Things started out so hopeful. I was in New York last week celebrating my birthday. First stop is always lunch at Bloomingdale’s 40 Carrots restaurant. Starving because we hadn’t eaten since 9:00 am, and it was then 3:00 pm I ordered a carrot soup to start. The carrot soup was a delicious balance between savoury carrots and a hint of sweet orange. The pretzel roll that came on the side was the perfect accompaniment for dipping. I have to recreate this when I get home I thought, how difficult could it be? But how can I do the soup without the pretzel roll, they must go together.
This past week I also attended one of my favourite events, Empty Bowls. Raising money to support Anishnawbe Health Toronto, 11 well known Toronto chefs hand out their own soup creations. Guests fill up their ceramic bowls, donated by potters at the Gardiner museum, and spend the evening eating bowl after bowl of insanely good soup with creative toppings.
Soup was definitely on my mind this week.
The carrot soup I could figure out. Onion, carrots, chicken broth and a bit of orange zest. The pretzel rolls on the other hand took a bit of research. I started researching pretzel rolls and suddenly realized that all the recipes for pretzel rolls call for the addition of gluten. The stuff that everyone is avoiding I would seek out to add chewiness and stretchiness to my pretzel dough. Surprisingly I found it at Loblaws, Bob’s Red Mill makes it!
In an effort to make things more nutritious when I can, I decided I would make the pretzel rolls multigrain. My general rule of thumb is that if it is not a dessert I try to increase the fibre with whole wheat or multrigrain flour and some ground flax.
The pretzels seemed doomed from the start. A dough that needs to rise twice, then get boiled and baked at a high temperature seemed high maintenance. In the middle I had to go pick my son up from a play date so my pretzels rose 3 times. I thought they would come out as rocks but miraculously in the hot oven they fluffed up, formed a crunchy crust while maintaining a chewy centre. A generous sprinkling of Kosher salt on top definitely helped things.
Luckily the soup and pretzel roll have been able to make a repeat performance and now I can enjoy them without going to Bloomingdale’s. It would be ridiculous to travel all the way to New York just for the soup and pretzel roll, right?
Carrot Orange Soup
In a large pot add oil and cook over medium high heat. Add onions and cook until tender but not browned, 3-4 minutes. Add carrots and cover pot. Cook 10 minutes stirring every couple of minutes. Add broth and bring to a boil, then lower heat to simmer and cook covered for 1 hour or until carrots are tender. Add orange zest and juice. Stir well. Puree soup in a blender or with a hand held blender. Be careful to not spray yourself as soup will be hot. Cover pot with a kitchen towel while blending to avoid being sprayed.
Soup can be served hot or cold. If serving cold, a dollop of crème fraiche would go nicely.
Makes 6 cups of soup
Multigrain Pretzel Rolls
In a large bowl mix together the flours, flax, yeast, salt and gluten. Add in water and stir so everything comes together to form a dough. Use wet hands as the dough might be sticky and difficult to bring together. Cover loosely with a kitchen hand towel and allow to rise for two hours. Dough should double in size.
With floured hands take small handfuls of dough and create circles by folding sides of dough underneath itself. Place dough balls on a baking sheet. Cover with a kitchen towel and allow to rise for another 20-60 minutes.
When ready to bake place pizza stone in oven and preheat oven to 450. While oven preheats, bring a large pot of water to boil. Add in baking soda and sugar. Be careful, water will boil over when you add in the baking soda and sugar. Dough balls might need to be reshaped as they will have grown in size. Drop 3 balls at a time in boiling water and boil for 30 seconds each side. After boiling remove from water and place dough balls on a parchment paper lined baking sheet. Brush with egg white and generously sprinkle with Kosher salt.
At this point the dough balls are not pretty. They look like dense misshapen balls of dough but do not loose hope. They will turn into delicious pretzel rolls in the oven.
Place dough balls either directly on pizza stone (sprinkled with flour or cornmeal) or on parchment paper on top of pizza stone or on a parchment paper lined baking sheet and bake 20-25 minutes.
Remove pretzel balls from oven and allow to cool on cooling rack for 10 minutes. Keep in airtight container or Ziploc bag and reheat for 5 minutes at 350. Eat with carrot orange soup!
