Friday, October 31, 2014

SOFT PUMPKIN SUGAR COOKIES

soft pumpkin sugar cookies // sevengrams

How is it oct 31st already?! I seriously have no idea where this month went. Sure, we were busy (roasting veggiespicking apples and traveling), but still -- I am totally not ready for november. November means cold, and november almost always means snow flurries. Eek.

So for now, I'm ignoring the fact that when I wake up tomorrow, it will be november. Instead, I'm choosing to focus on pumpkins, costumes, eating too many mini coffee crisps and cookies. These cookies. Happy Halloween !!

soft pumpkin sugar cookies // sevengrams

soft pumpkin sugar cookies // sevengrams

soft pumpkin sugar cookies // sevengrams

SOFT PUMPKIN SUGAR COOKIES // makes 2-3 dozen

Ingredients:

1/2 cup (one stick) butter, softened
1 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup pumpkin puree
1/4 cup plain greek yogurt
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 cup all purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp ginger
pinch cloves

extra flour
decorative sprinkles

What to do:

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle, cream together the butter and sugar. Add the pumpkin, yogurt and vanilla and continue to mix until combined.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients. Transfer the flour mixture into the stand mixer and beat on medium speed until combined. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as you go, if need be.

Gather the dough into a ball, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2 hours.

Preheat oven to 350. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

Remove the dough from the fridge and divide into 4. The dough will be super sticky, so use as much flour as you need along the way. Generously flour your countertop, and roll out 1 piece of dough, about 1/8" thick (flour the rolling pin as well). Use your cookie cutter to cut the dough and transfer to the baking sheet. Continue with the remainder of the dough, adding more flour to your counter as you go.

Once all the cookies are placed on the parchment, go wild with your sprinkles!

Bake for 12-15 minutes until the bottoms start to brown. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool.




Monday, October 27, 2014

GREEN CURRY WITH OKRA, EGGPLANT + ROMANESCO

green curry with okra, eggplant + romanesco // sevengrams

Full days at work, busy weekends and darkness at 6pm definitely takes its toll on me. Daylight hours are limited, and though I know that I should be cherishing this fantastic autumn weather before we're hit with our first snow fall, I'm drawn into the kitchen in hopes of snapping some photos before the sun sets. Apologies in advance if posts slow down a bit over the next few months as I struggle to balance my job, weekend getaways, time in the kitchen and very few hours of daylight.

Long days at work, followed by chilly walks home, has me craving couch time, sweatpants, the bridge (obsessed) and hearty, substantial meals; bowls packed with flavour, seasonal veg and warmth. This dish is just that - and more. Probably one of the fastest curries I've ever thrown together (this would be a close second), it works perfectly for dinner, and equally well for a week day work lunch.

green curry with okra, eggplant + romanesco // sevengrams

green curry with okra, eggplant + romanesco // sevengrams

green curry with okra, eggplant + romanesco // sevengrams

green curry with okra, eggplant + romanesco // sevengrams

GREEN CURRY WITH OKRA, EGGPLANT + ROMANESCO // serves 4-6

Preheat oven to 400.

Ingredients:

1 romanesco broccoli, broken into florets
2 japanese eggplants, roughly chopped
20 okra, roughly chopped
1 T olive oil
salt, pepper, red pepper flakes

nub coconut oil
2 T green curry (recipe below)
1 can coconut milk
sprinkle coconut (or brown) sugar
2 kefir lime leaves (tough to find, but mandatory! try a grocery store in chinatown)

jasmine rice, cilantro and toasted cashews (optional), to serve

green curry//
5 green chilies
2 tsp lemongrass paste
1 cup fresh cilantro, leaves and stems
1/4 cup shallot
2-3 garlic cloves
2" nub fresh ginger
zest from 1/2 a lime
1/2 tsp tumeric
1/2 tsp coriander
1/2 tsp cumin
1/4 cup water

What to do:

Start by making the green curry. Combine all the ingredients in a blender and pulse to combine. If too thick, add more water -- you want a paste, not a liquid. Store in an airtight container.

In a large bowl, toss the romanesco, eggplant and okra with the olive oil. Spread onto two parchment lined baking sheets and sprinkle with salt, pepper and red pepper flakes. Roast for 10 minutes, toss, and an additional 10 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside.

While the vegetables are roasting, prepare the sauce. Heat the coconut oil in a heavy bottom pot. Add the green curry paste, coconut milk and sugar and stir to combine. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Toss in the kefir lime leaves and simmer for 10 minutes, allowing the sauce to thicken. Discard leaves before serving.

When ready to serve, start with a mound of rice and top with roasted veggies and a heaping spoon of green curry sauce. Sprinkle with fresh cilantro and some toasted cashews. Enjoy!

Friday, October 24, 2014

SAO MIGUEL, AZORES, PORTUGAL


The Azores are a cluster of volcanic islands 2 hours west of mainland Portugal. We found a pretty phenomenal flight deal back in May, and though I, nor anyone we knew had ever been to these islands, we figured why not, and booked!

When it came time to plan our one week getaway, we were honestly not sure what to do -- spend the full week on the main, largest island (Sao Miguel), or hop around and explore the eight others, each "famous" for different things: beaches, hiking, wineries, bird watching, etc. Being low season, we were worried we might spend too much time in transit between islands, so settled on the full six days in Sao Miguel.

We booked a hotel on the east side of the island (Furnas) for the first half, and stayed in the main city centre (Ponta Delgada) for the remainder. Though the weather was highly unpredictable, we had a truly fantastic time -- hikes leading to postcard-worthy views; lush, immaculate landscapes cared for by the local people; curvy, potentially nauseous invoking coastal drives; crossing paths with a street light only once the whole week; abandoned buildings growing older each day; daily fresh fish; and copious amounts of Portuguese red wine. The island has so much to offer and makes for an incredible destination for a relaxing escape.
































