Baby Kale and Pears with Roasted Shallot Vinaigrette

Serves:8   Hands-on: 15 minutes  Total: 45 minutes

Tender baby kale leaves dressed in a savoury, rich roasted shallot dressing are enhanced by the sweetness of fall pears in this festive first course. Use a vegetable peeler to get pretty curls of cheese to garnish each plate of dressed salad.

  • 4 large shallots, halved
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1 large fresh thyme sprig
  • 1/4 cup high quality sherry vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 medium-size, ripe Bosc pears, thinly sliced
  • 2 (5-oz) packages mixed greens with baby kale (*I just used mixed greens as I could not find a mix with baby kale)
  • 4 oz Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, shaved

 

DIRECTIONS:

  1.  Preheat the oven to 375 F. Place the shallots, oil, and thyme sprig in a small baking dish. Cover loosely with aluminium foil. Bake 30 min or until shallots are light golden brown and very tender, Discard thyme sprig.
  2. Pulse roasted shallot mixture, vinegar, chopped thyme, mustard, honey, 3/4 teaspoon of the salt, and pepper in a blender until shallots are mashed. Process until blended, scraping down sides as needed.
  3. Toss pears with 1/4 cup dressing in a bowl.
  4. Toss mixed greens with 1/4 cup dressing in a large bowl, and sprinkle with remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt. Transfer greens to a large platter, top with pears, and sprinkle with pecans and cheese.

NOTE: To make ahead, prepare recipe as directed through Step 3 up to 1 hour ahead. Store pears and dressing in refrigerator. Proceed with recipe as directed in Step 4 when ready to serve.

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This 2016 Complete Guide to Holiday Cooking and Decorating is definitely a keeper. I am absolutely thrilled to have discovered this annual book and I now look forward to it picking up a copy each year!

A special thanks to Oxmoor House (Time Inc Books) for sending over this wonderful book for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions in this blog post are 100% my own. “2016 Christmas with Southern Living: The Complete Guide to Holiday Cooking and Decorating” is available at amazon.ca for the current price of $30.63. Price is subject to change.

Food Bloggers of Canada Featured Member!

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Hi all!

I am super thrilled to be a featured member on the Food Bloggers of Canada website! If you haven’t had a chance to check out my interview with FBC you may do so here:

http://www.foodbloggersofcanada.com/2016/08/fbc-featured-member-books-love-and-lattes/#comment-154906

For those of your who are unfamiliar with FBC, check out their website at foodbloggersofcanada.com. I have been a proud member for a couple months now. When I first started to blog, I really didn’t know where to start and what to do. I knew I wanted to write about cookbooks and food as it was my passion so I turned to FBC for help. They provide a network of other food writers throughout Canada and much inspiration may I add for creating my own blog.  They also have a ton of resources for food bloggers like myself.

A huge thank you to FBC for this wonderful feature!

Much love! Xo

 

 

 

“Sugar” By Anna Olson Cookbook Review

I absolutely love Anna Olson. I used to watch her religiously prior to Food Network changing the programming. She used to be on regularly in the mornings and I would always be looking up the recipes she recreated on her shows. I also was lucky enough to meet her in person a couple years back at a Food show in Toronto and she is one of the most down to earth, friendly chefs I have ever had the pleasure of meeting.

“Sugar” is one of Olson’s older books but I have to say it is definitely a keeper. The beginning of the book takes us to a variety of baking basics including ingredients, tools and techniques. If you’re a frequent baker, stuff you likely already know. Chapters are divided into the following:

  • Fruit
  • Citrus
  • Sugar
  • Chocolate
  • Dairy
  • Nuts
  • Other Flavours

Each chapter includes subheadings with various ingredients from that particular chapter making it simple to locate a particular recipe you may be interested in.

