Tag Archives: Butter

Lavender Cookies


Lavender. What do you think about when you smell it? Spring? Freshness? Or perhaps shortbread cookies? This post was inspired by several different memories, all of them involving lavender…and I thought what better way to make a keepsake?

Has it ever happened to you that you meet someone and don’t think much of it, until he/she does something that you didn’t expect – pleasantly surprising you in the process, and from that point forward you see him/her in a completely different light? For me, it’s always about the small gestures of kindness and the thought behind it, and this one was no different. A few years back I had a pleasure of meeting a French exchange student that started playing on our varsity soccer team. One day I had a gathering at my house for all the soccer buddies and I invited Victor and his friends to also come along. I had very brief interactions with him before that. On the day of the party, he brought a small gift for me. It was a sachet of dried lavender that his mom made from the lavender that grew around their house in France. It bore the name of their estate. He said it was to be put in my closet to make my clothes smell nicely. Since then I have kept it, and it is featured in this post. Thank you Victor for showing me that life is all about the small gestures of kindness!

Another lavender related memory, a more recent one was from last weekend when my best friend Z came to visit. Z’s visits are like food to the soul – always so much laughter and fun! Recently, also much of reflection and self-discovery.
Among our many adventures over the two days, one of them was a quest to find a bunch of lavender. I had already invisioned what this post would look like and a bunch of lavender was essential. Apparently, tis not the season for lavender yet, so we had a hard time finding it, and this post was almost pushed for later in the summer. Z wanted to go ‘antiquing’ in Cambridge, and I’m glad we did, cause she found awesome clogs and an interesting clock…and just when we weren’t expecting it, in a flower shop close by, we found a bunch of lavender also! I guess it was meant to be 🙂

So, it’s the end of May and I can count the number of sunny days on one hand in this month! That is probably the reason I didn’t have more posts this month…natural light was very bland. This past Sunday I got lucky for a few hours in the morning with some sunshine and decided to make the best of it. The sun was hiding behind the clouds from time to time, which actually worked out perfectly cause I needed the bright sunlight softened down. The lavender lends itself so easily to photos, the colour is so vibrant.

The cookies themselves are quite easy to make….the list of ingredients is small, and most of these things you would most likely already have in your pantry. Aside from perhaps lavender, although it’s readily available (the actual buds are, but if you’re as determined as me to find an actual bunch of lavender, this may take a little while longer :)). The lavender gives the shortbread based cookies quite an interesting flavour. I wonder what the fresh buds would taste like and if they would be much different from the dried ones. Regardless, they are quite decorative…and you may choose to make them all different shapes…I just found a round-edged square to be interesting for me 🙂 Happy Spring!

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Click on each photo to view the high resolution images.

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RECIPES

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Lavender Cookies

  • 1 cup (250 mL) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup (50 mL) granulated sugar, plus more for sprinkling on top
  • 5 tbsp (70 mL) icing sugar
  • 2 cups (500 mL) all-purpose flour
  • 2 tbsp (25 mL) finely chopped fresh lavender flowers
  • 1/8 tsp (0.5 mL) salt
 
  1. Cream butter until light and fluffy. Gradually beat in sugars, then flour, lavender and salt. Form into a round flat cake, wrap with waxed paper and refrigerate for an hour. Coat baking sheet with nonstick spray or line with parchment paper.
  2. Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C). Roll out dough on a floured surface to 1/4-inch (5-mm) thickness. Cut with a 2- to 2 1/2-inch (5- to 6-cm) cookie cutter and transfer to baking sheet about 1-inch (2.5-cm) apart. Prick each cookie with a fork and dust lightly with granulated sugar. Bake 10 to 12 minutes or until lightly coloured. Remove from sheet, cool on a rack and store in an airtight container.
Makes 24 cookies

 

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Easter Joy and Homemade Orange Honey Butter


