Tea Time Magazine & Delicious Cookie Recipes – Soft & Chewy Malted Chocolate Chunk Cookies!

Leave a comment

DSCN0492

It’s time for a brand new spankin’ cookie recipe on Ate by Ate and this one is TOTAL keeper!  Trust me when I say that once you make these cookies, you may never want to use another cookie base ever again.  They’re moist, they’re chewy, they’re chocolatey, they’re adorable, they’re super easy to make, and they are the perfect cookies for picnics, kid lunches, care packages and gifts, and tea parties!  I’ve made two other variations of these cookies since I made the original ones here and I’ve been daydreaming of endless other combinations to try out for my next batch.  These cookies are made extra awesome because of one very special ingredient: Maltesers!  YES, Maltesers, the awesome crunchy chocolate malt balls in the iconic red packaging that we all know and love.  I’ve loved Maltesers since I was a little girl and I remember them being one of my favourite treats growing up.  Not only did/do I love the crunchy, melt-in-your-mouth interior and chocolate creaminess but in a weird way they give me this throwback connection to my mum eating these same morsels when she was a little girl.

DSCN0464

DSCN0467

So, where did I get this fantabulous recipe?  From the May/June 2012 issue of Tea Time magazine!  Let it be known that I absolutely adore Tea Time magazine to itty bitty pieces and have been loving them for over a year now.  It’s strange how I never knew about or noticed Tea Time magazine until early last year.  As an avid magazine reader, you’d think that I’d at least be familiar with the publication having spent so much time in the magazine aisles all these years but nope, it wasn’t until last February that I stumbled on it at Shoppers Drug Mart.  And I’ve been smitten ever since buying every single issue thereafter and every single available back issue on the Hoffman Media website.

Tea Time magazine is all sorts of wonderful and a must-have and must-read for all tea lovers.  Amazing and informative tea articles, a plethora of teatime recipes, beautiful photos, and the most delicious stories and features on tea shops and afternoon tea venues from around the world.  It makes my heart flutter just talking about it.  My only wish?  That the magazine came out monthly!  It’s a bi-monthly publication so you can totally understand my impatient writhing while I wait for the next issue to come out (which, since we’re on the topic, comes out later this month for July and August!).  Here’s the recipe, everyone, enjoy it!

DSCN0481

Recipe for Malted Chocolate Chunk Cookies (yields approx. 3 dozen small cookies)

Ingredients

  • 1-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup butter, at room temperature (1 stick)
  • 1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips or chocolate chunk morsels
  • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped malted-milk ball

DSCN0471

 

DSCN0475

Directions

  • Heat oven to 375°F (*Deb’s Note: because my oven runs hot, I lowered mine to 350°F).
  • Line several baking sheets with parchment paper.  Set aside
  • In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking soda, and salt, whisking well.  Set aside.
  • In a large bowl, combine butter and sugars, stirring until creamy (*Deb’s Note: I used a handheld mixer to mix  the butter and sugars together; my arm muscles aren’t strong enough to just stir!).  Add vanilla and egg, stirring until incorporated (*Deb’s Note: again, I used my mixer)
  • Add flour mixture to butter mixture, stirring until well mixed (*Deb’s Note: I used my mixer to mix just until blended; do not over mix!)
  • Add chocolate chips/chunks and malted-milk balls, stirring well (*Deb’s Note: I actually just use my hands to incorporate everything)
  • Using a levered 1-teaspoon scoop, drop dough onto prepared baking sheets (*Deb’s Note: I don’t use a scoop for mine, I use my hands to grab chunks of dough, shaping them and patting them down just slightly so everything sticks together)
  • Bake until light golden brown, 6 to 7 minutes (*Deb’s Note: mine take 6 minutes).  Cool completely on wire racks.  Store in airtight containers.

DSCN0485

DSCN0487

DSCN0488

Advertisements

There’s No Such Thing As Too Many Cookies – Almond Kisses Cookie Bliss From Joanne Fluke’s Hannah Swensen Mystery Series

Leave a comment

DSCN9809

Almonds and chocolate and sprinkles, oh my!  I had myself a fun and relaxing cookie baking and decorating party recently (if you consider running back and forth from the oven to the kitchen table with 4 baking sheets of cookies relaxing!), testing out a recipe for Almond Kisses from Joanne Fluke’s Lemon Meringue Pie Murder from the Hannah Swensen foodie murder mystery series (if you don’t know about these books and how much I love this series, you need to jump on the bandwagon, PRONTO!).

