Recipe roundup: all about apples

Some tasty and inventive ways to enjoy a favourite fall fruit!

Just like the outstanding peach and tomato crops this year, I think it’s proving to be a stellar year for apples. I’ve purchased numerous varieties at my local farmers’ market and they’ve all been exceptionally delicious. I’ve also been fortunate to spend some time apple picking at my parents’ home in Nova Scotia – their ancient tree yielded bushels and bushels of crisp, juicy Macintosh beauties. Here’s a roundup of some of my favourite ways to cook with apples, whether I’ve picked them myself at an orchard, or purchased them at a market stall. They’re so versatile and I just love them. Click on the titles below to access each recipe.

 

Quinoa with roasted squash, apples and cider vinaigrette

quinoa side dish or meatless main

Pickled apple slices

Apple pie rings

apples cinnamon and puff pastry

Apple cheddar biscuits

Kale salad with apples and cheddar

Kale salad with apples

Apple Oatmeal Waffle Muffins

 

 

 

 

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Easy potato and ricotta gnocchi

A dish that might look daunting but is deceptively easy to make!

There is something so special about pillowy-soft gnocchi, bathed in a rich sauced and dusted with cheese. It’s probably the pasta I have loved the most since the first time I tasted it but for many years I thought gnocchi were dauntingly difficult to make. As it turns out, they’re actually pretty easy and fun to prepare – it could be a good activity to enjoy with kids who are into helping out in the kitchen. Russet potatoes, even older ones, are best for gnocchi making. My recipe follows the advice of the lovely Italian nonna I learned from who said she likes to cook the potatoes unpeeled so they absorb less moisture and make for lighter, fluffier gnocchi (but you can peel them before cooking if you prefer). Use any sauce you like – a homemade mushroom and onion ragu made with garden-fresh tomatoes that have been oven roasted is particularly lovely.

how to make potato and ricotta gnocchi at home

Ingredients

  • 2 medium potatoes (approx. 14 oz/ 400 g total weight), scrubbed
  • 1 tablespoon (15 mL) salt, divided
  • 2/3 cup (160 mL) ricotta cheese
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 cup (250 mL) flour, plus about 1/4 cup (60 mL) extra for dusting counter and gnocchi
  • 2 – 3 cups (500 – 750 mL) of your favourite tomato sauce
  • Parmesan cheese, to garnish

Method

  • Put whole potatoes into a pot of cold water, just covering potatoes by about 3/4 inch (2 cm).
  • Add 1 teaspoon (5 mL) salt to the pot. Cover and bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce heat to medium and cook for 15 – 20 minutes, until potatoes are tender when pierced with a fork.
  • While potatoes are cooking, line a large baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
  • Drain potatoes then scrub the skins off with your fingertips under lukewarm running water.
  • Grate the potatoes on the fine side of a box grater, or press them through a ricer or food mill.
  • Put the potatoes in a large mixing bowl. Add egg yolks, ricotta, 1 teaspoon (5 mL) salt and flour. Gently stir to combine until the mixture comes together in a soft, slightly sticky dough.
  • Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead gently just a few times, until it forms a ball.
  • Cut the ball into four sections. Take one section and roll it out with your hands on a lightly floured work surface until it makes a ‘snake’ about 1/2 to 3/4 inch in diameter (you want it as uniform as possible in thickness). Dust the snake with flour.

making gnocchi at home

  • With a sharp knife, cut the snake into pieces approximate 3/4 inch (3 cm) long. Once you’ve cut the whole thing into piece, roll each one gently over a gnocchi paddle or board or over the tines of a fork to give it small ridges. This helps the sauce adhere to the pasta.

  • Place the finished pieces on the parchment lined tray and continue working in the same manner with the other three sections of dough.
  • When finished, lightly sprinkle all the gnocchi with a little bit more flour and give the pan a shake to distribute evenly.

