Breaking Fresh Bread with Friends

We’re halfway through August and, dare I say it, summer is almost over (doesn’t it feel like it just started?!). Fall in our kitchen means root vegetables, casseroles, and of course, hearty soups. And what would a bowl of soup or a casserole be without some bread to sop up the juices? That’s why we’re excited to announce that at the end of this month, we’ll be starting to bake bread in the Never Enough Thyme kitchen and it’ll be available for you to pick-up along with your other treats at the Food Shop. Bread is a staple food that I think we sometimes take for granted – especially the traditional method of preparing it from scratch. Even if you’re not the one to do all the work, surely you can still appreciate a fresh, homemade loaf of bread.
Bread is one of the oldest prepared foods that has historically been popular around the world; but its significance goes beyond the plate and is ingrained (pun intended!) in many cultures. For instance, in Christianity, bread is an important part of the Eucharist at mass. And in some cultures, the type of bread one buys is a sign of social and economic circumstances – buying the more expensive bread means you’re financially secure, for example. And of course, the term “breaking bread”, metaphorically refers to “having a meal together”. So, whichever bread you choose to “break”, we hope you choose to share it with those who are important to you. Cheers!

Show Appreciation with Chocolate Grand Marquis

The other day a long-time customer stopped by and I was reminded why I love Elmira so much. She was one of our first customers 12 years ago when we started Never Enough Thyme and over the years we’ve been a part of her family through food at weddings, showers, and many birthdays.

In addition to food, we’ve shared laughs, visits, and friendship.

It’s a great feeling to know you’ve contributed to someone’s life in such a positive way and that you’re able to be a part of so many important events and milestones. And there are many people and families just like this who make my day when they come to visit and catch up. These are the relationships that have become a joy and privilege over the years within our family.

We feel blessed knowing we can walk down the street and people say “hi”. Small towns and small businesses don’t exist without the support of the community. The Downtown Elmira BIA is one such supporter who has worked hard to improve the shopping experience in the downtown core.

It’s been almost 13 years since we moved to Elmira, and it’s grown as time has passed, but you’ve continued to include us in your busy lives – and for that, we thank you!

Enjoy this dessert as a token of our appreciation, or make it for someone special to show them yours. There are a few bowls to clean afterwards, but it’s so worth it!

Chocolate Grand Marquis

Ingredients

  • 10 oz. bittersweet chocolate, chopped, melted and smooth
  • ½ cup butter + ¼ cup butter, both at room temperature
  • ¼ cup sugar + ¼ cup sugar
  • 2 tbsp. cocoa powder
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • ¼ cup water
  • 1 tbsp. vanilla
  • 1 cup 35% whipping cream

Instructions

  1. Line spring form pan or loaf pan with plastic wrap.
  2. Use an electric mixer to beat ½ cup of butter until fluffy, then beat in first ¼ cup of sugar and the cocoa powder.
  3. Whisk 4 egg yolks, ¼ cup water, ¼ cup butter, and second ¼ cup sugar in metal bowl.
  4. Set over simmering water in a double-boiler, whisking constantly, until it reaches 160˚F (about 5 minutes).
  5. Using an electric mixer, beat the warm yolk mixture until thick and cool, about 5 minutes, then beat in cocoa mix.
  6. Fold in melted chocolate and vanilla.
  7. In another bowl, beat whipping cream into soft peaks and fold into chocolate mix.
  8. Spread into prepared pan and freeze.
  9. Enjoy!

 

Image: rakratchada torsap / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

No-bake dessert – perfect for hot days

dessertIt’s the season for barbecues and potlucks, end-of-school parties and bridal showers, which inevitably means trying to come up with something new or original to bring to the gathering.

I find desserts can be a simple route to go, but who wants to turn on the oven and bake when the weather outside is hot? That’s why we suggest wowing party-goers with this no-bake recipe for mocha creams the next time you’re assigned dessert – although maybe not for the kid party with Kahlua in the mix.

The recipe includes a short list of ingredients and simple instructions – the “hardest” task is letting the creams sit to set. You do have to turn the stove on briefly, but it’s better than heating up your house with the oven.

These little morsels will melt in your mouth and we’re sure your guests will think you bought them from some gourmet bakery, or they’ll be dying for the recipe!

Bon appétit!

