DSC_3760

Food is hands down the most symbolic and influential part of my life – I literally don’t think I can do anything without relating it to an item of food or a memory involving food. If you ask me what I did last week, I immediately think about what I ate. If we’re talking about places I’ve travelled to in the past, I have a little flashback to my favourite ethnic dishes that I’ve tried in different places and countries. Even if we talk about my cat, I think about Nugget’s favourite type of cat food – tuna and tilapia in case you’re wondering.

Bottom line is that for so many of us, food has become so much more than just about nourishment for our bodies. Perhaps it’s the fact that I had to spend the last 3-4 months of my life learning all about the symbolic value of food, but I really think it’s such an amazing concept to try and wrap your head around.

For me, there are three food memories that I hold super close to my heart – not only because what I ate was absolutely delicious, but there’s such an immense amount of sentimental value behind all these experiences. One of them was a few years ago when I went back to Hong Kong and my uncle took us on a day trip to Tai O, which is basically an insanely beautiful fisherman’s village surrounded by mountains and water. We spent the day walking around the water, experiencing the fishing culture there, and it was amazing when we ended the day sitting by the water eating a seafood feast in the most grungy and dirty restaurant ever. The second was from when I was in Florence with all my best friends in Grade 10. We were all exhausted from travelling on a bus for two weeks, and we were holed up in this seemingly drab hotel. But let me tell you, the pesto fusili we got that night blew our minds – seriously the best thing we’ve ever tasted.

Now the third experience was the most recent, and is also the one that’s tied to a few other memories that led me to making this post/recipe. Back in June, my now ex-boyfriend and I went to a DAVIDsTEA press party that I got invited to at their Gastown location, and we decided to grab dinner at Nuba a few blocks away. Nuba is this really amazing Lebanese restaurant here in Vancouver, and we shared their “Feast for Two”. Everything was absolutely delicious, but their roasted cauliflower was probably my favourite thing of the night. It was heavily spiced with cumin and coriander, and came with the most delicious yogurt dipping sauce ever I still think about it once in a while. Aside from the fact that it started pouring and I got the right side mirror of my car whacked off later that night, it was probably one of the best days I had this summer.

Flash forward a few months, and I was in my ex’s restaurant where he’s the head chef shooting their new menu of sandwiches. He had made this roasted cauliflower sandwich that was full of garam masala, curry, raisins, and yogurt and it was so freaking delicious I can’t even begin. Then last week, I went back to shoot their new wrap menu and he had made the wrap version of the roasted cauliflower sandwich. I left with one single thing on my mind.

Cauliflower.

Cauliflower, cauliflower, cauli-mother freaking-flower.

Something about roasted cauliflower is addicting and simply irresistible I swear to God. Perhaps it’s the way that olive oil seeps itself into some nooks and crannies, that cause it to blister and crisp up in certain spots while it steams and softens into a luscious pillow of cruciferous goodness in others.

DSC_3682

 

DSC_3685

 

Also, I’ve heard that cauliflower is the kale of 2014 so I’m clearly bang on trend here.

-insert hair flip-

I combined the flavours of the cauliflower that I had at Nuba and that my ex made to the best of my ability, and this was one collision that ended up in pure spicy ecstasy. I went to the store earlier and picked up some garam masala, which is a spice blend involving lots of cumin, curry, pepper, cinnamon, bayleaves, and a heck load of other spices. I think it varies from place to place, but the one I got was super heavy in cumin which I absolutely adored. Also, not only is this delicious but it contains a crazy amount of antioxidant heavy spices, but cauliflower is also a great source of Vitamin C and K! So all in all, this dish would get two great thumbs up from your dietitian. Side note – my dietetics application is due in 8 days and I’m kinda freaking the f**k out right now.

So go ahead and try this out, serve it as a Meatless Monday dish, or just as a side that’ll satisfy any hungry tummy!

Roasted & Curried Cauliflower with a Yogurt Sauce

Serves 2-3

Ingredients:

- 1 head of cauliflower

- 2 tsp of garam masala

- 1 tsp of curry powder

- 1/4 cup of olive oil (might need a little more or less)

- salt & pepper

- a lemon or lime

- fresh cilantro

- 1/2 cup of greek yogurt

- 2 tbsp of tahini (optional)

- 3 cloves of garlic

Directions:

1. Cut your cauliflower up into even pieces. I like to cut it in large steaks and then break it off just so they’re uniform and will cook evenly.

2. Coat the cauliflower in the spices (which you can toast in a dry pan ahead of time if you’re not lazy like me), olive, and generously season with salt & pepper.

3. Preheat your oven to 450F and rub two cloves of garlic into the cauliflower.

4. Roast for about 30-40 minutes or until crispy and soft.

5. For the yogurt sauce, mince in a clove of garlic into the yogurt, as well as some salt, pepper, lemon/lime juice (just a little goes a long way), and some tahini if you’ve got it. Dust with a little garam masala at the end just to make it extra fancy.

6. Toss some fresh cilantro on top of everything, and you’re ready to go!

DSC_3759

DSC_3775

 

If you’ve got leftovers, no worries! Crumble the cauliflower into leftover yogurt sauce or just plain greek yogurt, add in some chopped up apples, raisins, and tuna and you’ve got a perfect lunch for the next day!

So try it out and let me know how you guys like it!

DSC_0154

 

Hey guys! So I don’t know about you, but every time I eat something that’s locally made, handcrafted, or ethically sourced, I feel as though I’m somehow connecting with the earth and that I’m doing some kind of good… or something. Okay – I know, that sounded super hippie and I promise you, I’m not writing this post with a daisy chain around my head while doing some hula dance, swaying my hips to Stevie Nicks in the background.