I love baking out of these books so much and it had been awhile since the last time I tried out something new from one of them so I jumped on the opportunity one Saturday morning to make these amazing almond cookies.  The original recipe uses Hershey’s Kisses for the cookie middles but unfortunately, I didn’t have any of my favourite cookies ‘n cream ones or the yummy milk and white chocolate swirly ones so I settled on testing out the base almond cookie recipe first and jazzing up a batch with chocolate chips mixed in and another batch dipped in melted chocolate and sprinkled with sprinkles!

DSCN9831

DSCN9806

DSCN9804

I had the best time making these cookies and they turned out perfect!  And oh  my goodness they taste fantastically delicious.  Trust me when I say that they test the most delicious straight out of the oven.  I know you have to let them cool to dip them in chocolate if you want to follow my lead, but I really just mean within the first day or so.  They taste totally fine even a week after (providing you store them in a sealed container of course), but to really get the full food orgasmic effect, you need to taste them soon after they’re baked because they are just divine.  Like marzipan on cloud nine.  This is the type of recipe that can spawn 10 others simply because it’s so simple and versatile.  You can mix in chocolate chips (regular, white, butterscotch, whatever you like!), small sprinkles and shredded coconut, dip them in melted chocolate, or glaze them.  Or just leave them plain.

I was beaming with pride looking at all my cookies when I had the most bizarre and ridiculous exchange with my dad though.  Me: *wearing oven mitts, beaming* “Look how cute these cookies turned out!  They’re sooo good!”  Dad: “You didn’t make enough cookies.”  Me: “What do you mean I didn’t make enough cookies?!  I made 54!  Well, 52.  Dan and I just ate one each.”  Dad: “Yeah, but you’re giving away two dozen.”  Me: “Which leaves us with 28 still!”  Dad: “Exactly.  That’s not enough.”

I was so offended.  Hmph.  IT’S NOT MY FAULT THEY’RE SO YUMMY THEY DISAPPEAR LIKE CRAZY!

Anyway.

This is a must-try recipe, everyone, enjoy!

DSCN9825

DSCN9818

Recipe for Almond Kisses (yields approx. 4 dozen small cookies)

Ingredients (*Deb’s Note: the recipe below was actually cut in half.  The original recipe uses double the amounts)

  • 3/4 cup butter (1-1/2 sticks)
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar (*Deb’s Note: if you prefer to follow the original recipe’s ingredient list, substitute the brown sugar with 1 tablespoon molasses and increase the granulated sugar to 1 cup.  If you wish to follow the original recipe in its entirety, double the ingredients.)
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • 3/4 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup ground almonds
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 2 cups flour
  • your choice of add-in should you wish to use it!

DSCN9801

Directions

  • Heat oven to 350°F (*Deb’s Note: because my oven runs hot, I lowered mine to 325°F).  
  • Melt butter in microwave in mixing bowl.  Add sugars, vanilla extract and almond extract (Deb’s Note: if you are not using brown sugar and instead using molasses (see note in ingredient list), add the molasses after the adding the almond extract); mix with electric mixer until blended.  Add baking soda, baking powder and salt; mix well.  Add ground almonds; mix well.
  • Pour in beaten egg; mix until blended.  Add flour, 1 cup at a time; mix until just blended after each addition.  (Do not over mix).  (*Deb’s Note: If you are using add-ins like chocolate chips, add them after adding and mixing in the flour.  Mix them in gently with your hands so you’re not overworking the dough.)
  • Chill cookie dough in refrigerator for 1 hour.
  • Roll dough into small, walnut-sized balls.  Place on parchment-lined baking sheets, 15 dough balls to a sheet.  Flatten dough balls slightly using the palm of your hand.  Use the tines on a fork to make an indentation if you wish to jazz up the tops.
  • Bake 8 to 10 minutes (Deb’s Note: I baked mine for 8 minutes).  Cool on baking sheets for several minutes before removing to wire rack to cool completely.

Proceed to stuff your face with delicious fresh baked cookies.  Go the extra step and decorate using melted chocolate and sprinkles – like me!  Rinse and repeat.

DSCN9832

DSCN9829

*****

Recipe adapted from Joanne Fluke’s Lemon Meringue Pie Murder.  New York: Kensington Publishing Corporation, 2003.  Photographs taken by me.  The recipe can be found on page 55.

