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Warm Strawberries & Coconut Cream on Canada Day

Strawberries and Cream 1

Strawberries on a fork

Canada Day (aka national BBQ Day) means red and white all over because HBD Canada. I contemplated making Canadian themed cupcakes but opted for a fresh treat thanks to this year’s glorious weather and early morning celebrations (if it’s fruit, it’s breakfast, right?) I was undecided on how I felt about baking fresh berries in the oven but once I tasted the cold coconut cream with a spoonful of warm fruity goodness, I was sold.

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Lemon Bundt Cake with Glaze

Lemon Bundt Slice

Bundt with Zest 2

Easter season is upon us, so I decided to make this light and fluffy lemon Bundt cake with citrus glaze. There’s just something so fresh and inviting about lemons, especially after a long winter of heavy flavours.

For the last 20 years, my father’s mother made a similar dessert for our family Easter brunch in Roncesvalles. For this reason, lemon cake has always reminded me of my springtime childhood; I have vivid memories of wearing little white gloves, puffy floral dresses and lilac hair-bows on Easter weekend back in ’95. This holiday meant three things in my 5-year-old mind: scour the entire house for plastic eggs before my cousins, eat chocolate and eat lemon cake. Consider this my official ode to a distinctly memorable springtime flavour.

You can bake this recipe in any traditional cake pan, but the Bundt looks best. Start mixin’ and get glazed my friends.

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How to Make or Break Your Bake


Sprinkles5

Eggs

Cake mix 1

I often find myself furiously searching the interweb for quick conversions, especially when I’m working with a recipe that doesn’t use the metric system. I’ve curated the most frequently used conversions for baking or cooking to save you precious time and energy because hey, I’ve got your back. Remember: MEASURING IS EVERYTHING. Adding slightly too much or too little of one particular ingredient can literally make or break your bake.

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Blackberry Cheesecake Parfaits

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Blackberry Cheesecake Glass 2

Blackerry Cheesecake Glass 1

Toronto weather is finally showing promise of spring so I decided to celebrate with these darling little cheesecake parfaits. There’s something about eating dessert out of a martini glass that makes me feel like Brigitte Bardot on a young spring day. Also: shout out to the highly underrated blackberry.

This recipe is very simple (no bake) and perfect for entertaining as it yields 4 individual servings.

Ingredients

  • 8 ounces blackberries (washed and patted dry)- (set a handful aside for garnish)
  • 8 ounces raspberries  (washed and patted dry)
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • 3 tablespoons chia seeds
  • 8 ounce block of light cream cheese, softened
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon freshly grated lemon rind (do not omit)
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • ½ cup low fat Greek yogurt

Instructions

  1. In a bowl, mash 8 ounces of  blackberries with potato masher or fork, leaving big and small chunks. Add chia seeds and maple syrup; stir and set aside
  2. For the cheesecake, using a bowl with an electric mixer, beat : cream cheese, honey , vanilla, lemon juice and rind until smooth and creamy (about 2-3 minutes). Add yogurt and beat until fluffy (another minute).
  3. In 4 martini or parfait glasses (small bowls work too), spoon 2-3 tablespoons of blackberry mixture on bottom of each glass; then spoon cheesecake mixture on top (divide the mixture equally into the 4 glasses).
  4. Spoon remaining berry mixture on top, and decorate with raspberries and extra blackberries
  5. Refrigerate until ready to serve
  6. Find a patio
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Puppy Chow: It’s A Thing And It’s Delicious

Puppy Chow Original 11

The Shake n’ Bake of snacks: my roommate used to make this on weekends and it’s both highly addicting and super quick to assemble (no bake). After stalking hundreds of Puppy Chow photos on the interweb (I blame you, Pinterest), I finally gave it a whirl and came up with my own version. Anything that pairs chocolate and peanut butter is welcome in my world.

Stay tuned for birthday cake flavoured p-chow.

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Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Icing & Pecans

Carrot Cake Step 2

Carrot Cake Ingredients 2

This is my absolute favourite carrot cake; it’s slightly different than your traditional recipe but still hits all the high notes. The coconut and walnuts are subtle yet inviting, the crushed pineapple increases moisture and flavour, while the orange-zest cream cheese icing brings just the right amount of sweetness to the nutty, warm tones of this cake. This is my go-to dessert in the winter and never fails at pot-lucks or dinner parties. Who doesn’t love a good cream cheese icing, anyway?

