Monday, January 26, 2015

LEMON + CURRANT SCONES

Lemon + Current Scones // sevengrams

I have several fond memories from my childhood associated to citrus -- elementary school citrus drives leading to boxes upon boxes of oranges and grapefruits in the house; my grandmother's citrus compote, as she was the only one patient enough to remove all the pith; and ski hill lunches, always ending with two (or more) clementines. With winter upon us, we've been trying to have a steady flow of clementines in the house, and the occasional orange or grapefruit, but nothing like it was when I was a kid.

The abundance of citrus had left me wanting to bake something citrus-y. I quickly realized that I don't actually like the flavour of oranges in baked goods, and the grapefruit was being saved for this. So I turned to the trusty lemon, and though not super wintery, these scones were the perfect compliment to my mid-afternoon cup of tea.

Lemon + Current Scones // sevengrams

Lemon + Current Scones // sevengrams

Lemon + Current Scones // sevengrams

Lemon + Current Scones // sevengrams

LEMON + CURRANT SCONES // makes 6-8

This was my first attempt at 'american scones,' and I was quite pleased with how they turned out. Light enough to resemble a british scone, but with a fine crumb that almost resembles a muffin. 

Preheat oven to 425.

Ingredients:

1 cup white flour
1 cup spelt flour
1/4 cup white sugar
1 T baking powder
2 tsp lemon zest (roughly zest from 1 lemon)
6 T unsalted butter, cold and cut into chunks
1/2 cup dried currants
1/2 cup faux-buttermilk* (or 1/2 cup buttermilk)
1/4 cup plain greek yogurt

a splash of milk, for brushing
coarse sugar, like turbinado, for sprinkling

* faux-buttermilk: add 1/2 T white vinegar to a 1 cup measuring cup; fill to the 1/2 cup line with nut milk and let sit for a few minutes (to curdle)

What to do:

In a food processor fitted with the s-blade, combine the flours, sugar, baking powder and lemon zest. Pulse 2-3 times.

Continue to add the butter cubes, and pulse 7-8 times, until the mixture reaches a coarse, pea size crumb, texture.

Transfer to a bowl and stir in the currants.

Add the yogurt to the faux-buttermilk, and pour gently over the dry ingredients. Stir until just combined, being sure not to over mix.

Transfer the dough onto a lightly floured surface and work the dough into a ball. If the dough isn't holding together, add a splash of water. Once in a ball, press the dough down with your palms, forming a 1/2" thick disk. Using a knife or pizza slicer, cut into 6-8 triangular pieces.

Transfer the scones to a parchment lined baking sheet. Brush with a small amount of milk, and sprinkle with coarse sugar.

Bake for 13-17 minutes, until golden brown. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool slightly. Best served warm, or at room temperature.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

ROASTED SQUASH, CHICKPEA AND WHEAT BERRY SALAD

Roasted Squash, Chickpea and Wheat Berry Salad // sevengrams

While in Chicago with my mom back in November, we had lunch at this fabulous little neighbourhood restaurant called Birchwood Kitchen (merci vicky for the recommendation). It was one of those restaurants where everything on the menu tempts you, and you leave your decision to the very last minute and just trust your gut. I chose mushroom ragu on toast (think something like this), and my mom ordered a roasted squash salad, with chickpeas, wheatberries, hazelnuts and pecorino. To say that we were happy with our choices would be an understatement. We left with full bellies, big smiles, and a promise that I would attempt to replicate my mom's dish once back home. It may have taken a little while, and I may have abandoned a few ingredients along the way, but I never break a promise - had to get it just right. Enjoy!

Roasted Squash, Chickpea and Wheat Berry Salad // sevengrams

Roasted Squash, Chickpea and Wheat Berry Salad // sevengrams

Roasted Squash, Chickpea and Wheat Berry Salad // sevengrams

Roasted Squash, Chickpea and Wheat Berry Salad // sevengrams

ROASTED SQUASH, CHICKPEA AND WHEAT BERRY SALAD // serves 4-6

The wheat berries can easily be doubled if you want to make the dish a bit bigger. There will be enough dressing for it, and it won't detract from the balance of the dish - promise!

Preheat oven to 400.

Ingredients:

1/2 cup wheat berries
1 3/4 cup water

1 butternut squash
1 T olive oil
1/2 tsp chili powder
s+p

1 can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
2 T olive oil
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp chili powder

arugula, for serving

dressing //
juice from 1 lemon
1/4 cup olive oil
1 garlic clove, minced
s+p

What to do:

In a medium size pot, combine water and wheat berries. Bring to a boil, stir, reduce heat to low and cover for 1 hour. Strain excess water.