When I was little, Easter was one of my favorite holidays. It was one of the signs that spring was upon us, flowers and trees in bloom, and we were that much closer to summer! But, more than that, it was the joy of preparing for it, watching my mom colour the eggs, collecting little pieces of grass (more on this later), and of course, the game of trying to compete for most eggs! Back home in Bosnia, we didn’t have Easter egg hunts. Instead we played the game of trying to break each other’s egg. The person with the stronger egg wins the loser’s egg, and at the end of the day, the winner gets bragging rights! For us kids, this was huge! 🙂

My mom has always been a fan of doing things the natural way, and this also applied with colouring the eggs. Instead of using artificial colours and stickers, my mom gets way more creative than that 🙂 She collects skins from red onions all year long to have to use for Easter, and boils the eggs in onion skins, so that they get this rich burgundy colour that you see in the pictures. The patterns come from flowers or interesting-shaped pieces of grass/weeds that get affixed to the egg and secured with old stockings. The eggs are then boiled for a long time and at the end, stockings and flowers are removed to show the pattern. Incredible!

This Easter I also decided to make these berry scones, recipe developed by Tyler Lawrence. He calls them the Ultimate Berry Scones 🙂 And believe me, they are divine! The scones come with homemade orange honey butter. Yes, homemade! So, before trying this recipe I have never made my own butter, and actually had no idea that this is possible to do in my own kitchen! But, it’s actually, quite simple! You overwhip whipped cream! Eventually, the butter separates from the buttermilk. You squeeze out the buttermilk from the butter and refrigerate! Voila! Homemade butter. The recipe suggests doing it ‘the old fashioned way’ but putting the cream in a mason jar and shaking it, but I wouldn’t recommend this because it would take a very long time.  Also, the recipe uses the food processor a lot, but if you don’t have a food processor, whipping the cream with regular mixer works just as well, it just takes slightly longer.  The orange zest in this recipe really gives the butter an extra dimension of flavour.

The scones are actually quite easy to make, not many ingredients, and the freshly squeezed orange-honey buttermilk makes them very moist. Needless to say, they were quickly gone at breakfast :). 

For dessert, I decided to make a chocolate cake. The interesting thing about this cake was that the layers are mostly made from beaten eggs, very little flour is used. The one thing that I would advise is that it’s absolutely crucial to bake the two crusts at the same time. Because most of the batter comes from the beaten eggs, if they are left to sit for any period of time, they will deflate and you’ll have a very dense and flat crust 😦

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Click on each photo to view the high resolution images.

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RECIPES

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Orange Honey Butter:

  • 1 quart heavy cream
  • Zest of 1 orange
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • Pinch of salt

Berry Buttermilk Scones:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3 tablespoons sugar, plus more for sprinkling scones
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3/4 stick cold unsalted butter, cubed
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh mixed berries (e.g. blueberries, raspberries, blackberries), washed and dried
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk, (leftover from orange butter), plus more to brush scones
Directions
You can do this the old fashioned way and add ingredients to a mason jar, cover with the lid and shake vigorously for 10 minutes, or you can use the food processor.
 In a food processor bowl add all the ingredients and turn on high. The liquid will slosh, whip and then separate after about 4 minutes. When the mixture separates, (these are the butter solids and buttermilk), stop processing and strain out the buttermilk – there will be just under a cup. Reserve the buttermilk to make the scones. Strain out the butter and squeeze dry. Work the butter a couple of times to bring it together to form a nice ball. Refrigerate butter until ready to use.
 For the scones:
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
 In a food processor bowl add flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add cold butter cubes and pulse until you have the texture of coarse bread crumbs. Transfer to a large mixing bowl, then add 3/4 cup of buttermilk and stir to combine. As it comes together add berries and fold dough to incorporate berries but not break them up too much.
 Drop spoonfuls of dough onto a parchment lined sheet pan.  Using a pastry brush, paint the tops of each scone lightly with buttermilk and sprinkle with sugar.
 Bake until golden brown, and nice and puffy, about 17 to 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and transfer to a wire rack.
 Serve warm with the Orange Honey Butter.