Perfect pairing: hot tea with brandy and a wood fireplace

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Nika Eats Around Europe & It Tastes Amazing

I chatted with long-time friend, talented graphic designer, photographer and credible food enthusiast Nicole (Nika) Nyholt about her experiences with local European flavours and favourites.

All photography featured in this post is copyright Nicole Nyholt.

All photography featured in this post is copyright Nicole Nyholt.

You’ve eaten in multiple cities and countries around Europe, what’s the most memorable destination for you in regards to food and why?

I would say that Copenhagen is one of my favourite destinations for flavour but also for the overall eating experience. The atmosphere and aesthetic of each restaurant is so carefully crafted; they’re really on top of their design and the branding is impeccable. I mean, the whole city is photograph-worthy. The food is also to die for.

Denmark-+Copenhagen-+canal

What’s the food like in Copenhagen?

The central idea around the food in Copenhagen is quality. I remember my friend and I went out for a coffee one day and I ordered this really delicious raspberry smoothie that was probably the best smoothie I’ve ever had. I think it was nine dollars or something, it was so expensive but so worth it; you could tell it was made with pure ingredients. I forget the name of the place, but it was nicest coffee shop I’ve ever been to. We sat by a window sipping our drinks and watched the beautiful people ride by on their bikes; it was a perfect setting.

SFO-+Blue-+Bottle-+Coffee

Copenhagen, Denmark

Copenhagen, Denmark

Another thing you must order while in Copenhagen is a traditional Danish ice cream. They top their ice cream with fancy marshmallow foam and red jelly, which you can see in one of my photos. Also, one day my friend and I went to our school mate’s place and his Danish boyfriend made loaves of fresh bread and pistachio spread. The pistachio spread was the most delicious thing I’ve ever tasted; I think about it all the time. We had such a nice lunch with just a few home made loaves of bread and spreads. I think one of the breads even had fresh spinach and cheese baked into it. Breads and spreads – so simple yet so good. The perfect way to describe the food in Copenhagen is quality over quantity. They don’t have too much at once but everything is impeccable. They serve the best of everything.

Now that I think of it, I don’t even have a favourite city to eat in; I have two or three favourite foods from each place I’ve been.

Greece-+RhodesMykonos

Can you name a few of your favourite foods to eat while travelling Europe? 

The gyros in Mykonos were a huge stand-out for me, especially when there were fries inside. The best calamari I’ve ever had was at this little rustic restaurant on the beach in Rhodes; we sat facing the ocean. The calamari rings were massive yet incredibly tender; you definitely can’t find calamari like that in Canada. It also came with home made tzatziki and a beautiful horiatiki.

I would say my favourite yoghurt is from Iceland. I would literally eat three containers a day, mostly vanilla. Iceland is known for their high quality yoghurt’s.

The gelato in Mykonos was life-changing; I’ll never forget that white chocolate cone made with fresh cow’s milk. I also love the Speculoos gelato that you can find around Italy.

The beef Carpaccio in Florence was delicious, I can’t leave that out.

'The gyros in Mykonos were also a huge standout for me...'

What dishes would you recommend to someone travelling to Holland for the first time?

Croquets, you’ve got to try the croquets. Dutch cheese is also a must, they’re known for their amazing cheeses in Holland. And of course, Hagelslag! It’s funny because when I go to Holland I stay with my family so I get a true picture as to how a Dutch person lives and eats. Every morning for breakfast my cousin would put out a loaf of bread and a selection of beautiful spreads. Again, northern Europe is huge on their bread and spreads! It was the best because some mornings I would top my bread with peanut butter, chocolate Hagelslag, and strawberries and that would be breakfast. Another morning would be brown sugar and rhubarb on toast. The choices were endless.

'breads and spreads'

‘breads and spreads’

Oh also the pancakes! How could I forget about the pancakes?! These are a must-have when in Holland. They’re slightly thicker than a crepe but thinner than a traditional Canadian pancake and are usually served with different toppings like ham and cheese, fruit or Nutella. Everyone ate pancakes, especially at the music festivals; they would serve them in long cardboard take-out containers.

Which pancake toppings were your favourite?

The apple pancakes for sure.

Moment of truth: would you rather eat pizza or pasta?

This goes against everything I believe in! If I have to answer I’d say pizza if it was Hawaiian pizza but pasta if it was seafood pasta. I would never be able to choose between Hawaiian pizza and seafood pasta – they’re even. Although generally speaking, I think I would go with pizza, I don’t think much beats pizza to be honest. OK, pizza is my final answer.