Makes approximately 20 pretzel rolls
Adapted from veggieandthebeastfeast.com
My father’s two favourite flavours are lemon and lime. A good key lime pie or lemon meringue pie will never go unordered at a restaurant if found on a menu by my dad. In honour of Father’s Day I decided to create this delicious pie that combines the two flavours. My favourite part is the vanilla crumb crust. My father doesn’t like a graham crust (what’s not to love?) so I created a crust out of nilla wafer cookies instead. Feel free to use graham crumbs if you prefer. I do have to say that the nilla wafer crumbs give it a sugar cookie taste, which is great.
The two layers are not distinctly different looking from each other but you can definitely taste them. The combination of the lemon and lime is pure deliciousness and I hope that you enjoy this pie as much as I did creating, making and eating it. Happy Father’s Day!
Preheat oven to 350 F.
In a food processor crush nilla wafer cookies until fine crumbs. Measure out 1 1/2 cups of crumbs. Mix with melted butter and press into a 9-inch pie plate sprayed with non-stick cooking spray. Bake for 8 minutes. Allow to cool.
Reduce oven to 300 F.
In a stand mixer or with a hand held blender mix egg yolks into condensed milk until combined well, around two minutes.
Divide batter in half. In one half add lime juice and lime zest. Mix well. Pour over cooled crust and bake ten minutes.
In remaining condensed milk/egg mixture add lemon juice and lemon zest. Mix well. Pour over partially baked lime pie. Bake fifteen minutes.
Allow pie to cool on oven rack. Refrigerate at least five hours or overnight.
Makes 6 servings, depending on how you slice your pie
Last year my job was to make cheesecakes. Find the recipe or create it, make it, taste it and then discuss it to see how it could be improved. To say it was a great job would be an understatement. Even though I have a new job I love, knowing how to make the perfect cheesecake has come in handy a lot. In honour of mother’s day I thought I would share the proper steps on how to make a beautiful and delicious cheesecake. These steps can be applied to any flavour of cheesecake. For mother’s day I decided on vanilla bean because I’m a sucker for those little black specks.
Cheesecake needs to be made with room temperature cream cheese. I take the cream cheese out of the fridge and leave it on the counter until I am ready to use it (at least a half an hour). If you are in a crunch for time you can microwave each unwrapped package of cream cheese for 15 seconds.
I like the rest of the ingredients to be at room temperature as well. The eggs, sour cream if you are using etc. This will prevent little balls of cream cheese forming which you are trying to avoid.
While some recipes will tell you to bake the crust before pouring the batter on top you do not actually have to do this. The crust will bake perfectly fine at the same time as the cheesecake batter.
The oven needs to be preheated at 350 for at least half an hour before baking your cheesecake.
Always use a spring form pan and line them with parchment paper. Two rectangles around the sides and one circle lining the bottom. You can get the right size parchment paper by tracing the removable bottom and sides of the pan.
As soon as the cheesecake comes out of the oven use a knife to line the outside of the cheesecake carefully. This will help prevent cracks forming on top.
Allow cheesecake to cool in spring form pan on the counter, approximately 5 hours. Then place in fridge overnight, uncovered. The next morning cheesecake can be removed from springform pan.
Preheat oven to 350.
In a stand mixer, whip cream cheese until very smooth, and it looks like icing. Add sugar, mix well for ten seconds.
Add sour cream, mix well for 10 seconds.
Using the tip of a small sharp knife, scrape beans out of vanilla pod. Add to cream cheese mixture and mix on high until you see the little black specks evenly distributed, around 20 seconds.
Add eggs, one at a time on low speed, adding the next egg once the last egg has been fully mixed in. Add vanilla with last egg.
Scrape down sides of bowl with a spatula and give batter one last stir.
Pour cheesecake batter over crust.
Lift pan up and bang down on counter to release any air bubbles.
Bake in oven for approximately fifty-five minutes. Cheesecake is done when outer ring is mostly solidified and inner part is still jiggly. Don’t worry, cheesecake will solidify as it cools.
Rim a knife along outside of cheesecake. Allow cheesecake to cool on baking rack on counter. Once completely cooled, place cheesecake in refrigerator over night.
Release cheesecake from spring form pan and serve at room temperature.
Top with toppings you like, but I think simple is best here.
9” cheesecake makes 12 servings