London Fog Gelato

One unusual ingredient makes the creamiest gelato ever!

I’ve been making gelato at home for quite a few years and have always been quite happy with the finished product….but I just learned a nifty little trick that has taken my gelato from great to outstanding! I’ll share the secret: add a few tablespoons of top quality extra-virgin olive oil to the custard mixture prior to freezing and you’ll get the creamiest, most delicious gelato ever. I’ll never make it another way now! My family prefers gelato to ice cream because it’s typically less sweet, lower in fat and served at a warmer temperature due to its increased density, making it easier to eat and more flavourful too. While we love vanilla and fruit-flavoured gelatos, this version – inspired by one of our favourite coffee shop beverages – is truly outstanding. Top it with a few edible flower petals and you’ve got a delicious, elegant dessert that is sure to impress.

Gelato infused with earl grey tea

Ingredients

  • 2 cups (500 mL) milk
  • 2 tablespoons (30 mL) loose Earl Grey tea leaves
  • 1 cup (250 mL) heavy (35%) cream
  • 2/3 cup white sugar
  • 6 egg yolks (reserve whites for another use such as salted caramel meringue bites)
  • 2 teaspoons (10 mL) good quality vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons (30 mL) top quality olive oil (I used Oleiva Premium)

Oleiva premium olive oil makes the creamiest gelato ever

Method

  • Heat milk in a small saucepan or in the microwave until steaming but not boiling. Stir in tea leaves and let sit for 30 minutes. Strain through a fine-meshed sieve or cheesecloth and discard tea leaves.
  • Combine milk, cream and sugar in large saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium heat, stirring often.
  • While the above mixture is heating, whisk egg yolks and salt together in medium-sized, heat-proof bowl.
  • Gradually whisk in 1 cup of the warm milk mixture into the eggs, and then return the egg and milk mixture back to the pot and cook, stirring constantly with a heatproof spatula or wooden spoon, until custard reaches 185°F.
  • Immediately strain custard through a fine strainer or cheesecloth into a heatproof bowl. Add vanilla extract.
  • Place the bowl inside a larger bowl that has been partially filled with ice water. Stir the mixture every 10 minutes or so until it is colder than room temperature.
  • Stir in olive oil and transfer the mixture to a smaller container. Cover and refrigerate until very cold (at least 4 hours; overnight is ideal).
  • Freeze gelato in an ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s instructions. Alternatively, you can freeze it in a metal pan, stirring every 5 minutes or so for a more uniform texture.
  • Pack into a freezable container and freeze at least 1 hour before serving.

Makes 4 cups (1 litre).

premium olive oil and earl grey infused milk make the best gelato ever

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Healthy honey-garlic cauliflower bites

Air fryer makes these nuggets fast, fat-free and flavourful

I have a new Gourmia air fryer and I’m slightly obsessed with cooking all the things in it. I was a little skeptical at first but after my first batch of sweet potato fries turned out really well, I was hooked. I’ll have more air fryer recipes coming your way soon but for now I’m delighted to start you off with this one. These cauliflower nuggets are irresistibly delicious, with their crunchy exterior and lick-your-fingers-clean sauce. You can easily coat the cauliflower nuggets and refrigerate them until you’re ready to cook, if you’re a make-ahead kind of person like I am. You can also bake these bites in a conventional oven for 20 – 25 minutes at 400F if you prefer. If you like this dish, I highly recommend you try my roasted cauliflower with spicy peanut sauce which you can also prepare in an air fryer or conventional oven.

cauliflower nuggets with honey-garlic sauce

Ingredients

Cauliflower

  • 1 small head cauliflower
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 2 cups Panko bread crumbs

Honey-Garlic Sauce

  • 1/3 cup (90 mL) honey
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/3 cup (90 mL) water, divided
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons (22.5 mL) soy sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon (2.5 mL) Sriracha (or more, to taste)
  • 2 teaspoons (10 mL) cornstarch

To garnish: sesame seeds and finely chopped green onions or chives

Directions

  • Preheat air fryer to 400F.
  • Cut cauliflower into bite-sizes pieces (about 1 inch/2.5 cm).
  • Put beaten egg in one bowl and Panko in a second bowl.
  • Dip cauliflower pieces in egg then roll in Panko until evenly coated; place on a baking sheet until they are all coated.
  • Carefully transfer half of the coated cauliflower pieces to the air fryer’s basket, placing them in one layer with a little bit of space between each one. Re-insert the basket into the machine. Set the timer for 15 minutes.
  • Check after 15 minutes to see if cauliflower bites are golden brown on the outside. Cook for up to 5 minutes more if needed.