Mocha Creams

Ingredients

  • 6 oz. semi-sweet chocolate
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1 tbsp. instant coffee
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 2 tsp. Kahlua
  • White chocolate
  • icing sugar
  • cinnamon

Instructions

  1. Melt semi-sweet chocolate and set aside to cool.
  2. Meanwhile, cream the butter in a bowl until soft, and then add the instant coffee.
  3. Stir in the semi-sweet chocolate, egg yolk, and Kahlua.
  4. Chill mixture until firm enough to pipe.
  5. Fill a piping bag and pipe small stars on parchment lined pan, chill in fridge to set.
  6. Melt white chocolate in double boiler and hold the mocha creams by the base, then dip them into the chocolate.
  7. Allow mocha creams to harden, then sprinkle with icing sugar and cinnamon. Enjoy!

 

Image: Stuart Miles / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Maple madness!

cheesecakeIf you were among the other thousands of people who trekked to Elmira a month ago for the 50th anniversary of the Elmira Maple Syrup Festival, then you probably went home with an abundance of the liquid gold – and perhaps are looking for some new recipes to use it for.

This season makes me think of all things maple – fudge, maple-Dijon barbecue sauce, maple sugar rubs, maple glazed shortbread, and of course, our maple roasted butternut squash soup. The possibilities are endless, really.

Maple syrup is a natural sweetener, so it’s great in vinaigrettes, sweet and sour sauces, and provides more depth of flavour without overpowering a dish. Hidden benefits to maple syrup that you may not have realized include its natural phenols, beneficial antioxidants, natural potassium, zinc, calcium and hints of vitamin B. These are not natural elements you can find in manmade, mass produced syrups!

As a natural sweetener, it’s common for maple to be paired with dessert, which is why we have this recipe for maple cheesecake – a rich and delicious combination of creamy cheesecake and sweet, syrupy goodness. Happy baking!

Maple-Kissed Cheesecake

Ingredients

  • 24 gingersnap cookies
  • 1/3 cup butter, melted
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • ¼ cup toasted pecans
  • 32 oz. of cream cheese, softened
  • 1 cup maple syrup
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 tbsp. vanilla
  • ½ cup 35% cream

Instructions

  • In a food processor, pulse the ginger snaps to a crumb, stir in melted butter and sugar and pulse until combined. Add pecans and pulse once more.
  • Press the crust evenly into a spring form pan.
  • Bake in oven for approximately 10 minutes. Remove from oven and cool.
  • Using an electric mixer with the paddle attachment, beat softened cream cheese and scrape the bowl occasionally to cream the cheese together.
  • Once all the cheese is whipped, add the syrup and eggs, one at a time, until combined.
  • Add vanilla and cream and mix until it is just combined. Pour the filling into the ginger snap lined pan and bake in the middle of the oven at 325˚F for 1 hour.
  • The cake will set as it chills. Once chilled, slice with a hot knife and drizzle with maple syrup and top with whipped cream.

 

Image: Grant Cochrane / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Healthy can still be tasty

brownieOur team at Never Enough Thyme has been busy planning for 2014 with new menus and items for the store; but we’ve also been creating healthy alternatives for those looking to make small healthy choices in their busy days.

It often seems daunting after the holidays to bring healthy alternatives back into your diet, but it’s not as hard as you may think – there are many options, and much more than there were even 10 years ago. Part of the trick is in the planning, which I know firsthand, may be difficult for busy people.

We’ve noticed a trend lately for recipes that are vegan or gluten-free. I find this can sometimes scare people into thinking that means it doesn’t have flavour, or they assume it’s not for their tastes. I choose, instead, to think of these recipes as healthy alternatives. They have less refined sugar, no added preservatives, contain ingredients that are good for you, and are truly tasty!

Take, for instance, these flourless brownies. Just give them a try and see for yourself how yummy gluten-free can be!

Fudgy Flourless Brownies

Ingredients

  • 6 oz. semi-sweet chocolate, chopped
  • ¼ cup butter
  • ¼ cup apple sauce
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 4 egg whites
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup ground almonds

Instructions

  • Place butter and chocolate in a bowl and melt in the microwave on medium heat, about 2-3 minutes.
  • Using an electric mixer, beat the egg whites on medium to high speed.
  • Gradually beat in the sugar.
  • Beat until the egg mix hits high peaks and is glossy.
  • Gradually fold in the chocolate with no streaks.
  • Finish by adding in the almonds.
  • Bake in a parchment lined 9×9 pan until the edges and centre are firm. (A toothpick will come out with some crumbs but that just means it’s a moist brownie.)

 

Image: Stuart Miles / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Family time in the kitchen

cookieGetting the kids outside in winter is still important to ensure they’re active, and there are lots of fun outside activities to do even with snow on the ground. But we’ve had a few days that have been too chilly to venture outside and may have even had you storm-stayed.

