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Light and Tropical Ambrosia Salad

I was pleasantly surprised by the (super official and unbiased – ha!) Instagram poll with a picture of my Light and Tropical Ambrosia Salad. So many more people liked it than I expected! Usually if the words Ambrosia and salad come up together they are met with moans of disgust, often misguided, and a litany of bad childhood memories of overly sweet, gloppy concoctions that were too “retro” to be cool and just felt out or date and unappetizing. I always think of that scene in Edward Scissorhands where he’s being fed all the ambrosia salads by the eager and repressed housewives of the neighbourhood. The kitschy pastels, the questionalble gloppity-gloop of it all, it always makes me smile. He’s so clearly repulsed and overwhelmed by a confection that is named for the food of the gods. Thank you, Tim Burton, for that nostalgic absurdity.

This particular Ambrosia I am calling Light and Tropical Ambrosia Salad because I have kept it more refreshing and focused in its flavours. If you look into Ambrosia recipes from the last 60 years or so you will see that there’s almost an Ambrosia for every cook out there. Much like other “salads” of its day, the term salad seems to just mean “all in one bowl”. For the uninitiated, Ambrosia seems to always include a few key elements: gelatin, whipped cream, and marshmallows. The combinations of fruit, and sometimes vegetables, is vast, with dividing lines drawn around specific additions – to add maraschino cherries or not, for example. (more…)

Sticky Chicken Bowls with Cauliflower Rice

Sticky Chicken Bowls with Cauliflower Rice

Around here we are pretty much obsessed with all sorts of “bowl” meals. The Buddha Bowl craze seems to be sticking and while it seems that the true Buddha Bowls are vegetarian of vegan, they have inspired many home cooks and restaurants to take a bunch of something delicious that goes well together and put it in a bowl. Voila. Burrito bowls, Tex-Mex Bowls, Breakfast Bowls, Smoothie Bowls, basically anything can go in a bowl and it makes for a fuss free, casual presentation and a great excuse to put together lots of fresh, fun ingredients and call it dinner. Or art.

These Sticky Chicken Bowls with Cauliflower Rice are as easy as can be and ridiculously healthy. This really should be called the Redemption Bowl because I put it together the day after a dinner of fried chicken and two bite brownies. But those nights happen, right? Sometimes you have to go with the urge to splurge or just throw your hands up and order take out. For the nights where you’re feeling somewhat more invested in your health and meal planning this particular Bowl is easy to prep and cook and it’s filling but light with regular rice swapped out for super flavorful coconut-lime cauliflower “rice”. Add a quick slaw and any other veg you like and you’re on your way to dinner Nirvana.

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Raspberry Cheesecake Tarts

I am such a sucker for all things raspberry. I’ve posted lots of raspberry recipes here before these Raspberry Cheesecake Tarts. There were these amazing coconut macaroons and this stunning cake, oh and this cake too and this simple galette … Just search “raspberry” and wander through the berry patch, so to speak.

Raspberries have such a potently magical flavor to them – they always taste like summer. In fact they are, to me, one of the most transporting of flavors. Even in the dead of winter when it’s grey and raining, or the streets are covered in snow, if you pop a ripe raspberry into your mouth, you get a fleeting reminder of warm days and sunshine and being outside. Nothing else quite does that for me.

These little Raspberry Cheesecake Tarts are so easy to make and require very little effort for a really stunning result. With the completely acceptable “cheat” of frozen tart shells you can whip these up in no time and take them somewhere to share with friends, or just make them for yourself. The recipe is easily halved to just make 12 …

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Vanilla Bean Thumbprint Cookies

When I was in my teens I worked the counter at a small bakery. They made some amazingly delicious things, one of which were birdnest cookies: a sturdy yet crumbly shortbread cookie covered in toasted coconut and a deep red jewel of raspberry jam in the center. As much as I am a fan of coconut in all sorts of dishes and sweets I always felt like those “nests” were too rich. This version is less sweet, more petite and still jam-jewel studded with raspberry and for a different twist: marmalade. The vanilla bean freckles add to the flavor and charm and they disappear as quickly as you can make them ie: FAST!

Vanilla Bean Thumbprint Cookies

makes 6 dozen 1″ cookies

1 lb salted butter at room temperature

1 Cup (packed) light brown sugar

1Tbsp vanilla bean paste

4-5 Cups all purpose flour

1/2 cup jam(s) of your choosing (I used raspberry and marmalade)

Note before you begin: you can mix this dough by hand or with a stand mixer but I would not recommend hand mixers. This dough is very sturdy and requires kneading that handheld mixers can’t manage.

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Combine the butter and sugar and cream together. If you’re using a stand mixer, use the lower settings – the objective here is to specifically NOT incorporate air. Once the sugar is dissolved into the butter, add the flour one cup at a time. You will need slightly more than 4 cups and possibly as much as 5 of its a humid day. The dough should crack slightly when you press your finger into it but still be soft and pliable, not chalky. Once the flour is mixed in, knead the dough on a lightly floured board until it’s cohesive and smooth (about 3 mins with the dough hook on a stand mixer).

Scoop the dough with a 1Tbsp scoop and place flat side down on ungreased cookie sheets. I find I can get 2 dozen little scoops on each sheet. Using the end of a wooden spoon, press a divet into each lump of dough.

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Load up a pastry bag with jam (or a zip top bag with a snipped off corner) and squirt jam to fill each divet.

Bake at 350 degrees for 18 minutes or until the  bottoms are tinged gold and the surface of the cookie looks matte.

Allow to cool on the pan.

Then, drizzle a glaze of 4 heaped Tbsp and 2 tsp lemon juice over top.

Dreamy Frozen Avocado Lime Tart

I make no secret of disliking the heat of summer. And that’s coming from an almost lifetime resident of Vancouver, a city with one of the mildest climates out there. It was 34C here today and it made me a bit kicky and punchy. When the heat hits I tend to like my dinners al fresco, my drinks extra icy and my desserts chilled. Honestly, you couldn’t pay me to turn on the oven today.

This is the return of my ultra coconutty, extra zesty, avocado lime pie, originally posted in 2013. I call it dreamy frozen avocado lime tart because it is just that: dreamy. It’s luscious and creamy with a sweet tart avocado mousse filling. It’s simple to make with a raw coconut and oat crust that comes together in about 5 pulses of a food processor. Painless to make, and really delicious. I know what you’re thinking, but it’s nothing like guacamole. I promise!
You’ll need to give it a deep chill, so make it in the morning for dessert. Don’t tell your guests what it’s made from and have them guess. They will be pleasantly surprised by the results. Enjoy!


Dreamy Frozen Avocado Lime Tart
makes 1 – 9″ no bake pie
for the crust, pulse the following ingredients in a food processor until well mixed:
1½ C unsweetened shredded coconut
½ C raw oats
2 Tbsp honey
2 Tbsp coconut oil
Press the mixture into a 9 inch pie plate. It will be damp and soft and easy to press up the sides and bottom of the pan. Place crust in the freezer while you prepare the filling.
Wipe out the food processor and add to it:
the flesh of 4 ripe avocados
zest and juice of 2 limes
¼ C honey
½ tsp pure vanilla extract
Blend the above ingredients until very smooth. Scrape into the chilled crust and spread until smooth.
Garnish with ½ C coconut that has been toasted in a dry frying pan over medium heat until golden brown. (optional)
Chill 2 hours until very firm. Serve cold.
Makes 8 servings.

:)