The Recipes

The recipes are simple enough for the beginner baker. Ingredients are listed in order of use and are not overly long. Directions are easy to follow and for some recipes, variations are also included. Most recipes include side notes with tips and tricks that I found to be very helpful and super interesting. Also included are storage guidelines for some recipes. The only downside is lack of pictures throughout the book. I love pictures of every recipe. For me, pictures are what inspire me to recreate the recipe. She does include a few but definitely not enough in my opinion.

I managed to recreate the Mocha Bites on page 174. Lets just say I have already made them twice! These cookies are perfect with coffee and are SO EASY to make on a whim. I have a 2 year old at home and currently 9 months pregnant and let me tell you…anyone can quickly whip these up if company is coming last minute! They have a similar texture and taste to shortbread and a good amount of coffee in each bite.

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Mocha Bites

Makes 2 to 3 dozen

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup/ 250mL unsalted butter, room temperature
  • ½ cup/ 125mL icing sugar, sifted
  • ¼ cup/ 50mL espresso
  • 4 tsp/ 20mL vanilla
  • 2 ¼ cups/ 550mL all purpose flour
  • ¼ cup/ 50 mL cocoa powder
  • ¼ tsp/ 1mL salt
  • Sugar for coating

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees (160 C). Cream together butter and icing sugar until smooth. Stir in espresso and vanilla. Sift in all purpose flour, cocoa and salt and mix until dough comes together. Turn dough onto a board lightly dusted with icing sugar. Divide dough in half and shape into logs. Slice dough on an angle in ½-inch (1-cm) slices. Place cookies upright on a parchment lined baking sheet and bake for 20 min.
  2. While warm, toss cookies gently, two at a time, in sugar and allow to cool.

NOTES:

  • If you don’t have an espresso maker at home, purchase a shot of espresso at your neighbourhood coffee shop.

Overall I thoroughly enjoyed this cookbook and it will definitely be one I go back to often. I do wish there were more pictures but..I guess that means we have to use our imagination!

A big thank you to Whitecap books for generously sending over a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions and thoughts in this blog post are 100% my own. You can purchase “Sugar” by Anna Olson at Amazon.ca for the current price of $20.86 CAN (Price is subject to change)

“The Everyday Baker” Cookbook Review

The Everyday Baker: Recipes & Techniques for Foolproof Baking” By Abigail Dodge Cookbook Review

This is Abby Dodge’s 10th Cookbook, yes 10th! For those of you who are not familiar with her work, Abby is an award winning baking expert and pastry chef. She also has a fantastic blog with the most scrumptious recipes that I frequently retweet. (http://www.abbydodge.com) Flipping through this wonderful cookbook, I recognized some of the recipes right away. I am a huge fan of the Fine Cooking Magazine and Abby is a long time contributer to this awesome magazine. (go figure I like it so much!)

I was delighted to get my hands on her latest book, “The Everyday Baker: Recipes and Techniques for Foolproof Baking”. This book is gigantic and filled with tons of recipes! The first chapter takes us to everyday baking basics discussing everyday baking ingredients and what you should have in your pantry, equipment and tools (with pictures of each tool), as well as some important points to assist with your baking experience. I know many of you skip this section but ever since I started to review cookbooks, I have been reading these sections in each book I review. Despite being an avid baker myself, I have learned a bunch! Don’t skip these valuable sections!

The recipes

The recipes are divided into the following chapters:

  • Morning Food
  • Quick to Make
  • Cookies
  • Cakes
  • Pies & Tarts
  • Puddings & Custards
  • Yeast Breads
  • Pastry
  • Flatbread
  • Fruit Desserts

Included are a variety of sweet and savory recipes. Some recipes include step by step instructions with pictures as well as occasional essential techniques (with pictures) throughout the book. Plenty of pictures of the recipes are included in the book. They aren’t anything fancy but they are still great! Recipe pictures are grouped together in each chapter as opposed to accompanying the corresponding recipe. With each recipe, there are little boxes to the side discussing things you can make ahead, twists on the recipe and other valuable information. Ingredients are listed in order of use and directions are simple enough to follow for the beginner baker. Most ingredients are also easily assessable at your local supermarket. Your favourite recipe is super easy to locate in the index at the back of the book as they are cross-referenced.