  • While cauliflower cooks, prepare sauce by putting honey, garlic, 1/4 cup (60 mL) of the water, soy sauce and sriracha into a small pot. Bring to a boil then reduce heat to medium low and simmer for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • After 5 minutes, put remaining 2 tablespoons (30 mL) of water and cornstarch in a small bowl; stir to blend, then add to sauce in pot. Increase heat and stir as mixture comes to a boil. Cook for 2 minutes, until thickened, then remove from heat.
  • Shake cooked cauliflower out of the airfryer basket onto a clean baking sheet and keep warm in the oven until the second batch is cooked, following the above process.
  • Transfer all the cooked cauliflower onto a serving platter and drizzle the sauce over top. Add garnishes if desired and serve hot.

Serves 2 – 3 people as a main course or 6 – 8 as an appetizer.

Healthy honey-garlic cauliflower bites

Note: I received a Gourmia Air Fryer to test, but ideas and opinions are, as always, my own. 

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Scrumptious spinach, feta and caramelized onion biscuits

Easy assembly makes for a speedy, satisfying brunch or lunch dish

I decided the other day that if I were ever to launch my own food truck, it would serve just one thing: biscuits! I just can’t stop making and eating them, for which my family is eternally grateful. I occasionally make old-fashioned ‘plain’ biscuits but often I get a little fancy. Some of our favourite sweet variations include  cheddar and apples and coconut and mango. For savoury biscuits, this taco-inspired version is a real crowd-pleaser, as are these pizza biscuits, but I think this new Mediterranean-inspired combo is the best yet. Quick biscuits are a snap to make and can even be frozen after shaping but prior to baking, if that’s how you roll (pun intended). We love this on their own but they would also be great as part of a brunch or lunch buffet, as an ideal accompaniment to salads or soups.

Constantly Cooking spinach feta caramelized onion biscuits

Ingredients

  • 2 teaspoons (10 mL) olive oil
  • 2 cups (500 mL) coarsely chopped onion
  • 2 cups (500 mL) flour
  • 1 teaspoon (5 mL) salt
  • 4 teaspoons (20 mL) baking powder
  • 1/2 cup (125 mL) cold butter
  • 1 cup (250 mL) cold milk
  • 1 – 2 tablespoons (15 – 30 mL) extra flour, for work surface
  • 1 cup (250 mL) coarsely chopped fresh spinach
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 cup (250 mL) crumbled feta
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Tzatziki, to serve

Method

  • Heat olive oil in a large skillet placed over medium heat. Add onions and cook, stirring often, until soft and turning brown (about 15 – 20 minutes). Transfer onions to a small bowl and set aside.
  • Preheat oven to 425F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
  • Make biscuit dough by combining flour, salt and baking powder in a medium bowl.
  • Using a box grater, shred the cold butter into the flour mixture. Toss with a fork or your fingers to evenly distribute butter into the flour.
  • Add milk and stir until just combined.
  • Scatter a little flour on your work surface and turn the dough out onto the floured area. Knead 8 – 10 times until dough comes together; note that it will still be somewhat sticky.
  • Lift up the dough and scatter more flour on the work surface. Use your hands to flatten the dough into a rectangle approximately 9 x 14 inches (22.5 x 35 cm). Lift the dough up as needed and scatter a bit more flour to keep it from sticking to the work surface.
  • Working with a long side of the rectangle closest to you, spread the caramelized onions on the dough, leaving a 1.5 inch (4 cm) border free at the top.
  • Scatter spinach, then oregano, then feta over the onions; sprinkle pepper over it all.

  • Starting with the edge closest to you, roll up the dough into a cylinder, pressing on the border to seal the roll.
  • With a sharp knife, cut into 1 inch (2.5 cm) slices; lay them flat on the parchment-lined baking sheet, about an inch apart.

  • Bake for 18 – 20 minutes, until biscuit dough is puffed and brown.

  • Serve hot or at room temperature, with tzatziki.

Makes 14 biscuits.

Quick biscuit dough stuffed with spanakopita-inspired filled

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Strawberry recipe roundup

Sweet and savoury dishes made with a favourite fruit!

