Matcha Fudge Fruit Cake

Lately, reading my favorite food blogs has been a guaranteed catalyst to get into the holiday mood. Blogs of Thanksgiving feasts are the kick in the rump I need right now since Montreal is not showing any signs yet of a white Christmas – or what ever holiday you celebrate. But I know one morning soon I will open the curtains of my bedroom window and feel the sudden urge to hang my mistletoe.

Thankfully the holiday cheer is quite present in the kitchen. The wonderful people at Faye Clack invited me to participate in a fun contest hosted by California Walnuts. The theme: coming up with a completely original recipe that screams holiday gatherings and winter entertaining.

 

I humbly present you my entry post for the California Walnuts Holiday Blogger Challenge: my Matcha Fudge Fruit Cake.

Coming up with an original recipe with walnuts is not exactly a small feat! We are talking about a very popular nut here that graces most holiday recipes. This was a perplexing challenge, until I opened my kitchen cupboard and a bag of matcha powder fell out, bringing on inspiration.

Visions of sugar plums and fairies…oh wait that is the Nutcracker. Visions of a sliced fruitcake with gorgeous chunks of red cherries and chocolate coated walnuts dances in my head…all of it wrapped up in a melt in your mouth matcha fudge. I wanted to reinvent the fruit cake. To achieve my pale green fudge color I chose a basic white fudge recipe where I added a touch of matcha powder.

 

Ξ Matcha Fudge Fruit Cake Ξ

Ingredients:

250 gr dark chocolate
1 cup California Walnuts
3/4 cup maraschino cherries
500g white chocolate, chopped
1-300ml can of condensed milk
30gr of butter
2 teaspoons matcha powder

 

Directions:

  1. Melt dark chocolate in a bowl. Dip the walnuts in the melted chocolate one by one plan place on a wrack to let excess chocolate drip off. Place the chocolate covered walnuts  in the fridge to harden
  2. Drain and dry cherries on a couple of layers of paper towels.
  3. Line with cheesecloth a 25cm x 10cm (10” x 4”) loaf pan. Make sure the cheesecloth hangs over the edged of the pan.
  4. Place all the white chocolate, condensed milk and butter in a microwave safe bowl. Microwave on high for 30 seconds. Remove and stir well. Microwave for 30 another seconds.
  5. Remove, add the matcha powder and stir well. Microwave for 30 seconds. Remove and stir completely.
  6. Add cherries, chocolate covered walnuts and stir once very fast (stir too much and the dark chocolate will melt).
  7. Quickly poor mixture into the loaf pan, fold the cheesecloth over the top and press down to level the top.
  8. Set fudge in the fridge for 8 hours. Remove from pan and slice.

I was absolutely thrilled the results. The matcha flavor was subtle, the cherries were a juicy surprise and the chocolate covered walnuts gave the perfect amount of crunch. This makes a big log of fudge so you can slice it up, take what you need to a few parties and then just freeze the rest. Happy Holidays!

Vinegar Tarts and Olive Oil Ice Cream with Clementine Emulsion and Nutella Powder

I hope you enjoyed my earlier post today where I reviewed the wonderful Clementine Olive Oil and O Zinfandel Vinegar from the Natural Box collection that I won. And as promised here is the my mysterious recipe I am submitting for the Olive Oil recipe contest. And speaking of fabulous contests, have you entered my contest  where you could win your very own gourmet Wine Vinegar?

So…drum roll please… I am submitting as my entry Vinegar Tarts and Olive Oil Ice Cream with Clementine Emulsion and Nutella Powder dessert.

Quite a mouthful, I know. And I bet the last thing you would have expected was a dessert too! As I was trying to come up with my entry my mind kept going back, or should I say struggle, between two ideas: desserts and molecular gastronomy. The dessert factor was my main focus! My regular readers know very well how I like to explore the exotic and unusual. So a dessert for my oil and vinegar was a must. The molecular gastronomy aspect was obvious, to me at least, with two such flavorful mediums. I could make liquid raviolis, gels, air, etc. After all I bought so many MG powders a while back and never use them. But I had issues coming up with a dish as such.

Finally the two ideas combined where the emulsion and Nutella powder play a supporting role to the tart and ice cream. The assembly is quite simple. Once the tarts complete I added a quarter of clementine standing up. On one side I spoon a little bit of the emulsion and sprinkled a dash of Nutella powder. Finally I shaped a small quenelle with the ice cream which I place standing up on the other side on the tart. Voilà!

