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Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Lemon Basil Ice Cream

Normally, people will associate basil with pasta, tomato sauces and pesto. Let's forget the more famous combinations knows with basil and try something completely new! Combine coconut, basil and lemons, and instead of having it served hot, let's serve it frozen! That's right, let's make ice cream. The sweetness from the coconut juice carries the basil flavor very well, and those flavors, very well delivered to your pallet thanks to the tartness of the lemon flavors. Here how to put it together. 

- 1 can coconut milk 
- 1/2 cup purified water
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 1/4 cup basil leaves (whole) 
- 1/2 cup lemon juice
- 4 tsp lemon zest (from 1 lemon)

- Bring the coconut milk, water and sugar up to heat on medium heat. Do not boil! When hot, remove from stovetop and cover to let steep the basil leaves, 45-60 minutes. 
- Remove leaves by straining the mixture in a glass of ceramic bowl. Add the lemon juice and the zest to the mixture.

- Cover and chill for 4-6 hours, until cold. 
- Process in your ice cream machine as indicated in the instructions manual. 
- Once ready, transfer to a freezer proof container and let it freeze for a couple hours to get it to a more solid consistency. 

After the ice cream is ready, serve it as you wish. I do recommend you serve it on a very soft, raw in the middle, brownie. The combination of warm chocolate with this frozen basil ice cream, is heavenly. Impress your friends with this great recipe!

Eat well, sleep well and till next time!


Garden update July 2010

A couple months have passed since I started planting my garden. There is nothing I love more then to spend my evenings taking care of it, while basking in the evening sun. The nearby lake is buzzing with new life, including the clouds of bees, so thankful for the selection of flowers in my front garden. I have been making an big effort to utilize my harvests as much as I can, and to share those recipes with you. From Thyme and Fig Bread to using chives and basil in morning omelettes, the possibilities are endless. Here are a few pics of the progress made in my garden this year. 

Cherry tomatoes

Acorn squash flower, in all its beauty

Thyme, shooting up to the sky

Banana peppers ripe for the picking 

Corn, getting taller everyday!

Yellow Bell Peppers starting to take shape

Bumblebees enjoying my front garden flowers

I'm definitely very excited to see the end results with everything shaping up so beautifully. Stay tuned for a delicious and refreshing ice cream recipe incorporating fresh basil! 

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Rosemary & Fig Cake

I recently came across an amazing recipe book dedicated solely on cake loaves, and fell in love. Of course this medium of baking consists on endless opportunities for flavor combinations. This one, not as traditional, delivers a good balance between sweetness from the figs, with the rich aroma of the fresh rosemary. Although this recipe is found in the "salty cakes" part of the book, it would be almost appropriate to place it with the "sweet cakes", if it weren't for it's rosemary element. Easy to assemble, delectable to accompany any meal. Try it out! The following recipe is translate from the French book called "CAKES MAISON" by Ilona Chovancova.

- 150g All purpose flour
- 150g Spelt flour
- 3 eggs
- 250ml buttermilk
- 70ml vegetable oil
- 2 handfuls of dried figs, quartered
- 1 spring of fresh rosemary
- 11g baking powder
- salt

Preheat the oven to 350F degrees. Quarter the figs and chop up the rosemary leaves finely. Butter and flour a loaf pan.

In a large bowl, whisk the eggs, milk, and oil. Mix in the two flours, the figs and the rosemary. Add a pinch of salt and stir all together to get a smooth consistency. Gently sprinkle in the baking powder and stir to incorporate it in the mixture. Pour the batter into the mold and top with a few pieces of figs or rosemary to decorate.

Bake for 50 minutes. Before unmolding, let cake cool on a cooling rack. Enjoy with butter!

Eat well, sleep well and till next time!


Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Mushroom Barley Soup

Feature plain button mushrooms in this hearty soup for lunch or dinner. This soup is a great soup to incorporate some fresh herbs from your garden. If you don't happen to grow a herb garden, most superstores will carry a variety of fresh herbs. Worst come to worst, reach in your spice rack for some dried herb, theres no problem with that. The familiar flavors of this soup always seems to bring me comfort in my day when I need it the most.

- 1 Cup barley
- 1 1/2 tbsp olive oil
- 2 medium onion, diced
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp black pepper
- 1 large carrot, diced
- 2 celery stalks, diced
- 20 ounces button mushrooms, sliced
- 5 cups low-sodium chicken broth
- 2 bay leaves
- 8 springs fresh thyme

- In a medium saucepan, bring the barley and 4 cups of water to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to medium-low, and summer until tender, 30 to 40 minutes.
- Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large pot over medium-low heat. Add the onions, salt and pepper. Cover and cook until the onions have softened, 5 to 7 minutes. Add the carrot and celery, then cook, covered for 6 minutes more. Add the mushrooms, increase heat to medium-high, and cook, covered until they release their juices, about 4 minutes.
- Stir in the cooked barley and cook for 5 minutes more. Remove and discard the bay leaves. If desired, season wth additional salt and pepper and serve with a nice sourdough bread of multigrain buns.

The embracing aromas of this soup might even charm you into getting a second bowl! Easy to make, even easier to eat! For the whole family to enjoy!

Eat well, sleep well and till next time!


Thursday, July 1, 2010

Banana Cranberry Crunch Cake

Usually when we think of bananas, we either think, banana bread or banana split. This recipe will change the way you think about baking with bananas. It's coffee cake texture and obvious banana taste will leave you wanting another piece! The almonds and cranberries do nothing but compliment this deliciously moist cake. Perfect to bring on picnics or to have at your next tea party. Set your oven to 350F degrees and let's get right to it! 


- 1/2 Cup AP Flour
- 1/2 Cup firmly packed brown sugar
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
- 1/4 cup cold butter
- 1/2 cup almonds, coarsely chopped
- 2 cups AP flour
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/2 cup butter, softened 
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 1 tbsp finely grated orange zest
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 large eggs
- 2 large, very ripe bananas, peeled and mashed
- 2 tbsp sour cream
- 1/2 cup dried cranberries

- Preheat the oven to 350F (180C). Butter and flour a 9-inch tube pan.
- Stir the flour, brown sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg in a medium bowl. Use a pastry blender to cut in the butter until the mixture resembles fine crumbs. Stir in the almonds.

- Stir together the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt in a large bowl. In a large bowl, with an electric mixer on medium speed, mix the butter, sugar, orange zest and vanilla until pale and creamy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating until just blended after each addition. With mixer on low speed, beat in the bananas and sour cream. Gradually beat in the dry ingredients and raisins. Spoon the batter into the prepared pan. Sprinkle the topping.

- Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until the topping is golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool the cake completely in the pan on a rack. Serve warm or at room temperature. 

After tasting some of this cake, you'll wish you always had a few bananas handy in the freezer! Hope you get to try out this recipe soon! Enjoy, but remember, sharing brings good karma! :) 

Eat well, sleep well and till next time!