For instance, when I stir in a tablespoon of local wildflower honey from the flowering stretches of the Okanagan into my tea, I feel like I’m being more deeply rooted in my surroundings, and perhaps it’s some weird and twisted form of the placebo effect, but I swear, it just tastes/makes me feel better. A few weeks (okay or maybe like, two months) ago, I was sent a huuuuuge box of products by the ever so lovely Kalpna Solanski from Martin’s Marvelous Naturals. If you’re from Vancouver, I’m sure you know of the company, because they’ve been at the Gluten Free Expo, Choices Markets, Urban Fare, and basically every cool place imaginable.

Martin’s Marvelous’ products places a huge focus on sourcing fair trade and organic products that are made in Burnaby and then distributed to a wide array of distributors. I believe you can even get their products in the states if you order via Amazon now! One outstanding feature of the company is that every single one of their products are gluten, and nut free. Yeah. That basically eliminates the majority of all the insensitivities and allergies related to food that people have nowadays. Raise your hand if you had at least one person who couldn’t eat anything at one of your dinner parties this past holiday season because you forgot to get gluten free crackers or something. Or maybe you were even the one person who had to fill their stomach up on wine (not a bad problem though) because they couldn’t eat anything served at the company cocktail party. Yeah – it sucks right? Well all the products under Martin’s Marvelous Naturals line are sure to satisfy even the pickiest person who just so happens to also be allergic to 90% of the items on God’s green earth. Bottom line? If you’re someone who is health conscious & loves to snack or entertain people with wine, cheese, and crackers, these are the products for you. Actually, these products are just for everybody. Yeah. They’re that good.

Speaking from personal experience, if you hand a cracker or cookie to me and tell me its gluten, and nut free, I’m basically expecting that I’ll spit it out when you’re not looking. Why? Well because the majority of the time, those products taste like crap because of all that different gums, extracts, and weird chemicals in them to take the place of gluten/nuts/grains. Well Kalpna’s products completely changed that for me. You can just tell that there’s been tons of time spent refining recipes, tweaking amounts of certain seeds, finding the best complimenting flavours to put together, and so on. So here’s what I received in the box of goodies:

Martin’s Marvelous Crisps:

Rosemary & Lavender - (pictured above) this was seriously amazing. I was afraid it would taste like a bar of soap or my grandma’s house, but it was the perfect balance of floral and herbal notes. Pair it with a mild cheese like brie or even some pate!

** in the picture at the top of the post, I roasted some acorn squash with some olive oil, garlic, and fresh rosemary, and finished it with some good grassfed butter and pepper. So delicious paired with some grapes and mild cheddar too!

Pumpkin Seed Cranberry - super yummy. Can you imagine how good this would be with a bit of cold leftover turkey, a good wedge of camembert and a dollop of cranberry sauce?!

Chocolate Molé – these ones were so complex, rich, and decadent in the most savoury way possible. I have no idea how long it must’ve taken them to balance out all the ingredients in this one, because it was seriously intense and amazing. Probably my favourite of the bunch! Try it with some hummus or smoked kidney bean dip!

Date & Olive Tapenade – (pictured below) this one was fantastic as well! I was expecting it to be sweet because of the dates, but the dates just leave a nice hint of sweetness to balance out the salty tang of the olives! I believe Kalpna and the crew have tweaked the recipe slightly since I’ve received the products, so it must be even more amazing now!

** in the picture below, I paired the crackers with a curried chicken that I slow cooked in green coconut milk, then finished with a good squeeze of lime!

DSC_0141

 

Martin’s Marvelous Cookies! – these are all completely nut, gluten, and egg free!

Classic Chocolate Chip – these were so reminiscent of Chips Ahoy, only difference is that they’re much better for you! All you need is a glass of milk and some warm PJ’s to have a perfect night in!

Refuel – packed with energizing products like seeds and dried fruit, as if you needed another reason to indulge in these amazing cookies!

The company also offers products like granola, fig salami (so good, I had a piece at the Gluten Free Expo last year) and Zesty Lemon cookies! If you didn’t know, oats are technically gluten free by nature, but a lot of the times, they get contaminated in the processing plants. However, Martin’s Marvelous makes sure that all the oats that they use in their products are completely uncontaminated and 100% gluten free, so you can munch away on the products without a worry! Yay :D

As far as I know, you can pick these products up at London Drugs, Whole Foods, Choices Markets, Urban Fare, or find them at the Gluten Free Expo this year! Also, make sure you check out:

Their Site

Their Twitter

Their Facebook

DSC_0101

Oh hey there 2014, you sure snuck up on us there! So I’m hoping that everyone has recovered from their New Years hangover gracefully and that you’re now all ready to tackle the world, one resolution at a time. I had the most fantastically sober night out on NYE – a bit of sushi, a nice drive around Vancouver, nothing crazy or dignity diminishing. If you’re one of my friends who have hung out with my throughout the summer, you’ll know what I’m talking about – but for everyone else, I am actually the worst person when it comes to spiralling out of control whilst drinking.

I kid you not, I have an alter ego that emerges from the depths of my soul when the booze starts to flow. My ex and his friends actually named it Edna (long story), and it’s literally the most embarrassing thing ever. I start to walk like a penguin, and kiss random people/objects amongst many other terrible things. So I thought it wouldn’t be the greatest start to the year if I had woken up on January 1st deathly hungover and dying of shame as I relive my NYE through a slur of blurry photos on my iPhone.

So anyways, I was flipping through Facebook and I probably read through what must’ve been 100 status updates about New Years resolutions and all that crap. 8 out of 10 involved some sort of resolution about losing weight and getting healthy, but isn’t that the case every single freaking year?! Now it’s probably because I’m a food nutrition & health student, or maybe it’s because I talk about food and health all day long, but I received so many texts from people (some of which I haven’t even talked to in forever) telling me that they’re going to lose weight this year. And I just kinda sat there and was all…

“That’s nice… shall I clap for you and shower you with praise?”