Now for the taste test. The first word that comes to mind before tasting this unusual combo is skeptical. Even though I knew it would work I had a grain of doubt. I also served it for dessert to my brunch guests yesterday. They were very tentative on their first bite. Once a forkful entered our mouths all three of us had the same reaction: eyes jumping wide open and a very pleasant surprised look. The olive oil ice cream is just out of this world, just creamy and dreamy. I was taken aback by how pronounced the clementine flavor of the oil was. The vinegar tarts tasted like a bright shiny summer day: so zesty and punched up. Even if the vinegar is definitely present is is not to overpowering, but a perfect balance in the curd like filling.

This dessert will challenge your concepts of taste and just amaze you and your guests should you choose to serve it over the holidays.

This whole giveaway and contest is all made possible also by a wonderful site I have been a member of for a little while, eRecipeCards. The great thing about being a member (which is free by the way) is you can create your own virtual recipe box. When you find a recipe you like on the website all you have to do is click a button and it gets added to your eRecipeBox. Now since this recipe submission is a contest, part of the judging is based partly on popularity. So I am asking you to add this recipe to you eRecipeBox. Here is the Cheap Ethnic Eatz eRecipeBox with all the recipes I have submitted. After you register, which take 2 minutes, just click on that link, find my Vinegar Tarts and Olive Oil Ice Cream with Clementine Emulsion and Nutella Powder entry and put it in your eRecipeBox. This is how popularity will be measured.

If you are a foodie you need to be a member. Here is a great eRecipeCards tour page explaining the site in greater detail but basically the soul purpose is to share, add and bookmark recipes.

Now on to the recipes!

Ξ Olive Oil Ice Cream Ξ
from Serious Eats, taken from David Lebovitz

  • 1 1/3 cups (330 ml) whole milk
  • 1/2 cup (100 g) sugar
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 cup (250 ml) heavy cream
  • 6 large egg yolks
  • 1/2 cup (125 ml) fruity olive oil

Warm the milk, sugar, and salt in a medium saucepan. Pour the cream into a large bowl and set a mesh strainer on top.

In a separate medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolks. Slowly pour the warm mixture into the egg yolks, whisking constantly, then scrape the warmed egg yolks back into the saucepan.

Stir the mixture constantly over medium heat with a heatproof spatula, scraping the bottom as you stir, until the mixture thickens and coats the spatula. Pour the custard through the strainer and stir it into the cream. Whisk the olive oil into the custard vigorously until it’s well blended, then stir until cool over an ice bath. Chill the mixture thoroughly in the refrigerator, then freeze it in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Ξ Vinegar Tarts Ξ
from Now thats Cookin’, taken from Emeril Lagasse

  • 24 pie pastry individual tart shells
  • 2 cups water
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 eggs, beaten until frothy
  • 6 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons Limoncello, or other lemon-flavored liqueur, or lemon extract

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Bake 24 tart shells (you could do 1 9-inch pie pan) on a baking tray for about 10-12 min until golden. Let them cool.

In a heavy 2-quart saucepan, bring the water to a boil. In a small bowl, combine the flour and sugar, tossing with a fork to blend. Add the flour-sugar mixture to boiling water and cook, whisking often, until thickened, about 6 minutes. Remove from heat and slowly add the eggs, whisking vigorously. Return to medium-low heat and cook, whisking, until velvety smooth, about 3 minutes. Add the vinegar and lemon extract and whisk just to blend.

Pour into the cooled pastry shell and refrigerate until set, about 3 hours.

 

Ξ Clementine Emulsion Ξ
from the Passionfruit Emulsion at Pastry Kitchen

  • 4 clementines, peeled and quartered
  • 1¾ ounces sugar
  • 1 teaspoon lecithin

Puree clementines with a emulsion blender. In a small pot, bring ingredients to 120°F. Emulsify with a  hand blender. Keep in the fridge until ready to use. Emulsify with a hand blender again prior to use.

Ξ Nutella Powder Ξ
from Hungry in Hogtown

  • 120 g Nutella
  • 80 g tapioca maltodextrin

Combine ingredients in a food processor.  Process until the mixture has the texture of soil.

Pass mixture through a tamis or fine-meshed sieve to lighten its texture. Sprinkle liberally.

Note: I third the recipe. As long as you keep the ratio sixty percent fatty ingredient to forty percent maltodextrin, the process is simple. I just used a coffee grinder instead since it was such a small quantity.

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Don’t forget right now to go register (if you are not already a member)  and ADD my Vinegar Tarts and Olive Oil Ice Cream with Clementine Emulsion and Nutella Powder entry from the Cheap Ethnic Eatz eRecipeBox, I would be ever so thankful!