Cut the ends off the butternut squash and carefully, using a carrot peeler, peel off the skin. Slice lengthwise in half, and then cut into 1/4"-1/2" half-moons. Remove seeds and stringy bits as required.

Toss the squash  in a bowl with the olive oil, chili powder and a dash of salt and pepper. Spread onto a rimmed baking sheet, and roast for 20-30 minutes, until soft, but still holding its shape.

Make the dressing by combining all the ingredients in a glass jar. Seal the lid and shake vigourously. Set aside.

Wait until the wheat berries are ready before starting on the chickpeas. In a cast iron skillet over med-high heat, warm 2 T olive oil. Add the remaining spices and stir gently until fragrant and bubbling. Add the chickpeas, and roast until crispy, about 10 minutes, stirring to spread the flavours and avoid sticking. Turn the burner off, add the wheat berries and 2-4 T dressing and stir to combine.

When ready to serve, plate a few slices of squash, followed by a heaping scoop of wheat berry/chickpea mixture and a handful of greens.

Best served warm or at room temperature.

Monday, January 12, 2015

WINTER GREENS + CITRUS SALAD

Winter Greens + Citrus Salad // sevengrams

Apparently the few weeks following Christmas and New Years are supposed to be all about salads, juices and holiday cleanses. Well, clearly I missed the memo, because this past week was anything but. Toronto temps dropped far (like farrrrrr) below zero, there was a wind so viscous that walking to work required 2 pairs of pants, and our trusty ol' furnace crapped out. Brrrrrrr

That being said, salads were the last thing on my mind. Instead, there was a massive pot of soup, bowls filled with dal, and consecutive couch nights with a glass of bourbon and ashrod's new book. When the temperatures finally let up yesterday (for all of 24 hours), there was salad - this salad - colourful winter greens, doused in wintery citrus flavours.

Winter Greens + Citrus Salad // sevengrams

Winter Greens + Citrus Salad // sevengrams

Winter Greens + Citrus Salad // sevengrams

WINTER GREENS + CITRUS SALAD // serves 6 as a side

Ingredients:

6 stalks lacinato kale, roughly chopped
1/2 head napa cabbage, roughly chopped
1/2 small radicchio, roughly chopped
2 green onions, light green parts only, thinly sliced
1/3 cup parsley leaves
1-2 grapefruits, peeled and cut into segments
1/4 cup pecans, toasted and chopped

tangerine shallot dressing //
1 shallot, roughly chopped
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1/3 cup olive oil
1 tsp dijon mustard
juice from 2 tangerines
1 tsp maple syrup
s+p

What to do:

Combine all the dressing ingredients in a blender. Pulse until smooth. Set aside.

In a large bowl, toss together the kale, napa, radicchio, green onions and parsley. Pour about half of the dressing over the mixture and gently massage through.

When ready to serve, carefully fold in the grapefruit segments, pecans and more dressing to taste.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

LAS VEGAS


Vegas. Whoa. Quite the way to end Christmas vacay, that's for sure. Cottage relaxation flew out the door the moment we stepped off the plane and into a whirlwind of glitz, glamour, neon, boozy slushies, flashing lights, and tons and tons of people. I went into this trip with zero expectations, happily balanced between excitement and nervousness, and left in a haze, curious as to whether or not I'd ever want to go back.

Four days was the perfect amount of time - a day and a half of car rental explorations, and two and a half days of hotel lounging, casino gambling, evening shows, fine dining and overpriced shopping. Had it been warm, poolside lounging would have definitely made the cut. A few thoughts and recommendations below...

TO STAY //

Anywhere on the strip really, but I would highly recommend the Wynn. Though a little north, its probably the nicest hotel room I've ever stayed in (thank you hot wire for making this possible).

TO SEE & DO //

neon museum
the old downtown & freemont street (at night)
absinthe (or any of the other gazilion shows)
cosmopolitan casino (so much glitter!!)
bellagio night time water show
venice, paris + new york
hoover dam
valley of fire state park

TO EAT //

dinner at otto
brunch at tableau
brunch at bouchon
buffet (wicked spoon or bacchanel - we didn't make it, but I hear good things)
mon ami gabi
le village buffet (not the best buffet of my life, but includes unlimited champagne - winning)
boozy slushies (apple cider + fireball whiskey was my fav)
happy hour margaritas at the seafood shack at treasure island
in-n-out burger (i had never been!)
























Wednesday, December 31, 2014

GINGER MOLASSES WAFFLES WITH ROASTED PEARS AND POMEGRANATE

ginger molasses waffles with roasted pears and pomegranate // sevengrams

Spending time at home always comes and goes a little too fast. Don't get me wrong, we've been pretty busy since I got here last Tuesday -- celebrating, drinking, eating, skiing, taking advantage of boxing day deals, movie watching and lounging -- yet somehow, the time always passes faster then I'm prepared for. All of a sudden its time to pack up, say our goodbyes, and head back. If I'm being totally honest, I'm not quite ready to leave yet...