Mini Marshmallow Mania! Ringing in the New Year with Cookie Bar Baking – Marshmallow-Rainbow Chip Cookie Bars!

2 Comments

DSCN9543

Happy new year, everyone!  Despite the awful weather we had over the holidays here I hope everyone was still able to celebrate and have a happy holiday in some way, shape or form with family and friends.  Even though it was beyond frustrating to have an event of this magnitude happen just before Christmas (the scrambling, the worrying, the damage, everything.  I have never seen so much ice, so much white and so many streets blocked with yellow tape in my life) I know it could have been much worse.  My house didn’t lose power during the ice storm (a few outages here and there for a minute or so at a time but nothing serious) so I am beyond grateful and thankful that I was able to stay in my home during the aftermath.

Amidst all the craziness I managed to squeak in a little bit of baking, photographing and food blogging (not as much as I had initially planned but there was no way around it, not with entire neighbourhoods, streets and streetcars without power!) so I’ll be sharing the goods with you all over the next little while.  It may be back to the grind for many folks tomorrow but that doesn’t mean we can’t still have some holiday fun here!

DSCN9526

DSCN9539

2013 was full of so many highs and not-so-highs and while the latter part of the year didn’t exactly end the way I wanted or expected it to (in more ways than one), I do have some really awesome memories to look back on: taking my very first plane ride ever to Florida in February (and eating macarons from the Miromar Outlets in Fort Myers!), being a Macaron Day ambassador in March, attending and being a part of FBC’s first food blogging conference at Hockley Valley in April, taking the train for the first time to Ottawa in May, meeting Chef Michael Smith in June (I had the honour of eating hand-shucked oysters from him!), doing Summerlicious in July, celebrating my birthday in August, having one of the most amazing afternoon teas with my best friend in September (blog post in the works!), meeting Rosie Daykin at a food blogging event promoting her new Butter Baked Goods cookbook at Random House in October, buying teacups at my favourite antique market in November, and of course, celebrating Christmas in December with my best friend, my boyfriend and other friends in true foodie fashion.

DSCN9544

Sometimes I let the negative energy get to me (struggling to balance full-time work and blogging and everything/one else in my life and the not-so-highs that happened this year that I won’t care to repeat or hash out here) so much so that at times it feels crippling, emotionally and mentally.  I know I’m surrounded by so many good, wonderful and happy things though so I try my best to focus on them and I’m determined to make just as many, if not more, happy memories in 2014.

DSCN9547

DSCN9540

Baking is therapeutic for me so I had a little fun experimenting over the holidays and this is what came out of it!  I wanted to play around with the Chocolate Chip-Pecan Cookie Bar recipe from my Food & Wine magazine again using some of the baking goodies I had in my cupboard.  I really wanted to make it look festive so I swapped out the plain chocolate chips for rainbow chips in red, white and green, added a layer of miniature marshmallows and a layer of graham crumbs.

So what I did was crush some Honey Maid graham crackers and mix it with some melted butter.  I pressed the crumb mixture into an even layer in a parchment-lined 13×9-inch pan.  I topped it with an even layer of miniature marshmallows and then topped it with the cookie bar batter.  Voila!  A golden, ooey gooey cookie bar dessert!  I honestly just wanted to play around with the miniature marshmallows to see how it would turn out.  They completely melted into a gooey caramelized layer making them super fun to eat.  Keep in mind that this was just a fun experiment on my part, if we want to actually see a distinct layer of white marshmallows, we’ll have to tinker with the recipe.  Try them out and see how you like them!

DSCN9537

Recipe for Holiday Marshmallow-Rainbow Chip Cookie Bars (adapted from Chocolate-Chip-Pecan Cookie Bars recipe from March 2011 issue of Food & Wine magazine).  

Makes 12 big squares or 24 smaller rectangular bars.