Review: O Clementine Olive Oil and O Zinfandel Vinegar plus a Contest

I know, I know I have been bad. I have been quiet, I have not been posting as much or catching up with commenting. I blame November. It’s such a blah month and my energies plummet. But also one of the reasons I have been more quiet is due to much research and experimenting. I have been working on a few very original recipes which would be a perfect fit to round off that fabulous menu for the holidays. Come back later today on the blog as I will be publishing one of these creations.

These recipes feature two products I was lucky enough to win recently on eRecipeCards: the O Clementine Olive Oil and O Zinfandel Vinegar from the Natural Box collection. Winning this prize also meant entering a contest. So I hope you come back and vote for me by putting this mysterious recipe (which will be posted later today) in you eRecipeBox. I’ll tell you all about that a bit later. Contest alert: YOU can be the winner of an absolutely divine vinegar too, details are at the bottom of the post!

This prize was awarded by my new favorite oil and vinegar company. If you follow my blog regularly you are well aware that I do the occasional product review and they are often interesting finds but not necessarily something that would knock my socks off. This time I was completely taken aback with my prize from O Olive Oil. I would even say pleasantly flabbergasted!  I know it sounds like a huge and ridiculous claim but it is 100% sincere. I LOVE my new oil and vinegar. So what makes O Olive Oil so special and unique to dazzle my exotic taste buds? The answer is surprisingly simple: keep things organic, keep things basic, take the time it needs and make it with love.

Let’s looks first at the Citrus Oils. This collection of oils are beautifully crafted by using the crush method. Fresh hand harvested California Mission olives are crushed directly with whole organic citrus within 48 hours of the harvests. It takes about 1½ lbs. of fresh, whole citrus to make each bottle of oil. As the extracts of both the olives and the fruit mingle in such a unique way the tastes bond, making for an intense marriage of flavors. This bit of info makes you realize quickly the poorer quality of many companies who mass produce by infusing or flavoring the already produced olive oil, sadly a common practice in the industry. There final product pales in comparison.

I received the O Clementine Olive Oil. I was already cooking up a storm in the kitchen before I really sat down to have a proper taste testing. I have a confessions to make: after pouring the amount required by my recipe of the Clementine oil I actually took a mini swig from the bottle. The beautiful coating of olive oil in my mouth was delicate and light in flavor but I did not taste a lot of the clementine at that moment. But once I sat down to take the pictures and properly savor it with a slice of white French bread, I had a completely different reaction to the taste. The clementine miraculously came to life and was now bursting with notes of zesty citrus all nicely layered in with a sweetness of the oil. The sumptuous yellow color coated the bread wonderfully. I was also really impressed by the results in my coming recipes.

The O Clementine Olive Oil is limited production. Keeping mind this is NOT an oil to fry foods is. A gentle warming in a pan will heighten the flavors, more will burn it.  I could see myself using this oil in a light salad mixed with a crisp and light vinegar. A light brushing over cooked seafood or chicken would be lovely too.

The second part of my prize from O Olive Oil was the Wine Vinegar collection. Again the company blasts the competition by nor rushing a good thing. The old world Orleans method is employed here by filling ventilated oak barrels with premium wine which naturally ages the wine turning it into vinegar over months or years.  The fact that the wines comes from near-by Napa Valley does not hurt either. Natural flavors are added slowly over time as the wine turns to vinegar.  The competition usually just mechanically ages using artificial flavors and ingredients.

I was thrilled to find the O Zinfandel Vinegar in my prize package. Before I even opened the bottle I was captivate by the magnificent ruby orange color. I dipped my bread in the aromatic liquid and took a bite. My taste buds where delighted with the wonderful sharp, smoky and tangy cherry notes the harsh vinegary taste. And as the taste lingers in your mouth you start wishing there really was a bottle of Zinfandel nearby.

Before I wrap things up I would like to send out a nice Thank You to eRecipeCards for hosting the give away and contest. If you are not familiar with this site you should. eRecipeCards is the home for food lovers, all of them. It is not a community based site like Facebook per say as you do not ‘make’ friends. The soul purpose is to share, add and bookmark recipes. Food bloggers love it as they can link and share their posts, and non writing foodies can discover fabulous recipes which they can keep in their eRecipeBox with one click. It is a new site that is growing rapidly. There are already thousands and thousands of recipes. It is free so why not join now and you will accumulate a collection of great new recipes to try. Go visit eRecipeCards.com

A drop of vinager in the oil - so colorful and pretty

O Olive Oil is more than just the two types of products mentioned above. They also offer products like the Citrus Oils and Wine Vinegars. Extra Virgin, Roasted Garlic, California Balsamic, Rice Vinegars, Citrus Tapenade, and more. You can find them in gourmet, natural food and specialty stores in the United States, Canada, Japan and Europe, and Latin America sell these products. Or you can simply order online. O Olive Oil is offering a 20% discount sale through the end of the year on ANY order. Just use the exclusive promo code e-recipecards when you check out. Plus if your order total is more than 60$ you will get free shipping.