Not that I want to be snarky and all, but you can only imagine how annoying it gets to hear the same things from the same people year after year. I would love nothing more than to see people succeed, but empty promises and failed resolutions are up there on my list of most irritating pet peeves. However, when it comes to people who don’t declare their goals to the entire world and actually quietly work towards their goals with a beautifully strong sense of determination, I have nothing but love and support for them.

I had a friend who messaged me on Facebook, telling me she really wanted to stay on the track to becoming healthy, but she was absolutely sick of her cinnamon oatmeal every single morning. So, she asked me if I had any ideas of how to switch things up and of course I gave her about 100 ideas, but the one I’m going to be talking about in this post is probably my favourite.

-puts on professor glasses-

If you’re new to the whole nutrition game, this is how eating foods like oatmeal can help lower your cholesterol, help you feel full, etc. Whole grains like oats, barley, and the similar bunch all have tons of soluble and insoluble fibre. Insoluble fibre makes up the bulk of your feces and keeps you full, and helps “clean out” your insides. Soluble fibre however, is responsible for lowering your cholesterol for the most part. As you know, the liver creates bile that’s stored and then released by the gallbladder when we eat and food needs to be digested. One of the major components of bile is body cholesterol, so what that means is that your body takes cholesterol found in your blood (the bad kind), brings it to the liver, and then turns it into bile that’s used to emulsify fat in the small intestines.

For the most part, bile gets reabsorbed into the body after you’ve finished digesting a meal so that it can be reused. However, soluble fibre binds to bile and prevents your body from reabsorbing it. Instead, you end up excreting it, which might sound kinda bad at first because it seems like you’re getting rid of something essential to food/fat digestion. But in actuality, when you excrete bile, it forces your body to make more! So it takes even more cholesterol from your blood to replace the to bile you’ve just essentially pooped out.

Tada.

You and your heart are welcome for that little lesson right there. So go forth and eat all the oatmeal you see in sight. I always try to pack my oatmeal with as many nutrients and antioxidants as I can, because it just seems weird to me how some people can eat plain oatmeal… like, really weird. I usually add eggs for protein, spices for their anti-inflammatory properties, and some fruit for that extra kick of vitamins and deliciousness.

DSC_0125

 

Raspberry & Apple Oatmeal

Serves 2

Ingredients:

- 1 cup of oats

- 1 1/4 cups of water (or so)

- 1/2 cup of almond milk (adjust to your liking)

- 1.5-2 tbsp of raspberry jam

- handful of almonds

- 1 small apple, sliced thin

- 2 eggs

- 1/2 tsp of cinnamon

Directions:

1. Cook the oats in the water over a medium heat until it’s fully cooked and all the water is absorbed.

2. Stir in the eggs until they’re just set and cooked. You don’t want hard bits of eggs, so stir constantly.

3. Mix in the milk, cinnamon, along with the rest of the ingredients/toppings.

So easy, right?!

DSC_0130

As we inch closer and closer to Christmas day, I find myself adding more and more rum to my eggnog, and my wine glass never stays empty for more than 5 minutes at a time. Perhaps I’m trying to numb the horrific stress that unfortunately is tied to Christmas cheer and festivities, but all the planning, shopping, and endless amounts of running around is so freaking exhausting! If you recall, I’m on a mission to give all edible gifts this year, and I currently I have about 300 cookies sitting in my kitchen, waiting to be packed up and delivered with a fake smile.

But the second someone tastes what I make and burst into a genuine look of delight and say things like “Oh my fucking God. This is amazing Jason, seriously. Holy shit!”, that’s when the Christmas joy flows back into my veins, bringing with it a sense of peace and giddiness. Honestly speaking though, people would probably think I’m crazy if I told them what I went through to prepare all these gifts. Someone please tell me that I’m not the only one who sits on the floor next to the oven, eating yogurt out of the tub while mumbling encouraging words between bites to the trays of cookies baking inside the oven…

“Rise, rise, rise!” 

“Please be crunchy!”

“Yay you guys are so round!”

Well basically, I spent all of Friday morning and afternoon rolling, kneading, coating, and decorating a ridiculous amount of different doughs and batters. You don’t even want to imagine what my kitchen looked like by the end of it. I’m quite positive I’ve developed a mild case of carpal tunnel from rolling out about 400-500 cookies by hand. But after a whole day of sitting next to and talking to the oven while my little cookies baked, I gotta say, it was so worth it to see how much everyone loved them!

DSC_0199

 

Growing up in an Asian household in Canada, Christmas was an odd concept for me to grasp. Back in Hong Kong, Christmas just meant grossly warm weather, a traditional dinner with my extended family in a restaurant… and that was pretty much it. So imagine how much of a culture shock it was for me, coming here when I was 3 years old! Suddenly I was knee deep in snow, sitting on santa’s lap in the mall, and actually had a house big enough to fit a Christmas tree.

The weirdest thing for me to get used to was definitely Christmas food though. I mean, things like sugar cookies were easy for me to like since they’re so neutral and easily palatable. However, when it came to things like gingersnaps, gingerbread, or anything with cinnamon…. that was a different story. I remember baking gingersnaps in pre school, and I literally chewed on it, decided that I hated it, and spit it out onto my friend’s lap.

Needless to say, we’re not friends anymore.

But over time, through lots and lots of training and peer pressure, I can definitely say that I now love gingersnaps and all sorts of goodies with a similar taste profile. It only took me 15 years to get used to (ha!). I was super determined to make a good gingersnap this year, and I think I nailed it on the head. These guys have the most delightfully crisp exterior that just melts into the most chewy and spicy insides with flavours kinda like what you would imagine (or hope) a gingersnap/gingerbread Christmas candle would taste like.