Ingredients

  • 2/3 cup unsalted butter, softened, divided (1-1/4 sticks or 10 tablespoons)
  • 2 cups graham crumbs (if you are crushing graham crackers from scratch, it’ll take about 28 crackers)
  • 2 cups miniature marshmallows
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons light brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour (*Deb’s Note: the original recipe called for whole wheat pastry flour but I didn’t have any and also didn’t feel like buying any so I just used regular all-purpose flour!)
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup rainbow chocolate chips (*Deb’s Note: I used a holiday mix of red, white and green.  The original recipe called for semisweet chocolate chips)

Directions

  • Heat oven to 350°F.  Line the bottom of a 13×9-inch baking pan with parchment paper.
  • Reserve 1/4 cup butter (1/2 stick or 4 tablespoons) for later use; melt remaining butter.  Mix graham crumbs with melted butter.  Press graham crumb mixture evenly onto bottom of prepared pan.  Top with miniature marshmallows.
  • Beat the reserved butter and oil with the granulated sugar and brown sugar with an electric mixer until creamy.  Beat in the egg and vanilla until smooth.  In a small bowl, whisk the flour with the baking soda and salt; beat the dry ingredients into the wet mixture at low speed.  Gently fold in the rainbow chips until combined (*Deb’s Note: I just mixed the chips in with my hands so the dough wouldn’t be overmixed)
  • Transfer the dough to the prepared baking pan and press into an even layer over the marshmallows.  Bake 16-18 min. or until lightly browned and toothpick inserted in centre comes out clean.  Cool in pan 10 min.  Using parchment paper “handles”, lift out and cut into squares or bars.

Go Banana! Warm Banana-Almond Muffins with Brown Sugar Topping & The Story of a Broken-Hearted Muffin Lady

Leave a comment

banana almond muffins with brown sugar topping

Oh, muffin.  So many people adore you, my brother and father included.  They eat you for breakfast with their coffee.  They grab you on the go when they’re hungry or in a rush.  My dear coworker, Pat, treats everyone at work to a batch of you almost every Friday.  And let’s face it, you’re very versatile and easy to bake.  But I have to say it: I’m Deb and I have a love-hate relationship with you, THE MUFFIN.  *GASP*  Dun-dun-dun!

I know, you’d never know it from following Ate by Ate.  While I certainly don’t yak about muffins the way I do cupcakes or macarons, I do squeal over the cutie-patootieness of mini muffins (I even love saying mini muffin!) and I’ve posted a handful of tea muffin recipes over the years in a variety of flavours.  So what’s the deal?  I love homemade muffins but turn my nose up at store-bought ones.  There.  I said it.  I’m a muffin snob.

banana almond muffins with brown sugar topping

Which I know sounds confusing because every muffin was technically baked by somebody even if the batter was mixed by machinery.  But let’s be real.  I know we’ve all come across those horrendous muffins that look as though they’ve been pumped with steroids, that ooze grease when you give them a poke, that taste like cardboard (um, not that I know what cardboard really tastes like, but humour me and imagine it), and have no love, no character to them.  Those are the muffins that have turned me away all these years and to this day they still make me wary.

So much so that I even unintentionally declared it in public.  Oh yes.  I will never forget the day I broke a woman’s heart over a pack of muffins.  Long story short, I was grocery shopping with mumsie.  As we were browsing the bakery and baked goods, mumsie asked, “do you want some muffins?” to which I replied very forcefully and loudly, “EW, NO!  MUFFINS ARE FATTENING!”  Mumsie’s eyes and mouth widened in mortification as she smacked my arm and cried, “DEBRA!”  I scoffed, “what?”  “That woman was so happy looking at those muffins and you ruined it for her!”

Apparently I had destroyed a nearby shopper’s outlook on muffins with my unintentional outburst as said shopper immediately dropped the pack of muffins she was holding like a hot potato and scadaddled out of there.

Oops.

banana almond muffins with brown sugar topping

banana almond muffins with brown sugar topping

To that nice, innocent woman who was looking at muffins that day: I am sorry.  To make it up to you, here is a fab recipe I adapted from allrecipes.com.  They are banana-almond muffins with brown sugar-cinnamon-almond topping and they are moist and delicious and I hope they make you happy.  With homemade muffin love, Deb.

Recipe for Banana-Almond Muffins with Brown Sugar-Cinnamon-Almond Topping (adapted from the Banana Crumb Muffins recipe from allrecipes.com)

Makes 12 muffins

Ingredients: Muffins

  • 1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup ground almonds (*Deb’s Note: this was my special addition!  The original recipe does not call for ground almonds)
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. nutmeg
  • 4 bananas, mashed (*Deb’s Note: the original recipe called for 3 bananas; I had 4 in my kitchen so I just used up all 4)
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil (*Deb’s Note: the original recipe called for butter but I didn’t feel it was necessary to use butter so I substituted vegetable oil and it worked out perfectly)