As a champion of eating locally and seasonally, I tend to get a little carried away when my favourite foods arrive at the local farmers’ market. This week it’s been my own personal strawberry festival. I keep telling myself I won’t go buy any more yet, there I am the next day, buying “just one more basket”. Oh well, fruit is good for us, right? Here’s a roundup of some of my favourite strawberry recipes, in case you’re looking for some fresh inspiration. Click on the titles below to link through to each recipe.

a collection of strawberry recipes

Smoked Salmon and Strawberry Salad

Salad with smoked salmon, strawberries and goat cheese makes a great brunch or lunch dish.

Grilled Strawberry Daiquiri

Strawberry-Rhubarb Scones

Grilled Chicken with Strawberry Salsa

Super Strawberry Ice Cream

Quick Pickled Strawberries

quick pickled fresh strawberries

Grilled mini strawberry shortcakes

cupcakes grilled and filled with whipped cream and strawberries

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Grilled mini strawberry shortcakes

A fun twist on a favourite summertime dessert!

I don’t know why I never before thought of using cupcakes for strawberry shortcakes. They’re easy to make and the perfect size and shape. I took things one step farther by grilling the split cupcakes – an optional but absolutely delicious twist. I love this cupcake recipe because it makes just a small batch and they are very moist and flavourful. You can bake the cupcakes ahead of time and store tightly covered at room temperature for 2 days or in the freezer for a month, making this the perfect, easy dessert for summertime entertaining. While strawberries are a classic filling, any fresh fruit would work well in this sweet treat.

cupcakes grilled and filled with whipped cream and strawberries

Ingredients

Cupcakes

  • 1 cup (250 mL) all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon (5 mL) baking powder
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup (125 mL) white sugar
  • 2 teaspoons (10 mL) vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup (125 mL) butter, melted and slightly cooled
  • 1/2 cup (125 mL) milk

Topping

  • 1 pint (500 mL) fresh strawberries
  • 1 teaspoon (5 mL) white sugar
  • 1 cup (250 mL) whipping cream

Method

  • Make the shortcakes by preheating oven to 350F. Line 12 muffin tin compartments with paper liners and set aside.
  • In a small bowl, combine flour and baking powder. Set aside. In a large bowl, beat the eggs and sugar for one minute. Add the vanilla and melted butter and beat until well combined.
  • Add half the flour mixture to the egg mixture and beat until just combined. Add the milk, and beat until just combined. Add the remaining flour and beat until evenly blended.
  • Divide the batter evenly among the muffin cups (fill each about 2/3 full). Bake for 15 – 17 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center of a cupcake comes out clean.
  • While cupcakes are baking, rinse berries and place on a paper towel to dry. Hull and slice berries into a bowl. Sprinkle with sugar and stir gently; set aside.
  • In another bowl, beat whipping cream until peaks form. Cover and refrigerate until needed.
  • Remove cupcakes from the pan and let cool on a wire rack.
  • When ready to assemble, preheat barbeque / grill to medium-hot (350F) (or use a heavy duty pan on the stove). Slice the cupcakes in half horizontally and lightly butter the cut sides.
  • Grill the cupcakes, cut sides down, for 3 – 4 minutes until light grill marks appear.
  • Put the bottom sections of the grilled cupcakes on a serving platter, grilled sides up. Top with whipped cream and sliced strawberries. Place the tops on, grilled sides down, then add more whipped cream and berries.
  • Serve immediately.

Makes 12 mini shortcakes.

cupcakes split grilled and filled

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Pasta with Caruso sauce

A delicious dish inspired by a Uruguayan favourite!

My grown son is a sports fanatic and I have learned so much from him as a result. Lately, he’s been informing me not only of the obscure details about various sports and competing teams, but also some culinary oddities from locales around the world that he’s stumbled across in his sports-related research. This weekend, thanks to the ongoing World Cup soccer tournament, he expressed a yearning to try one of the most iconic dishes in Uruguayan cuisine, that being pasta with Caruso sauce. Legend has it this sauce was created by a restaurateur in the country’s capital city, Montevideo, in the 1950s, to honour legendary Italian singer Enrico Caruso, who toured South America to great acclaim in the 1910s. This sauce quickly gained international culinary recognition and is now considered an essential part of the Uruguayan cultural heritage. It’s easy to make and very tasty, kind of like fancy homemade mac and cheese. I’ve taken a few liberties with the classic recipe provided by a friend, to boost the flavour and texture just a little. This sauce can easily be made ahead of time; in fact, I think it was even more delicious on day two.