Also, it’s super easy to just make a big batch of cookie dough and just stash it in the freezer until you need it. I mean, you need to chill it so that you can properly roll it anyways, so there’s no waiting for it to thaw or anything! However, if you leave it out too long… you’re gonna have one hell of a sticky mess.

Chewy Gingersnaps:

Makes about 3 dozen

Ingredients:

- 1 cup + 2 tbsp of all purpose flour

- 1.5 tsp baking soda

- 1/2 tsp of salt

- 2.5 tsp of ground ginger

- 1 tsp of cinnamon

- 1/2 tsp of allspice

- 1/2 tsp of ground cloves

- 1/2 tsp of ground white pepper (use less if you can’t handle the spice)

- 1 stick of unsalted butter, room temp

- 1/4 cup brown sugar

- 1/4 cup white sugar

- 1/3 cup molasses

- 1/4 cup of white sugar + 2 tsp of cinnamon to make cinnamon sugar for rolling

Directions:

1. Preheat your oven to 350F

2. Whip your butter and sugars together until creamy and a pale brown

3. Mix in the molasses until well incorporated

4. Sift together your dry ingredients and then mix in 3 or 4 separate partitions to the butter, sugar, and molasses mixture. You should have a wet, sticky dough that’s quite loose for a cookie dough.

5. Wrap in cling film and toss into the fridge until very firm.

6. Mix together the sugar and cinnamon to make the cinnamon sugar.

7. Take the dough out of the fridge, and cut out little pieces to be rolled into balls 0.75″-1″ in diameter, before tossing it into the cinnamon sugar.

8. Place the little balls at least 2″ apart from each other, and then bake for 12-15 minutes. The less you bake it, the chewier they will become!

DSC_0162

DSC_0346

 

I am free, it’s the sound of peace. And it’s freedom, sweet freedom. But now I’m free now, I’m free now. If you can’t tell, I’m finally done my finals! Good lord that was a wretched two weeks of my life wasted. The second I took a step out of the examination room and sucked in a breath of beautiful, crisp, and Christmassy air, I was filled with joy and practically pranced home like a bad ass mother fucking reindeer high on sugar cookies.

Okay – well I drove, but I was playing Christmas tunes in the car so really, toe-may-toe, toe-mah-toe. 

Given the fact that my body completely broke down last night and I prayed for the strength of Jesus and relied on two NyQuils to get me through the night without feeling like I was being exorcised of the flu demon, I’m actually doing really well today. I’ve been up since 5am, bounced around town buying ingredients for the butt load of baking I’m doing in the next few days, tested a few recipes, and managed to squeeze in a work out. It’s only 5pm! But… I’m kinda ready to just kick back with a big bottle of wine, have a nice dinner with my parents, and set fire to every notebook I’ve used this semester and loudly cackle while the pages shriek and burn away.

So even though my finals are over and I’m free from the evil clutches of satanic monsters school, I’m still mildly freaking out. I’ve got a few parties lined up this week, and I somehow ended up being the designated baker for said events. Now here’s the thing about me – as weird as it may sound, I absolutely hate cooking for people I don’t really know. It’s just the thought of being judged and having people tell me that they don’t like what I make that makes my insides shrivel up like a raisin. Aside from my immediate family, a select few friends, and my coworkers, nobody has really ever tasted my cooking. So really, I’m not sure whether or not people are telling me the truth when they say they like my cooking, or if they just feel obligated to because they’re close to me and know I’ll die on the inside if they say that they don’t.

Basically I’ve been frantically flipping through every recipe book I have, and texting everyone who’s tasted my baking before and asking them what I should make. General consensus from all my friends: “Shut up. Christ’s sake. We love your shit!” but still, I’m not at ease! I guess I’ll spend the next few days cooped up in my kitchen, pretending I’m Mary Berry and cope with the stress of baking with a ton of booze. So really… not a bad situation at all!

DSC_0139

 

Macaroons are one of my favourite recipes to make when I need that boost of self esteem to reassure myself that I can actually bake something without setting myself or the house on fire. I mean – they’re literally impossible to get wrong. After making about 300 last year to give out as presents, I can confidently say that I can make a damn yummy macaroon. My issue that I have with most macaroons is that they’re often like, dry, crumbly, and taste like they’re made to scrub your intestines out. It’s probably the fact that the majority of coconut macaroon recipes use a heck load of egg whites to make a meringue, and then only a stingy amount of coconut to fold through.

My solution?

Chuck in the egg yolks as well and bump up the coconut! What you’re left with is a chewy, moist, and fragrant piece of awesomeness. Also, macaroons taste best when they’re not fresh and right out the oven. Why? Well when they’re fresh out the oven, they’re crumbly, not completely set, and quite dried out. As you let it sit around for a little bit, the sugars suck in moisture from the air and it “matures” into the most delicious piece of coconut goodness.

So if my peppermint chocolate tart, gingersnaps, and snickerdoodles fail… I guess I’ll just bucket loads of macaroons? I’d be totally fine with that!

DSC_0131

 

Chewy Coconut Macaroons:

Makes about 24 macaroons

Ingredients:

- 2.5 cups of shredded, unsweetened coconut

- 2 whole eggs

- 1 tsp of vanilla

- pinch of salt

- 3-4 tablespoons of honey or 1/3 cup of sugar

- 40 grams of dark chocolate

- 1 tbsp of butter melted

Directions:

1. This is honestly too freaking easy. Preheat your oven to 350F.

2. Mix EVERYTHING except the chocolate together.

3. Use a spoon (I used a tablespoon measure) to scoop out the macaroons and place onto a cookie tray lined with parchment paper

4. Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until nice and golden.