Ingredients: Topping

  • 1/4 cup sliced almonds
  • 2 Tbsp. brown sugar
  • 2 tsp. cinnamon

banana almond muffins with brown sugar topping

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 375°F.  Lightly grease 12 muffin cups or line with paper liners.
  • In a large bowl, mix together flour, ground almonds, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg.  In another bowl, beat together bananas, sugar, egg and vegetable oil.  Stir the banana mixture into the flour mixture just until moistened.  Spoon batter into prepared muffin cups.
  • In a small bowl, mix together sliced almonds, brown sugar and cinnamon for the topping.  Sprinkle topping over muffins.
  • Bake for 18 to 20 min. (*Deb’s Note: the original recipe called for 18 to 20 min.; I baked mine for 17 min. and they turned out fine), or until toothpick inserted into centre of muffin comes out clean.

*****

Recipe adapted from allrecipes.com.  The original recipe, Banana Crumb Muffins, can be accessed HERE.

Supergrains by Chrissy Freer – Recipe for Warm Farro, Pancetta & Parsley Salad

Leave a comment

DSCN9746

Recipe for Warm Farro, Pancetta & Parsley Salad from Supergrains by Chrissy Freer

Preparation: 15 Minutes |  Cooking Time: 30 minutes

Serves 4

*Farro can be purchased as either whole-grain or cracked.  The most readily available is cracked farro and it cooks in about half the time whole-grain requires.  If using whole-grain farro, soak in cold water for several hours before cooking, then simmer in boiling water for up to 1 hour, until al dente.

Ingredients

  • 1-1/4 cups cracked farro
  • 5 oz. (140 g) pancetta, rind removed, cut into lardons (*Deb’s Note: I cubed my pancetta instead of cutting into strips)
  • 1 shallot, finely chopped (*Deb’s Note: I didn’t have any shallots so I just used half an onion)
  • 2 celery ribs, trimmed and cut into 1/4 x 2 inch batons (*Deb’s Note: I didn’t feel like cutting them into batons so I just chopped my celery.  I also used a lot more than 2 ribs because I love celery!)
  • 3  Tbsp. finely chopped flat-leaf parsley (*Deb’s Note: curly or Italian parsley works just as well!)

Red Wine Vinaigrette

  • 3 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 tsp. red wine vinegar (*Deb’s Note: I didn’t have any red wine vinegar so I used white wine vinegar instead.  Works perfectly and tastes delicious)
  • 1-1/2 Tbsp. lemon juice
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tsp. honey

Directions

  1. Cook the farro in a large saucepan of lightly salted boiling water for 15-20 minutes or until al dente.  Rinse briefly under cold running water, then drain well and transfer to a large bowl.
  2. To make the red wine vinaigrette, whisk all the ingredients together in a small bowl.
  3. Heat a large, deep skillet over high heat and cook the pancetta, stirring, for 3-4 minutes or until golden.  Reduce the heat to medium and add the farro, red wine vinaigrette, shallot, celery and parsley.  Season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper and stir to combine.  Cook until heated through, then serve.

Tip: This warm salad is delicious served with broiled meat, such as chicken or pork.

*****

Recipe from Supergrains: Cook Your Way to Great Health by Chrissy Freer, page 218.  Published by Appetite by Random House, a division of Random House of Canada Limited, 2013.

Warm Farro, Pancetta & Parsley Salad – My “10 Grains, 10 Days” Cooking Challenge with Crave at Random House of Canada!

Leave a comment
DSCN9742

Warm Farro, Pancetta & Parsley Salad! From Supergrains cookbook by Chrissy Freer.

Even though I was away for nearly two and a half months, I was still actively engaged in our wonderful world of food during my break.  I was still visiting cupcake and macaron shops, taking photos of my baking, eating sushi, noshing on weekend brunch (was I EVER enjoying weekend brunch!  It’s what kept me sane most weeks!) and taking part in some really fun food events and activities.  I was feeling tired and overwhelmed and all over the place, yes, but that didn’t stop me from going out just to enjoy food.  I just did it during my time away on a much looser schedule and without the frantic worrying and I think it was something I needed to do before I felt like I could come back and blog full time again.  I needed to love and enjoy food for food’s sake, without having schedules and social media and promoting and everything else on my shoulders and in the back of my mind during this transition period in my life.  It definitely helped because I feel so much better now.

I feel so lucky to know such wonderful people in the industry who share the same love, passion, and devotion to the exploration of food and in January I got the opportunity to take part in a fun and exciting cooking challenge hosted and organized by the Crave division of Random House Canada, the same folks who brought us the Smitten Kitchen cookbook and blogger brunch with Deb Perelman!

