For the Love of Tea

tea-on-an-open-book

What is your relationship with tea?

Most of us have learned to appreciate tea as part of our family traditions and ceremonies. The British are famous for afternoon tea, the Chinese for the tea ceremony as part of the wedding celebration, the Japanese and Koreans for their own formal ceremonies.

In my Scottish family we drank tea every day. Even now my mother offers a cup of tea and some cookies whenever someone visits. I remember when I was a child my grandmother would make me children’s tea made with a few drops of tea in a cup of milk with a little sugar. It was such a treat that I would look forward to having it every time I visited. Mostly, we brewed Orange Pekoe tea steeped in pots of boiled water.

Sometimes I like to go out Afternoon Tea in one of our upscale hotels. There is something so elegant and celebratory about trays of little sandwiches and cakes served with clotted cream and jams. Teas are gently poured into china cups through delicate silver strainers. Even thinking about it makes me smile.

Recently, I have been discovering some wonderful loose leaf teas. In an effort to learn more about the endless varieties of tea and their origins we went to the Toronto Tea Festival. The festival, held at the local reference library, offered a variety of tea tastings by a several tea companies, some local baked goods to share with your tea, teapots, tea sets and books about tea.

We enjoyed a demonstration of the Korean tea ceremony performed by specially trained women and a young girl who is trained in presenting the children’s tea ceremony. The formal ceremony is steeped with tradition and special meaning. It was very interesting to watch.

Korean-tea-ceremony-1

korean-tea-4-7794

korean-tea-3-7854

korean-tea-2-7881

I was very excited to find a book titled Tea (History, Terroirs, Varieties) published by the owners of the Camellia Sinesis Tea House in Montreal. The book is an excellent reference on the teas of the world. I understand that it has been published in multiple languages and is used as a textbook in the Tea Sommellier program taught in Toronto’s George Brown College and in Korea.

I am really looking forward to reading about the various types of tea, how to brew each, and how best to enjoy them.

tea-festival-author7758
Tea-tray-of-loose-teas

If exotic teas are not your thing, you may enjoy a hot cup of tea with traditional sweets or cakes. Whether a formal afternoon tea or a traditional ceremonial tea is what you enjoy, you will remember what tea brings to your life with each cup.

tea-pour-3225Tea-on-a-tray3851Tea-with-lemon-and-Fruit-tarts
tea-pour-3111tea-shot-with-daisies

 

Advertisements

Let’s get healthy with Hoisin Beef & Cashew Lettuce Wraps!

steak-salad-lettuce-wraps

“It is never too late to be what you might have been”– George Eliot

Everyone is talking about New Year’s resolutions. Sometimes it sounds like we only list things that we want to stop doing, rather than creating a list of things we should start doing.

The beginning of the year is a good time to take stock of your life and update your goals. I prefer to make goals that can be adjusted or updated as time goes on.. Afterall; life is an ongoing journey where goals help us to navigate toward where or what we want to be.

When you close your eyes and envision yourself as the person that you want to be, what do you see?

Do you see someone who is healthier, more successful, more artistic, more compassionate or someone else? Do you see a musician, a scholar, an athlete, a caring mother or a scientist? If you constantly envision yourself as that person you will start to see the path to get there.

Some of my own goals include being fit, eating healthy foods, being the best person I can be for my family, and being the best photographer for my clients and for my own work.

It all sounds simple, right? It can be, if you break it down into smaller goals within each of the broader goals. These are the goals that you revise or adjust as you move down the path. For example; if I want to eat healthy foods I need to focus on making recipes that will get me there. I need to make it a habit, rather than a sacrifice. No diets, not gimmicks, just delicious, healthy food.

One of the benefits of eating healthy food this time of year is that it counteracts my desire to fill up on heavy comfort foods. I feel better and have no guilt about pairing it with a glass of wine, once in a while.