5. Melt the dark chocolate and butter together, I just did this in the microwave. Put it on for about 20 seconds and it should be about half melted, and then keep stirring the chocolate until it fully melts to prevent it from over heating and splitting.

6. Drizzle the melted chocolate on top of the macaroons, or you could just dip the macaroons in the chocolate after they’ve cooled a bit!

If you’re not a fan of chocolate, I’ve tried rolling the macaroons in cinnamon sugar and they’re just as yummy!

DSC_0153

 

DSC_0292

 

4 more days until freedom. Finals season is such a ridiculously draining time of the year – and I swear, it’s absolutely drained me of Christmas spirit. On the outside, I’m trying to appear composed and joyful about the holiday season… but on the inside? I imagine this is what it feels like for a monster to bathe in holy water. I’m also pretty sure that this is the kind of torment my cat feels when we give him a bath.

Over the last 5 days, I’ve read about 10-12 papers that are literally 20-30 pages each, and fully annotated them for just ONE CLASS. May the many pens, highlighters, and trees that have sacrificed their lives for my sake rest in peace. Honestly. Come 11am next Wednesday, I will finally be free, and you’ll be able to find me on a warm couch somewhere, drunk out of my mind, and loudly screeching Christmas carols at anyone who is in close proximity of me. I’ve gotten to the point where all the material you’ve been studying for school somehow integrates itself into your every day interactions and life, and you start to react to things like watching a lady at the mall ignoring her crying baby like:

“Oh my gosh. That mother isn’t giving her son his bottle of milk. WOMAN WHY ARE YOU NOT BREASTFEEDING?! IT PROMOTES SECURE ATTACHMENT ESPECIALLY WHEN YOU ALLOW HIM TO DO IT ON HIS OWN CUES. BAD BAD SYNCHRONY LADY. I HOPE YOU DON’T SCREW UP HIS SECURE BASE ATTACHMENT BEFORE HE TURNS TWO YEARS OLD. IT COULD MESS UP HIS EMOTIONAL AND SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT OKAY?! OH GOD I HOPE HE DOES NOT END UP WITH AVOIDANT OR ANXIOUS ATTACHMENT TYPES”

Good heavens.

I think I might actually hate babies after this course. You guys have no idea how jealous I am of Nugget when he comes and shows me some moral support but sleeping on my bed while I study. How great would it be to be a cat?! All you do is eat, sleep, chase things, and get hugged. Life isn’t fair sometimes eh? Well anyways, I continued my search for the perfect cookie during one of my periods of procrastination this week and came across this recipe.

There’s something so beautiful about crinkle cookies, don’t you think? They’re such an awesome example of “rustic” beauty, and they just have this elegance about them that’s perfectly balanced with a hint of childhood nostalgia. When you “undercook” these guys slightly, they come out like a cross between a cookie and a brownie, and if that isn’t heavenly divinity then I don’t know what is.

Yes, imagine the lovechild between a magical, crumbly cookie and the ooey gooey warmth of a chocolatey brownie. The second I put one in my mouth to try, I swear I heard Joy to the World and saw angels and snowflakes. Cookie perfection. I adapted a recipe I found from the flawless miss Carla Hall from Top Chef/the Chew, by adding more chocolate, and a little bit of this and that. The only thing about these cookies is that because of the increased amounts of chocolate, they don’t spread that well by themselves. So you gotta take a spoon when they’re fresh out of the oven, and give them a little push to make them crack in all the right places. I didn’t know this when I put the first batch in the oven and I sat there wondering why they haven’t spread even after like 20 minutes when the bake time was supposed to be 8-12 minutes. But at least I’ve made the mistakes for you, so you don’t have to do the same.

You’re welcome.

DSC_0127

 

One of my favourite things about working with chocolate is watching how it just takes over the paleness of the flour, sugar, and eggs and turns it into the most gorgeous, deep chestnut colour. There’s such beauty in the art and chemistry of baking sometimes. As the queen (Nigella Lawson) says: “Sooner or later, everything gives way to chocolate. Which is after all, the natural order of things” and damn is she ever right.

Man, these cookies with a glass of milk by the fire and Christmas tree is all you need on a cold winter’s night to fill you up with holiday cheer. But I mean, a glass of wine and a few Christmas classics wouldn’t hurt either. My mom liked these cookies so much that she took it upon herself to share them with the world without even consulting me. I came home from work a few days ago and thought my dad got the case of the munchies or something, but it turns out my mom had distributed them to all her friends and work neighbours.

Her response when I asked her why she did it without even asking me? “Well it’s not like you’d have eaten them yourself. Eating things with flour and white sugar is a treacherous sin in your books.” Proof that my mom knows me a bit too well? Yep.

DSC_0158

 

Chocolate Crinkle Cookies aka Chocolate Snowcaps

Makes about 30-40 cookies, depending on how big you make them

Ingredients:

- 1/4 cup of butter

- 1 cup AP flour

- 1/2 cup of DARK (70+%) chocolate bits and pieces (about one small bar of chocolate)

- 1 tsp of salt

- 1 tsp of vanilla extract

- 1 large egg

- 1/2 cup of cocoa

- 1/2 cup of white sugar

- 1/4 cup of brown sugar

- 1 tsp of baking powder

- 1/4 cup of powdered sugar (for rolling)

Directions:

1. Preheat your oven to 350F

2. Melt the butter and chocolate together in the microwave (about 30 seconds should do it) and whisk until it’s well blended together

3. Once cooled, whisk in the egg, vanilla, salt, and the white & brown sugar until well incorporated.

4. Sift together the cocoa powder and flour and slowly mix in the chocolate mixture.

5. When you’ve got a good dough going on, roll out small balls using a teaspoon for a measure. I would say that make them about 1″ in diameter, max. Roll them in powdered sugar until they are WELL COVERED before placing them on a cookie sheet.

