Sunday 30 March 2014

Ginger Lime Elderflower Refresher

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I'm not really one for mixing drinks. Don't get me wrong, I love a good mixer, but much like sandwiches, I usually find drinks taste best when made by someone else.  There always seems to be a je ne c'est quoi about drinks and sandwiches alike that taste fine when made by me, but are other worldly when made by others. So, usually, I leave it to the pros. 

This little drink on the other hand is a whole other story.  This is a refreshing mix dreamt up as our winter switched to summer in no time flat and left us stunned and covered in a thin dew of sweat (so appealing). The combination of lime and elderflower is the perfect fusion of sweet and tart, and the ginger background ensures a nice kick off the top. Yum!

This is a keeper of a recipe, if you can call it that - it's almost too simple.  It can be whipped up in a snap as the temperatures rise, the sun dips, or any time feeling strikes.   

Sunday 23 March 2014

Link Love-In: Because the sun is out

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image via

The weather has (finally) turned and it's warm and sunny! I'm going to spend the day working reading in the sun, and I hope you can do the same, wherever you are in the world. Here's a collection of things read in the past few weeks, just in case you need some inspiration!

If you have any suggestions of your own, please pass them along!

Call me old fashioned, but between the Then and Now advertisements, I always prefer the "Then".  The copy in the top lego advert is also worth a read. (via The Huffington Post)

Photoshop vs. the world seems to be a pretty big deal these days. And while I can be lured in by a glossy mag just like the next girl, but this set of images from Aerie are way more 'shopspirational' than your average ad. At least I can guess what it might look like on me. (via Refinery29)

Evolution made easy, courtesy of e.coli - fascinating. (via The Huffington Post Canada)

This Lego-Man travel photography is something awesome. (via GeekSugar)

The Kitchn's Grower Tour series is great, I hope they do more. This is an old one on Sour Cherries and it is just so interesting! It makes me wish I was back in Southern Ontario so I could get some of my own. (via The Kitchn)

I'm already looking forward to my next kitchen, and I don't even know where it is, or when I will have it. But that doesn't stop me from collecting ideas. (via The Kitchn)

Rummage sales area a breezy Saturday afternoon's dream. Just look at what you might find - all of these were uncovered and developed years after her death. Street photography for the win.

Saturday 15 March 2014

Sour Cream Pound Cake with Vanilla Glaze

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It's funny to me how friendships are formed. Sometimes you'll know the existence of a person for years but they are nothing more than an acquaintance. Sometimes that acquaintance will turn into a great friend (sometimes not). Sometime you meet someone and they are your best friend 5 minutes later. And sometimes you can just tell by the vibe they give off that you'll mesh (or not). The circumstances and moments around the moments you meet someone are so intertwined that I wonder if I met friends under different conditions I would still be friends with them today.  I know I can't truly answer that, but it is a thought process that interests me.

Anyway, I'm talking about this because my dear friend Caroline recently moved away from China to the magical city of Paris, and Caroline (along with her husband) was the type of friend that I knew I was going to mesh with instantly. In fact I've really only known her for 6 months, but we bonded quickly and saying goodbye was a sad day. And when you're sad you make cake. You also make cake when you're happy - just in case you're keeping track of these important life lessons, cake is always acceptable.

Caroline is a vanilla over chocolate kind of girl with slightly sweet trumping cloying sweet, bar none. So after much deliberation I settled on a simple sour cream pound cake with vanilla glaze to send her off to her new city of culture and style.

The simple little cake is dense. So give it plenty of time to bake up in the oven. The flavour of the cake is simple and just the right amount of sweet thanks to the sour cream. The glaze adds a nice hit of texture on the top, and when you add it to the still warm cake it soaks in and sends it over the top.

Monday 10 March 2014

Smoked Salmon, Caramelized Onion and Feta Cheese Pizza

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Remember that pizza craving I had? Well this is the treat that finally fulfilled it.  This isn't your typical ooey gooey pizza that is so overloaded with stringy mozzarella you need your Go-Go-Gadget arms just to eat it (which is delicious in its own right).  This pizza is a well balanced taste sensation (yes, I said it ... and I mean it!).  The creaminess of the cheese was offset by the crisp of the crust. The sweetness in the onion was countered by the smokiness of the salmon. It was both sweet and savoury, crunchy and chewy. It was so good I made it two days in a row and if I didn't run out of ingredients, would probably have made it three or four.