TO SEE + DO //

botanical gardens, terra nostra, furnas
thermal baths, terra nostra, furnas
salto de prego hike, from faial de terra through sanghuino
scenic coastal drive from furnas to nordeste
pico de ferro viewpoint, furnas
geysers at lagoa de furnas, furnas
visat do rei viewpoint + hike, sete cidades
abandoned monte palace hotel, sete cidades
walk from lagoa do canario to viewpoint (!!!)
sete cidades lakes
hang out by the shore in monsteiros + watch the crashing waves
stroll along the pier in ponta delgada + grab a beer by the marina
viewport + hike, lagoa de fogo
thermal baths, caldera velha
gorreana tea plantation
ermida de n.s. domonte church + viewpoint, caloura
abandoned convent, caloura
visit the pineapple greenhouses at the arruda pineapple plantation
senhora de paz viewpoint, vila franco de campo

TO EAT //

cozido stew, slow-cooked in the furnas geysers, terra nostra, furnas
restaurant garajau, ribeira quente
fish dinner at tasca, ponta delgada
epic pineapple cake at tasca, ponta delgada
tapas + wine at reserva bar, ponta delgada
pineapple ice cream at the tea plantation
local fish lunch at caloura bar esplanada, caloura
lunch or dinner at cais 20 (apparently the grilled limpets are a must)
indulge in a local pastry - queijadas de vila, vila franco de campo
sample pineapple jams, chutneys and mustards at the pineapple plantation
traditional fish, salad + potato lunch at snack bar jordao

TO STAY //

We split out time between the east, and central; in hindsight, I would recommend staying in Ponta Delgada and taking day trips from there. Pack a lunch for daily picnics, and enjoy dinner in the 'city', where options are abundant.

happy travels!

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

APPLE CHIPS, APPLE SAUCE + ALL THE FALL COLOURS


Unlike last year, we spent Thanksgiving weekend in and around the Collingwood area. I've come to realize, that no matter where you are, Thanksgiving in Canada is absolutely breathtaking. The chill in the air, the colour of the leaves, and the short, yet well spent time with the sun, makes for a truly spectacular landscape and a fantastic way to spend a three day weekend. We consumed enough turkey, pumpkin treats and apple cider to last a while, and came home with half a peck of apples -- leaving me no choice but to whip up an apple extravaganza in the kitchen. Crisp, massive pancakes, compote and maybe even some more granola still to come. And while I'm at it, maybe some butter, a cinnamon roll, a biscuit waffle or donut. Because, why not?







APPLE CHIPS //

Preheat oven to 225.

Ingredients:

2 large, or 3-4 smaller, apples
half a lemon
white sugar
cinnamon

What to do:

Using a mandoline, thinly slice the apples, and toss in a large bowl with juice from half a lemon.

Spread in a single layer onto 2 parchment lined baking sheets, and sprinkle with white sugar and cinnamon.

Bake for 1 hour and check on the chips. Depending on how thin your original slices were, the remaining baking time will vary, so use your judgement. Keep a close watch as they can easily burn.
  • If the tops are crisp, flip and bake for an additional 10 minutes;
  • If the tops still feel soft, bake for another 15-30 minutes until crispy -  then flip, and finish with an additional 10 minutes.
Allow to cool completely before storing in an airtight container.



APPLE SAUCE //

Ingredients:

5 apples, peeled, cored and chopped
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2-1 tsp cinnamon

What to do:

Bring the water to a boil in a medium size saucepan. Once boiling, add the apples, sugar and cinnamon. Lower the heat, and simmer, partially covered, for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, and breaking up the apples with a wooden spoon if need be.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

ROASTED AUTUMN VEGGIES WITH A HORSERADISH + POMEGRANATE RELISH


This post will be short and sweet -- wishing all my fellow Canadians a happy turkey weekend with a massive bowl of roasted autumn veggies. The colours are perfect for a festive table, and the dish can easily be made ahead of time -- ideal when the oven is already in use. If you can, pick the prettiest, most colourful veggies you can find and get roasting. Happy Thanksgiving folks!





ROASTED AUTUMN VEGGIES WITH A HORSERADISH + POMEGRANATE RELISH // serves 8-10 as a side, 4 as a main

This is a perfect side dish to accompany any autumn dinner, Thanksgiving included. Alternatively, toss in 1 cup of cooked quinoa or a can of white beans and a squeeze of lemon juice for a hearty lunch time meal.

Preheat oven to 400.

Ingredients:

1 cauliflower (I used 1/2 yellow, 1/2 purple), stems removed and cut into florets
20 brussels sprouts, halved
1 delicata squash, halved, seeds removed and sliced into 1/2" moons
1-2 T olive oil
sprinkle cayenne, salt and pepper

2-3 radishes, thinly sliced

horseradish + pomegranate relish//
1 pomegranate, seeds removed
1/2 T orange juice
1/2 T prepared horseradish
s+p

What to do:

Combine the cauliflower florets, brussels sprouts and squash in a large bowl. Drizzle with olive oil and spread onto 2 parchment lined baking sheets. Sprinkle with cayenne, salt and pepper.

Roast the veggies for roughly 30 minutes, until the edges are browned. Transfer to a large serving bowl.

While the veggies are roasting, prepare the relish. Mix the pom seeds, oj, horseradish, salt and pepper in a small bowl, and stir to combine.

To serve, toss the warm veggies, sliced radish and pomegranate relish. Serve immediately.