CONTEST TIME! Win a bottle of O pomegranate champagne vinegar which is describe on the site as sweet, round, and subtle. A hint of raspberries and faraway Mediterranean lands. Ripe and scarlet. California pomegranate steeped in barrel-aged champagne. Splash on spinach, feta and pecan salad. Punch up late summer stews and soups. Brush on roasted rosemary lemon chicken. Yes, yes and yes please! O Olive Oil is not hosting this contest. I will personally send a bottle of this fine vinegar out of my own pocket because I really think their products are that good!

To enter all you have to do is go O Olive Oil on Facebook (I will be checking) and then come back leaving me a comment saying you did so. Open to everyone around the world! Deadline Dec 6th 2011 noon EST.

Lemon and Raspberry Tarts

I have a couple more entries to share before the deadline, that just got extended to November 20th, to submit a recipe  for the Backpackers Recipe Guide. This cookbook will be sent out to 20,000 youth hostels worldwide with a selection of cheap, easy and delicious recipes a traveler can cook in a youth hostel kitchen. How exciting it would be to have my recipe in there. Don’t worry I have no huge long travel story like my first entry which was a Pesto and Mushroom Pizza inspired by a day I spent in Cinque Terre Italy many years ago.

This recipe deals with what some consider a travel emergency: attack of the killer sweet tooth. While traveling I know I have a higher risk to get this attack. After all you spend all day walking around, burning calories so your body wants sugar and you CAN afford the calories. Now in some destinations around the world you have the most delectable pastries so that should be your first destination. But sometimes you want a sweet treat now. This very simple Lemon and Raspberry Tarts recipe will come to the rescue in a jiffy.

Desserts can be a daunting preparation in a hostel kitchen. Most will assume they need flour, sugar, eggs, milk, baking powder – stuff that will probably not be available. By getting ready made tart shells there is not pie crust to make. Then all that is left is the filling which in this case is a lemon curd and fresh raspberries. Of course if you fancy a different flavor go for it. Maybe you found a lovely orange curd, or blueberries are in season. Let your imagination run wild. The only note I would like to mention is that your tarts will be as good as the quality of your chosen curd. This recipe makes 12 tarts so there will be plenty to go around.

Ξ Lemon and Raspberry Tarts Ξ

Ingredients:

  • a package of frozen ready made individual tart shells
  • 1 1/4 cup  (285 gr/10 oz jar) lemon curd
  • 3/4 cup fresh raspberries

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350F/190C. Place 12 tart shells on a baking sheet. With a fork make holes on the bottom of each tart to prevent the bottom from rising.
  2. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes until the shells are cooked and golden. Let the shells cool completely.
  3. In the mean time  reserve 12 nice raspberries for decoration. Mix gently the lemon curd with the remaining fruit.
  4. Spoon the mixture evenly into the 12 tart shells and top decoratively with a fresh raspberry. Makes 12 tarts.

 

Cinque Terre Memories and a 5 Star Pizza Perfect for a Youth Hostel Kitchen Meal

Quick announcement, my article Reviewing Restaurants – You Be The Critic was published today on the Food Bloggers of Canada site. Please go visit the site after reading this post.

I am sitting here on my couch leafing through the 2 photo albums from my fist backpacking trip though Europe. What a trip it was! It was 1996, I was 22 and I left my mom and dad for my first independent trip where I traveled through 9 countries and 25 cities in 60 days all by myself. It was a whirlwind trip as I did not want to miss a single thing just in case I never got to make it back to Europe. Digital cameras were a new thing back then hence the actual photo albums….I scanned a few pics for you.

This was years before the food blog, the food group or even really realizing my passion for food. But I knew I liked to eat and I was thrilled at the prospect of trying so many new specialties. It was my formative years in ethnic food. Budget was the first priority and before anyone would go spend the day sightseeing we had a few basics that needed to be settled, cheaply: food and shelter. Shelter as usually covered with a Youth Hostel and food took on many forms like sandwiches, pastries, going off the tourist path for a local cheaper joint and the occasional Youth Hostel kitchen.

This was years before the food blog, the food group or even really realizing my passion for food. But I knew I liked to eat and I was thrilled at the prospect of trying so many new specialties. It was my formative years in ethnic food. Budget was the first priority and before anyone would go spend the day sightseeing we had a few basics that needed to be settled, cheaply: food and shelter. Shelter as usually covered with a Youth Hostel and food took on many forms like sandwiches, pastries, going off the tourist path for a local cheaper joint and the occasional Youth Hostel kitchen.