A spiced-up version of a Uruguayan classic

Ingredients

  • 1 lb (454 g) uncooked pasta shells
  • 1 cup (250 mL) beef stock
  • 2 tablespoons (30 mL) olive oil, divided
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 8 oz (227 g) mushrooms, sliced
  • 1/4 lb (110 g) smoked ham, chopped
  • 3 tablespoons (45 mL) butter
  • 3 tablespoons (45 mL) flour
  • 2 cups (500 mL) milk or light cream
  • 1/2 cup (125 mL) shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1/4 cup (60 mL) freshly grated parmesan cheese
  • Pinch hot pepper flakes
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Chopped fresh parsley and additional grated parmesan, to garnish

Method

  • Put beef stock in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium low and let simmer until reduced by half.
  • While stock is reducing, put 1 tablespoon (15 mL) of the olive oil in a heavy skillet over medium heat. Add chopped onion and sauté until soft, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook 2 minutes more, stirring constantly. Transfer cooked onions and garlic to a bowl and set aside.
  • Add remaining tablespoon of oil to the same pan, then add sliced mushrooms and cook, stirring, until mushrooms are nicely browned and moisture has evaporated. Stir in ham and cook, stirring often, for 1 minute more, then add the mushrooms and ham to the bowl with the onions and garlic.
  • Bring large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook pasta according to package directions.
  • While pasta is cooking, melt butter in the skillet used to cook the vegetables. Sprinkle flour over top and cook, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes, until flour is fragrant and mixture is bubbling.
  • Add reduced beef stock to the pan, whisking constantly. Add milk slowly, continuing to whisk. Let sauce cook, whisking often, until it is just about boiling and has begun to thicken.
  • Remove pan from heat and add cheeses and red pepper flakes; whisk until smooth.
  • Stir in cooked onions, mushrooms and ham. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  • When pasta is al dente, remove 3/4 cup (185 mL) of the cooking water and stir it gently into to the pasta sauce.
  • Drain pasta well. Ladle sauce over pasta in four serving bowls. Garnish with additional parmesan and fresh parsley then serve hot.

Serves 4.

A spiced-up version of a Uruguayan favourite - Pasta with Caruso sauce

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Quick Pickled Strawberries

A clever and versatile use for a favourite fruit

Honestly, I think the song “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year” should have been written about strawberry season. The sight of those first boxes of local strawberries at the farmers’ market each year sets my heart all a-flutter. Not only does it mean that summer has finally arrived (even the calendar doesn’t agree), it also means my options for baking, salads and canning have just exploded. I always make strawberry jam and I love this strawberry salsa too, but new favourite, hands-down, are these amazing pickled strawberries. I enjoy eating them as is, but you can also chop them then use them as a topper for crostini spread with goat cheese. They’re fabulous on a cheese or charcuterie board too. One more innovative use: drain pickled berries and pat dry then freeze on a small baking tray and add to mocktails or cocktails in lieu of ice cubes. When you’ve finished enjoy the pickles, don’t toss that leftover strawberry vinegar – use it to make a delicious vinaigrette! If you like these, be sure to check out my fantastic pickled blueberries as well.

quick pickled fresh strawberries

Ingredients

  • 2/3 cup (160 mL) apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons (30 mL) brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup (90 mL) water
  • 1 tablespoon (15 mL) coarse kosher salt
  • 1 pint (475 mL) fresh strawberries (about 2 cups)
  • 3 sprigs fresh thyme or mint

Note: feel free to play around with seasonings. A few crushed peppercorns in the brine would be great, as would cinnamon or star anise.

Method

  • Combine vinegar, sugar, water and salt in a glass measure. Microwave until just about boiling then stir to dissolve sugar and salt. Set aside.
  • Wash and hull berries, cutting larger ones in half so all are of a uniform size.
  • Pack berries and thyme (or mint) into a 2 cup (500 mL) canning jar.
  • Pour brine over top. Place lid on top and let cool to room temperature, then refrigerate for up to one week.
  • The pickled berries are ready to be enjoyed after at least 12 hours in the brine.

Makes one 2 cup / 500 mL jar.

quick pickles fresh strawberries

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