6. Bake them for about 10-12 minutes. The less you bake them, the more ooey and gooey they are. The SECOND they come out of the oven, take a spoon and gently press down on them to make them crack and spread out. They crack a little in the oven, but they need a little push to get them flat!

DSC_0178

 

DSC_0184

Let them cool for a bit, take a bit, and do a little cookie dance! Let me know how they turn out!

DSC_0207

 

To all my home cooks out there – do you ever have those moments where you taste something you make for the first time and its SO good that you have no choice but to unleash the loudest, most passionate, roaring “YESSSSSSSSSSSS” out from the very bottom of your soul? Yeah, that was me a few days ago when these cookies first came into existence, still crumbly and ridiculously aromatic with the oven’s warm breath still lingering on them. But let me tell you, the journey to achieve cookie perfection was treacherous and emotionally draining.

If you’re my neighbour, yes, that was indeed me you heard on Friday afternoon shrieking and praying to the good Lord for strength and mercy over a pile of cookie dough and trying to keep myself composed. It’s a habit of mine to dramatically narrate my life via Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, so if you follow me on either of those platforms, you’ll have seen that I had a series of very misfortunate events rumble and shake my life. First of all, this was my first time using rice flour and I had no idea how light and dusty it can be! I poured a cup of it into my mixing bowl and I kid you not – an eruption of rice flour engulfed about half of my kitchen which led to me frantically clawing at the air in front of me, like I was drowning and choking in the furious depths of the Pacific Ocean… except that I wasn’t. Second of all, I decided that I was too good for measurements and recipes so I completely winged my first attempt at this recipe – which led to my first batch of cookies melting and merging into one big sheet in the oven, as I watched hopelessly and wished upon a million stars that they would somehow fix themselves if I clasped my hands together and wished hard enough. It didn’t work.

DSC_0127

 

Now who knew you could use rice flour to make cookies?! The only thing I’ve seen it used in was in these little rice balls my mom used to make when I was little. She would scoop out a little teaspoon of red bean or lotus seed paste, fold it into a ball made from rice flour, and cover it in crushed peanuts. It was the most delicious little snack from what I remember, and I kinda wish she still made them once in a while! Also, does it mean that I’m super old now that I can actually tell anecdotes starting with “When I was young…”?! Yikes. 21 and I feel like my life is coming to an end.

Well anyways, these guys are completely gluten free, only require a handful of ingredients, and are so so yummy. Thumbprint cookies just bring back the best nostalgic memories for me, so it’s only right I pay homage to them this Christmas. I remember that during the winter holidays when I was in Grade 6, my mom’s friend dropped off a batch of the most delicious thumbprint cookies filled with strawberry jam, and I lived for them. Unfortunately, it was also when I had first got my braces put in, and my mouth was hurting so so bad but I still put up with the pain of eating just because those cookies were the bomb.com.

I thought that adding some cranberry goat cheese as a filling would add a great tang and hint of festive sweetness, you know, as a little less traditional twist on a classic. But of course, you could just stick with the classic jam filling as I did with a batch of blackberry jam filled ones afterwards. Right out of the oven, these guys are extremely crumbly, and that’s probably due to the lack of gluten. However, once they cool down considerably, they hold together perfectly well and look like the cutest little things ever!

DSC_0143

 

DSC_0152

 

 

Also, my coworkers loved these little guys when I brought them in, and I don’t think they’d lie to me…. so I’m pretty sure these are a definite must make this holiday season! I’m sure you can freeze these cookies for up to like, 2 months or keep the dough in the fridge for up to a week too!

Gluten Free Thumbprint Cookies

Makes about 32-36 cookies

Ingredients:

- 1 1/2 cup of rice flour (non glutinous kind)

- 1/2 cup of butter at room temp

- 1 pinch of salt

- 1 tsp of vanilla extract

- zest of 1 orange or satsuma (or even lemon)

- 1/2 cup of sugar

- 1 tsp of baking powder

- filling of your choice (jam, goat cheese, etc.)

Directions:

1. Beat butter and sugar until light, creamy, and well incorporated.

2. Add in the egg, vanilla extract, and zest of the orange.

3. Gently fold in (AND I MEAN GENTLY) the rice flour, baking powder, and salt.

4. Work into a dough, and it should take quite a while.

5. Roll out little 1″ balls and place them 2″ apart from each other on a cookie sheet.

6. Press down to make an indentation and fill with your choice of filling

7. Bake at 350F for 10-15 minutes. They won’t colour too much, but the bottom should be golden.

8. Cool and eat!

DSC_0218

DSC_0238

DSC_0253

 

DSC_01719

 

Tada! Enjoy with a glass of milk while sitting around the fire, and I guarantee that you’ll be full of festive cheer and the holiday spirit!

holidaygingerbread

 

Holy crap, Christmas is just speeding towards us like a runaway train isn’t it?! I swear, every year I’m so enveloped in school mode and then come mid November, some switch in my head clicks and suddenly I’m busting out Christmas carols and decorations at 3 in the morning and planning out what edible gifts I’m giving out this year. But we’re officially one week into December and I’m reading to prance around the tree, loudly (and badly) singing along to Santa Claus is Coming to Town with a huge mug of tea in my hand and cat in the other.

It’s basically been tradition that I give most people edible gifts for Christmas – okay well, it’s been tradition ever since I started doing it last year, but yeah. I mean, there’s nothing wrong with buying boxes of cookies and chocolates from Costco and gifting those, but there’s just something about the added sincerity and love that gets put into edible gifts that just embodies the spirit of Christmas! I try to have a theme every year, just so there’s some cohesiveness in everything I make. And yes, that’s just me trying to act like my thought process is always very well thought out organized. Last year I was in a whole middle eastern mode, making rosewater and cardamom biscotti and coconut and pistachio macaroons.