I agree, pizza wins.

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Blueberry Orange Pancakes

I have to admit, I’m a bit of a picky eater when it comes to pancakes. I was the girl at the grade 6 sleepover who would refuse to eat pancakes. Despite my aggressive syrup-smothering tactics, I could never get rid of that lingering cardboard taste.  However, one morning I discovered the solution to my childhood #pancakeproblem: blueberries & orange rind.

Pancake batter 1

pancakes side 5

Fruit 1

This recipe is one of my favourites because it’s simple yet rewarding. In about 15 minutes you can impress your friends/family/boyfriend/ex-boyfriend with flavourful, fluffy, tender pancakes. You can even tackle this recipe while hungover on a Sunday morning – it’s that easy. CAUTION: you will want seconds, or thirds, or the whole batch to yourself (this is a no-judgement zone, it’s happened).

If you’re debating whether blueberry-orange is too fruity for you, consider the following: the orange rind adds just a hint of citrus while making the overall batter sweet (thus eliminating any risks of cardboard flavour); the fresh blueberries melt into pockets of warm gooey jelly that delight your taste buds in every other bite and the oil makes each cake so light and fluffy that chewing is hardly required; these pancakes melt in your mouth.

I layer my blueberry-orange pancakes with freshly sliced peaches, oranges, blueberries and strawberries but the topping options are endless and totally based on preference. I also like to sprinkle my cakes with a touch of icing sugar, partially because it looks nice, and partially because it makes me feel fancy (cue Iggy) while eating breakfast. Maple syrup is an obvious addition but these cakes are so good that I sometimes skip the sauce. See below for the full recipe and enjoy.

Ingredients

  • 1 ¼ cups of Aunt Jemima Original pancake mix
  • 1 large egg
  • ¾ cup milk (I use 1% but 2% works nicely)
  • ½ cup pulp-free orange juice
  • 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil
  • 1 cup fresh blueberries (don’t use frozen or you’ll end up with purple batter, unless you want purple batter)
  • ½ large orange for rind

Instructions: 

  1. Pre heat your griddle to 175 degrees F. Any standard frying-pan works too
  2. In a separate bowl, beat the egg with a fork until fluffy
  3. In a large mixing bowl, combine pancake mix, milk, orange juice and beaten egg
  4. Stir ingredients with a spoon until large clumps of mix disappear and the batter is silky smooth
  5. Grate the rind of ½ large orange into mixture
  6.  Key ingredient: Add oil and stir gently. The oil will make your pancakes extra fluffy and tender
  7. Using a ladle, pour 1/3 cup of batter onto griddle (per pancake). If you prefer smaller cakes, simply use less batter per scoop
  8. Flip each cake when you start to see multiple bubbles forming in the batter (on the griddle) and the bottom of the cake is golden brown
  9. Cook until second side of the cake is golden brown
  10. Serve with fresh fruit, maple syrup and icing sugar for pure bliss
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Baking Budapest: How to Make Courtesan Au Chocolat

A brilliant little ancillary piece was released to complement Wes Anderson’s Academy Award Winning The Grand Budapest Hotel. I have a mild obsession for all things Anderson, but I’ll save that for another post. This charming recipe video holds true to the film’s fanciful aesthetic, witty banter and detailed characters (classic Wes) while teaching you how to make Mendl’s Courtesan au Chocolat – aka fictional bliss.

Mais oui.

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Oven Baked Apple Crisp with Citrus Infusion

Apple Crisp 4

Apple Crisp 3

first tried this recipe back in December and haven’t been able to stop thinking about it since. I’ve tasted my fair share of apple crisp but this one definitely caught my attention for a few reasons, mainly the citrus addition. The freshly squeezed lemon and orange juice acts as a marinade by infusing the fruit with depth and flavour before baking; add in the rind and you really take things to the next level with those natural citrus oils. The acidity of the citrus also encourages the apple’s natural sweetness to flourish while baking, which is a great solution to the blandness you sometimes experience with this dessert. I won’t forget to mention how the brown-sugar infused buttery topping yields the perfect amount of texture and balances well with the tender, subtly spiced apples. Although this recipe tastes best when served fresh and warm, I often find myself eating it cold right out of the fridge.

It’s important to choose the right apples when baking; for this recipe, stick to Honey Crisp or Cortland apples for best results. Although you can bake with Granny Smiths, I find they add an unwanted tartness to this recipe. Macintosh apples are watery in nature and will result in a mushy dessert (no offence, Mac).

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