Some of my favourites that I have all tabbed up: White & Chocolate Mousse Cake, Salted Caramel-Toffee Icebox Cake, Rustic Country Bread, Double Tomato-Basil Open-Faced Tart, Sweet Potato Bread, Ciabatta Bread, Espresso-Hazlenut Meringue Cake with Espresso Buttercream & Milk Chocolate Ganache..and many more!

I am familiar with a handful of the recipes in this book, as I mentioned previously Abby is a contributer to Fine Cooking magazine and I am a huge fan. During the review of this book, I managed to recreate the Double Tomato-Basil Open-Faced Tart and it was absolutely scrumptious! Find the full recipe and pictures below.

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Store bought puff pastry. So I may not have cut it the way she mentioned but I managed to  make it look pretty 🙂
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The tart all complete! I made the mistake of putting the basil on too early but it still tasted great!

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Double Tomato-Basil Open-Faced Tart

For the filling:

  • ¼ cup (2 oz/57g) sun-dried tomato paste. (* I used sun-dried tomato pesto)
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 2 ripe tomatoes (1 lb./454 g total) (multicolored is pretty but not mandatory)

For assembly:

  • 1 large egg at room temperature
  • 1 tsp water
  • Store bought puff pastry, thawed if frozen (* She gives the option for homemade puff pastry with the full recipe as well but being a busy mom, I opted for store bought and therefore will give the directions for store bought puff pastry)
  • Unbleached all-purpose flour, for rolling
  • Table salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 Tbs. ground Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
  • 2 Tbs. finely sliced basil leaves

Make the filling:

Put the sun-dried tomato paste and garlic in a small bowl and mix until well blended. Core the tomatoes and cut crosswise into thin slices. Arrange on several layers of paper towels and let drain while the pastry is being prepared.

Assemble and Bake:

  1. Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 400 F (200 C/gas 6). Line a cookie sheet with parchment or a nonstick liner. Put the egg and water in a small bowl and, using a fork, mix until well blended.
  2. Unfold store bought puff pastry. Using a sharp chef’s knife and a ruler, trim the edges using short crisp cuts (dragging the blade will pinch the pastry layers together) (*I used two separate puff pastry dough packs that once unrolled were already quite neat and did not need trimming) to get a neat 12-inch (30.5 cm) square. Using your hands or a rolling pin, move the pastry to the prepared pan so that one side is facing you.
  3. Using the back or dull side of the knife, mark a 1-inch (2.5 cm) border around the inside of the square, beginning 1 inch from the the top right corner and ending 1 inch from the bottom left corner, and cut through the dough. (*I used a pizza cutter) This will release the bottom right corner. Repeat with the other two sides of the square, beginning 1 inch from the bottom left and ending 1 inch from the top right. Both the bottom right and top left corners will be released but the 1 inch pastry border will still be attached at the top right and bottom left.
  4. Brush a little of the egg wash around the edge of the center square, being careful not to let any drip off the edge as this will seal the pastry layers. Holding the outer pastry border at the top left corner, lift the border over the centre square and line it up with the bottom right corner of the centre square, making sure the right and bottom edges are also lined up. Repeat with the outer border at the bottom right corner and line it up with the top left corner of the centre square. The two corners (top right and bottom left) will still be attached and overlap each other. Using the tines of the fork, prick (or dock) the centre square all over.
  5. Scrape the tomato paste mixture onto the centre square and spread evenly. Arrange the tomato slices over the paste in one layer, slightly overlapping them. Sprinkle with salt, black pepper, the Parmigiano. Brush the top of the raised border with the egg wash (be careful not to let the egg dribble over the edge or the pastry won’t puff).
  6. Bake until the pastry is puffed and deep golden brown and the tomatoes are tender, 39 to 43 minutes. Move the sheet to a rack and let cool for 10 minutes. Using two offset spatulas, carefully move the tart to a cutting board or flat serving plate and sprinkle the basil over the tomatoes. The tart is best when served the same day and can be warmed slightly in a 300 F (150 C/gas 2) oven if desired.