As I had previously mentioned, this kitchen adventure also led me to making my own crust.  Something I hadn't done before but am very glad I was forced to. I've already talked about how easy it was, and I sincerely meant it. The hardest part is putting your cravings aside long enough to let the dough rise. Oh, and if you're me and you don't have indoor heating, it can also be difficult to find a spot in the house warm enough to let the yeast do it's thing. But seriously you guys, if I can do ... you can do it. No longer will insignificant details like lack of sauce and dough stop me from making a pizza!

While cooking in this country (the way I want to cook) will remain more complicated and challenging than it should, I am thankful that it has taught me to get creative and try out things I wouldn't necessarily have tried before.

So, I think I'm ready for my next challenge... what should I make?

Smoked Salmon, Caramelized Onion and Feta Cheese Pizza

Pizza dough (recipe below)
1/3 - 1/2 cup pizza sauce, according to tastes (recipe here)
1/2 medium red onion, sliced thinly
1 tsp cooking oil
1/4 cup feta cheese, crumbled
smoked salmon - exact measurement hard to predict

  1. Preheat oven to 350
  2. On a floured surface roll out the pizza dough to desired shape and thickness.  This dough recipe would make enough for about 2 12" pizzas, and I used half the amount of dough. Then transfer to a floured baking sheet. 
  3. Meanwhile, in a frying pan over medium heat, heat the cooking oil and add the sliced onion.  Cook the onion until soft, browned, and sweetly fragrant. Remove from heat and set aside.
  4. Top the rolled out pizza dough with the tomato sauce and sprinkle with the remaining ingredients.
  5. Bake for 10-15 or until the base of the crust is crispy and the edges are starting to brown lightly
  6. Enjoy!

Basic Pizza Dough
3 cups all purpose flour, plus more for dusting and kneading
1 8g sachet dried yeast
1/2 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/4 cups warm water
1 tbsp olive oil, plus more for brushing

  1. Combine the dry ingredients in a large bowl and make a well in the centre. 
  2. Add the warm water and olive oil. Cover your hands in flour and mix ingredients together to bring it to a soft dough. You may need to add a little more flour to your hands or the work surface as the dough goes through a sticky stage. 
  3. Knead the dough on a floured surface to until smooth.
  4. Brush the mixing bowl olive oil and place the dough inside, turning to coat.
  5. Cover with a damp tea towel. Set aside in a warm place for 30 minutes or until dough doubles in size. 
  6. Punch down dough with your fist. Remove the dough from the bowl and knead it gently for about a minute. 
  7. Cut the dough in half and you're ready to make a pizza

Monday 3 March 2014

Quick and Easy Pizza Sauce

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Sometimes what seems like a frustration is actually a great opportunity in disguise.  Just typing that makes me feel wiser than I really am, but it is definitely something I have learned over and over again during the course of my cooking adventures in China.  Because the way I want to cook, or the things I think should be easy to buy, is often not a possibility I'm forced to get creative, or hands on, or both and either make it work or give up the ghost.

With a pizza craving in full swing, it was time to either do what I can with what I can get, or ignore the craving and hope it goes away (yeah, right).  I didn't particularly feel like making my own sauce, or my own dough, but like I said, you make it work, and in the process you learn a thing or two.

Turns out, pizza sauce is a snap to make! So simple that I doubt I'll ever opt for the store bought stuff again. Seriously, you guys, it's embarrassingly easy. Try it and love it. I know you will!

This sauce is pretty adaptable depending on what you have on hand.  The recipe below outlines what I used, but I've included some notes for suggested additions if you happen to have those items on hand (I did not).

As a note, you can buy mediocre delivery pizza from places like Papa John's and Pizza Hut here (both far worse than their North American counterparts), but I wanted good pizza. Pizza with my ingredients ... so here we are!


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