When I was contacted by HostelBookers.com to submit a recipe for the Backpackers Recipe Guide, wow I was flooded by so many memories. This cookbook will be sent out to 20,000 youth hostels worldwide with a selection of cheap, easy and delicious recipes a traveler can cook in a youth hostel kitchen. How exciting it would be to have my recipe in there.

The village of Manarola

I have had my fare share of Youth Hostel meals and they were always fun and communal. There is one meal in particular that really stands out in my catalog of memories. And not just that meal but that destination, that youth hostel and the people I met there! It’s a doozy of a story so sit down and get comfy as I take you back 15 years (yikes), in early October, to a little town called Riomaggiore located in Cinque Terre on the Italian Riviera. Its a long post and story but I swear you will be thoroughly entertained!

The cool guide to travel with at that time was Rick Steves Europe Through the Back Door. Do you remember his show on PBS? His travel show took you through the unknown, the cheap, the secret treasures that you did not find in regular travel guides. It was a great book to find cheap accommodation with sometimes quirky descriptions. And in those days Rick Steves was the only guy talking about Cinque Terre, a rugged stretch of the Italian Riviera composed of 5 villages:  Monterosso al Mare, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, and Riomaggiore.

Ξ Pesto and Mushroom Pizza Ξ

Ingredients:

  • 12 inch pizza crust
  • ½ cup pesto
  • 1 cup sliced mushrooms
  • 5 oz ( 150 gr) firm tofu, cubed
  • 2 cups shredded mozzarella

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 F /180 C.
  2. Place the pizza crust on a lightly oiled baking sheet (or aluminum paper).
  3. Spread the pesto on the crust leaving a clear edge on the crust.
  4. Top with mushrooms, tofu and the cheese.
  5. Bake the pizza for 15 minutes or until the cheese is melted and bubbly. Makes 6 slices.

I served this pizza for a potluck this weekend and it got rave reviews. This is truly one of the most flavorful pizzas I have ever made and it is so easy to make. Because of the tofu and the good amount of mushrooms, a couple of slices constitute a balanced quick meal. You do not need a lot of utensils besides a spoon, a knife and a baking sheet or aluminum paper. But my favorite part of this recipe is that it will satisfy both vegetarians and carnivores in one dish, not a claim many recipes can make. And who does not like Italian Pizza?

Back then there was only one option for cheap lodging and it was listed in the guide book: Mama Rosa’s Hostel in Riomaggiore. The guide said Mama Rosa met every train that arrived to round up the backpackers. The guide also said she ran her modest hostel with her son Sylvio. Although I doubted she would actually be at the train station a fairytale setting did start forming in my head of this private non touristy stop with Mama Rosa, the vineyards and her hot Italian son. That image got shattered real fast.

Oh yes Mama Rosa was at the train station. Try to imagine a 50 year old woman wearing a bright Barbie pink full jump suit with a bad light blond hair dye job waving her hands like all Italian mothers should announcing loudly:(say it with emphasis) MAAAma ROOOSaaaaaa, MAAAma ROOOSaaaaaa! I picked up my jaw off the Cinque Terre terre and followed her to the Hostel. What a dump! Some online reviews call it a slum and a notorious place. But what was I going to do!  I was there, it was cheap and I was in an isolated part of Italy.

Cactus pears, Mama Rosa's kitchen and outdoor bathroom

The set up was rudimentary at best, I remember the roof of my room was a corrugated roof – it rained and it made that unavoidable musical noise you hear in movies. And the outdoor bathroom was perfectly visible to the people living in the houses above that flank of the mountain, as in they could have seen us on the toilet! The common area was the basic kitchen with a long table.

And when you thought you saw the worst of it, Sylvio teh son made his appearance: carrying a bucket of dirty water the imaginary hot Italian son was actually an ugly and toothless middle-aged bachelor in tattered clothes. As stupid and vain as it may sound I was in shock. And I was not alone as I confirmed with all the girls I met there that we had all imagined Sylvio up into an Italian Stallion. NOT!

Thank god when you are traveling like a backpacker you can put all these things aside and go with the flow. Because you know what? This was one of the most memorable and enjoyable stops on my trip in the end. I met quite a few really delightful travelers there – all with a copy of Rick Steves Europe Through the Back Door under their arm.