If I were to call this a diet, it would only last a day or two. Instead, I tell myself this is a lifestyle choice that will keep me healthy. Eating well does not have to be bland and tasteless. This recipe is so rich in flavour from the Hoisin sauce and the cashews and it is simple to make.

Hoisin Beef & Cashew Lettuce Wraps

Makes 4 servings

Ingredients:

1 tbsp. canola oil
1 1/2 lb. beef tenderloin or top sirloin grilling medallions about 1 inch thick
1/3 cup hoisin sauce plus extra for dipping
1 head boston or green leaf lettuce, washed and leaves left whole
1 red pepper, finely julienned
½ cup green onion, finely sliced
1 carrot, peeled and julienned
1/2 cup salted roasted cashews, coarsely chopped
2 cups cooked jasmine rice (cook according to package instructions)

Directions:

Add the oil to a grill pan and heat on high. Sear beef on one side, about 2 minutes. Turn over and baste with hoisin sauce. Continue to baste on both sides and cook to medium rare. Remove from heat and let rest 5 minutes before slicing.

Fill a whole lettuce leaf with a scoop of rice. Top with the red pepper, carrots, green onions, and cashews.

Slice the beef very thinly and add to the lettuce wraps.

Serve with some extra sauce on the side for dipping.

Recipe from Food and Drink Magazine-Early Summer 2014 edition

Roasted Heirloom Carrot and Parsnips Salad- a Great Holiday Side Dish

carrot-salad-roasted-from-above

Oh the holidays!

How do you like to spend your time during the holiday season?

I love to spend a couple of hours curled up on the sofa with a hot drink watching holiday movies.

This afternoon I watched one of my all time favourite movies, Serendipity. I love this heartwarming love story of how John Cusak and Kate Bekinsale try to find each other to see if their love was meant to be. Did you know that this movie was filmed in New York City and Toronto? Those are my 2 favourite cities.

Another movie that I love to watch is The Holiday starring Jude Law, Cameron Diaz, Kate Winslet , Jack Black and Eli Wallach, another love story that takes place over the holidays.

What other movies do you like to watch over the holidays?

While growing up we would always watch White Christmas. My sister and I would sing along with Rosemary Clooney and Vera-Ellan while they did their sister act. I would always get choked up at the end when it started to snow and the whole cast sang White Christmas.

Another less known classic holiday movie is the Bishop’s Wife, starring Loretta Young and Cary Grant who plays an angel who was sent to help her find her way.

Whether you enjoy Home Alone and Christmas Vacation or you are moved by old classics like It’s a Wonderful Life, it is a great way to spend quality time with family.

I have been planning menus for the holiday dinners and found this interesting take on roasted carrots and parsnips. It will make a delicious side dish with some braised short ribs for one of our family dinners.

carrot-salad-roasted-V2

Roasted Heirloom Carrot and Parsnip Salad
Makes 2 servings

Ingredients:
3 heirloom carrots, peeled and quartered
3 parsnips, peeled and quartered
2 tbsp. oil
1 ½ tsp. ground cumin
2 tbsp. honey
½ cup chopped cilantro leaves
½ cup bocconcini cheese, sliced into ¼ inch slices
½ cup roasted hazelnuts, halved

Directions:
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
Place the carrots and parsnips in a baking dish. In a small bowl combine the oil, cumin and honey and pour half of the mixture over the carrots and parsnips.
Cover and cook for 15 minutes, then uncover and cook until the vegetable are tender, 10-15 minutes.
Place the vegetables on serving plates or on a serving platter. Sprinkle with cilantro and hazelnuts and bocconcini cheese. Drizzle the remaining honey mixture over the plate and serve.

Recipe adapted from Donna Hay’s Fast, Fresh and Simple Cookbook

Putting on the dog with Lemon-Glazed Candied-Ginger Cookies

My life lately, has been going to the dogs….. and cats…and bunnies!