© The Food Network

The Black and Tan Cake

  • 4 oz (125 g) bittersweet chocolate, chopped
  • 2 tbsp (25 mL) butter
  • 8 eggs
  • ¾ cup (175 mL) salted roasted peanuts
  • ¾ cup (175 mL) all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup (250 mL) granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp (5 mL) vanilla
2 tbsp (25 mL) cornstarch

Ganache

  • 2/3 cup (150 mL) whipping cream
  • 6 oz (175 g) bittersweet chocolate, chopped
  • Chopped salted roasted peanuts, for garnish
1. Preheat the oven to 350ºF (180ºC).
2. Line the bottom of two 9-inch (23-cm) cake pans with a circle of parchment paper. Set aside.
3. Melt chocolate and butter in a saucepan over low heat; set aside. Place eggs (in shells) in a bowl and cover with warm water; let eggs warm to slightly above room temperature, refreshing with more warm water if it cools.
4. Pulse peanuts in a food processor until finely chopped (but not a paste). Add flour; pulse to combine. Set aside.
5. Drain water from eggs and crack into a large, straight-sided bowl. Add sugar. Using an electric mixer, beat until very pale, tripled in volume and ribbons fall slowly from beater when lifted. Beat in vanilla. Sprinkle with peanut mixture in 2 additions, folding just until combined.
6. Pour half of batter into a separate bowl. Working with 1 bowl of batter, sift in cornstarch and gently fold just until blended. Pour into 1 prepared pan. Gently fold melted chocolate mixture into second bowl of batter. Pour into remaining pan.
7. Bake for about 25 to 30 minutes or just until a tester inserted in the centre comes out clean. Let cool in pans on rack for 30 minutes. Run a knife around edge of cakes and invert onto rack. Peel off paper and let cool completely.
8. For ganache, heat cream in a saucepan over medium heat, just until bubbles form around the edge. Remove from heat and stir in chocolate until melted and smooth. Let cool until slightly thickened but still fluid.
9. To assemble, place chocolate cake layer on a serving plate. Pour about ½ cup (125 mL) of the ganache in the centre of cake and spread almost to the edges. Top with peanut cake layer. Slowly pour remaining ganache in the centre of the cake, gently tilting as necessary to spread
ganache to the edges and letting drips flow down sides of cake. Sprinkle with chopped peanuts. Refrigerate for about 15 minutes or until ganache is set or for up to 1 day. Cut into slices using a warm, serrated knife.
 
Serves 10 to 12
 

Honey-Roasted Peach Croustade with Almonds and Honey-Sweetened Greek Yoghurt


The Yummy Pixel

First post of 2011.  Happy New Year!  What were your New Year’s resolutions?  I haven’t thought about mine because I usually never keep them anyway, so why put all the pressure on myself? :).  One thing that I’m sure I’ll keep up with is this blog.  Over the holidays, I purchased (and at half price – yay!) the new Bon Appètit Desserts cookbook , and I just couldn’t wait to try one of 100s of recipes in it!  This cookbook is divine – there are so many different variations on the classic favourites and numerous butter pastry options (which I love).  When I first saw this book at the bookstore, I opened it to exactly the page of this Honey-Roasted Peach Croustade.  It looked so delicious and right away I started thinking about how I would photograph it, the angles, the accessories, etc.  So, what you will see here are some of those thoughts – in photos of course :).

I was lucky that the tree-rippened peaches were on sale yesterday when I went to buy them.  I haven’t roasted peaches before so  I wasn’t sure what to expect.  The honey and brown sugar that get sprinkled on the peaches before they roast make a brown, sticky, bubbling paste around the peaches, and my whole kitchen started smelling like peach-infused honey – YUM!

 

The peaches were so bubbly and soft when they came out of the oven I couldn’t resist taking a picture.  It was such a beautiful day yesterday and SO much light was coming through my big window, it was threatening my photos being too bright.  Let’s face it – I’m an amateur and I barely scraped enough money for my fancy D90, so softboxes and light reflectors are not part of my equipment (unfortunately).  I try to shoot mostly during the day, as I find that daylight best preserves the natural food colours.  Since there was so much light coming through my windows, I had to use my blinds to soften it. 

