new year, same blog

gingerbread house mug topper 2017It’s been six years of casual blogging on Kate’s Plate (a name I’m still not sure that I like, but oh well)! My little corner of the internet has often been neglected, but I’m glad it’s here, and that you’re here, too.

The first recipe I posted was my mum’s gingerbread. (I refer to it as my mum’s since I will forever associate it with her, but should probably give the cred to Martha Stewart.)
I can’t remember why, but I split that first food post into two parts: one with a bunch of exclamation marks (gingerbread! “festive, and oh-so-delicious!”) and awkwardly lit photos, and a separate post with the recipe.

2017 was a bit of a post-drought over here, so it seems silly to mark any kind of blogiversary, but last year I had my mind set on making mini gingerbread houses to be mug-toppers (“festive, and oh-so-delicious!) to celebrate five years of this hobby. I made them, but the template I went with was way too large, and I didn’t even check the size of the template in relation to the mug (rookie move – you call yourself a blogger?!). So, they were just miniature houses that comically perched on some of the largest mugs I had around.

This year, I was determined to get it right. The structural integrity of these little houses was certainly questionable, as was the ratio of icing to cookie, but! they were tiny and twee. I was happy.SONY DSClast-five-years

I’d like to think that the quality of the photos around here has changed – happily, our holiday traditions haven’t (gingerbread galore!). So, all in one place, here are a bunch of gingerbread photos and the recipe (really, this do-over is so that the next time someone asks for the recipe I’m less embarrassed when I send a link to my blog. Heh.).

Here’s to years five and six of this little blah-blah-blahg. Thank you so much for popping by. It’s a hoot to share with you the things that bring me joy and/or enthuse me enough to ramble on about it on the internet. I hope you’re mildly entertained and/or have time to try a recipe, whether it’s this gingerbread (clearly an obsession of mine) or something from the archives with dimly lit photos.

And, thank you to my mother, who puts up with kitchen messes every time I visit, and is probably the first to read anything that’s posted here. Call me when you find a typo. xolast-five-years7

That recipe’s here!

Bue Grasso [Earl Grey Pound Cake]

thumb_dsc_0526_1024One of the things I love about the restaurant/food industry in Ottawa is the collaboration that exists between many business owners, entrepreneurs, chefs, brewers, etc. (In fact – I was lucky enough to write about that very topic in the latest Edible Ottawa magazine! Subtle plug, I know.) Through having the opportunities to write beyond my little neglected blog I’ve loved getting to meet and know many of the people that feed this city. It’s nice, too, that it sometimes overlaps with Tristan’s community, colleagues, and friends.

Matt Gardiner is one of those aforementioned entrepreneurial industry folk. After hosting Continue reading

on the move [grapefruit ricotta pudding]

SONY DSCSONY DSCJokingly, I told Tristan that upon moving into our new aprtment, my first order of business would be to get a little Christmas tree. Strangely, once we moved, my priorities shifted slightly — suddenly I was more concerned about getting a real mattress (off the floor!), and having vegetables in the fridge. But Tristan took me seriously, and a week after the move he delighted me by suggesting that we best go pick out a tree.

So, with my priorities straightened out, we’ve been settling in nicely. We hosted our first little shindig the weekend before Christmas and it was so fun to see our friends in a place we’re calling ours.

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Going Beyond the Pale [Beer Brownies]

btp (20)Beyond the Pale Brewing Company turned two last weekend! (Come celebrate our beerthday with us!)btpbtp (25)
There was a post from the brewery at the top of my Facebook newsfeed one morning in July; they were looking to hire. I didn’t know much about BTP except that I loved their beer and their ‘help wanted’ ad made me chuckle, and so I sent off my application (which included some brewtal beer puns). A couple pints and two interviews later, I found myself working at this great little brewery in Hintonburg.diving for mash
After spending the first part of my summer travelling and being funemployed, starting at BTP certainly felt like a change of pace, but a mighty fun one. (My mum, who hated me going around saying that I was “funemployed”, likes to joke that I became “funnERemployed”.) Compared to my past few summers at a student government job it was a huge change of pace. …I sell beer. I don’t brew (yet?!), although I do occasionally zest the grapefruit that goes in to Pink Fuzz, so I like to think I have some part in the beer creation. Sometimes muscles are sore at the end of a long day (beer is heavy!), and some of the initial novelty of working at a brewery might have worn off a little bit, but overall it’s just been a ton of fun. The friendly bunch at BTP was super welcoming and has been a hoot to work with. I’m learning more than I thought I’d ever know about beer, I get to talk to people all day who are as excited about the craft brewing scene as we are, put my social media addiction skills (#employability?) to good use (you can follow along with the brewery here, here, and here), and it’s been great to meet all these wonderful people in an industry that I’m happy to be a tiny part of.btp (11) Click to continue reading…

The Great Food Blogger Swap, Year 3 [Chewy Ginger Chocolate Cookies]

cookieswap2014Three years ago, I discovered The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap, probably while procrastinating school work and perusing food blogs. I had just started my little blog at the time, so I eagerly signed up for an email that would let me know when I could sign up for the following year.fbcookieswap2014_whiteLGTwo years ago I was living in Spain (wah, where does time go!). Suffering from a serious case of FOMO, I signed up for the cookie swap even though I was out of the country, and my wonderful mother baked and mailed my cookies for me.  She even froze the cookies I received in the mail until I came home for the holidays. I know, I’m so spoiled.cookieswap2014Last year, I created a biscotti blizzard in the kitchen and might have prioritized cookie swapping over studying for finals. Just a little bit.cookieswap2014This year, I swore I’d be more organized. I wasn’t. But! Somehow, cookies were made and mailed. I’ve almost survived another exam season. And the novelty of receiving pretty packages full of cookies in the mail continues!   Click to continue reading…

25 Years & A Rap [Berry Flan]

backyardberries

From the backyard.

