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 flights 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.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

A CONCORD GRAPE TART WITH ROSEMARY + GINGER

a concord grape tart with rosemary + ginger // sevengrams

As much as I love fall, I truly hate (yes, hate), how the days get shorter and shorter as winter approaches -- darkness when I wake up, darkness when I leave work. Ugh.

My 35 minute walk to work is my one chance to enjoy the sun, and scope out the fresh produce in the market along the way. I first spotted these grapes about a month ago and was totally tantalized by them. I had high hopes of working them into a variety of dishes -- I tried oven roasting them for a salad, but the result was far too sweet for my salad preferences; I thought about pan frying, but knew the grape wouldn't hold up well to the heat; I was inspired by some gorgeous local focaccia, but didn't have the hours to dedicate to rising dough (next time). So I settled on a simple tart -- a fairly basic crust, allowing the grapes to dominate in all their sweetness and glory.

a concord grape tart with rosemary + ginger // sevengrams

a concord grape tart with rosemary + ginger // sevengrams

a concord grape tart with rosemary + ginger // sevengrams

A CONCORD GRAPE TART WITH ROSEMARY + GINGER // 9" springform pan

Ingredients:

1 cup almond meal
1/2 cup spelt flour
1 tsp ground ginger

5 T butter
1 egg yolk
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/4 cup maple syrup

1 1/2 - 2 cups concord grapes
1 spring rosemary
turbinado sugar, for sprinkling

What to do:

In a bowl, combine the almond meal, spelt flour and ginger. Stir to combine.

In a small pot over low heat, melt and gradually brown the butter. Remove from the heat and bring to room temperature. Whisk in the egg yolk, vanilla and maple syrup. Pour the wet mixture over the dry and mix just until combined.

Lightly butter your springform pan. Transfer the batter and spread evenly throughout the pan. Place in the freezer for 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 300.

Remove the tart from the freezer, and fill with grapes. Use a pair of scissors to cut and evenly distribute about 1/3 of the rosemary spring throughout. Sprinkle with turbinado sugar.

Bake for 30 minutes. Increase the heat to 325, and bake an additional 5-10, until the edges are golden brown. Remove from the oven and let cool on a wire rack. If your grapes didn't explode, using the back of a spatula, gently (and carefully) press down on the grapes to force them to burst.

Serve warm. Or as a room temperature snack the next day.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

GRANOLA WITH APPLES + HONEY

granola with apples + honey // sevengrams

The week between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur is intended to be a week of solemn reflection. Quiet time to mull over the events of the previous year, and prepare oneself for the year to come. Time to consider ones wrong doings and resolve how to make amends. My heart feels heavy, and my head full and overwhelmed.

I wasn't quite ready to tackle something new in the kitchen, but knew that cooking (or baking) would be just what I needed. Granola seemed safe and comforting - like throwing on an old cozy sweater. Apples and honey for Rosh Hashanah, symbolizing the sweet year to come, and a sprinkle of poppy seeds, because this time of year, I couldn't leave them out.

granola with apples + honey // sevengrams

granola with apples + honey // sevengrams

GRANOLA WITH APPLES + HONEY // makes 6 cups

Preheat oven to 325.

Ingredients:

3 cups oats
1/2 cup whole almonds
1/2 cup whole cashews
1/2 tsp ground ginger
2 T poppy seeds
1 apple thinly sliced (~1 cup)

1/3 cup olive oil
1/3 cup honey
1/2 tsp vanilla

What to do:

In a large bowl, combine the oats, nuts, ginger and poppy seeds. Toss to combine. Add the apple slices and toss again, being sure to separate all the individual apple pieces.

In a glass measuring cup, whisk together the liquids. Pour over the oat mixture and stir to evenly coat.

Transfer to two parchment lined baking sheets and bake for 15-20 minutes, until golden brown, tossing halfway through. The apples will be a bit soft when you remove the trays from the oven, and will harden slightly as they cool.

Let cool completely before transferring to an airtight container. Will keep for a week.