  • NOTE: The gnocchi can be frozen at this point – just put the baking tray into the freezer and when the gnocchi are frozen, transfer to an airtight container. Store for up to 3 months and cook from frozen per the instructions below; it will just take an extra minute or two.
  • To cook the gnocchi, bring a large, broad pan (a wok is good for this) of water with the remaining 1 tsp (5 ml) of salt to a boil.
  • While water is heating, put the sauce in another broad pan and warm gently over medium-low heat.
  • Carefully add the gnocchi to the boiling water (I find a flat skimmer is useful for this) as quickly as you can. Return the pot to the heat and very gently stir so the gnocchi don’t stick to the bottom of the pan.
  • Cook just until the gnocchi pop up to the surface of the water and float (which means they are cooked) then use the skimmer to transfer them to the pan of sauce.

  • Gently toss the gnocchi with the sauce until they are evenly coated then distribute among four serving bowls.
  • Garnish with a little parmesan and serve hot.

Makes 4 servings.

easy potato and ricotta gnocchi recipe

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Big batch butterscotch pecan cookies

Chewy cookies that hit all the right flavour notes!

A few of you kind people have been asking why I haven’t posted in a little while. I’m excited to tell you that it’s because I’ve been super busy filming new episodes of my TV show, Paula Roy’s Favourite Foods!! It’s a whole lot of work but I really love every aspect of making the show, from selecting the recipes to writing the scripts to prepping the ingredients and then, finally, the cooking and filming itself. I can’t wait to see what my editing team does with all the footage we captured in my kitchen this week! Anyway……the show took over my life so now the laundry has piled up plus the garden’s parched and there are tons of other chores beckoning. The best way I could think of to revive myself was to do a little procrastibaking. These cookies are chewy, salty, sweet, crunchy – they’ve got so much going on! The recipe makes a really big quantity (8 dozen!!) so I usually freeze 6 or 7 dozen dough balls when I make a batch, then just bake up just one or two dozen at a time. That way, you’ve got ready-to-bake-fresh cookie dough on hand for any occasion. They’re a real family favourite around here and I’m happy to share this fabulous recipe.

butterscotch pecan cookies

Ingredients

  • 4 cups (500 g) all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons (10 mL) coarse sea salt
  • 2 teaspoons (10 mL) baking soda
  • 1 1/2 cups (375 mL) butter, at room temperature
  • 2 1/2 cups (625 mL) packed dark-brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup (185 mL) granulated sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon (15 mL) vanilla extract
  • 1 cup (250 mL) butterscotch baking chips
  • 2 cups (500 mL) Skor toffee baking bits
  • 1 1/2 cups (375 mL) coarsely chopped toasted pecans

Method

  • Preheat oven to 350F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper; set aside.
  • In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, salt, and baking soda; set aside.
  • In the bowl of a stand mixer (or use a hand mixer), cream together butter and both sugars until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes.
  • Beat in eggs and vanilla. With mixer on low, gradually add flour mixture; mix just until it’s evenly incorporated. Add butterscotch chips, toffee bits, and pecans; mix just enough to combine.
  • Drop by rounded the teaspoonful (a small 1 inch cookie scoop is ideal for this) onto prepared baking sheets, leaving 2 inches between cookies.
  • Bake in preheated oven until the edges are golden but the cookies are still soft in the center, about 9 minutes. For crisper cookies, bake 10 or 11 minutes.
  • Let cookies cool on baking sheet for a few minutes so they can firm up before you transfer them to a wire rack to cool completely. Store in an airtight container.

Makes 8 dozen cookies.

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Summer’s best grilled peach and halloumi salad

Peaches and cheese a match made in heaven!

I remember the first time I tasted grilled fresh fruit – it was pineapple – and I was so excited, knowing it opened up a whole new realm of delicious possibilities for recipe development. In this salad, fresh peaches and squeaky, salty halloumi make a delectable combination, whether you grill them or crisp them up in a cast iron pan on the stove. If you have never tried halloumi, a semi-soft, brined, salty cheese that hails from the eastern Mediterranean, you’re in for a real treat. It’s got a high melting point which makes it ideal for grilling – you can get the outside nice and crispy, yet the slices will still hold together and be soft on the inside. Feel free to play around with this basic recipe – swap in arugula for the parsley, or add a dash of balsamic if you like!