If you’re not sure what to do with the kids on these days or any other days when they’re not in school and tired of the regular activities, why not spend some time in the kitchen together baking? This is a tradition our family does for Christmas Eve each year, but these double chocolate snow quake cookies are good all winter long and aren’t just for Santa!

Happy baking!

Double Chocolate Snow Quakes

Ingredients

  • 1½ C all-purpose flour
  • ¾ C unsweetened cocoa
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • ¾ tsp. salt
  • ½ C butter at room temperature
  • ¾ C dark brown sugar
  • ¼ C sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1¼ C chocolate chips
  • 1 C icing sugar

Instructions

  • Combine flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt in a bowl.
  • Beat butter until smooth and add the brown and granulated sugars and cream together. Add eggs and vanilla and mix thoroughly.
  • Reduce speed and add the dry ingredients until a soft dough forms.
  • Add chocolate chips and combine.
  • Cover dough with plastic wrap and allow to chill for one hour.
  • Preheat oven to 350˚F.
  • Line baking trays with parchment paper.
  • Take a tablespoon of dough and roll into a ball.
  • Roll the dough ball in icing sugar. Do not remove the excess sugar.
  • Keep the dough chilled.
  • Place dough balls on a cookie sheet at least 2 inches apart.
  • Bake 10-12 minutes. The cookie will have puffed and cracked, but be slightly firm to the touch. Enjoy!

 

Image: stockimages / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Sneaking vegetables into kid’s food

zucchiniMost parents know that feeding kids vegetables can sometimes be a challenging chore; but, it’s so important for children to get their veggies, which is why we have a few tips and a great recipe for “hiding” these healthy ingredients into food. The kids won’t even know!

 

  • Try chopping up vegetables like broccoli and spinach very fine and adding it to your pasta sauce or lasagna.
  • Make the meal fun – grill vegetables on skewers along with lemons, which will add a zesty flavour. Plus, kids seem to really enjoy eating things on sticks.
  • If you hide vegetables as toppings on the always delicious pizza, the kids might be too excited about having pizza that they won’t ask what that green stuff is.
  • Add spinach or other veggies (chopped small) to cheesy, homemade mac and cheese or grilled cheese – the cheese is likely to mask the vegetables.
  • Add veggies to breakfast with chopped up varieties in scrambled eggs or a quiche. Tell the kids it’s pie!

One of our personal favourites for sneaking veggies into a recipe is this one for chocolate zucchini cake. You could even bake this in muffin tins instead and freeze for school snacks.

Chocolate zucchini bread

Ingredients

2 eggs
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups grated zucchini
1 cup flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. salt
2 tbsp. cocoa
1 tsp. vanilla

Instructions

Place eggs, sugar and oil in bowl and whisk together. Add all other ingredients and combine. Place in a 9×9 greased pan and bake at 350˚F for approximately 25 minutes.

 

Image: Tina Phillips / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Use fresh produce for individual-sized desserts

pavlolvaThis past summer was truly abundant for our local farmers. I recall one particular trip to the Elora Farmer’s Market while hubby, the kids and me were on a weekend camping trip that truly impressed me (a hard feat for a chef) with its beautiful fresh, organic produce.

I know it can be difficult to stick to organic all of the time, and I am not saying you should, but our bodies and the environment weren’t meant to intake the chemicals and synthetics you find in those perfectly red, shiny apples. Sometimes imperfect is better! Shopping locally means great shelf life and flavour for produce, while supporting our local farmers.

Well, now that I’ve preached my part, let me add that one of the best desserts to make with fresh fruit – berries in particular, but use whatever your heart desires – is pavlova. And what an exotic treat for the family (it’s Italian)!

Lighten up with Pavlovas

13 large egg whites (at room temperature)
¼ tsp. salt
2 ½ cups of sugar
1 ½ tbsp. cornstarch
1 ½ tbsp. vinegar
½ pint of blueberries
2 peaches
1 tbsp. sugar
½ lemon, squeezed
5 leaves mint, chopped
2 cups chilled whipped cream
1 tsp. vanilla

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 250˚F. Line pans with parchment paper.
  • Beat egg whites and salt until it forms soft peaks.
  • Beat in 2 cups of sugar until mixture holds stiff, glossy peaks.
  • Stir in remaining sugar and cornstarch, beat into meringue, then the vinegar.
  • Mound egg white mix in 8 mounds, about 2 inches high on parchment-lined cookie sheet.
  • Bake in oven on the top two racks, for approximately 1 ¼ hours. The clouds should be crisp on the outside and soft on the inside.
  • Turn off the oven and allow to cool on a cooling rack.
  • Place sliced peaches, berries, lemon juice and sugar with chopped mint in bowl. Toss and allow to marinate.
  • Gently tap the top of the pavlova, fill with whipped cream and top with the berry mix.
  • Enjoy!