Nibbler-running

I spent much of the fall launching my new pet photography business Pawsome Pix. www.pawsomepix.com

The interesting thing about shooting pet portraits is having fun with the pets and owners while you shoot. Sometime is feels like chaos while you are getting great shots in the field. In the studio it is much more controlled and calm.

My plan is to run the food and lifestyle photography and the pet photography as separate businesses. That way I can really focus on each and market each in a different way.

Spice-101

No matter what I am shooting, it is a great way to spend a day. They say you should work at something you love so it never feels like work. I am so fortunate that I feel that way about photographing food, people and now, pets.

moonbeam-103Kallie 102

I love getting to know each animal so I can help them to relax. This allows me to capture their unique personalities. That is the great thing about photographing pets and children; they all are so interesting and fun to hang out with.

Shayla2635

Kallie-101 BNibbler-103
Chase6958-Edit

Now that my website and Facebook pages are launched I can get back to preparing for the coming holiday season.

I know the holidays are coming soon when I start to get that itch to bake holiday cookies. Each year, I pour over my cookbooks to find something new and interesting to bake for my family. I found this recipe in a Martha Stewart Cookies magazine that I bought in 2011.

The cookies have a nice blend of flavours with the sweetness of the honey and the freshness of the lemon. They are definitely worth trying.

lemon-cookies-plated

Lemon-Glazed Candied-Ginger Cookies

Makes 6 dozen cookies

Ingredients:
2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for surface
1/2 tsp. baking powder
Salt
6 oz. (3/4 cup) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup packed light-brown sugar
1/2 cup finely chopped candied ginger
1 large egg
2 tbsp. pure vanilla extract
4 cups confectioners’ sugar
2 tbsp. grated lemon zest
2 tsp. fresh lemon juice
2 tbsp. honey
1/3 cup water

lemon-cookies-ready-to-bake

Directions:

Sift flour, baking powder, and 3/4 teaspoon salt into a bowl. Cream butter and brown sugar with a mixer on medium speed until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add ginger, and beat for 2 minutes. Beat in egg and vanilla until well combined. Add flour mixture, and then beat on medium-low speed until dough just comes together.

Shape dough into two 1-inch-thick disks. Wrap tightly in plastic, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour (or up to 3 days).

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Roll out 1 disk on a lightly floured surface to inch thickness, and cut out 2-inch circles. Place the rounds 1/2 inch apart on parchment-lined baking sheets. Roll out and cut scraps. Refrigerate rounds for 10 minutes.

Bake, rotating sheets halfway through, until cookies are set and edges are light gold, 12 to 14 minutes. Transfer parchment with cookies to wire racks. Let cool completely. Repeat with remaining dough. (Cookies can be stored for up to 3 days.)

Whisk confectioners’ sugar, lemon zest and juice, honey, water, and a pinch of salt in a bowl until smooth. Drizzle glaze over the cooled cookies. Let stand until glaze is set, at least 20 minutes. (Glazed cookies can be stored overnight.)

lemon-cookie-drizzle

Recipe from Martha Stewart Holiday Cookies- 2011

 

Asparagus Vichyssoise Soup to Warm Your Heart

aparagus-vichysoise-2

For those of you who live in warm climates, I am envious. Canada and the Northeast U.S. has been pummeled with snow for the past few days. Our poor neighbours south of the border in Buffalo, NY had 4 feet of snow fall on them. Yes, you read that correctly, that was 4 feet not 4 inches. It is only November and I am already dreaming of flying to warmer climates. I often wish I could live in Canada during our warm season and New Zealand during theirs. It would be fun to switch hemispheres every 6 months.

Even with the cold, I am starting to get excited about the holidays! My grandson is in kindergarten and has his first school concert next month. The holidays are so much more fun when you see them through the eyes of a child. They still believe in the magic of the season. They believe that if they wish for something, it will come true.