grilled peaches grilled halloumi

Ingredients

  • 4 fresh, ripe peaches, cut in eighths
  • 1 package (9 ounces / 250 g) halloumi, in 1/3 inch (.8 cm) slices
  • 2 tablespoons (30 mL) olive oil
  • Generous handful fresh parsley leaves
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • 1 tablespoon (15 mL) honey
  • Salt, pepper
  • 2 tablespoons (30 mL) chopped pistachios

Method

  • Preheat a grill pan on the barbeque, set to medium-high. (Alternatively, you can also use a large cast iron frying pan).
  • Put the peach wedges in a small bowl and mix with 1 tablespoon of olive oil.
  • Transfer the peaches into the grill pan and cook for 3 – 5 minutes until slightly softened and a few char marks are visible on the fruit. Remove the peaches to a serving platter.
  • Put the halloumi slices in the same bowl that the peaches were in and drizzle remaining oil over top.
  • Lay the slices on the grill pan and cook for 3 – 4 minutes per side, until nicely crusty.
  • Add the cheese to the peaches along with the parsley.
  • Drizzle honey and squeeze lemon juice over top and toss gently to combine. Finish by sprinkling with salt and pepper as well as chopped pistachios.

Serves 4 and can easily be multiplied.

 

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Banoffee Pie Parfaits

A decadent no-bake dessert that’s super simple to make!

Have you heard of banoffee pie? It’s a delightfully decadent combination of fluffy whipped cream, bananas and creamy dulce de leche (thick, creamy caramel sauce) tucked into a graham cracker crust. It’s one of the few desserts I have to order every time I see it on a menu. This version is perfect for entertaining, especially in warm weather, as it’s a no-bake treat that’s so quick to pull together and takes just five ingredients. This parfait offers every ounce of the pie’s deliciousness, in an easy-to make freeform style that’s as pretty as it is scrumptious.

Ingredients

  • 1 can of dulce de leche caramel sauce *
  • 1 cup (250 mL) graham cracker crumbs
  • 1/4 cup (60 mL) melted butter
  • 1 cup (250 mL) heavy (35%) cream or can of aerated real whipped cream
  • 2 to 3 ripe bananas, sliced

* if you can’t find a can of dulce de leche caramel sauce, see instructions at the bottom of the recipe for cooking a can of sweetened condensed milk to make dulce de leche

Method

  • To assemble, use six clean 1 cup (250 mL) canning jars, large wine glasses or other clear glass serving dishes.
  • Put the graham cracker crumbs in a small bowl and drizzle with the melted butter; stir to combine.
  • Whip heavy cream until stiff peaks form. No need to add sugar as the dulce de leche is so sweet.
  • Build the parfaits immediately before serving (otherwise they’ll start to deflate) by putting 2 tablespoons of the graham cracker mixture in the bottom of each serving dish, followed by a few slices of banana, a generous drizzle of dulce de leche (about a tablespoon) and a large spoonful or squirt of the whipped cream.
  • Repeat with another 3 or 4 layers, depending upon the size of your serving dishes, finishing with a big dollop or squirt of whipped cream.
  • To make dulce de leche yourself, preheat oven to 425F. Pour the can of sweetened condensed milk into a shallow glass or ceramic oven-safe dish. Cover the dish with aluminium foil and place it into a second, larger pan. Add hot water until it reaches halfway up the sides of the small dish. Bake for 60 – 75 minutes, adding additional water to maintain level throughout baking time, until the milk becomes browned and caramelized. Remove from oven and lift the small pan out of the larger one. Let cool to room temperature then whisk until smooth.
  • Note that any leftover dulce de leche can be transferred to a clean jar, covered and refrigerated for up to two weeks.

Serves 6

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Mac ‘n cheese with roasted vegetables


Boost the flavour of a family favourite!

