Raspberry and White Chocolate Scones

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Life has been pretty hectic, lately. So hectic, that I had to schedule an hour this weekend to take some quiet comfort with a cup of tea and a scone.

During these rare moments of reflection I start to feel myself relax and even smile a little. You see, I have been spending one evening a week babysitting my grandchildren. Even though this adds to my already crazy life it has become one of the highlights of my week.

I have two wonderful grandchildren , Aiobheann (pronounced Even) who is 2, and Kieran who is 4. They are equally as cute and cuddly, as they are mischievous and challenging. What one thinks up, the other follows.

One of the evenings that I was babysitting I put the two of them in the bathtub for a bath. Kieran spent most of the time pretending to swim and playing with toys, while Aiobheann spent her time squirting foamy children’s soap and washing herself as well as a two-year old can. Just when we were almost done, Aiobheann asked if it was okay if she were to pee in the bathtub. I said that she had to use the potty and not pee in the tub. Then she looked down and then looked at me with big eyes and said “Uh Oh!”

I scrambled to pull them both out, as quickly as I could.

Another time, Aiobheann did not want to go to bed so Kieran tried to convince her to be a Big Boy and go to bed. That is what he understands about his bedtime and how he should behave. Well this just started a half hour debate between the two of them about why it did not apply to Aiobheann because she is not a Big Boy; she is a Little Girl. I know, at times like these, parents get frustrated because this is holding up the schedule, but as a grandmother I found it amusing.

Being a grandmother is a whole new adventure. I get to do it all over again without the day-to-day responsibilities and with the wisdom that I have developed through raising my own daughters. I am really enjoying it!

So here I am, at the end of a long work week, sipping my tea and savouring my scone and I am still smiling about my grand babies and their innocent view of life.

I am looking forward to my next visit.

raspberry-scone-with-book--5955Raspberry and White Chocolate Scones

Makes 12 scones

Ingredients:
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
2 tbsp. sugar
4 tbsp. unsalted butter, chilled and chopped into small pieces
1 cup miniature white chocolate chips
1 cup frozen raspberries, chopped
3/4 cup heavy cream
1 egg, separated
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Directions:

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F and line a baking sheet with parchment or a silicone baking mat.
In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and sugar. Add the chopped cold butter and rub with your fingers into the flour until the bits of butter are roughly the size of peas. Stir in the chocolate chips.

Separate the egg; reserve the white for an egg wash before baking. In a separate bowl, whisk together the cream, egg yolk, and vanilla extract.

Add the frozen raspberries to the flour mixture. Pour in the cream, and stir lightly with a fork until just moistened.

Gather the dough into a ball with your hands and knead it lightly a few times, just to roll it together. Place the dough on a lightly floured work surface and divide into two balls. Gently roll out each ball into a 1-inch high disk, and cut each disk into 6 wedges.

Place wedges on the baking sheet and brush the tops with the reserved egg white. Sprinkle each with sugar.
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Bake for about 12-15 minutes or until the tops are golden brown and scones are cooked through.

The scones are best eaten the day they are baked, but will keep in an air tight container for 2 days. For the best results do not thaw the berries before using them.

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

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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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.)

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Recipe from Martha Stewart Holiday Cookies- 2011

 

Ricotta Cheesecake with Late-Summer Fruit in Niagara Ice Wine

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“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.

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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.

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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

Celebrate the Strawberry Season with Strawberry Charlotte

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Have you ever had a day when technology was not your friend?

This morning I was reading one of my favourite blogs on my ipad, while eating breakfast. I tried to comment on the blog using the WordPress App and instead of posting the comment on their blog it created a post for my blog including only my comment. If that is not bad enough it posted it to Twitter and emailed it to all of my email followers.

When I realized what had happened, I ran into the other room to fix my mistake on my computer, vowing to never post anything before having my morning coffee again.

To all who received this poor excuse for a blog post I hope to redeem myself by sharing this wonderful recipe with you. Now you might ask, “How that is going to earn redemption?”

It will, because it is one of the best looking and best tasting cakes I have ever made and you don’t even have to bake it! That is correct; no baking.

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I found the recipe online at the website of a popular French Canadian chef, Ricardo. I was looking for a way to use up some wonderful fresh Ontario strawberries from my local market. We are only able to enjoy the local strawberries for a few weeks each year, but the wait is worth every bite. You can taste the difference between the locally grown berries and the ones that have come from other countries. The flavour is more intense.

This Strawberry Charlotte is like a cross between Tiaramisu and Strawberry Mousse Cake. The mousse-like centre is creamy and light and the lady fingers create an interesting crust that looks like a fence post circling around a pool of strawberry heaven. Then you top it all off with fresh strawberries and tie it up with a pretty bow. So simple!