DSCN9725

Lindsey Reeder, who’s part of the online marketing team at Random House, hit me up back in January to take part in a “10 Days, 10 Grains” cooking challenge using Chrissy Freer‘s brand spankin’ new cookbook, Supergrains: Cook Your Way to Great Health!  5 bloggers and 5 Random House staff were to participate, each choosing one grain from a list e-mailed to us, and then using that grain to make a recipe from the Supergrains cookbook.  We would all write about our food experience, take photos, and have our posts featured on Crave’s site as part of the “10 Days, 10 Grains” cooking challenge series!  I WAS ALL OVER THIS LIKE MUD ON A PIGGY!  (You can click HERE for the “10 Grains, 10 Days” Supergrains Challenge series on Crave’s website and blog.)

I, along with my mum and brother, love all sorts of grains including quinoa, wheat berries, barley, oats and many others.  So when I skimmed the list of grains to choose from in my e-mail from Lindsey, I chose farro!  Something I loved to eat but had never bought or tried to cook before.

DSCN9726

DSCN9728

The wonderful thing about Chrissy Freer’s cookbook, Supergrains, and probably my favourite thing about the book, is how versatile, customizable, and undaunting it is.  There are recipes for every level of experience so if you’re feeling adventurous, go for something a little more advanced (oxtail bolognese!) or if you want something fast and simple, flip through the shorter recipes that are just as healthy and delicious.  I LOVE this cookbook SO much and can’t wait till I cook my way through the entire book.  I’ve made one other recipe from it (the quinoa corn muffins with feta, roasted pepper and chives) but I want to make it again, with my own twist to it, before I post about it here.  So stay tuned!

Now, back to my supergrains challenge.  I perused the selection of farro and freekeh (farro and freekeh were combined into one section in the cookbook) and chose something I KNEW my family and I would love: Warm Farro, Pancetta & Parsley Salad.  Read on for my cooking challenge experience and what I wrote for Random House’s Crave!

DSCN9723

My 4 main ingredients!

“Bless the gentleman who helped me find my farro at the Maple Leaf Gardens’ Loblaws.  He really went above and beyond, searching high and low and even asking the grocery manager for help on my behalf.  Up, down and around we went searching for the grain that would be the star of my Supergrains challenge dish, “Warm Farro, Pancetta & Parsley Salad” on page 218.  We searched in the healthy and organic foods section where the quinoa, spelt and buckwheat were.  No farro.  We ran over to the grains aisle.  Rice, rice, and more rice.  Then we wandered over to the ethnic section, all the while scanning for anything that started with “f” and ended in “arro”.

I thought I was going to have a mini panic attack.

You have no idea how big my sigh of relief was when I finally found it on the top shelf in the middle of the Italian section in the ethnic food aisle.  In hindsight, it really shouldn’t have taken me that long to find it.  After all, I had read the introduction to my supergrain days before I made my trip to the supermarket but the little nugget about it being a popular Italian grain didn’t click in my mind until I had the bag of it in my hands.

DSCN9737

DSCN9741

Lesson learned.  And the extra bit of effort was well worth it because what I ended up with was an eagerness to learn and cook more, a newfound passion for this amazingly versatile supergrain, and a delicious, comforting dish that my family and I absolutely adored.

Even though this recipe just screamed “no-brainer” to me as I was browsing the farro recipes because of my love for Italian food and my mom and brother’s love of grain salads, preparing it took me out of my comfort zone in more ways than one.  It wasn’t just about my unfamiliarity with cooking farro; it was also about cooking with pancetta for the first time and really using my cooking instincts while making this dish.  This recipe was simply a guide to something wonderful and delicious, it wasn’t the be-all and end-all type where if I didn’t follow it to a tee, it would fail miserably.

DSCN9739

There was so much room to experiment and have fun with it.  I adjusted the cooking time and heat strength based on my stove-top (read: my stove-top runs hot.  Like, really hot.  We’re talking fiery sunset red on a 6 setting).  I diced my pancetta and chopped my celery instead of slicing them into batons.  And because I didn’t have any red wine vinegar in my kitchen, I used white wine vinegar in its place and the result was spectacular.  My heart swelled with pride as the aroma of smoky pancetta and mouthwatering vinaigrette wafted by my nose.  I did it!  It was so much fun, the farro was incredibly easy to cook (no presoaking required!), and I cannot wait to try more recipes from Chrissy Freer’s cookbook!”