Now this year I’m all about the warm, enticing, and ceremonious spices. Obviously there’s going to be tons of cinnamon, ginger, cloves, and the Christmas essentials, but some pretty unique ones like black peppercorns, star anise, and juniper berries that don’t get used quite that often. Basically everything you’d find in gingerbread – but with a kick. So this holiday gingerbread recipe is the perfect way to segway into the procession of holiday recipes I have coming up right?

DSC_0283

 

If you’ve noticed something different about some of my photos this post – you’re one smart cookie! My friend Christina has just started her own calligraphy business Fox & Flourish, and holy crap is she ever talented. She asked if I wanted to collaborate on one of my blog posts, where she could use her fancy shmancy skills to decorate and write over my photos and you now how sometimes you wait a little while before replying to someone so you don’t come off desperate? Yeah – forget that, I was pretty much like “HELL FREAKING YES!” literally two seconds after I got her message.

If you’re in need of anything done like custom Christmas card lettering, or any sort of design work, you need to hit her up because she’ll knock the socks right off your feet. Also, her Instagram is full of beautiful calligraphy photos – so I don’t know, would you call that font porn? Writing porn? Calligraphy porn? Who knows, but they’re some sexy ass photos.

So you know, feel free to just spend a few minutes of your day admiring how beautiful her writing looks over my photos!

Anyways, back to these cookies! Can I just talk about how I literally had to spend an entire morning hunting down a gingerbread cookie cutter the other day?! You would think that every single store on earth would carry one, but you’d be wrong wrong wrong. All the stores I went to either had none or they would have the ugliest – like, SERIOUSLY ugly gingerbread man cookie cutters that made them look like they were on the verge of being spliced like they did to people who had a death sentence over their heads in the middle ages. Ick. But thank the good Lord because I finally found one 2.5 hours into my search.

cutecookiecutter

 

Can I be honest for a second? This is actually the first time I’ve made gingerbread since I was in kindergarten. So… it’s been 1..2… about 16 years. Yeah. When my mom called me to see what I was doing and heard that I was making gingerbread, she was all “Oh God I hope they’re not as nasty as the ones you made in kindergarten.” Way to have faith in me mom. But hey, she loved them in the end and basically asked me to Whats App all these photos so she could send them to her friends and relatives to make them jealous – so if that’s any indication of how good these guys were…. ;)

There’s a few optional spices in here, and I’d leave them out if you’re not adventurous, but if you like to have a little excitement and a little something unique, throw them in because they give an incredible complexity to these cookies. Obviously you’ll taste the ginger, cinnamon, and cloves you typically find in gingerbread but then you get that slight heat of black pepper at the back of your throat, that’s then matched by the aromatic headiness of star anise. It’s practically a religious experience!

Holiday Gingerbread:

Makes about 24-30 cookies depending on the size of your cutters

Ingredients:

- 1/3 cup of butter (room temp)

- 3 cups of AP flour

- 1 1/2 tsp of baking powder

- 1/2 cup of molasses

- 1 tbsp of ginger

- 1 1/2 tsp of cinnamon

- 1/2 tsp of cloves

- zest of an orange

- pinch of salt

- 3/4 cup brown sugar

- 1 egg

- 2 tsp vanilla extract

- 1/2 tsp of ground black pepper (optional)

- 1/2 tsp of ground star anise (optional)

Royal Icing:

- 1 cup of icing sugar

- 1 egg white

- pinch of salt

- squirt of lemon juice

- 1/4 tsp of vanilla extract

- food colouring (optional)

Directions:

1. Cream the butter and sugar together until it’s a light and pale brown and then beat in the egg.

2. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, salt, spices, and orange zest.

3. In the bowl with the butter, sugar, and egg mixture, mix in the molasses and vanilla until smooth and well incorporated.

4. Slowly mix the dry ingredients into the wet mixture in a few separate additions until a smooth dough is formed.

5. Let the mixture rest for at least 1-2 hours in the fridge. This is super important, otherwise you’ll be left with a super soft mixture that you can’t cut or move onto the cookie sheet.

6. Once it’s rested, roll it out to about 3mm thick and cut out into desired shapes.

7. Place into a preheated 375F oven for 8-12 minutes. The less time you have them in the oven, the softer they come out.

* You can freeze the dough for up to a few weeks so you can just make a huge batch and bake when you need it. Just bring the dough out like 30 minutes before you plan on baking so it has enough time to rest and warm up a little.

For the icing:

1. Whisk the egg whites until foamy and start to add the sugar gradually.

2. Once things start to look marshmallow-esque, add in the salt, vanilla, lemon, and colouring.

3. Beat for another 6-7 minutes until super thick and glossy.

4. The frosting will set hard & matte, so leave it to rest once you’re done frosting for it to harden!

 

ingredients

 

DSC_0350

So make sure you decorate them, make them super pretty, and all your friends and family will love them! Also, who needs a gingerbread candle when your house can smell this freaking good when you bake these cookies?!

Let the Christmas spirit set in and enjoy!

DSC_0205

 

Phew, 2 days until my first exam. So you know that feeling when you’re literally 99% ready for an exam and you just don’t want to study anymore? Okay – well maybe not 99%, but you know what I mean. Also, I have 12 days between my first and second exam. If that’s not the universe trying to screw with my holidays and life, then I don’t know what is.

Hmph.