Last year, we woke up on January 1st to freshly baked bread. This year, if we weren't going to be on an airplane (more on that later), I'd definitely be making these waffles. Packed with molasses and warm seasonal spices, and then topped with roasted fruit and a sprinkling of festive pomegranates, these are a perfect for a January 1st breakfast, or any other cozy winter morning really.

Wishing you all a very happy and healthy 2015!

ginger molasses waffles with roasted pears and pomegranate // sevengrams

ginger molasses waffles with roasted pears and pomegranate // sevengrams

ginger molasses waffles with roasted pears and pomegranate // sevengrams

ginger molasses waffles with roasted pears and pomegranate // sevengrams

GINGER MOLASSES WAFFLES WITH ROASTED PEARS AND POMEGRANATE // serves 4-5

Topping adapted from With Food + Love

Ingredients:

3/4 cup white flour
1/4 cup spelt flour
1/4 cup + 1 T brown sugar
1/2 T baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger

1/4 cup plain greek yogurt
1 egg
1 cup nut milk
2 T molasses
1 T canola or grapeseed oil

roasted pears //
2 pears, halved and cored
1 T coconut oil, melted
3 T maple syrup
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

seeds from half a pomegranate
extra maple syrup, for serving

What to do:

Start by preparing the roasted pears. Preheat the oven to 375 and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Combine the coconut oil, maple syrup and vanilla in a medium size bowl. Slice each pear half into roughly 4 slices and gently toss in the syrup, evenly coating each piece.

Lay the pieces skin side down onto the parchment paper. Roast for 5 minutes. Flip the pieces so the flesh is now facing down, and continue roasting for 10-15 minutes, until softened and lightly browned.

Now, onto the waffles.

Combine, and whisk the dry ingredients in medium size bowl. In a separate bowl, combine the wet ingredients. Pour the wet over the dry, and mix to incorporate, removing any lumps if need be.

Let the batter sit for 5 minutes while the waffle iron heats up. I use about 1/2 cup of batter per waffle.

Serve warm with 3-4 pear slices, a heaping spoon of pomegranate seeds, and a drizzle of maple syrup.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

POTATO LATKE CASSEROLE (POTATO KUGEL) WITH CRANBERRY APPLESAUCE

potato latke casserole (potato kugel) with cranberry applesauce // sevengrams

I head home on Tuesday, just in time to catch the last night of Chanukah 'en famille,' followed by my grandmother's 90th birthday. Considering this time last year, it will feel great to spend some happy, celebratory time together as a family, filled with good food and wine, laughter and probably some highly inappropriate dinner table conversations. I can't wait.

With the last night of Chanukah and Christmas fast approaching, I wanted to post a recipe that could swing both ways -- ideal for Chanukah, but perfectly suitable as a Christmas side as well. Consider this dish to be a happy medium between latkes and scalloped potatoes. Don't get me wrong, I do love me a good batch of Chanukah latkes, but sometimes, just sometimes, I don't feel like smelling like a deep fryer for days on end. Potato kugel is very similar in flavour and texture to a latke, just a whole lot easier to make. Top it with a cranberry infused apple sauce, and you have yourself a perfectly festive holiday appetizer.

Wishing you joy, peace, and a whole lot of love. Happy Holidays xx

potato latke casserole (potato kugel) with cranberry applesauce // sevengrams

potato latke casserole (potato kugel) with cranberry applesauce // sevengrams

potato latke casserole (potato kugel) with cranberry applesauce // sevengrams

potato latke casserole (potato kugel) with cranberry applesauce // sevengrams

POTATO LATKE CASSEROLE (POTATO KUGEL) WITH CRANBERRY APPLESAUCE // serves a crowd

I made mine in a rectangular casserole dish, producing a thinner then average (but crispier) kugel. This recipe can easily be made in a 9x9, yielding a thicker result. Choose whichever you prefer.

Preheat oven to 400.

Ingredients:

6-8 yukon gold potatoes
1 white or yellow onion
2 T flour
2 eggs
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cumin
2 T canola or olive oil

paprika and fresh pepper, for sprinkling
1 T oil, for drizzling

cranberry applesauce and sour cream for serving

cranberry applesauce //
5-6 apples (gala, macintosh or a combo), peeled and roughly chopped
1 cup fresh cranberries
1 cinnamon stick
1-2 T white sugar
3/4 cups water

juice from 1/2 a lemon

What to do:

Using a grater or food processor fitted with the grating blade, grate your potatoes and onion.