I think it would be a great dessert to serve at a Canada Day or the fourth of July BarBQ wrapped in a red or blue ribbon.

Strawberry Charlotte

Ingredients:

Lemon Syrup
1 cup (250 ml) water
1/2 cup (125 ml) sugar
2 tbsp. (30 ml) lemon juice

Filling
4 tsp. (20 ml) gelatin
6 tbsp. (90 ml) cold water
1 1/2 cups (375 ml) strawberry sauce (see note)
1 cup (250 ml) sugar
1 1/2 cup (375 ml) 35% cream
1/2 tsp. (2.5 ml) vanilla extract
2 cups (500 ml) hulled fresh strawberries
22 store-bought ladyfinger cookies

Directions:
Lemon Syrup
In a saucepan, bring 60 ml (1/4 cup) of water with the sugar and lemon juice to a boil, stirring until the sugar has dissolved. Add the remaining water.

Filling
In a saucepan, sprinkle the gelatin over the water and let bloom for 5 minutes. Add 125 ml (1/2 cup) of strawberry sauce, 180 ml (3/4 cup) of sugar and cook, stirring constantly, until the gelatin has dissolved. Let cool and stir in the remaining sauce. In a bowl, whip the cream with the remaining sugar and the vanilla until stiff peaks form. Gently fold in the strawberry mixture, using a spatula. Set aside.

Assembly
Line the bottom of a 20-cm (8-inch) springform pan with parchment paper. Line the edge with a strip of parchment paper.
Cut each cookie into 7-cm (2 ¾-inch) long pieces. The smaller pieces will be used to line the bottom of the pan. Quickly dip the smaller cookie pieces in the syrup and cover the bottom of the pan. Repeat the soaking with the long cookie pieces and place them upright, flat side inward, along the inner walls of the pan. Fill with the strawberry mixture and garnish with the strawberries, pressing them lightly in the filling. Gently cover the pan with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 8 hours or overnight.

Cook’s Note:
For about 375 ml (1 1/2 cups) of strawberry sauce, just puree about 1-litre (4 cups) of strawberries in the food processor until smooth and strain through a sieve.

Recipe from http://RicardoCuisine.com

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Raspberry Almond Bakewell Cake to Celebrate Spring

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 “She turned to the sunlight

And shook her yellow head,

And whispered to her neighbor:

“Winter is dead.”

-A.A.Milne, When We Were Very Young

We are one week past the spring solstice and still waiting for the signs of spring. Winter has dragged on so long this year we are all wondering if it will ever come.

Here are a few things that I love about spring and that I am most looking forward to:

  • I love the newness of everything in spring; it feels light a season of new beginnings.
  • I love spring vegetables like asparagus, peas, beets, carrots and leeks.
  • I love how the spring showers turn the grass and trees into a sea of deep green.
  • I love hearing the birds singing in the trees outside my window in the early morning.

 

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  • I love that I can throw off the hats, scarves and boots, replacing them with colourful jackets and shoes.
  • I love daylight savings time because it gives me more hours to play outdoors.
  • I love watching the beautiful flowers peek up from the ground, creating a world or colour and fragrance.

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  • I love taking the wind covers off of my windows so I can enjoy the views from the 23rd floor.
  • I love the sense of freedom that we feel after rising from a long winter of hibernation.
  • I love cycling, running, walking and soaking up the sunshine.

What are you looking forward to this spring?

In spring and all year round, I enjoy getting together with friends over a cup of tea or coffee and catching up on their adventures and stories. In this crazy world where we are all so busy, we don’t spend enough face to face time with each other. We use technology to communicate when we really need to spend time together, sharing our lives with one another. When was the last time your wrote a friend a letter or called them on the phone to chat?

I sometimes think of friendships and relationships like a garden. We need to water them, tend to them and care for them, so they will flourish. If we ignore them, they will die.

I found this wonderful cake recipe by Rachel Allen on her show Rachel Allen’s Cake Diaries. All of the ingredients were listed by weight so I converted them to North American measures and tested it out. The cake is dense and rich with the sweetness of almonds and raspberries. It makes a lovely addition to an afternoon tea and a chat with friends..

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Raspberry Almond Bakewell Cake

Ingredients:

2/3 cup butter, softened, plus extra for greasing
¾ cup caster sugar
2 large eggs
A few drops almond extract
¼ cup milk
1 1/3 cups self-raising flour, sifted
1 cup ground almonds
1 cup fresh raspberries
¼ cup flaked almonds
icing sugar, for dusting
Fresh raspberries and softly whipped cream, to decorate

 

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Directions:

Preheat the oven to 180C or 350F. Butter the sides of an 8 inch cake tin and line the base with a disc of parchment paper.