My first friend was a tall German guy who was also at the train station. It was late afternoon when we got in so not much to do except explore the tiny village. We spotted the vineyard terraces above the village and we decided to go for a stroll through the grapes. Of course to make it to the grapes we had to find out if permission would be granted to climb the old stone stairs leading to the terrace by the 3 typical widowed women, all dressed in black. It was like a militia guards post. A little apprehensive, German guy and I flashed our biggest smiles and said our best Hellos and How are yous in Italian. Well we got the blessing and were allowed to climb up the stairs and stroll in the vineyards. I could not resist and I grabbed a raisin and bit into it. That was the first time I ever ate a raisin right off the vine: it was heaven, sweet, luscious and destined for a great wine.

The next day I joined another small group of travelers who were getting ready to hike the famous walking trail joining the 5 villages. After all that was the point of going to Cinque Terre. I only remember bits and pieces of that hike. I know it took about 5 hours to do including very quick stops and a lunch. I have a very vivid memory of the most quintessential Italian scene I have ever seen in my life: a old man climbing out of his cellar into his house with his feet barefoot and purple from stomping the grapes. I remember the hiking path being so narrow at times it was scary.

Narrow path, Monterosso al Mare beach and a Mediterranean dip

I can still feel the little pricks on my fingers of the cactus pears I picked right of the cactus, a fruit my new friends had never seen. Yes even then I was introducing people to new foods. And my last memory of the actual hike was our destination, the tiny beach of Monterosso al Mare at the end of the day where I was going to swim in the Mediterranean come hell or high water. After all the sun was going down at the end of that cooler October day but I am from Canada and I can handle cold water. And the guy with us agreed to join me. The locals looked at us like we were absolutely crazy.

It was such a great day. We took the train back to Mama Rosa’s where we bought food for a communal dinner. During the hike we found out Pesto was from this part of Italy so we made a simple dish of pasta with a pesto sauce bought by the ladle in a small shop, got extra cheese and a few bottles of wine in tow. For dessert we enjoyed the sliced cactus pears I had picked – still feeling the tiny shards lodged under my skin. That is how I remember Cinque Terre: rugged in every sense of the word but such a beautiful raw experience. And I owe it all to Mama Rosa and her Hostel!

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Got a simple recipe up your sleeve? Enter it and thousands of people could be cooking your recipe from a special cookbook that will be in youth hostel kitchens all over the world. To submit a recipe check out how to enter.

Don’t forget to go check out my article Reviewing Restaurants – You Be The Critic on the Food Bloggers of Canada site.

Guilt Free Chocolate Pudding, Mortimer Winners and Film Marathon Recap

I have the two winning names in hand for the big 75$ cool kitchen gift baskets  winners! The numbers from the eligible entries were picked randomly by the store’s owners daughters: they chose numbers 40 and 60. I hope you enjoy your prizes.

Congratulations Tasty Trix and Rituparna

If you ladies want to celebrate with a great guilt free dessert let me suggest the following recipe: a healthy chocolate pudding. It is so simple, I know the recipe by heart and so do not remember the source except that it was from a vegetarian cookbook. So yes this recipe is vegetarian and dairy free. The base of the pudding is silken tofu. Unless you are an ultra fussy eater you will not even taste the tofu plus the texture will delightful.

Ξ Guilt Free Chocolate Pudding Ξ

  • 1 block of silken tofu (300 gr)
  • 1/4 cocoa powder
  • 1/4 sugar
  • 1 ground cardamom pod (other substitutes 1/4 tsp cinnamon, a pinch of cayenne, etc)

Put all the ingredients in a food processor or blender. Blend until the mixture is smooth. Spoon into 3 dessert dishes and refrigerate at least an hour before serving.  Makes 3 servings.

I’ve tried to skip the blending part once and just mix by hand….not the same and lumpy, do blend it for top results.

 

Each serving is a mere 128 calories, 4 gr of fat, 21 gr of carbs and 7 gr of protein.

And let me tell you I will really need a guilt free dessert after I finish all the leftovers in the fridge, especially the pies, from the CEE Food Film Marathon I hosted the Saturday at my place.

It was declared a success by all that attended and lots of non perishable food was donated plus I raised a bit of money from the raffle too.

The prizes were set

The screen was set

And there were a many guests brewing in the kitchen.

The lights were off for the presentations

The table was set, so much food this is a fraction of what was there

The people were hungry between films – small mob attacking pot-luck table

One more big thank you to my sponsors: My Cookbook AddictionNDG Food Depot and Pierre Black. I can’t wait to host the 2nd one next year. I definitely learned a lot and some thing will change but I definitely see this becoming a yearly event. Will you come next year?

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Got a simple recipe up your sleeve? Enter it and thousands of people could be cooking your recipe from a special cookbook that will be in youth hostel kitchens all over the world. To submit a recipe check out how to enter.