 

Image: stockimage / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Ready for rhubarb!

rhubarbThough rhubarb is now a spring seasonal fruit grown in Ontario, it didn’t start out that way. In fact, first known references of rhubarb have Chinese origins that date back to about 2700 B.C., though it may have actually originated in Siberia.

We love to cook and bake with rhubarb come spring, but this wasn’t always the case of this tart-tasting fruit. Up until about 200 years ago, rhubarb was mainly used for medicinal, not culinary, purposes. Now, it can almost be both – one cup of raw rhubarb has 27 calories and is a great source of calcium, vitamin C and potassium.

When picking out rhubarb for these rhubarb custard tarts, look for crisp, firm stalks, despite the fact that you might want to go straight for the ruby red pieces, rhubarb shades range from green to dark red. If you’re not going to use your rhubarb right away, be sure to wrap and refrigerate it until you’re ready to use it.

 

Rhubarb Custard Tarts

Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
6 1/2 tbsp. butter, chilled
1/2 cup icing sugar
4 egg yolks
1/2 tsp. vanilla

Filling
4 cups fresh rhubarb, cut in ½ inch pieces
1 ¼ cups granulated sugar
¼ cups all-purpose flour
2 eggs, lightly beaten
2 tbsp. melted butter
1 tsp. vanilla

Instructions:

  • In a food processor, measure butter, flour, and icing sugar, then pulse until grainy.
  • Add egg yolks and vanilla and pulse until combined.
  • Wrap dough in cellophane and chill for one hour.
  • Once chilled take small portions of dough and roll to fit size of the chosen tart shells. (I find it easiest to roll this dough to a size between two sheets of plastic wraps. Then press into a tart shell.)
  • Allow to rest in refrigerator in tart shells. 
  • Mix together the sugar, flour, eggs, melted butter and vanilla. Combine with rhubarb.
  • Place rhubarb mix in dough lined tart shells.
  • Bake at 350 F for approximately 20-25 minutes or until the pastry is golden.
  • Enjoy!

 

Image: Grant Cochrane / freedigitalphotos.net

Keepin’ it sweet with syrup

The Elmira Maple Syrup Festival may be over for another year, but the stock of syrup hasn’t run dry. The Festival was a huge success this year with a warmer than usual day for the event. We certainly found it to be even more exciting as we were in the heart of the action at our new downtown location.

Last year was less than stellar for maple syrup in Ontario as spring arrived early and warmed up too quickly for the sap. Maple syrup producers need the temperature to be about -5˚C during the night and 5˚C during the day to ensure ample sap yield. We’ve heard it around town that this year was a great year for maple syrup. We’re definitely taking advantage of the bounty and incorporating the sweet elixir into many delicious treats and savoury dishes around the kitchen, including this favourite that we call Maple Kissed Cheesecake.

We’ve spiced up the crust a little bit by using gingersnap cookies instead of graham crackers, and we’ve added some crunchy texture with the toasted pecans. This, combined with the maple syrup, is just lovely!

Maple Kissed Cheesecake

Ingredients:

  • 24 gingersnap cookies
  • 1/3 cup butter, melted
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup toasted pecans
  • 32 oz. of cream cheese, softened
  • 1 cup maple syrup
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 tbsp. vanilla
  • 1/2 cup 35% (whipping) cream

Instructions:

  • In a food processor, pulse the gingersnaps to a crumb, stir in melted butter and sugar and pulse until combined. Add pecans and pulse once more.
  • Press evenly into a spring form pan.
  • Bake in oven for approximately 10 minutes, pull from oven and cool.
  • Using a stand mixer with paddle attachment, beat softened cream cheese and scrape bowl occasionally. Once all the cheese is whipped, add the maple syrup and eggs, one at a time.
  • Beat the mix until the egg is incorporated and add another egg.
  • Add vanilla and cream and mix until it is just combined.
  • Pour the filling into the gingersnap lined pan and bake in the middle of the oven at 325˚F for 1 hour.
  • The cake will set as it chills. Once chilled, slice with hot knife and drizzle with maple syrup and whipped cream.
  • Enjoy!