*****

Publication info: TBA

Bean & Butternut Squash Vegan Chili – Ate by Ate Cooks Fall Comfort Food!

Leave a comment

Ate by Ate is baaaack!  Taking a week off was one of the weirdest feelings in the world.  I haven’t stopped blogging for more than a day in the last two years so with the exception of posting some photos to Ate by Ate’s Facebook galleries, not blogging at all for a week was a complete 180.  I don’t think there will ever be a time when I’ll feel completely caught up, but a week off was exactly what I needed.  It took the pressure off, I got to do a little bit of holiday planning with friends, and while I still feel like there are a million things to do for Ate by Ate, at least I’m a tiny bit caught up on sleep at the very least!

And now we’re ready to dive right into the holiday blitz!  I’m so, SO excited for Christmas and the holidays.  I’m excited to see friends, to give my family and friends their presents, and of course, to eat!  I’m currently working on the December Food Calendar (the 1st draft went to Food Bloggers of Canada last night!) and I’m planning my weekends of food the best I can.  I forsee Christmas cupcakes, vegetarian yummies, tea, hot drinks, peppermint and candy canes, cookies, baking, and hopefully lots of special winter menu items and comfort food!

Cooking up a storm!

My week off from blogging not only allowed me to do some heavy-duty planning for the month of December, it also allowed me to cook for the very first time!  I KNOW!  The girl who has only ever baked has finally cooked a great, hearty meal all on her own from scratch!  For those of you who don’t know, my mum has always done the cooking in my family and shoos me out of the kitchen.  Always has, probably always will so long as I’m living under the same roof.  I consider myself lucky when I can take out my baking sheets and mixing bowls without so much as a frown.  Maybe I’m exaggerating a little.  Point is, I’ve read food magazines since the age of 8, have watched more cooking and food shows than I have anything else, have been fascinated by cooking and baking and the culinary arts for years, but have never truly cooked!

Boiling water for pasta and noodles doesn’t count.  Making sandwiches and salads don’t count.  Or eggs.  I’m not discrediting the preparation of those foods at all because goodness knows making food isn’t a skill you’re just naturally born with, but it’s just different for me because of how I’ve grown up.  I’m not a food blogger with a wealth of cooking experience under her belt and I don’t have a plethora of recipes (although I do hope everyone enjoys the cookie and baking ones I do post!); but what I do have is a willingness to learn and a passion that sees no end.

So, what did I end up making as my very first, real foray into cooking?  VEGAN CHILI!  I cannot tell you how happy and elated I feel about this meal!  I couldn’t stop smiling for the entire day after I made it.  I feel so proud that I did it all on my own and that it didn’t taste awful – I got the thumbs up from both my brother and my mum and I thoroughly enjoyed it myself!  I took a cue from this vegetarian chili recipe from All Recipes.com, modified it, and made it my own.  And best of all, I used the most amazing, delicious and fresh butternut squash from the Evergreen Brick Works farmers’ market to make it!  And if you can believe, it feeds 4 hungry stomachs and is incredibly hearty!  I hope you all enjoy it as much I did!

Bean & Butternut Squash Vegan Chili recipe

Serves 4 to 6

(adapted from “The Best Vegetarian Chili in the World”, allrecipes.com)

Ingredients

  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1/2 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 can (28 fl oz/796 mL) no-salt added diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 1 Tbsp. dried oregano
  • 1 can (19 fl oz/540 mL) no-salt added red kidney beans, rinsed
  • 1 can (19 fl oz/540 mL) no-salt added mixed bean medley (white kidney beans, chickpeas, romano beans), rinsed
  • 1-1/2 cups peeled, chopped butternut squash
  • 1 tsp. paprika
  • 1/2 Tbsp. crushed red pepper/chili flakes
  • 1-1/2 cups water
  • 1 can (12 fl oz/341 mL) corn kernels

Directions

  1. Heat olive oil in large, deep nonstick skillet on medium heat.  Stir in onion and garlic; cook 3 min. or until onion is tender.  Add tomatoes and oregano; cook 5 min., stirring occasionally.
  2. Add beans, butternut squash and spices; stir until evenly combined.  Add water, bring to a boil.
  3. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer 25 min.
  4. Stir in corn, cook 5 min.  Serve with hummus or avocado.