Spruce and Ginger Beer from Scratch to Toast a HUGE Giveaway from Mortimer Snodgrass

Yes…Mortimer Snodgrass! I can’t help but giggle every time I read the name. I also cannot help snicker at every other item I pick up in this unique gift store in beautiful Old Montreal; their inventory is so cool, funky, unusual and yet practical. Mortimer Snodgrass, the store, is 10 years old this year and the owners decided to celebrate with a BIG BANG on Cheap Ethnic Eatz. You do not want to miss out on this giveaway, it is so awesome!

I’ll tell you more about this store, the contest and where the name came from in a bit at the bottom of this post. But first I want to share my latest cooky kitchen experiments: Homemade Spruce and Jamaican Ginger Beers. These 2 unique beverages are perfect for toasting a quirky store’s 10th birthday.

Don’t let the word beer throw you off, these are non-alcoholic but fizzy soft drinks. The idea for the Spruce beer was a light bulb moment after my Mastic Ice Cream post when I compared Mastic’s flavor to Spruce Beer…which apparently not a lot of people were familiar with. Yep I found an online recipe on the Daring Kitchens forum by Audax Artifex.

And yes I made my own extract. I went to my park and identified a Spruce. See I took a pic from my balcony to show you the conifer in question! How do you know you have a Spruce conifer? If the twig carries its needles singly and the actual needle has four sides and, thus, rolls easily between your fingers, it’s a Spruce. Pine needles cluster and Firs have 2 sided flat needles. This beer is not as overpowering as the fake flavored one you by in stores.

Ξ Spruce Beer Ξ

Ingredients

  • 1 cup of sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon of baker’s yeast, in powder form
  • 40 grams of outer twigs of spruce fir
  • 1 tablespoon of hops
  • a 2-litre soda bottle with a screw cap, thoroughly cleaned and completely dry inside

Directions

  1. Using a funnel, pour the sugar into the bottle and then pour in the yeast. The yeast must be ground for best result, I whizzed mine in a coffee grinder. If you skip this step your soft drink will be less bubbly. Shake bottle well to mix.
  2. Make you extract by bringing to a boil your spruce fir twigs and hops in 500ml of water and simmer to reduce until you have 1 tablespoon of extract remaining, if it is very sticky even better.
  3. Again with funnel, pour in beer extract and then fill bottle half full with water from tap.
  4. Remove funnel and swirl contents in bottle until the sugar has dissolved.
  5. Fill bottle with water until there is approximately a one inch gap at the top and screw cover on tightly.
  6. Let bottle sit at room temperature for 12 to 48 hours or until the bottle feels hard. The gas has expanded.
  7. Store in refrigerator and chill thoroughly. Loosen cap VERY VERY SLOWLY allow gas to escape and avoid liquid fizzing over.

 

Normal Ginger Ale makes me nauseous. I hate the stuff. Not sure if it is the taste or an associated memory of my mom giving me flat ginger ale when I was in bed for a week with a major flu. But one day I bought a can of Jamaican Ginger Beer, there was a rooster on the can. The very spicy and intense ginger taste totally caught me off guard, I was hooked. I found this recipe on The personal blog of Giles Paterson. It is fabulous, strain the ginger out if you like before serving but I like having a little bit in there to chew.

Ξ Jamaican Ginger Beer Ξ

Ingredients

  • 1 cup of sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon of baker’s yeast, in powder form
  • 1½ to 2 tablespoons of grated ginger
  • 1 lemon
  • a 2-litre soda bottle with a screw cap, thoroughly cleaned and completely dry inside

Directions

  1. Using a funnel, pour the sugar into the bottle and then pour in the yeast. The yeast must be ground for best result, I whizzed mine in a coffee grinder. If you skip this step your soft drink will be less bubbly. Shake bottle well to mix.
  2. Extract the juice from one lemon. Mix the grated ginger and lemon juice together in a cup.
  3. Again with funnel, pour in ginger/lemon mixture and then fill bottle half full with water from tap.
  4. Remove funnel and swirl contents in bottle until the sugar has dissolved.
  5. Fill bottle with water until there is approximately a one inch gap at the top and screw cover on tightly.
  6. Let bottle sit at room temperature for 12 to 48 hours or until the bottle feels hard. The gas has expanded.
  7. Store in refrigerator and chill thoroughly. Loosen cap VERY VERY SLOWLY allow gas to escape and avoid liquid fizzing over.