Transfer the mixture to a colander lined with a thin (clean) dish towel and ring out all the excess liquid. Squeeze as hard as you can, as removing the excess liquid will make everything crispier. (similar process shots can be seen here)

In a large bowl, whisk the egg, flour, salt and cumin. Add the drained potato/onion mixture and mix well to combine.

Spread 2 T of oil in your casserole dish, a warm for 2 minutes in the oven. Remove from the oven, and carefully transfer the mixture into the dish. Drizzle with the remaining 1 T oil and a generous sprinkle of paprika and fresh ground pepper. Bake for 1 hr, or until nicely browned.

While the kugel is baking, make the cranberry applesauce.

Combine all the ingredients (except the lemon juice) in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil, and then reduce the heat to a simmer. Cover and allow to cook for 30-40 minutes, or until desired consistency is reached. Stir often along the way to avoid sticking. Once ready, remove from the heat and stir in the lemon juice.

To serve, cut the kugel into squares and top with cranberry apple sauce, and/or sour cream. Best served warm, right out of the oven.


Monday, December 15, 2014

CHOCOLATE RUGELACH

chocolate rugelach // sevengrams

I sit here, whizzing along side the 401 enroute back to Toronto, unable to stop thinking about this past weekend. Not only did I get to spend a festive holiday evening with some of my favourite ladies, but I got to watch one of my dearest friends get married (not to mention gain a fabulous new lady friend along the way). Weekends like this don't happen often, and when they do, one has no choice but to jump in, and do your absolute best to soak it up and cherish every moment. 

The wedding, and overall simcha of the weekend, was the perfect precursor to Chanukah. Tuesday marks the first night of Chanukah, and in anticipation of candle lighting, gift giving, and copious amounts of latke eating, I decided to try my hand at something new -- rugelach -- a Jewish pastry, and distant relative to the French croissant. Rugelach proved to be one of the more time consuming things I've baked in a while, but the result was well worth the effort -- perfectly flaky and chocolately in all the best ways -- ideal for any celebration. 

Mazel tov to Ali & Rich, and Happy Chanukah! xx

chocolate rugelach // sevengrams

chocolate rugelach // sevengrams

chocolate rugelach // sevengrams

chocolate rugelach // sevengrams

chocolate rugelach // sevengrams

CHOCOLATE RUGELACH // makes several

Adapted from The Crepes of Wrath

Ingredients:

dough //
2 cups flour
2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, cut into cubes
1/2 T kosher salt
8 oz (1 block) cream cheese, cut into cubes
2 T sour cream

chocolate filling //
1/3 cup white sugar 
1/2 tsp cinnamon 
1 cup (5 oz) dark chocolate, finely chopped 
3 T butter, melted and cooled

1 egg, lightly beaten 
turbinado sugar, for dusting 

What to do:

Combine the flour and butter in the body of a food processor fitted with the s-blade. Pulse until the mixture resembles a coarse sand.

Transfer to a large bowl and add the salt, cream cheese and sour cream. Use your hands to work everything together, breaking up the cream cheese into small pea-size amounts. Work quickly so the cream cheese doesn't melt (this step is definitely not glamorous, cream cheese to the fingers was a whole new sensation, just go with it and you'll be fine!).

Lay a piece of tin foil onto the counter. Transfer the dough and press it into a large disk. Wrap it into the tin foil, and refrigerate for 1 hour.

While the dough is chilling, make the chocolate fillings. In a small bowl, combine the sugar and cinnamon. Finely chop the chocolate and melt the butter. Set everything aside.

Preheat the oven to 350 and line 2 baking trays with parchment.

Flour a surface on the counter. Unwrap the dough and divide it into 2. Place half on the floured counter, and re-wrap the other half and transfer it back into the fridge. 

Manhandle the dough a bit, ridding it of any cracks. Add flour as you go. Roll the dough into a ball, press down slightly to flatten, and then using a rolling pin, roll it into a 10"-12" circle of equal thickness. You want the dough fairly thin, so adjust the size of your circle accordingly. Using a pizza slicer or sharp knife, trim the edges of the circle to create a smooth, clean edge. 

Brush the dough with melted butter. Evenly sprinkle the cinnamon sugar mixture across the dough, and then top with chocolate - leaving a 1" border. Gently press the chocolate into the dough. Use the pizza slicer to cut the dough into roughly 16 equal wedges. 

Starting from the wider edge, carefully roll towards the centre, squeezing a bit as your go to secure the shape. Place the rugelach seam side down on the prepared baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining wedges, and the second refrigerated piece of dough. 

Brush each piece with a light egg wash, and sprinkle with coarse sugar. 

Bake for 20-25 minutes, until golden brown, rotating the pan halfway through. Allow to cool completely before moving, or eating.