 

Twists:

Instead of the sun-dried tomato paste, use one of the following: ¼ cup olive tapenade or ¼ cup basil pesto and omit garlic.

Instead of adding the Parmigiano, after baking, top the tart with one of the following: ¼ cup crumbled feta, ¼ cup crumbled goat cheese or crumbled blue cheese.

Instead of adding the basil, top the tart with one or two of the following: 1 tsp fresh thyme, rosemary, fresh oregano, or 1-2 Tbs, reduced balsamic vinegar.

Make Ahead:

The dough can be prepared, covered, and refridgerated for up to 2 days or frozen up to 1 month.

The dough can be shaped, pricked, covered with plastic, and stored flat in the fridge for up to 1 day or frozen for up to 1 month. To finish and bake, thaw the pastry, if frozen, spread the filling, and top with the tomatoes.

Overall, I loved this cookbook! Although it will take me a century to get through it entirely (yes it is THAT big and I love it!) It will definitely be used regularly in my family kitchen and become dog-eared over the years! For more information on this cookbook and where to purchase, please see below.

Happy Baking! XO

I received this cookbook from the most generous Taunton Press to give an honest review. All opinions and thoughts in this blog post are 100% my own. For more information on this cookbook and to purchase The Everyday Baker head over to The Taunton Press online store http://www.tauntonstore.com/the-everyday-baker-071473.html

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Cookbook Review: The Prairie Girl Cupcake Cookbook

I was so incredibly excited to learn that my favourite local cupcake hotspot, Prairie Girl Bakery located in Toronto, Ontario was coming out with a cookbook with all the recipes of their cupcakes! I have been a huge fan since its opening back in 2012 and an even bigger fan throughout my pregnancies! For those of you who do not live anywhere near a Prairie Girl location, this is your chance to make these phenomenal cupcakes right in your own home.

The cookbook begins with a section outlining a couple pantry item staples to recreate these recipes, baking tools and equipment. If you want to create quality cupcakes and have the best outcome possible, I would highly recommend reading these sections as there are some very helpful tips. Recipes are divided into the following:

  • Everyday Cupcakes
  • Everyday Icings
  • Treats of the Week
  • Fruity Treats
  • Decadent Treats
  • Adults-Only Treats
  • Seasonal Treats
  • For the Kid at Heart
  • Gluten-Free Cupcakes
  • Vegan Cupcakes & Icings

The end of the book takes us to a useful mini section on toppers, favors and gifts, and displays all appropriate for the home baker.

The Recipes

Recipes are easy to follow and well organized. Ingredients are listed in order of use. All of the icings are made with brick cream cheese. (which I love!) My husband hates cream cheese (childhood trauma) but I just wont tell him it’s in the icing and he likely wont even know the difference. Ha!

Majority of the fruit icings require freeze-dried fruit in powder form. Since I am obsessed with the raspberry icing I went on a mission to find out where I can purchase it. It was a little more challenging than I had expected. I did seek out the recommended site in the book, nuts.com, which did carry all the powders. The downside- the shipping costs almost the same as the amount of product I was going to purchase and I just couldn’t justify it. (Cost of products:$16, shipping: $13) However, if I do have a special occasion to bake for, I would definitely consider purchasing…or better yet I’ll just call the bakery for the exact same price! I have also had issues finding malted milk powder in the past and likely wont attempt looking again as tasty as those Malted Milk Cupcakes look! One last ingredient that may be a challenge for the home baker to locate- all the extracts mentioned in various icings including natural coffee extract, toffee extract, caramel extract, maple extract.

