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

Perfecto Cinco de Mayo

20130506-024833.jpgA homemade Mexican feast, sunny southern Spain, day drinking, and lovely girlfriends…definitely a perfect Sunday afternoon and a perfect Cinco de Mayo.20130506-024902.jpgIt’s the kind of sunny afternoon that you’d want to last forever (which I kind of managed to do, with an evening siesta and a walk along the pier at sunset). It was summertime in Andalucía, and the living is easy…
(My contribution to our lunch was my go-to one bowl chocolate cake— just added cinnamon and orange zest to the cake, and lime zest to the cupcakes to make things slightly more “Mexican” in a pinch!)20130508-002453.jpg20130508-002510.jpg

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!

Overwhelmed Under the Arches: La Mezquita, Cordoban Highlights, and a Clementine Cake

Looking up at the iconic arches in the mosque.

During my second year of university I took a little break from a full science course load and took some artsy electives.  One of my favourite classes was ‘Intro to Spanish Culture’ — our teacher, an enthusiastic academic from Andalucia, had me captivated after the first class.  Shortly thereafter I heard about this language assistant program in Spain, I applied the following year, and now here I am! Crazy.
One of the images I remembered the most from that class was that of the great mosque in Cordoba.  TShap and I ended up going back there twice, we were so amazed by the structure and the history of the building (plus, tourist tip! the entry is free from 8:30-10am!).  Although the mosque really is fantastic to see, many tours make it the only stop, and I would recommend staying to see the rest of this beautiful town.  From the Jewish quarter, to the Alcazar, to the gorgeous patios at Palacio de Viana, there is a lot to see. Catch a flamenco show, try some bull’s tail stew, and enjoy!

Craftsman at work at the Zocco Market

Looking into one of the patios at the Palacio de Viana.

This cake showcases two of the most abundant ingredients in Andalucia: citrus and olive oil.  This was my first weekend without traveling;  I enjoyed some downtime (and partying) at ‘home’ in Huelva and baked for the first time since I’ve been in Spain — it felt nice!  I was a little nervous with how using our new oven for the first time would go but this cake worked out so well! I was very pleased.  

Flamenco concert in Cordoba

Trying Rabo del Torro…I was wary but it was delicious.

Great travel buddy and photographer, twin:)

Clementine Olive Oil Cake with Dark Chocolate Chunks

No Oven? No Bake Chocolate Cake

When we moved in to our apartment in Huelva,, our bubbly and seemingly lovely landlady (who is an older Spanish lady from Sevilla) told us upfront that our oven was currently not working, but would be replaced “mañana”.  Well, three weeks have gone by, and that’s a lot of mañanas.  We’ve called our dueña several times, and she keeps reassuring us that a new oven is on the way, but we’re getting impatient over here! We will persist, por que no es vale!

To make things worse, our microwave broke last week (we’ve been told that it will be replaced mañana, too…), so when I said I would bring a dessert to a little “international” dinner I went to last week, I realized it would have to be a “no bake” recipe for sure. Cue this amazing No Bake Chocolate Cake from Heidi at 101cookbooks.  With only two key ingredients (I did manage to find all of the ingredients, though, in our little local grocery store!), it is a cinch to make, and can easily be done with super low key kitchen equipment.  (I used a plastic container lined with parchment paper as my “cake pan…it works!)

This cake is basically a decadent chocolate ganache or fudge in disguise. Make sure there are other people around to help you eat this, or you could end up eating it all yourself….not that that’s necessarily terrible.
I tried to make my cake a little more “Canadian” for this international shindig, so I decorated it with some maple candies and chocolate loonies that I brought from home (they are really for my students, but I figured I could sacrifice a few!).  It needed a little gussying up since I was lacking any cocoa powder or powdered sugar to make it look a bit more sophisticated.
This recipe was really easy to follow and the results were delicious — I’m really looking forward to making it again (maybe for (y)our birthday, Thomas!), but I’m also really looking forward to having an oven…fingers crossed.
Hasta luego!

Lemony Olive Oil Banana Cake

Dylan, one of my loveliest friends, celebrated her birthday at the end of August, and despite finding out her favourite desserts (cheesecake or crème brûlée, yum!) from her sister I was still sick AND we had a bunch of very ripe bananas, so this cake happened instead. Not that this was a bad thing, it was super delicious! (But Dylan, I owe you some crème brûlée.)

The recipe is from one of my favourite blogs, Heidi Swanson’s 101 cookbooks, and is actually a banana bread but works fabulously as a cake! Dress it down by preparing it in a loaf pan and skipping the icing, or you can put it in a bundt pan like she did for something a little fancier.  I went somewhere in the middle and just used a round 9-inch cake pan.

The combination of banana baked with a bright lemon twist was something I had never actually tasted before and I was delighted. Studded with dark chocolate, it’s irresistible. I will admit to eating this for dessert and breakfast, and taking it to work as a treat (it travels really well!) so I certainly won’t judge if you do the same. In fact, it is encouraged.

As far as dessert goes, this one is pretty “guilt free” with whole wheat flour, olive oil, and yogurt as some of the main ingredients.  If you don’t feel like chopping up chocolate, I used bittersweet chocolate chips and it worked out perfectly. The glaze that Heidi suggests was nice, but I actually preferred the cake without. If I were to ice it next time, I think I might indulge in a chocolate topping (no such thing as too much chocolate!).

Whether yours ends up as a loaf or a cake, I hope you enjoy it! Happy weekend!