I mean, at least I kinda enjoy the courses I’m taking this semester so it’s not making me want to claw my eyes out like last year when I had to go through organic chemistry… now that was a nightmare. I remember a few nights where I would literally sit on my room’s floor and think about all the creative ways I could set fire, or dramatically destroy my textbook and course notes after my exam to seek revenge on the pain the course had put me through. Hopefully anger towards a pile of paper isn’t a flag sign of some mental disease forming inside my weird head… yikes.

Anyways, yesterday morning, I went out to do a grocery haul at my favourite market and I managed to get 4 bunches of radishes for $1. Yeah, that’s right, 4 big bunches. I’ve been munching on them raw, throwing them into my salads, but pickling them has been my favourite so far. It just takes that slight bitter edge off of the radishes and imparts this beautiful, tangy zing that just brightens up everything. You basically just throw a few sliced up radishes into a jar with vinegar, oil, and some spices and seasonings like a bayleaf, coriander, fennel, and some garlic. A few hours later you’ll have a beautiful pickle!

That aside, nothing can really replace the crunch of a fresh radish. I know, I know, I just did a recipe with radishes like 2 posts ago but they’re pretty and if you don’t like it, then away with you! Paired with the meaty, iron-y, chew of curly leafed kale and the sweet crunch of snow peas makes this the perfect combination. Also, if you weren’t aware, you really have to massage kale when you eat it raw. It helps with your digestion so it doesn’t like… scratch your insides while it makes its way out of your body. So you know, just pretend you’re a masseuse for a few minutes whenever you’re eating raw kale and just massage the heck outta those pretty leaves. Better digestion = better absorption of nutrients!

DSC_0146

 

DSC_0187

 

Lets get into it, shall we?

Kale, Radish, and Snow Pea Salad:

Ingredients:

Serves 2

- 1 bunch of curly leafed kale, about 4-5 cups?

- 1 bunch of red radishes, or about 2 cups

- 2 cups of snow peas

- 2 tbsp of olive oil

- 1 tbsp of white wine vinegar

- 1 tsp of whole grain mustard

- salt & pepper

- 1/4 cup of almonds

Directions:

1. Pull the kale off their stems and massage them for a few minutes

2. Slice your radishes and snow peas into thin slices and strips respectively.

3. Mix the oil, mustard, and vinegar together with a pinch of salt & pepper

4. Toss the salad ingredients with almonds.

5. Let it sit for about 5-10 minutes before eating!

DSC_0200

 

Easy peasy! :)

DSC_0214

 

Sigh. Exactly one month until I am free from the evil clutches of school. Like clockwork, I’m stuck with a million projects to do, assignments to finish, and research papers to start. I woke up bright and early this morning, super thrilled and determined to be productive and to get a ton of things checked off my to do list.

I managed to get a fair bit of work done, but I started to lose my mind a little by the time 10am came around. I literally received 3 phone calls back to back today, with people asking me to do this and that, and I was THIIIIIS close to screaming “LEAVE ME ALONE!!!!!!” into the phone and hanging up, regardless of who it was that was calling.

As any sane person would do, I turned to do a little bit of baking to calm my nerves and to relax a bit. You know when that perfume of spices and sugar fills the air and you just have this moment where you can finally breathe and find that tranquil place inside? Whew, emotional breakdown averted. Sorta. Well anyways, I made a little loaf cake because lets face it – I’m terrible at baking, and I have to resort to the kinda things that you can’t screw up.

It’s like how parents are super proud of their kids for trying their best at a sport, even though they still suck. I try my best to bake yummy and pretty things, and I just pat myself on the back afterwards and tell myself “Well nothing burned down, the oven is still intact, and nobody has died from eating your cake yet. So really, it’s a big fat success all in all!”.

From that description, you can only imagine how fool proof and easy this loaf cake is right?!

DSC_0144

 

DSC_0126

 

I don’t know why it is, but I’ve always hated lemon desserts. Lemon cake, lemon meringue pie, lemon curd, lemon anything is just absolutely gross to me. But when it comes to oranges, I’m in love. Perhaps it’s just the softer, sweeter aromatics that the oils release but I decided to use this basic lemon yogurt cake recipe I found, twisted it a little here and there, and came up with this one.

I had a little nibble of the end product and it was pretty freaking awesome, so I’d say this deserves a big thumbs up, and earns the right to be placed in “Jason’s Recipe Repertoire” right next to my brown sugar cookies.

Of course, you’re not limited to navel oranges. You could easily use Satsumas, blood oranges, or even clementines since they’re all in season. Play around with the recipe, and let me know how it turns out :)

DSC_0210

 

Ingredients:

For the cake:

- 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour

- 2 teaspoons of baking powder

- 1 cup of regular yogurt (not Greek)

- 2 eggs

- 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract

- zest of 2 oranges

- 1 teaspoon of cinnamon

- 1/2 teaspoon of freshly ground cardamom

- 1/2 teaspoon of salt

- 1/2 cup of oil

For the icing:

- 1 cup of powdered sugar

- 1/3 cup of orange juice

- some more orange zest

Directions:

1. Preheat your oven to 350F

2. Sift your flour and dry ingredients together for the cake, and mix all the rest of the ingredients together until they’re well incorporated

3. Pour into a well greased loaf tin and place into oven for 50-60 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean.

4. Cool on a wire rack before pouring the icing/glaze on.

5. I sliced up the zested oranges and placed them on top, just so they wouldn’t go to waste and it’d help keep the cake nice and moist!

DSC_0225

 

Now back to killing myself over this research project…

 

Recent Posts

Comments

  • JasonsBitesAw I'm glad to hear that!!! :D
  • JasonsBitesAw yay! Glad to hear it :D hope you took pics! Tha
  • AnuI tried this yesterday and it was awesome. Lovely
  • JasonsBitesOh my gosh, can you imagine like a pomegranate rai