A few important notes for both recipes: a) if the pressure builds too much your bottle could explode. Place the bottle in the fridge overnight as this halts the yeast and stops the bottle exploding; b) you will notice that the basic procedures for making the sodas are identical so go ahead and experiment with flavors; c) no the ginger beer is neither radioactive nor does it glow in the dark as the pictures lead to believe; d) yes is will be carbonated almost like a soft drink…the natural way; e) until you really get the hang of opening it without making a huge mess….open your bottles outside. Trust me on this one !!!!!

Welcome to Mortimer Snodgrass! Located at 56 Notre-Dame W you will find a gem of a store when you need to buy a gift for a friend or a party….and you will leave getting a couple of extra items for yourself. They have a bit of everything: accessories, pets , balloons, spa beauty products, kids, decor, toys, office and an impressive kitchen area. The outside is adorable with Old Montreal charm, the entrance great you with a larger then life mosaic store logo..I believe made out of Jelly Beans. And the name, where did they come up with Mortimer Snodgrass?

Mortimer is the owner’s 11 year old rescued mutt. There is yellow lab in there and the rest is for anyone to guess! He is the store mascot and when he was younger he came to work every day greeting customers. Explaining Snodgrass is a whole other ball game, literally. One of the owners is a huge baseball fan and he knew of a little known baseball player named Chappy Snodgrass who played for Baltimore Orioles in 1901. Mortimer Snodgrass, it works!

Can you guess what purpose in the  kitchen my whale has? No hints we’ll see in a bit. The inside has a loft industrial feel a bit, but not in a modern exaggerated way. It’s really the shell of the store. The store’s colors are a nice pale blue with a calm orange. This is the store where you will find that unusual item you cannot find anywhere else: the ice mold to make those ice vodka shot glasses, a guitar shape silicone spatula, a blood red bath gel in a drip bag like you would see in the hospital, a cool pet treat for your pouch, fun and educational toys for kids no one else will have, neoprene designer lunch bags. And on and on and on!

I got to take a few items home to to play, oops cook, with. The first is the whale can opener. Yep the irony of opening a can of tuna with a whale that will be served to my cats…too funny. Amazing can opener by the way, made by Kuhm Rikon from Switzerland. I also got a very fashionable extra-long protective oven mitt made by Built, you know the kind that won’t still burn you threw like a cheap mitt. And finally the coolest dish brush dude ever. Dirty dishes watch out cause I will rock on while scrubbing you. Fun, quirky and all practical!I bet you would love to get you hands on some of these cool things.

Well you can! Because I am hosting with Mortimer Snodgrass the coolest giveaway ever. OK maybe not ever but close. We will be giving away not 1 but 2 gift baskets full of fun kitchen items. I was actually asked to come into the store and pick the prize packages myself for you guys. That was so fun! Each package has a retail value of $50 and there is more: each package comes with a $25 gift certificate which can be used online if you are not in Montreal. Each prize is worth $75 and the contest is open to EVERYONE worldwide! Let me show you what I picked:

Gift basket #1 includes a home sprouting kit made up of an Ancient Eastern Blend with fenugreek, lentils, kamut and adzuki beans sprouts. Next is a yellow lady citrus reamer. Lastly a set of chili shaped plastic ice cube – just pop them from the freezer to your glass, wash after and freeze again. Don’t forget the $25 gift certificate also included!

Gift basket #2 includes a grown your own edible flowers kit (marigolds) . Next is Sud Green the coolest dish brush dude around, just like the one I got too . Also we have a nifty “pull tab lid” that will keep your warm drinks warm and you cool one refreshing. Lastly this prize includes a ‘saw’ perfect for cutting up limes and lemons to add to your drink or food, and the handle also doubles as a bottle opener. Don’t forget the $25 gift certificate also included!

So do you want to win one of these baskets? Are they not awesome? Here is what you have to do to enter the contest:

– Leave a comment about my ‘ramblings’ in the post, just to make sure you read it and  did not just look at the pictures!

Many ways to get extra entries…

– Tweet Two 75$ Gift BasketsGiveaway with @mortsnodgrass & @cethniceatz http://t.co/PYit9iXj
– Follow Mortimer Snodgrass on Facebook, come back and tell me you did
– Follow Cheap Ethnic Eatz on Facebook, come back and tell me you did
– Follow Mortimer Snodgrass on Twitter, come back and tell me you did
– Follow Cheap Ethnic Eatz on Twitter, come back and tell me you did
– Download the Cheap Ethnic Eatz Mobile App, come back and tell me you did

You have till October 15th 2011, 23h59 EST to enter.

And of course the 2 winners will be picked randomly. What I will do is I’ll give the owners the total number of entries and ask them to give me 2 random numbers. Let’s get everyone involved. GOOD LUCK!