Category Archives: Food

On a mission to make the best apple cake I can!

While spending time in Victoria, I discovered a delicious apple cake at a coffee shop called the Nest. Now that I’m home, I’m trying to find a recipe that comes close.

This one turned out very good – and is a little lighter than the Nest cake which is not a bad thing! I also had some zucchini that I wanted to use up. Next time I make this, I think I will use a full teaspoon of cloves, and maybe add a half teaspoon of ground ginger.

Zucchini Apple Spice Cake

Course Dessert
Keyword baking, cake, zucchini
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Servings 12

Ingredients

  • 2 c zucchini peeled and grated (I used one large zucchini)
  • 2 c Granny Smith apple peeled and grated (I used 2 apples)
  • 2 c light brown sugar
  • 2 each large eggs
  • 2 c all-purpose flour
  • 3 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp ground cloves
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 c vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 c walnuts toasted and coarsely crushed
  • 1 each Macintosh apple (optional) peeled, cored, and thinly sliced into wedges

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

  2. Lightly oil and flour baking dish.

  3. Peel, core and grate Granny Smith apples, and also peel and grate zucchini. Should have 2 cups of each.

  4. In large mixing bowl, beat eggs and sugar until smooth.

  5. Slowly add oil to sugar and egg mixture while mixing thoroughly.

  6. Add remaining dry ingredients (spices, salt, baking soda and flour).

  7. Mix grated apple and zucchini into mixture.

  8. Add nuts and mix into batter.

  9. Pour batter into baking dish. Gently evenly spread batter.

  10. Arrange apple slices as desired onto top of batter.

  11. Bake for 45 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean.

  12. Server warm or cooled, and enjoy!

Sourdough Waffles

Since almost the beginning of the COVID lockdowns last year, I had started maintaining a sourdough starter as yeast was not to be found in the grocery stores. Needed a way to use the starter discard as it was starting to take up too much space in our refrigerator, and waffles were the answer!

I use a Cuisinart Griddler – to which I added a set of Cuisinart Griddler Waffle Plates.

Overnight Sourdough Discard Waffles

Course Breakfast
Servings 3 large waffles

Ingredients

  • 240 g sourdough starter discard
  • 136 g flour
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar

Next morning

  • 1/4 cup butter melted and cooled
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder

Instructions

Night before

  1. In a large bowl, mix sourdough starter, flour, sugar, milk and vinegar together.

  2. Set aside, covered loosely with plastic wrap

Next morning

  1. Preheat waffle iron

  2. In a small bowl, mix beat egg, butter and vanilla together

  3. Pour mixture into large bowl of starter batter, and mix well

  4. Sprinkle baking soda and baking powder over batter and mix well

  5. Add batter to waffle iron – I use a ladle that holds approx. 1/3 cup.  One ladle scoop for ½ the waffle ironplate.  Close lid and set a timer for 5minutes and 30 seconds. (That’s what I use, and find it’s perfect for my waffle iron – adjust time or waffle iron temp to suit your own preferences)

Braised Cauliflower in the Instant Pot

I came across a recipe in the “Mediterranean Instant Pot” cookbook from America’s Test Kitchen. The recipe looked pretty good, and used a spice blend I hadn’t heard of before called ras el hanout. I changed the recipe a little due to my own preferences and the unavailability of one ingredient.

The result was delicious, and I’ll definitely be making this again!

Braised Cauliflower with North African Spices

Course Side Dish
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Servings 4

Ingredients

  • 1 head Cauliflower trim leaves and stem, keep whole
  • 1 can Whole San Marzano tomatoes drain (keep liquid), and coarsely chop
  • 2 tsp Ras el hanout
  • 2 tbsp olive oil extra virgin
  • 4 cloves garlic minced
  • 1/4 cup golden raisins
  • 1/4 cup kalmata olives pitted and coarsely chopped
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro coarsely chopped

Instructions

  1. Turn on Instant Pot to Saute, high setting, and add olive oil, garlic, and ras el hanout

  2. Saute for about 2-3 minutes, until spices become really fragrant, then turn Instant Pot off

  3. Add the reserved tomato juice and chopped tomatoes to Instant Pot, stir well, and then reserve 3-4 tablespoons of the mixture

  4. Insert trivet then steaming basket into Instant Pot

  5. Complete preparation of the head of cauliflower by making a deep criss-cross slice into stem, then place head into steaming basket, stem side down.

  6. Pour reserved tomato/spice mixture over top of cauliflower.

  7. Cook in Instant Pot using high pressure, for 3 minutes, doing a quick release when cook time has completed.

  8. Set cauliflower head aside in serving dish, and cover with foil

  9. Set Instant Pot to Saute, add olives and golden raisins to tomato mixture. Cook this down to thicken a bit. You can salt & pepper this if you like (I didn't)

  10. Cut the head of cauliflower into quarters, then eights. Spoon more of the tomato mixture over top, and then sprinkle cilantro over when serving. Provide the rest of the tomato/spice mixture alongside so people can add more as they wish.

Recipe Notes

The original recipe called for green olives, anchovies, and pine nuts (which I couldn’t find at our grocery store).  Omitted the anchovies to make the dish vegan, and I prefer black olives over green 🙂

Making the Best Pumpkin Spice Latte

Well, I had to try it. James Hoffman’s recent video was interesting. I ended up making 2 batches after a visit to the Silk Road Spice Merchant on Whyte Avenue.

The first one I followed his direction and recipe as closely and exact as possible. After measuring everything out, I ground it all up into a Krups Coffee & Spice grinder. One step I added was to heat the spice blend up on the stove prior to adding the water and pumpkin juice. I also used a light brown sugar instead of Demarra.

This initial batch ended up much thicker than what his seemed, so I made a second batch, which I combined with the first one. I made the second batch without pumpkin, and added green cardamom.

The syrup is definitely very flavorful, and makes a delicious latte! The biggest challenge I found was in trying to strain the syrup. I used a couple different sieves and also a muslin filter bag, and it took a long time – must have taken almost an hour! I’ll have to find a better strainer.

Here’s are the ingredients I used for my second batch of pumpkin spice:

Vietnamese Cassia Bark: 14g
Indonesian Cinnamon Quills: 14g
Powdered Ginger: 8g
Whole Cloves: 2g
Allspice: 2g
Whole Nutmeg: 7g
Green Cardamom: 3g

For the syrup, I used a light brown sugar – 350g, and 175g of water, and 25g of the pumpkin spice.

I also made the coffee infused whipping cream to top the latte – it was fantastic, and much easier to make! Will definitely make the whipping cream again, as well as the pumpkin spice. I think that I’ll like skip the syrup.

Dialing in the Espresso

My espresso machine has been working well, but I think I was getting lazy in spending time to properly dial in my beans – but after spending a little time this weekend doing just that – I realized what a difference it really makes!

I was motivated after taking apart the grouphead trying to resolve some excessive water dripping from it – I was going to take the parts into a local shop and basically rebuild and re-gasket the entire grouphead. Once I had all the parts out, and cleaned everything up, I realized it would be a couple days before I could get to the shop – and I didn’t want to be without my morning espresso’s, leaky machine or not!

So back together it went – and shockingly, the leaking went away, and I also found that the shot lever actually moved with little resistance – much like it did when I first got the machine over a decade ago!

Dialing in my shots didn’t take long at all I found – don’t know why I thought it was such a chore. I have the machine dispensing about 2 oz. of espresso in 29 seconds, with the portafilter dosed with 19-20 grams of beans.