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25 years ago last Tuesday my parents got married. We celebrated with a lovely al fresco dinner at home. I made them a berry flan. I wrote them a rap.

Mama flashing the 25 year old ring.

Mama flashing the 25 year old ring.

So if anyone is looking for a preppy, classically trained singer to freestyle at their next event, you know where to find me. (Mostly totally joking.)SONY DSCveryberryflan The recipe and a rap…

Donde fueres, haz lo que vieres [Tarta de Santiago]

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Trying to keep up my amateur food blogging in my piso has its little difficulties: lack of equipment (building muscle and making me better at eyeballing!), unfamiliar grocery stores (you’ve gotta work with what you’ve got!), and lack of natural light in the apartment for my semi-decent photos/lack of time spent in said piso during daylight hours (you’ve got to make hay while the sun shines!)…but I think my quest to be more like an española in the kitchen got off to a good start.

Tarta de Santiago, “Cake of Saint-James”, has been eaten since the middle ages in Galicia and is traditionally decorated with the cross of Saint-James. I opted to dust mine with icing sugar and top it with sweet Andalucian strawberries that are just starting to be seen at the market.

This cake was much like the Andalucian Orange Almond Torte that I made last fall, minus the orange– only three main ingredients in this one, so it doesn’t get much easier! To practice my Spanish, I followed this recipe, but have copied it below in English for you.

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Tarta de Santiago
250 grams of ground almonds
250 grams of granulated sugar
5 large eggs
Zest of half a lemon (I used the zest of a whole lemon!)!’
1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon
1 tablespoon of icing sugar (for dusting)
butter for greasing the pan (I used sunflower oil)
one 22-cm diameter springform pan

Mix together the almonds, sugar, lemon zest and cinnamon. Mix in the eggs until well combined but don’t beat the eggs. Once the batter is smooth, pour into the greased pan and bake at 350F for 50 minutes or until the top is golden (if it starts to brown too much just cover the top with tin foil). To decorate the cake traditionally, you can print off the cross template from the Spanish re pie website; place your cross on the cake and top with icing sugar around it. Or, top with icing sugar and fruit; easy and delicious! Buen provecho!

I’ll Be Home for Christmas [Spanish Spice Cake]

I can’t believe it has almost been three months since I first came to Spain, and a whole year since I started this little blog. (Something about time flying?) In one week, I’ll be home in Ottawa for a quick visit over the holidays. I am having a great time here, but am excited to be with my family and friends at home in snowy Canada!

My puppy at home on a frozen pond -- picture by tomshap :)

My puppy at home on a frozen pond — picture by TShap :)

Before I left for Huelva, my mum planned a really lovely send off. There was a band, an awesome mix of my friends and family, and of course, great food. The food was Spanish themed (but of course) and alongside the pitchers of sangria, Spanish meats, olives, and tapas there was a great spread of desserts. My wonderful mother organized everything and I basically showed up and enjoyed myself. So I did as I was told, and stayed out of the kitchen; the only thing I made was this Spanish Spice Cake.SONY DSC

A few days before the party, my mum was trying to think of what Spanish things she could include on the dessert table. As she was falling asleep, she suddenly remembered a “Spanish” cake that my nana used to buy from A&P when she was a kid. The next morning she googled “Spanish cake A&P” and that is how we came up with this recipe! It’s dark and moist, with a good touch of cocoa. This would fit in perfectly as a holiday dessert with the warm spices that are featured here (Also, cakes like this are the best “air freshners’. Cake in the oven? Best smell to welcome guests with.).

Dunlop enjoying some of the party decorations the next morning.

Dunlop enjoying some of the party decorations the next morning.

Aside from the people, one of the things I miss most about home is my time in the kitchen. The kitchen is in the centre of our home, and the area is opens up into the family room, so the kitchen is where everyone gathers to chat and relax (and cook, obviously). I made this cake during one of my last evenings in Ottawa while one of my best friends sat chatting with me at the counter and sipping on tea. I love that easy feeling of getting stuff done in the kitchen surrounded by your favourite people — I guess it’s what I would call my happy place. Looking forward to being with them back in that kitchen in just a few days! I may or may not have been singing “I’ll Be Home From Christmas” a ridiculous amount this weekend…

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Giddy Up! [Cowgirl Cookies]

SONY DSCI’ve got a bit of a cookie crush on Moo Milk, a charming milk and cookie bar in Toronto that opened last August. After trying one of their ice cream sandwiches I was hooked (marshmallow ice cream with toffee bit cookies, can you blame me?!).   I’m not even a huge milk drinker, but their delicious flavours have turned me into a bit of a convert, and there really isn’t anything better to go with their show-stopping cookies (which are pretty much  perfect;  a little crispy around the outside, with a chewy center…I think I may have tried almost every flavour they had the last time I was in town).  mooThough it’s tough to pick a favourite Moo cookie, their Cowgirl cookie might just be it.  My love of sweet and salty combinations had me going back for seconds…and bringing some back for my family in Ottawa.
moosandwichI’m not sure why these are called Cowgirl cookies, but I like it.  It’s feisty.  They are great for Cowboys as well, of course.  This recipe isn’t for Moo Milk’s cookie, but rather my attempt at recreating them in my kitchen in Huelva…Moo’s has (I’m pretty sure) some mini choco chips, toffee bits, pretzels, and espresso grounds.  Mine include chocolate chunks, pretzels, oats, espresso grounds, and I threw in some shredded coconut the second time I made them.  So, not quite “the” Moo Milk Cowgirl cookie, but pretty darn delicious all the same! cowgirl
Giddy up and make yourself some Cowgirl Cookies!