In the spirit of the season I have 3 wishes:

I wish that we could truly have peace on earth.
I wish that those who are less fortunate are able to find warmth and food this winter.
I wish that we could each take time out from our day to do something good for someone else.

If you could have 3 wishes what would they be? If you could help someone this holiday season, what would you do?

To warm up from the weather outside, I made a wonderful version of my favourite soup, Vichyssoise. This is Yotam Ottolenghi’s version from his cookbook called Plenty which adds asparagus for even more dimension. Once you taste this version you may not go back to the original.

aparagus-vichysiosse

Asparagus Vichyssoise Soup

Makes 4 servings

Ingredients:
2 leeks
1 pound asparagus
1 medium potato, peeled and diced
1 ½ tbsp. butter
2 ½ cups organic vegetable stock
1 tsp. sugar
Salt and pepper
3 tbsp. heavy cream
6 tbsp. Greek yogurt
Grated zest of ½ lemon

Directions:
Peel the potato and dice, roughly. Chop off and discard the green of the leeks, cut them in half lengthways, wash and slice. Cut off and discard the woody base of the asparagus, then cut into ¾ inch pieces; keep the tips separate. Reserve a few whole spears.
In a big pan, sauté all the vegetables, other than the asparagus tips in butter for four minutes, taking care they don’t colour. Add stock, sugar and a little seasoning, bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer, lid on, for 40 minutes. Add the asparagus tips and cook for and additional 10 minutes.
Once done puree the soup in a blender until smooth, fold in the cream and half the yogurt, leave to cool to room temperature, then chill. While it’s cooling, bring a pot of water to the boil, blanch the reserved asparagus spears for 30 seconds, drain.
To serve, pour the chilled soup into bowls, add a dollop of yogurt and swirl with the tip of a skewer. Place some blanched asparagus pieces in the centre of the soup and garnish with lemon zest.

Recipe from Plenty by Yotam Ottolenghi

Cookin up Some Slow Cooker Love and Beef Stew

beef-stew-101-B

What a great week this has been! I was published in Resource Magazine’s Fall 2014 edition in an article that my friend, Skip Cohen, wrote about me. If you get a chance to read that edition you might enjoy it. The theme for the Fall 2014 edition is food photography. In addition to working on that article, I have been building up my lifestyle portfolio and shooting regularly. I am really grateful that I get to spend time doing something that I love; photography.

I don’t know about you, but another thing that makes me happy is cooking up some comfort food on a cold day. Sometimes I am like a big old bear. As soon as the weather turns cold, I a find myself craving old favourites like stew, chili, or homemade pasta. You would think I am preparing for a long winter of hibernation. With the skating season just beginning I will not be hibernating, but out getting my exercise doing something else that I love. Life is good!

While you are out and about preparing for the holidays, take some time to stop and enjoy a meal with your loved ones. We all get so busy that we lose sight of those around us but those simple times together are the moments that they will remember for years to come.

beef-stew-104

Slow Cooker Beef Stew

Makes 6 servings

Ingredients:

3lb.stewing beef
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
3 yellow waxy potatoes, peeled and cubed
2 large sweet potato, peeled and cubed
2 carrots, chopped into 1/2 inch chunks
2 parsnips, chopped into 1/2 inch chunks
1 onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups sliced mushrooms
3 sprigs fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
3 cups beef broth
1/2 cup dry red wine
2 tbsp. tomato paste
1 tsp. Worchestershire sauce
1/4 cup all-purpose flour

beef-stew-prep

Directions:

Season the beef with salt and pepper. Place in slow cooker. Add the Potatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots, parsnips, onion, garlic, mushrooms, thyme and bay leaf.

Whisk together the beef broth, wine, tomato paste and Worchestershire sauce. Stir the wet mixture into the slow cooker.

Cover and cook on low for 9-10 hours, until beef is tender and vegetables are cooked through. Skim off fat.

Whisk flour in 1/4 cup water until smooth, stir into the slow cooker. Turn the heat to high, cover and cook until the sauce has thickened, about 20-30 minutes.

Remove Bay leaf and thyme sprigs and serve.

beef-stew-102

Pumpkin Pecan Cake with Brown Butter Icing

 

Pumpkins-in-a-row

“Delicious autumn! My very soul is wedded to it, and if I were a bird I would fly about the earth seeking the successive autumns.”-George Eliot

It’s that time of year again; time for pumpkin patches, enjoying the rich fall colours, planning for Halloween and celebrating Thanksgiving.

Autumn is my favourite time of year! I love the rich hues that paint the trees across the city and parks. I love the crisp breeze that rushes through my hair as a walk about the city. I love the beautiful sweaters and scarves that grace the shop windows. I love the excitement of children as they play among the fallen leaves.

Most of all I love the warm feeling of snuggling up with some warm apple cider and a good book.

Fall Colours-Algonquin Park

We celebrated our Canadian Thanksgiving over 2 weekends so that more people were able to come. It is difficult to get everyone together at one time since many of our friends and family members live out of town.

When preparing a Thanksgiving meal, I tend to break with the usual tradition of roasting a turkey with all of the trimmings by tasting new recipes with my family. This year we enjoyed pork tenderloins with a white wine tarragon sauce for the first celebration and a leg of lamb roasted with rosemary and garlic for the second. Everyone pitched in a brought something toward the meal so it was a true group effort. I love spending time with family over the holidays.

Instead of baking the traditional pumpkin or sweet potato pie I baked a pumpkin cake with brown butter icing sprinkled with candied pecans. The cake is packed with flavour and the icing is rich and buttery; a perfect match to the sweetness of the candied pecans.

It could be baked for any occasion, but I thought pumpkin was an nice autumn treat for us to enjoy.

pumpkin cake with brown butter icing 2

“When autumn darkness falls, what we will remember are the small acts of kindness: a cake, a hug, an invitation to talk, and every single rose. These are all expressions of a nation coming together and caring about its people.”
Jens Stoltenberg

pumpkin-cake-with-brown-butter-icing

Pumpkin Pecan Cake with Brown Butter Icing

Makes 12 to 16 servings

Pumpkin Pecan Cake

Ingredients:

½ cup (125 mL) unsalted butter, softened
1¼ cups (310 mL) packed, light brown sugar
2 eggs
1 cup (250 mL) fresh or canned pumpkin purée (not pie filling)
1 tsp (5 mL) vanilla extract
1½ cups (375 mL) unbleached cake and pastry flour
½ cup (125 mL) ground toasted pecans
1 tsp (5 mL) baking soda
¼ tsp (1 mL) baking powder
½ tsp (2 mL) salt
½ tsp (2 mL) each ground ginger, cinnamon and allspice
1 tsp (5 mL) orange zest
½ cup (125 mL) buttermilk
2 cups (500 mL) chopped candied pecans

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C).

Grease sides of two 9-inch (1.5-L) round metal cake pans; line bottoms with parchment paper. Set aside.

In a large bowl, beat butter with sugar until light and fluffy; beat in eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each. Beat in pumpkin and vanilla until incorporated.

In a separate bowl, whisk fl our, ground pecans, baking soda, baking powder, salt, ginger, cinnamon, allspice and orange zest. Stir into butter mixture alternately with buttermilk, making 3 additions of dry ingredients and 2 of wet. Scrape into pans; smooth.

Bake in the centre of oven until a cake tester comes out clean, about 25 to 30 minutes.

Let cool in pans on rack for 10 minutes. Turn out onto racks; peel off paper. Invert; let cool.

To assemble the cake, brush any crumbs from cake layers. Cut each in half horizontally. Place 1 layer, cut-side up on cake plate. Spread with about ¾ cup (175 mL) of the icing. Sprinkle evenly with ½ cup (125 mL) of the candied pecans. Repeat layers twice. Top with remaining layer, cut-side down. Spread entire cake with a scant cup of the icing to mask. Refrigerate until firm, 30 minutes. Spread cake with remaining icing and decorate with remaining pecans.