In my home, nothing says comfort food better than homemade macaroni and cheese. It is our favourite Meatless Monday meal! I had a surplus of fresh produce from the Farmers’ Market this week so decided to add some roasted vegetables to this week’s edition of mac ‘n cheese and it was a big hit. Next time I think I’ll try adding in a few more vegetables – roasted squash or cauliflower would be really great flavour boosters, I think.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup (250 mL) small mushrooms, halved
  • 1 cup (250 mL) cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 cup (250 mL) chopped onion
  • 1 tablespoon (15 mL) olive oil
  • 2 cups (500 mL) small pasta (macaroni or shells are great)
  • 2 tablespoons (30 mL) butter
  • 2 tablespoons (30 mL) all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups (500 mL) milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon (2.5 mL) smoked or regular paprika
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 cups (500 mL) grated extra old white cheddar
  • 1 cup (250 mL) fresh breadcrumbs
  • 1/2 teaspoon (2.5 mL) garlic powder
  • 2 tablespoons (30 mL) butter, melted
  • 1/4 cup (60 mL) chopped fresh basil leaves

Method

  • Preheat oven to 350F.
  • Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  • Put mushrooms, tomatoes and onions in a bowl. Drizzle with olive oil and toss gently to coat. Spread vegetables out on prepared baking sheet and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast for 30 minutes.
  • While vegetables are roasting, make cheese sauce:  Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a large saucepan over medium-low heat; stir in flour and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes.
  • Gradually whisk in milk, paprika and a dash of salt & pepper.
  • Simmer, stirring often, for 4 minutes, until smooth and thickened. Stir in the grated cheese until blended. Let simmer on low for 3 more minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • While cheese sauce is simmering, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and add pasta. Cook until just tender then drain and add to a 2 quart (1.9 L) oven-safe dish.
  • Prepare topping in a small bowl by combining breadcrumbs, garlic powder and and 2 tablespoons melted butter. Set aside.
  • Pour the cheese sauce over the cooked noodles in the baking dish. Sprinkle roasted vegetables on top, followed by chopped basil and breadcrumb topping.
  • Bake for 10 – 15 minutes until the breadcrumbs are browned & cheese sauce is bubbly.

Serves 4.

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Crispy chili-lime roasted chickpeas

A crunchy snack and great garnish too!

I’m a sucker for crunchy toppings of all kinds and crispy chickpeas are a particular favourite, adding a burst of delicious protein to my day. I love tucking them into lunch boxes for a yummy pick-me-up snack as well as using them to garnish soups, salads and cooked vegetable dishes. They’re so easy to make at home whether you use an air fryer or conventional oven and you can play around with all sorts of interesting flavour combinations. I still love my salt and vinegar roasted chickpeas but these chili-lime ones just might be my new favourite. Tossing the chickpeas with spices after roasting them helps keep the seasonings from burning and tasting bitter.

roasted chickpeas with chili-lime coating

Ingredients

  • 1 can (19 oz / 540 mL) chickpeas, rinsed, drained
  • 1 tablespoon (15 mL) extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons (30 mL) freshly squeezed lime juice (approximately 1 lime)
  • 1 teaspoon (5 mL) chili powder (or more, to taste)
  • 1/2 teaspoon (2.5 mL) smoked paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon (2.5 mL) ground cumin
  • 3/4 teaspoon (4 mL) sea salt

Method

  • Spread rinsed and drained chickpeas out on paper towel to dry, removing any loose skins.
  • If using air fryer, preheat air fryer to 400F. If using oven, preheat to 400F and place a rack in the middle.
  • Put chickpeas in a broad, shallow bowl and drizzle with olive oil. Toss gently to coat evenly.
  • Put chickpeas in basket of air fryer or, if cooking in oven, spread chickpeas out in a single layer on a baking sheet. Do not clean the bowl you had the chickpeas and oil in as you’ll be using it again.
  • Roast the chickpeas in the air fryer for 25 – 35 minutes, shaking basket every 5 minutes. In oven, roast for 40 – 45 minutes, jiggling the baking sheet occasionally.
  • The chickpeas will turn a dark golden brown and get crunchy. If you take them out of the oven or air fryer too soon and discover they are not completely crunchy, put back in for a few minutes more.
  • While chickpeas are roasting, whisk together the lime juice, chili powder, paprika and cumin in the same bowl you used previously.
  • Remove roasted chickpeas from air fryer or oven and add to seasonings in bowl then very quickly toss to coat. Sprinkle with salt and toss again.
  • Return to air fryer or oven for 5 minutes more to dry out the lime and spice coating.
  • Transfer to a clean, broad bowl to cool completely and serve at room temperature.
  • Store in an airtight container for up to a week.

Makes 2 cups (500 mL) of crispy chickpeas.

vegan protein crispy delicious

 

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