That being said, you must know that Prairie Girl Cupcakes are among the highest quality, best tasting cupcakes you will ever have. These ingredients all attest to that and if you go out of your way to grab them, you will recreate the best cupcakes you have ever had in your life!

I managed to tackle the Dark Cocoa Cupcakes with Classic Vanilla Bean icing. Recipe and pictures below! The outcome was PHENOMENAL. They tasted EXACTLY like the famous Prairie Girl Cupcakes and they were ridiculously easy, which is why I only ended up taking pictures of the finished product. Comment below if you try.

DARK COCOA CUPCAKES

Yield: 36 minis, 18 regulars or 12 Prairie Girl-size cupcakes

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups white sugar
  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup Dutch-process cocoa
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup 2% milk
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup boiling water

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Combine the guar, flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Blend on low speed for 1 minute or until well mixed.
  3. With the mixer stopped, add the eggs, milk, vegetable oil, and vanilla, then beat on medium speed for about 3 minutes. Stop the mixer twice during that time to scrape down the sides of the bowl.
  4. With the mixer stopped again, pour in the boiling water. Blend at the lowest speed until combined, stopping the mixer once to scrap down the sides of the bowl. This batter is fairly thin.
  5. Place cupcake liners into the cupcake pan(s). Using a large measuring cup with a pouring lip, pour the batter into the liners. If making mini or regular cupcakes, fill each liner three-quarters full. If making Prairie Girl-size cupcakes, you can fill each liner right to the top (the “crown” in the pan allows the cupcakes to rise and not overflow)
  6. Bake in the preheated oven for 14 to 16 minutes for mini cupcakes, 17 to 18 minutes for the regular size, and 21 to 23 minutes for the Prairie-Girl size cupcakes. When done, the cupcakes will be rounded and the tops will spring back when lightly touched. If there is a raw circle in the centre, the cupcakes need a minute or two of additional baking time.
  7. Let the cupcakes cool in the pan(s) for 10 minutes until they can be easily removed to a rack. Cool the cupcakes completely on the rack before icing them.

 

CLASSIC VANILLA BEAN ICING

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups salted butter, at room temperature
  • 6 oz (3/4 of a 250g package) brick-style cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 2 Tbsp whipping cream (35% fat)
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • Seeds from 1 vanilla bean pod
  • 6 cups icing sugar

Directions:

  1. Place the butter, cream cheese, cream, vanilla, vanilla bean seeds, and 3 cups of the icing sugar into the bowl of a stand mixer and, using the whisk attachment, beat on low speed until all of the ingredients are combined, about 3 minutes. Stop the mixer twice to scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula.
  2. With the mixer on medium speed, add the rest of the icing sugar 1 cup at a time. Stop the mixer twice to scrap down the sides of the bowl, folding from the bottom until everything is blended together. This should take about 5 minutes in total.
  3. Increase the speed to medium-high and beat the icing for an additional 4 minutes.
  4. Frost or pipe the icing onto the cupcakes and enjoy.
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Dark Cocoa Cupcakes with Classic Vanilla Bean Icing. I love that the vanilla bean seeds are visible!
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Dark Cocoa Cupcakes with Classic Vanilla Bean Icing

Overall, I absolutely loved this cookbook and I was super pleased with the quality of ingredients that go into each cupcake. I think The Prairie Girl Cupcake Cookbook would be a perfect Valentine’s Day gift for the baker in your life..and if you live in Toronto, pick up a box of cupcakes, attach this cookbook, wrap in cellophane and voila, you have the perfect Valentine’s Day gift!

**All opinions and thoughts in this blog post are 100% my own. I received a copy of this cookbook from the most generous Appetite by Random House to give an honest review. You can purchase The Prairie Girl Cupcake Cookbook by Jean Blacklock from Chapters.indigo.ca for $17.75 CAN. Price is subject to change.

To learn more about Appetite by Random House and other books they publish:

http://penguinrandomhouse.ca/imprints/appetite-random-house

Prairie Girl Bakery: