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Cooking with Asparagus

This post has been sponsored by Loblaws. Although they have provided me financial compensation and products, my opinion and words are all my own. I am in partnership with Loblaws and will be bringing blog posts and recipes throughout the rest of the year, and all partnered posts will be marked as sponsored.

Food is one of my favourite things. It is something you can talk about, watch on TV, read in books, learn about in school, and most importantly, bond over. Growing up food was not something I was passionate about, nor something I really cared about (other than to eat). It wasn’t until my late teens and early twenties when I was on my own that I started to not only appreciate food – the flavours, the smells, the work that goes into it – but see first-hand how it can be a fantastic way to learn more about those around you, connect with people you thought you had little in common, and share experiences you may never have had otherwise.

Over the last few years, I have immersed myself in food. I have countless (no seriously, countless- see picture below) cookbooks which I have read front to back like they are novels as well as a growing collection of food-based history and literature (everything from the history of the apple in North America to books on food fights and culture wars all which revolve around an ingredient or a dish). I have also had the chance to experience numerous food-based experiences from fine dining tasting menus, to trips and vacations all which start around a conversation of “What food should we eat when we’re away.”

So when Loblaws came to me with the opportunity to share stories and recipes revolving around #FoodLoversUnite I couldn’t have been more excited. Loblaws was already my grocery store I’ve shopped at for years, so it was a nice way to combine my love of a place I spend a lot of time in, and their vision that food can bring everyone together. As part of my partnership with Loblaws, I’ll be sharing a number of recipes that involve different ingredients or themes. The first is that no matter what your food preference, we’re all food lovers. The ingredient I was chosen to feature was asparagus. What I love about getting asparagus is the fact that it is in season. It tastes so much better and I love knowing that it is coming from Canadian farmers. At my Loblaws (Maple Leaf Gardens if you ever want to visit it) during peak growing season (June-August) more than 50% of produce is coming from Canadian farmers (and this isn’t just my Loblaws, that is Loblaws across Canada). Loblaws works with over 450 Canadian farmers and continues to grow that which makes shopping Canadian and supporting our own farmers that much easier. If you have the chance, I encourage you to try in-season produce at Loblaws, especially when you see it is from Canadian growers, you’ll be impressed by the quality and taste!

Grilled asparagus on a plate

Asparagus was one of the first vegetables I remember liking as a child and one that I keep in my fridge almost all year round! Whether it’s quickly blanched and served super crisp, or oven-roasted to a beautiful toasty finish, for me, you can’t go wrong with asparagus. According to a poll done by Correlated, in general, 72% of people like asparagus. While that may seem like a lot, that also means that nearly 30% of people don’t! One of that 30% of people also happens to be one of my best friends Maleah. So with her in mind (and on her way over for dinner this week) I wanted to make something that asparagus could be the star of (for me) but could also be replaced and still be delicious for Maleah. I settled on Corncakes!

For myself, I made Asparagus, Bacon and Feta Corncakes. These are such a delicious spring and summer treat. They’re not super complex, and don’t take a long time to make so even the most kitchen shy person can make these with success! You can easily swap out the asparagus in this recipe for fresh peas, corn, scallions or leeks and still have a scrumptious dish. For Maleah, I swapped out the asparagus for leeks because they’re one of her favourite vegetables. I simply divided the batter into 2 once it was combined and mixed in the asparagus and leeks separately meaning we’d both got exactly what we wanted!

Ingredients:

1 Cup+ 2 Tbsp Grilled Asparagus, grilled or charred, diced (or substitute with 1 cup fresh peas or 1 cup fresh corn or 1 cup shredded leeks)

2.5 tbsp olive oil

6 slices bacon, baked, chopped

1 cup finely ground cornmeal (the higher quality the better)

1/2 cup+1 Tbsp all-purpose flour

1-1/2 tsp baking powder

3/4 tsp salt

1/2 tsp garlic powder

1/4 tsp cayenne pepper

1/2 cup feta cheese, crumbled (pat dry before crumbling)

1 cup whole milk

1 extra large egg

2 Green Onion, finely chopped

Neutral Oil for frying (canola, sunflower, etc…)

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 400F.

Clean your asparagus, cut the hard woody ends off and drizzle with your olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Preheat your grill or pan to medium heat. Add asparagus, and cook until slightly blackened and cooked- 3-4 minutes on each side. Once cooked, remove from heat and let cool. Cut into 1″ pieces after, reserving the tips.

With your oven heated, cook your bacon on a sheet pan covered with parchment paper for 15-20 minutes (you want the bacon crispy, but not so much so that it breaks into too many small pieces when cutting). Remove and let cool before dicing the bacon. Reserve the bacon drippings from the pan.

In a large bowl, combine the cornmeal, flour, baking powder, salt, garlic powder, and cayenne pepper.

In a medium bowl, whisk the milk and egg together. Once thoroughly combined add the feta, half the bacon crumbles, 2 tbsp of the reserved bacon drippings, both green onions and To it, add the crumbled feta, half of the diced bacon, 2 tablespoons of the bacon drippings, the green onion, and the diced asparagus (keeping aside the tips mentioned before).

Add the wet ingredients to the dry, mixing well- you want to avoid clumps as they’ll leave floury pockets that aren’t enjoyable.

Heat a large frying pan to medium-high heat. Add leftover bacon drippings into the pan and enough oil so that the bottom of the pan is thinly covered.

Using an ice-cream scoop, scoop mixture directly into the hot pan.

Cook each side until golden and firm. This should take 2-3 minutes depending on your pan. Keep a close eye on them as they can burn easily. As they’re finished, place them on a paper towel to absorb the oil (if you don’t they’ll get soggy- also, don’t stack them on top of each other as they dry).

Serve with sour cream, the leftover bacon crumble and the asparagus tips!

Asparagus and feta cheese corncake on a plate with sour-cream and bacon.

If fried foods aren’t your favourite, or if you’re simply looking for something a little more satiating (you have to eat a lot of corn cakes to make it count as a meal in my opinion) then I’ve included a couple of other recipes that could help round out a great breakfast, brunch, lunch or dinner!

Now, if your childhood was anything like mine then one of your first baked goods memories was likely of either cookies or bread- probably banana bread or some sort of similar loaf (my mom would always make this great zucchini bread before I even knew that I enjoyed zucchini). Loaves and bread quickly became some of the first things I ever attempted to bake and something I continue to go back to again and again. (I’ve got a beautiful cinnamon swirl loaf I’ll share at some point). So when thinking of ways to make foods where an ingredient could be replaced my mind immediately went to a bread.

It took me a few tries to get this right (my first version was way too dry, and the second was too oily and there was an after taste I didn’t love) and that got me to here. I took elements from a couple of other types of breads (an olive oil bread for the texture and consistency) as well as from cakey bread (like the cinnamon swirl loaf I mentioned above) and was pleased with the outcome. No need for yeast, butter, or even to really prep your ingredients (other than the asparagus) before baking. You can also easily substitute the asparagus in this recipe with leeks, green onions, or even shaved white onions lightly sautéed. So without making you read more, I’ll get to the point- this is a recipe for a Cheesy Asparagus, Sundried Tomato and Black Olive Bread.

Ingredients:

1/2 Cup Olive Oil (plus 2 tbsp reserved)

1/2 lb of fresh asparagus, woody ends removed, cut into four parts

1 1/3 Cup self rising cake flour

1.5 Tbsp Herbs de Provence

3 XL eggs, beaten

1/2 Cup 3.5% Milk

15 Pitted Olives (black or green)

2/3 Cup Sun-dried Tomatoes (roughly chopped)

1 Cup Finely Grated Beaufort Cheese

Instructions

Preheat oven to 375F.

Line the inside of a loaf pan with parchment paper, set aside.

Pan fry the asparagus on high heat in the reserved olive oil until lightly browned. Remove from heat, pat dry, salt, set aside.

In a large bowl, combine the flour and herbs de provence by whisking. Once combined, make a well in the middle and add eggs, milk and oil while stirring constantly, bringing the flour into the middle. Mix for about a minute until you have a smooth batter.

Save a few asparagus tips and olives, place aside. Using the rest of the asparagus, olives and 2/3 of the cheese, add to the batter until combined.

Pour batter into loaf pan, and top with remaining asparagus, olives and top with cheese.

Bake for 40 minutes or until golden brown and crispy on top, and seemingly firm. Once cooked, remove from oven and let cool in loaf pan for 10 minutes before removing onto a wire rack.

Slice and enjoy!

So far we’ve had some great snacks and sides, but haven’t had a chance to feed a crowd with a meal item. We’ve had two fairly cakey and heavy items, but what about when you’re looking for something a bit lighter?

Well, I wanted to combine two of my favourite things in order to help the asparagus shine, but also allow for any other ingredients used in place of the asparagus to shine. What are those favourite things? Puff pastry and goat cheese!

I bake to calm down and relax after a long day. There is nothing more cathartic than being able to get set up in the kitchen, put my music on, and shortly thereafter come out of the kitchen with cookies or cakes or flaky treats. I’ll often make my own puff pastry ahead of time to use for different treats, but in fairness, I don’t think it’s necessary for this recipe. I used store-bought puff pastry and it turned out GREAT.

But what turned out great? Well, the final recipe is my Asparagus and Goat Cheese Tart!

Ingredients:

1lb Asparagus (or substitute with 1lb shaved leeks) cut into 1/5ths

1/2lb defrosted puff pastry

1/2lb herbed goat cheese

1 XL egg yolk mixed with 1tsp water

1 large shallot, finely chopped

6 slices of bacon (or substitute finely chopped salami)

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 450F.

With your oven heated, cook your bacon on a sheet pan covered with parchment paper for 12-15 minutes (you want the bacon crispy, but not so much so that it breaks into too many small pieces when cutting). Remove and let cool before dicing the bacon. Reserve 1tbsp of the bacon grease.

In a pan, heat bacon grease over medium high heat, and cook shallots for 1 minute, add the asparagus, and cook for another minute. Remove from heat and add the diced bacon to the asparagus and shallot mix.

On a lightly floured surface, roll out the puff pastry to a rectangle roughly 11x 14″. Move the puff pastry onto a parchment lined baking sheet.

Lightly press the goat cheese into the puff pastry, leaving a 1″ border around the edge. Then add the asparagus, shallot and bacon mix. Season generously with pepper and lightly salt (the bacon will have the salt).

Brush the edges with the water and egg yolk mix to allow the edges to brown while baking.

Bake for 20-25 minutes. Let cool and serve!

Let me know if you make any of these recipes and be sure to tag me at @JackDHarding on Instagram! You can also DM me anytime with questions or tips on these recipes or any other on my site and I’ll happily help you out.

How to Make Homemade Corndogs

I love how when you ask people about some of their favourite memories, they often revolve around food. Whether it is dinners with their families, dishes they used to cook in the kitchen with someone, or even stories about travel and adventure which ultimately always end up in a story about where they ended up eating.

Food is also great at making people reminisce. Something as simple as a taste or a smell can bring you back to a special place in time. Next time you’re chatting with someone you don’t know that well, ask them about some of their favourite foods- I guarantee it will not only help you get to know them better, but it will help you connect with them in a much more meaningful way.

I have many of these memories from my childhood- and one in specific revolves around the recipe I’m sharing with you today. Every year until I moved out practically my family and I would go to the CNE (Canadian National Exhibition) together. We didn’t have too many traditions as a family, but this was always one of them.

What became one of the things I would look forward to was getting a Coke in a collectors cup (they would have exclusive reusable cups often in weird shapes or with fun straws) and getting a corndog! There were plenty of vendors that sold corndogs around the fairgrounds, but there was one that made them the best (in my opinion). They were the best mix of sweet, savoury, with just a bit of heat. They came in two sizes, regular (normal hotdog) and jumbo (a footlong hotdog). The batter was a great thickness, balancing out the thick juicy hotdog that was inside.

Remembering that corndog the other day, and having just picked up more cornmeal, I thought, “Why not corndogs?” So I started my corndog creation journey. This took me a few tries to get to where I loved it and I am happy I kept trying because these are a real crowd pleaser now! In fact, I’m making them for my parents next weekend for my birthday.

Make sure to let these cool a bit before eating. They won’t be too hot to eat, but I find the flavour comes out best once they’ve had a chance to sit.

Ingredients:

10 Regular Hotdogs, or 6-8 Jumbo dogs

1 1/4 Cup All Purpose Flour

1 Cup Cornmeal

3 1/2 Tbsp Granulated Sugar

1 1/4 Tsp Kosher Salt

1/2 Tsp Baking Soda

1/2 Tsp Ground Black Pepper

1/2 Tsp Cayenne Pepper

1/4 Tsp Smoked Paprika

1 Cup Buttermilk

2 Extra Large Eggs

Vegetable Oil for frying

Instructions:

Using a paper towel, ensure the hotdogs are completely dry and then skewer with wooden sticks. Set aside.

In a large bowl, combine flour, cornmeal, sugar, salt, baking soda, black and cayenne pepper, and paprika. Whisk together.

In a smaller bowl, whisk together the buttermilk and egg until smooth and then pour into the bowl with the dry ingredients. Mix ingredients until just mixed. Let sit.

In a deep dish pot filled halfway up (3-4″) with oil, heat on medium until temperature reaches 375.

Dip the hotdogs into the batter and coat evenly. (Pro tip: coat my hands with flour and grab the hotdog first. The flour helps the batter stick). Ensure there are no holes in the batter. Add the coated hotdogs to the oil in batches of 3. Cook until golden brown (about 3-5 minutes).

Remove hotdogs from oil with tongs and let dry on paper towel. Sprinkle with flaky sea salt as soon as removed from oil.

Repeat this process until the oil gets back to 375F each time.

Serve with mustard or ketchup. Fresh dill goes very well with this batter too!

I hope you love these! I know I sure did. If you make them, tag me on Instagram at @JackDHarding

How to Make Healthy Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups

It is funny how we make friends as adults.

As someone who didn’t make my friends as a kid, almost all of my relationships and friendships have happened as an adult. While I sometimes feel like I missed out on having those people around me that I’ve known since I was 3 years old, or those people that I went to every level of school with, I feel really happy and blessed that I’ve been able to build a group of people around me who I not only feel like I chose to have there, but have also chosen to have me be a part of their lives.

One of those people is my friend Liz. I met Liz about six years ago at my first apartment in Toronto. I moved to midtown Toronto after living in a more suburban part of the city with my parents. I had a fantastic apartment which I likely would have still been in today had I not wanted to live alone (ah, roommates, right)? Liz and I didn’t meet through friends or even at a party, we met at her work! I needed a new hair salon and a place down the street from my office and my apartment were taking clients. I walked in and was paired with Liz. A few haircuts later and we were talking all the time. We went from just seeing each other once every few weeks, to her coming over, hanging out, and on numerous occasions, bleaching and dying my hair on my bed using a grocery bag as a cap (glamorous, I know).

Anyways, fast forward a fair bit into the future and Liz and I are still great friends. Although we don’t see each other every week, when we do catch up, we laugh until we can’t breathe and it feels like we haven’t missed a beat.

This week she came over in the evening and we planned to bake. Knowing that she tries to eat Keto, I wanted something she could enjoy- so we settled on these peanut butter cups! They are dark chocolate, all-natural peanut butter, and we used coconut flour and coconut sugar so they’re gluten-free and nearly sugar-free. These don’t really require any prep time, just require a bit of time to free in between steps. You can whip these up with barely any notice and they’re a crowd-pleaser.

Ingredients:

1 2/3 Cups All Natural Peanut Butter, melted (plus more for drizzling)

1 1/4 Cup Coconut Flour

1/3 Cup Coconut Sugar (or Erythritol)

1 1/4 Tsp Madagascar Vanilla Extract

1/4 Tsp Kosher Salt

2 1/4 Cup Dark Chocolate, melted

1 Tbsp + 1/2 Tsp Coconut Oil

Instructions:

In a large bowl, combine the peanut butter, coconut flour, sugar, vanilla and salt. Mix well until everything is smooth.

Roll the peanut butter mixture into balls roughly 1 Tbsp in size. Flatten slightly and place onto a parchment lined baking sheet. Freeze for 30 minutes or until firm.

Once the mix is nearly frozen, melt the coconut oil and chocolate together in a microwave in 20 second bursts on high. Stir in between bursts in the microwave.

Remove the frozen peanut butter mix and using a fork, dip each disk into the melted chocolate until coated and place back onto the parchment paper. Put disks back into the freezer and let firm for another 30 minutes.

Melt some additional peanut butter. Remove the disks from the freezer and drizzle with the melted peanut butter. Salt with flaky sea salt and freeze again for 10 minutes.

Serve these cold to best enjoy them.

I hope you enjoy these as much as we did, and if you make them, please tag me on Instagram at @JackDHarding

Sprinkle Donut Holes

If you’re an American friend, the term “TimBit” isn’t going to mean much to you which is why this recipe was called “Sprinkle Donut Holes” instead of what any Canadian would call it “Sprinkle Timbits.” If you grew up in Canada you’ll know that the term donut hole never caught on because the chain Tim Hortons sold “TimBits” (their version and branded with their name) and heavily marketed them for years. Now you can tell a Canadian traveller quite easy when they step into a bakery and ask for one. I’m really excited to have created a great recipe for these that not only fries well, but has a great mouth feel and are delicious! I guarantee that you’re going to love these!

Ingredients:

Donuts:
2 Cups All Purpose Flour
3 Tbsp Brown Sugar
1 1/2 Tbsp Baking Powder
1 Cup Milk
1 Large Egg
1 Tsp Pure Vanilla Extract
1/4 Cup Salted Butter, melted
1/3 Cup Sprinkles

Glaze: 
2 Cups Powdered Sugar
1/3 Cup Milk
1/2 Cup Sprinkles (for coating)

Instructions:

  1. Whisk flour, brown sugar, baking powder, and 3/4 teaspoon salt together in a large bowl, make sure it’s well mixed.
  2. Combine the milk, egg and vanilla extract in a smaller bowl and add into the flour mix. Add in the melted butter and the sprinkles and mix until a dough starts to form.
  3. In a large heavy bottom pot, heat at least 2″ of vegetable oil to 350F. Aside, line a wire rack with paper towel.
  4. Using an two spoons, spoon the dough into the hot oil. Fry until they’re golden brown (about 1-2 minutes per side) depending on how quickly your oil starts to cool. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to the rack andlet cool. 
  5. Once the donuts have cooked and are cooling: whisk powdered sugar, sprinkles, lemon juice, milk, vanilla extract, and salt together in a bowl to make the glaze. It should be smooth.
  6. Place a wire rack on a baking sheet. Dip each donut hole (one at a time) into the glaze and place on the rack; allow excess glaze to drip off before serving. (I add some extra sprinkles while they’re drying, but this is totally up to you).

How to Make Cornmeal Muffins

Cornmeal muffins! These are so easy to make- and so delicious.
Why people don’t think of cornmeal muffins I don’t know- but they’re wonderful.
They’re one of those few recipes that don’t require a million ingredients, and don’t take half a day to make. They’re simple, delicious, and great for you!
Here is my recipe for easy to make, easy to eat, jalapeño cornmeal muffins.

Ingredients:

1 Cup Cornmeal
1 Cup All Purpose Flour
1/3 Cup White Sugar
2 Tsp Baking Powder
1/2 Tsp Salt
1 Egg
1/3 Cup Canola Oil
1 Cup Milk

Instructions

In a glass bowl, combine dry ingredients and mix well.
In a separate bowl, combine beaten egg, and wet ingredients.
Pour wet ingredients into dry slowly, and mix gently.
Pour into whatever tin, muffin tin, cake pan, etc… that you like.
Bake at 400 for 15-17 minutes.
Let cool and enjoy!

Note: You can add things like chives, jalapeños, honey, etc.. to make these even better!

Let me know if you make these, and as always, tag me @JackDHarding and let me know how they turned out!

Easy to Make: Salted Caramel Chocolate Cups

This is going to become a new household favourite for you once you’ve had it. It definitely has for me! These are not only easy to make, but they’re really easy to eat (hah). I was excited to make use of the Sea Salt Flakes I got at an event celebrating Windsor Salt’s 125 Year Anniversary! 

On August 16th, Windsor Salt hosted Table for 125, an exclusive culinary celebration with Canada’s cultural and community leaders, held around a single communal table. Hosted by celebrity chef Eden Grinshpan, more than 125 guests shared an inspired, curated meal featuring signature dishes created by Grinshpan to celebrate all Canadians who bring joy and positive change to their local communities. At the event, Windsor Salt also honored their first-ever Joy Squad, a group of ten local heroes and role models who are making a difference in their communities.

Ingredients:

  • 4 1/2 cups semi sweet chocolate chips
  • 2 1/2 cups caramels, chopped, unwrapped
  • 3 1/2 tablespoons milk 
  • Course Salt/Flake Salt

Instructions:

  1. Place cupcake wrappers in muffin tins (these are going to be big cups, not small like a traditional chocolate cup (think Reese’s)).
  2. In a large microwave safe bowl, add your chocolate chips and microwave at full power in 30-second intervals, stirring between blasts until smooth.
  3. Scoop an ice cream scoop worth of chocolate (~2tbsp) into each liner. You want to make sure about 1/4-3/8 of the chocolate is left for the top. Use a brush (pastry brush is best) to then spread and brush the chocolate up to the top of the liners. This will be a bit tricky so be patient. Place in freezer.
  4. In a medium sized microwave safe bowl, combine the caramels and milk and microwave on high for 120 seconds. Stir. Blast at 30 second intervals after that stirring each time until smooth.
  5. Remove muffin tin from freezer. Pour caramel into chocolate cups until about 2/3 full. Return to the freezer for 10 minutes.
  6. Remove muffin tin from freezer and use the pastry brush to brush the remaining melted chocolate over the top of the caramel being sure to cover all of the caramel (you don’t want any gaps). Sprinkle the salt on each cup and freeze for about 20 minutes.
  7. Remove muffin tin from freezer and peel away the cupcake wrappers from the chocolate cups (don’t put too much pressure on the cup- you don’t want to break them). Store in an airtight container or in the fridge for up to a week.

Let me know if you make these and if you do, tag me @JackDHarding and let me know if you made any changes.

Super Fudgey Chocolate Cake Cookies

These are the kind of cookies that make you change your outlook on cookies. I typically love a thin, crisp cookie, and these are NOT those. They’re cakey, they’re thick and they’re delicious and you will thank me after you’ve eaten one.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup (level) + 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 4 Tbsp dark cocoa powder (unsweetened)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt (heaping- you want less than 1/2, but more than 1/4)
  • 2 1/4 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 3 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons soy milk 
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 325F. Line 2-3 baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
  • In  a medium bowl, whisk the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt together, making sure to mix well.
  • In a larger bowl (microwave safe) combine one cup of the chocolate chips and all of the butter. Heat them on high for 20 seconds at a time, mixing between each blast to ensure even melting and that they don’t burn. Once they’re melted and can be whisked together smoothly, add in the vanilla and the sugars. Once that is done, add the eggs one by one and finish with the soy milk.
  • Incorporate the dry ingredients into the wet and stir- you do NOT want to over-mix this as they’ll end up way too tough. 
  • Add the remaining chocolate chips by folding gently. 
  • Using an ice cream scoop (about 1/4 cup) scoop the batter and place the cookies on the tray one by one, leaving about 1 1/2 inches between each cookie (better to err on the side of caution and give more space).
  • Reduce the heat to 300 and bake for 17-20 minutes. You’ll know they’re done when they tops get dark and have a bit of a shine.
  • Remove from oven and let completely cool on tray. Use a spatula to remove once cooled.

These will store for about 5 days in fridge or in an air tight container, but I doubt they’ll actually last that long with how delicious they are. I hope you enjoy these! Make sure to tag me @JackDHarding and let me know if you make them!

Sweet Potato Pie with Quinoa Crust

I LOVED pumpkin pie when I was younger. The spices, the consistency, the crust, it was everything for me! As I’ve grown older it’s taken me quite some time to find that perfect flavour and I never would have thought it wouldn’t have had pumpkin at all. This sweet potato pie checks a number of boxes for me, gluten free, vegan, and nut free! 

Ingredients

1 1/2 cups Organic White Royal Quinoa, cooked and cooled to room temperature
1⁄2 cup Brown Rice Flour
2 heaping tablespoons Ground Flax
4 tablespoons Vegan Butter, room temperature
4 tablespoons Maple Syrup
3 1/2 cups Sweet Potato (approx 2 medium sweet potatoes)
3/4 cup Vanilla Soy Milk
3⁄4 cup Cane Sugar
1 1/4 teaspoon Cinnamon
1⁄4 teaspoon Ground Cloves
1⁄4 teaspoon Ground Ginger
Flax Eggs (2 Tbsp ground flax + 6 Tbsp warm water)

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 400F (do this well before you plan on baking to ensure a consistent heat).
  2. In a large bowl, stir together quinoa, brown rice flour, flax and maple syrup.
  3. Using a fork, fold in the butter and combine evenly.
  4. Then, use a fork to fold in the room-temperature butter. Be sure to combine evenly.
  5. Grease a pie plate with coconut oil or cooking spray and press the quinoa mixture into the plate to form the crust.
  6. Bake the empty crust for 10 minutes.
  7. Peel, chop and boil the sweet potatoes to soften them for about 20-25 minutes.
  8. Drain the water from the potatoes and put the softened potatoes into a medium mixing bowl.
  9. Add the soy milk and use an immersion blender to make smooth and then add in the remaining ingredients.
  10. Pour the mixture into the pre-baked crust- do not overfill, the filling will rise when baking but set when it is nearly done.
  11. Bake for 60-70 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean from the centre.

Note: Keep an eye on the crust while baking, if it starts to brown too quickly, add aluminum foil around the edges to keep it from burning.

Let me know if you make this and make sure to tag me @JackDHarding if you do!

How to Make Homemade Biscuits

There is something really fulfilling about making your own bread. Watching your creation go from a bunch of flour and sugar and salt to rising in the oven, and finally something delightfully warm and delicious you can have for breakfast, lunch or dinner is amazing.  However, the thought of spending a day of your time to *hopefully* have a loaf of bread turn out is something most people aren’t ready for (I mean, honestly, I’m not ready for that most of the time and I LOVE baking).

So what’s the next best thing? Homemade biscuits! No yeast needed, simple and easy to make, and devour-able for a few days with jams, jellies and spreads.

Ingredients:
3 cups All Purpose Flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 tablespoon sugar
6 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
1  cups cold milk (plus up to 3 Tbsp) (whole milk while make your biscuits more tender, I made mine with skim milk which made them  a bit more dense)

Instructions:

  1. Preheat your oven to 425°F with a rack in the upper portion. Get out a baking sheet and line with parchment paper.
  2. Measure your flour by adding it spoonful by spoonful into a measuring cup and adding to a large bowl.
  3. Mix together the flour, salt, baking powder, and sugar.
  4. Add the butter to the flour mixture using a food processor (you can use a fork or pastry blender as well, but I find the even consistency from the food processor is best) until has a bread crumb like consistency.
  5. Start to add the milk, table spoon by table spoon, over the flour mixture. You’ll want to do this quickly for about 10-15 seconds until a dough has formed. If the texture is dry and won’t come together, keep working it (and add up to the other 2 Tbsp of milk if it needs it to be cohesive).
  6. Place the dough on a lightly floured work surface. Pat it into a rough rectangle about 3/4″ thick. Fold it into thirds like a letter and roll gently with a floured rolling pin until the dough is 3/4″ thick again.
  7. Using a biscuit cutter, or the rim of a glass, cut the dough into circles (I like round biscuits) or if you’re scared of waste, cut the dough into squares with a sharp knife.
  8. Place the biscuits with the bottom side up onto the baking sheet and brush them with a bit of milk to help them brown nicely in the oven.
  9. Bake for 15-20 minutes (keep an eye out, they’ll go from lightly browned to burnt fairly quickly).
  10. These will keep for 2-3 days if wrapped and stored at room temperature. You can also freeze for longer periods of time.
  11. Bake the biscuits for 15 to 20 minutes, until they’re lightly browned. Remove them from the oven, and serve warm.

I hope you enjoy these! If you decide to make them, feel free to tag me at @JackDHarding and let me know how they turned out!

Baking with Goat Butter

I have always liked experimenting with my baking. Taking old family recipes and making them new or taking cookies I’ve found in a cookbook and turning them into something entirely different and one hundred percent my own is something I love to do. I’ve switched up spices (Chinese Five Spice Holiday Bars for example) and even created better fillings for pastry desserts (Powdered peanut butter and jam pop tarts)! So when I got the opportunity to try baking with goat butter, I was excited to say the least. Woolwich Dairy sent me some of their Mornington Goat Butter to bake with and I’m excited to share what I was able to come up with!

Zucchini Bread

This is a favourite of mine and is a recipe I’ve made multiple times in the last few weeks. You can whip this entire thing up in about an hour and 15 minutes (including baking time) and you have a fragrant, delicious loaf to have at home, or to bring with you to friends and family. This recipe will give you enough for (2) loaves in a regular loaf pan.

Ingredients:
12cups sugar (cane or regular)
eggs (at room temperature)
cups all purpose flour
teaspoons vanilla
cup softened Unsalted Goat Butter
cups zucchini, grated
1teaspoon salt
teaspoon baking soda
1teaspoon baking powder
teaspoons cinnamon
1 heaping teaspoon nutmeg
1 heaping teaspoon ginger
3/4 tsp cloves

Instructions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Combine all ingredients
Pour into two greased loaf pans
Bake for one hour
Remove from heat and let sit for 5-10 minutes and bang pan against counter to loosen loaf before removing from pan

Campfire S’Mores Cookies

What’s better than a day spent camping? Well, honestly, a lot of things if you’re asking me. (Why lay on the ground when you can lay in your bed, right?) If you’re like me and prefer the luxuries of living in your day-to-day home, these cookies will give you the camping feel with none of the mosquitoes.

Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup unsalted goat butter, cold
1/3 cup granulated sugar (plus more for rolling)
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 egg (cold)
2 Tablespoons milk (cold)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
12 large marshmallows (cut in half)
24 chocolate squares or chocolate drops

Instructions:

In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

In a large bowl, beat together the butter and both sugars until light and creamy, about 2-3 minutes (shorter if you’re using a stand mixer with the paddle attachment.

Beat in the egg, milk, and vanilla. Gradually add in flour mixture. Refrigerate for 1 hour or until firm. (This is important or the cookies will spread extremely thin when baking).

Preheat oven to 375F degrees. Line 2-4 baking sheets with parchment paper.

Pour some sugar into a small bowl. Shape the dough into 1-inch balls, roll them in the sugar, then place them on the trays. Bake 8-10 minutes or until lightly browned. Once removed from oven, place the half marshmallow cut-side down into the centre of each cookie (not hard enough to make the cookie spread though). After 5 minutes, move to a cooling rack.

Turn the oven to broil. Place the cookies back onto the cookie sheets and broil until toasted. (Be careful, most ovens don’t have consistent heat so you may need to turn your tray). Otherwise, you can use a kitchen torch to toast each marshmallow). Once toasted place the chocolate on top and serve!

 

I hope you’ve enjoyed these! Thanks again to Woolwich Dairy for sending me their amazing products!