Brown Butter Icing

Ingredients:

½ cup (125 mL) unsalted butter
8 oz (250 g) cream cheese, softened
¼ cup (60 mL) brown sugar
1¼ cup (310 mL) confectioner’s sugar

Directions:

For icing, in a large heavy skillet, melt butter over medium heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the butter turns a golden brown, about 4 minutes. Pour into a bowl and let stand until the little bits sink to the bottom, about 5 minutes. Transfer to freezer and chill until firm, about 15 minutes. Scrape the top of the butter from the bits at the bottom; discard bits.

Transfer brown butter to bowl with the cream cheese and brown sugar. With an electric mixer beat until the brown sugar has dissolved, about 2 minutes. Gradually beat in confectioner’s sugar until incorporated and fluff y, 1 to 2 minutes.

Recipe from Food and Drink Magazine-Autumn 2011 by Nicole Youngpumpkin-6332

Roasted Beet, Bacon and Apple Salad from the Evergreen Brick Works Market

brickworks-graffiti

I love spending a leisurely Saturday morning wandering around a local farmers’ market. Nothing tastes as wonderful as fresh fruit and vegetables from a local farm.

One of my favourite markets is the Farmer’s Market at Toronto’s Evergreen Brick Works. This wonderful project has turned an abandoned brick factory in the heart of the city into a green space filled with nature walks, ponds, cafes, craft stores and educational space.

brickworks-building

Some of the space has been dedicated to natural art installations that compliment the environment.

Brickworks-art

There are nature walks and protected areas that house the local wildlife. You can even rent bikes to explore the trails along the Don Valley for the day.

brickworks-bike-shop

It is a wonderful place to visit early in the morning if you are looking for a tranquil space filled with birds, turtles and nature. I like to grab a coffee and sit, quietly, in the midst of the natural surroundings and just listen.

brickworks-pond

Every weekend the Brick Works hosts a large famer’s market that houses dozens of growers selling organic produce, meat, flowers and preserves. The casual atmosphere creates a relaxed feeling for the visitors as they wander the rows of stalls listening to live music from a local artist, while sampling wonderful delicacies.

brickworks-tomatoes

brickworks-apples

brickwork-carrotsBeets-2014

autumn-beet-salad-3

When I was there I picked up some lovely organic golden and red beets to create this salad.

This recipe has been cobbled together from a couple of recipes from Foodland Ontario and Fine Cooking Magazine. I love the combination of the roasted beets and bacon with goat cheese and apples. It is a great Autumn salad for a lunch of even as a side for a holiday meal.

autumn-beet-salad-2

Roasted Beet, Bacon and Apple Salad

Ingredients

2 medium red beets, unpeeled and scrubbed
2 medium golden beets, unpeeled and scrubbed
2 slices of bacon
3 tbsp. (45 mL) olive oil
2 tbsp. (25 mL) red wine vinegar
1 tbsp. (15 mL) maple syrup
2 tsp. (10 mL) horseradish
1/4 tsp. (1 mL) each salt and pepper
4 cups (1 L) mixed greens
4 cups (1 L) arugula
1 medium unpeeled apple, cored and diced
1 pkg. (113 g) creamy goat cheese, crumbled
2 tbsp. toasted pumpkin seeds

Directions

Wrap beets in double layer of foil and sprinkle with a little olive oil. Roast on baking sheet in 425°F (220°C) oven until tender, about 1 hour. Let cool enough to handle; peel and cut into 1/2-inch (1 cm) thick wedges.

Meanwhile, cook bacon in skillet over medium heat until crisp. Let cool on paper towel; crumble. Toast the pumpkin seeds in the same skillet where you have cooked the bacon until they become golden brown.