I must say I’m fairly pleased with the results because I’m not noticing too many shadows or reflections, and it seems to me that the source of light is not too obvious (or maybe my eye is just not trained enough).

  I just love the smell of roasted almonds, and especially how their colour compliments the baked pastry dough.  The recipe doesn’t call for a yolk-wash to be brushed over the pastry before it’s baked, but I did that anyway to get the wonderful brownish colour you see above.  I couldn’t find any Greek yogurt so I used regular 6% yogurt and drained the liquid over night through a paper towel to get it thicker.  Then I mixed in some honey.  I must say – it’s better than any fruit yoghurt out there 🙂 (ok, maybe Liberté Méditerranée  comes close :))

 The dough was so buttery and delicious it just melted in my mouth, and the sweetness of the peaches and tanginess of the yogurt was such a good combination.  I couldn’t wait to put this fork-full in my mouth (this plate didn’t last long at all).  My friend Bojan came by later in the evening for a drink and I was glad to have someone else taste as well.  It is now just one day after I made this, and between giving some to family and the rest to my coworkers – it’s all gone!  I think I’ll have to make it again 🙂

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Click on each photo to view the high resolution images.

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RECIPE

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Honey-Roasted Peach Croustade with Almonds and Honey-Sweetened Greek Yoghurt

Peaches:

  • 1 1/2 pounds small ripe yellow peaches (about 6-7), unpeeled, quartered and pitted
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
Crust:
  • 2/3 cup slivered almonds
  • 1 cup unbleached all purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 7 tablespoons chilled unsalted butter (cut into 1/2 inch cubes)
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 2 tablespoons honey
Honey Yogurt
  • 1 1/2 cups plain Greek-style yogurt (if Greek-style yogurt is not available, use 6% milk fat or higher plain yogurt and strain over night to drain the liquid out, making it thicker, resembling Greek-style yogurt)
  • 3 tablespoons honey
Peaches:  Preheat oven to 400 F. Line large baking sheet with foil.  Arrange peaches, skin side down, on foil.  Drizzle with honey and sprinkle with brown sugar.  Roast peaches until just tender and beginning to brown, about 20 minutes.  Using spatula, turn peaches and continue roasting until fruit is very tender and honey begins to turn dark brown on edges of pan, about 12 minutes longer.  Cool peaches.

 

Crust:  In a food processor, coarsely chop almonds.  Transfer nuts to a bowl (do not wash processor).  Blend flour, sugar and salt in processor.  Add butter, using on/off turns, process until mixture resembles coarse meal.  Drop egg yolk through feed tube and blend just until moist clumps form, using on/off turns.  Gather dough into ball, flatten into a disk.  Wrap in plastic and freeze 30 minutes.  (The dough can be made 1 day ahead.  Let stand at room temperature for 20 minutes to soften slightly before rolling out.)

 

Preheat oven to 375 F.  Roll out dough disk between 2 floured sheets of parchment paper to 10-inch round, sprinkling with .  Remove top sheet of additional flour as necessary.  Remove top sheet of parchment.  Sprinkle dough evenly with 1/2 cup chopped almonds.  Replace parchment atop crust and roll to 11-inch round, embedding nuts into dough.  Invert crust and parchment onto heavy baking sheet, nut side down.  Remove top sheet of parchment.
It’s nearly impossible to transfer the croustade from your counter to the baking sheet because the dough is quite fragile.  For best results, when the dough is rolled out, transfer to baking sheet and then arrange peaches over center of crust in concentric circles, alternating skin side up and skin side down and leaving 1 1/2 to 2 inch plain border.  Using parchment as aid, fold outer edge of crust over edges of peaches.  Drizzle peaches with honey.  Sprinkle with remaining chopped almonds.
Bake until crust is golden brown, about 30 minutes.  Cool 20 minutes.   The croustade is quite fragile even after it cools down. To transfer to a platter, slide metal spatula under croustade to loosen from parchment.  Using tart pan bottom from 11-inch diameter tart pan as aid, carefully transfer croustade to platter. 

 

Honey Yogurt: Mix yogurt and honey in small bowl to blend.

© Bon Appétit Desserts Cookbook