Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Sante Fe Salad

This salad is my copycat recipe for the Santa Fe Salad recipe from Earls restaurant. As a vegetarian, I'm usually limited to salads and appetizers (or some sad sort of veggie burger) at most big chain restaurants, and this salad is one of my go-to's when I eat at Earls because it's actually quite fresh, delicious, and filling. I absolutely love big salads, but they really need to have a lot of good flavours and textures going on to make a meal in themselves. The Santa Fe combines salty, earthy black beans, sweet corn and dates, and creamy avocado on top of crunchy romaine. The accompanying peanut lime dressing is rich, nutty, and garlic-y, yet light and fresh thanks to the citrus. Despite making a satisfying vegetarian main dish, I still don't believe in spending top dollar in a restaurant on a plate of vegetables - and why should a person have to when it is so easy to make your own version at home? Try it for yourself and see!

Salad Ingredients:
*Serves 2-4 depending on serving size

1 large head Romaine lettuce, chopped
1 cup cooked black beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup sweet corn (if using frozen then thaw first)
1/4 cup Medjool dates, roughly chopped
1/2 avocado, sliced

Peanut Lime Dressing Ingredients:

1/3 cup natural peanut butter (crunchy or smooth)
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
6 Tbsp. fresh lime juice
3-4 Tbsp. water
Sea salt, to taste


Prepare the peanut lime dressing by combining the ingredients in a small food processor, blender, or by shaking in a jar. Taste and adjust to your preference. Add more water or lime juice to thin it out if needed.

Toss the chopped romaine lettuce in the dressing until coated. You may have dressing leftover, so just store it in a sealed container in the refrigerator. Evenly divide the romaine onto serving plates and top with the cooked black beans, sweet corn, and dates. You can toss the ingredients together at this point or leave them as is. Finally, top with sliced avocado and another drizzle of dressing if desired. Serve immediately.

*Recipe by Brooke McMillan, inspired by Earls Restaurant

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Sticky Toffee Pudding


Is it just me or did January fly by alarmingly fast? This sticky toffee pudding was the dessert I made for my family's Christmas dinner way back in December. Being the woman with amazing taste that she is, my mom specially requested that I make it, and I was more than happy to oblige. I can't believe it has been over a month since my family and I were sitting around the table happily shoving forkfuls of this cake into our mouths and I am just getting around to posting it now. Sticky toffee pudding is one of those rich, indulgent desserts that is perfect for Christmas, but it also makes for great comfort food in these last lingering winter months. If you've never had sticky toffee pudding before, you may be surprised to discover that it is actually a cake dessert and not pudding. This is because it is British in origin, where the term "pudding" refers to cake. This sticky toffee pudding is a warm, buttery cake studded with gooey, sweet dates, topped with crunchy toasted pecans and generously coated in a rich toffee sauce (also best served with a scoop of vanilla ice cream). The toffee sauce is very versatile and makes a great topping for ice cream on its own.

Cake Ingredients:

1 and 1/4 cups dried dates, pitted and finely chopped
1/2 tsp. baking soda
3/4 cup boiling water
1 and 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
5 Tbsp. unsalted butter, room temperature (plus extra for greasing the pan)
3/4 cups light brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 cup pecans, toasted and roughly chopped

Cake Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and place the oven rack in the center of the oven. Grease an 8x8" square baking pan with butter.

Toast the pecans by placing them on a baking sheet in the 350 degrees F oven or by heating them in a skillet over medium heat for 6-8 minutes, until lightly browned and fragrant. Once they are toasted give them a rough chop.

Place the dates and baking soda in a glass or stainless steel bowl. Pour in the boiling water and stir to combine. Set aside.

In a separate medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt.

In a separate large bowl, cream the butter with an electric mixer until softened. Add the brown sugar and continue to beat until it is light and fluffy, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Add the vanilla extract and beat until incorporated. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after eat addition. Gradually pour in the flour mixture and beat until combined.

With a wooden spoon or rubber spatula, fold the dates and their liquid into the cake batter. Pour the batter into the prepared baking pan.

Bake for 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Remove from the oven and place on a wire rack. Use a wooden skewer or toothpick to poke holes all over the top of the cake. Pour about 1/2 cup of the prepared toffee sauce (recipe below) evenly over the cake so that it seeps into the holes.

Serve the cake warm from the oven with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, a sprinkle of toasted pecans, and extra toffee sauce drizzled over top.

Toffee Sauce Ingredients:

3/4 cups light or dark brown sugar
6 Tbsp. unsalted butter
3/4 cup heavy whipping cream
1/4 tsp. vanilla extract

Toffee Sauce Directions:

While the cake is baking, melt the brown sugar and butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add the whipping cream and vanilla extract and heat for 8-10 minutes, stirring constantly, until the sugar has completely dissolved and the sauce has thickened.

Store leftover sauce in an airtight container or jar in the refrigerator. Use as a topping for other cakes, ice cream, fruit, pancakes or crepes!

*Recipe adapted from Joy of Baking