Whisk together oil, vinegar, maple syrup, horseradish, salt and pepper.

Place mixed greens and arugula in large bowl; toss with bacon, beets and apple. Toss with dressing. Serve sprinkled with crumbled goat cheese and pumpkin seeds.

Ricotta Cheesecake with Late-Summer Fruit in Niagara Ice Wine

Ricotta-Summer-Cheesecake-3

“Summer always ends with good memories”- anonymous

Can you feel it slipping away? Another summer is ending with the cool, crisp promise of autumn.

I had an unusual summer this year. What is typically the time of year to take things a little slower, ended up being the busiest it has been in a long time. I had so many unique projects on the go that filled me with anticipation and excitement.

Ricotta-Summer-Cheesecake-top-Edit

The most interesting project of them all was shooting a wedding for a dear friend of mine. I never realized how much responsibility one takes on when agreeing to shoot a wedding. The thought of missing the special moments or having equipment glitches was enough to make me even more obsessive about planning than usual. Thankfully, the day went off without a hitch and the bride is very pleased with her photos; all 1475 of them.

Since I decided to add more lifestyle photos to my portfolio, I have been on a constant cycle of learning and planning and shooting and editing. It has really been wonderful and has helped me to feed my passion for photography.

Ricotta-Summer-Cheesecake

I made this cake for a pre-wedding party by adapting two very different recipes from two different magazines. The cake is adapted from Bon Appetit and the Late-summer Fruit is adapted from Gourmet Traveller. I decided to use Niagara Ice wine instead of the Marsala wine in the original recipe. It was an easy decision because I had some on hand and I knew it would be a perfect pairing with the fresh Ontario stone fruit that was from the same region.

Ricotta Cheesecake with Late-Summer Fruit in Niagara Ice Wine

Makes 8-10 servings

Ricotta Cheesecake

Ingredients:

2 900g (15 oz.) containers fresh ricotta
1 tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 tbsp. plus 1 cup sugar
3 tbsp. unseasoned dry bead crumbs
2 450g (8 oz.) packages of cream cheese, at room temperature, cut into cubes
2 large eggs
2 tbsp. ground almonds
2½ tsp. lemon zest
1 tbsp. lemon juice
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/8 tsp. kosher salt
icing sugar for dusting

Directions:

Place ricotta in a large fine-mesh strainer set over a bowl. Drain for 30 minutes
Position the oven rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees F.

Grease an 8 inch springform pan with butter.

Mix 1 tbsp. sugar and breadcrumbs and sprinkle over buttered pan. Tap out the excess crumbs.

Puree the ricotta in a food processor for 15 seconds. Scrape down the sides, puree until smooth. Add cream cheeses and puree until smooth. Add remaining sugar and all other ingredients, puree, scraping down the sides until smooth, about 30 seconds. Scrape batter into the springform pan.

Bake until golden brown and just set, about 1 hour 15 minutes. Transfer to a rack and let cool in the pan. The cake will fall slightly.

Refrigerate uncovered until cool, about 3 hours. Then cover and chill overnight.

To serve, remove from pan by releasing sides and dust with powdered sugar.

Recipe adapted from Bon Appetit- May 2011

Late-Summer Fruit in Ice Wine

Ingredients:

250 ml white ice wine
100 g fine sugar
60 ml (1/4 cup) orange juice
6 (mixed) plums, peaches and nectarines cut into wedges

Directions:

Combine ice wine, sugar and orange juice in a small saucepan. Stir over medium heat until sugar dissolves. Simmer until it thickens to a syrup, 15-20 minutes and set aside to cool.
In a medium sized bowl pour the cooled syrup over the fruit wedges and mix gently.
Set aside to macerate for 30 minutes.

Serve a slice of ricotta cheesecake topped with some late-summer fruit and syrup.

Recipe for Late-Summer fruit adapted from Gourmet Traveller-March 2014