Cream the butter until soft in a large bowl or in an electric food mixer. Add the sugar and beat until the mixture is light and fluffy. Whisk the eggs and the almond extract together in a small bowl for a few seconds or just until combined, then gradually add the eggs to the creamed butter mixture, beating all the time.

Next beat in the milk, then add the flour and ground almonds, carefully folding these in just until they are mixed. Add the raspberries and fold in gently so as not to break them up too much.

Tip the batter into the prepared tin, then scatter over the flaked almonds. Bake for 50-55 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean. Remove from the oven and allow to cool in the tin for 10 minutes.

Use a small, sharp knife to loosen the edges, then carefully remove the cake from the tin and leave on a wire rack to cool down completely before transferring to a serving plate. Dust with icing sugar. Serve with softly whipped cream if you wish, or decorate with fresh raspberries.

Recipe adapted for North America from: Rachel Allen’s Cake Diaries

Oat Muffins With Cranberries and Pears

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I have a confession to make.

I am hooked on Downton Abbey. There is something about the intrigue that happens upstairs among the aristocratic family members, as well as downstairs among the servants. Last week a set my PVR to tape the show and it shut down half way through the episode. I tried searching the guide to see if I could get another chance to see it on time shifting, without any luck.

I am always entertained by period films like Downton because they take us back to a time in history when life was simple and predictable. Not that I would be comfortable living in an era where there was such a class distinction. I also would hate to be treated as a second class citizen because I am a woman.

So what is it that we find so interesting about these films?

I think for me, it is the beautiful estates, the wonderful costumes and the great acting. The series does a wonderful job of representing what life might have been like as we entered the 20th century. The characters are well-developed over the series to the point that you choose your favourites and watch faithfully to see what will happen to them next.

Perhaps I would not want to have lived at that time, but it is fun to imagine how others did.

These rich dark oat muffins are reminiscent of something that might have been enjoyed with a cup of tea and some homemade jam at Downton Abbey.

Oat Muffins With Cranberries and Pears

Makes 12 muffins

Ingredients:
1 1/3 cups (330 ml) rolled oats, plus extra for sprinkling
1 ¼ cups (310 ml) Plain yogurt (not low-fat or fat-free)
½ cup (125 ml) fancy molasses
½ cup (125 ml) packed light brown sugar
½ cup (125 ml) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 egg
½ cup (125 ml) all-purpose flour
½ cup (125 ml) whole wheat flour
1 ½ tsp. (7.5 ml) baking powder
½ tsp. (2 ml) baking soda
½ tsp. (2 ml) salt
¼ tsp. (1 ml) ground cinnamon
¼ tsp. (1 ml) ground nutmeg
2/3 cup (160 ml) peeled and diced pears
1/3 cup (80 ml) dried cranberries

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375˚ F (190˚ C) and line a muffin tin with paper liners.
Stir the oats and yogurt together in a large bowl. Stir in the molasses, brown sugar, melted butter, and egg.
In a separate bowl, sift the flours, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Stir in the flour mixture into the oat mixture until blended, then stir in the pears and cranberries and sprinkle with a few oats. Spoon the mixture into the muffin cups.
Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the muffins spring back when gently pressed. Let the muffins cool for 10 minutes in the tin before removing to cool completely. The muffins will keep in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

Recipe from Back to Baking by Anna Olsen

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More Holiday Baking with Dark Chocolate Espresso Cookies

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“Oh the weather outside is frightful
But the fire is so delightful
And since we’ve no place to go
Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!”

Lyrics by Sammy Cahn, Composer Jule Styne -1945


Toronto has been hit with the first real snow storm of the season. The snow is blowing outside and I am curled up with fresh baked cookies and an espresso, writing my holiday cards.

Although I know we should keep in touch with people we care about all year long, sometimes we get so busy and months pass before we call or write. That is why I like to take the time to remember those who I cannot see over the holidays with a note and a wish for happiness and good cheer.

What is it about this season that brings back memories of holidays past and people we miss?

Is it the sentimental songs or the holiday movies?

Or, is it just that we want people we care about to share our holidays with us?

I am not sure, but I do know when I receive a card or a note from one of my old friends, it makes my day.

I have been baking up a storm for the past week. If I am not able to make homemade cookies throughout the year, I try to make them for the holidays.

These Dark Chocolate Espresso Cookies are from a Martha Stewart Holiday Cookie magazine that I bought a few years ago. My family loved them and asked me to make them again this year. They are the right combination of slightly crunchy on the outside and chewy and chocolatey inside.

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Dark Chocolate Espresso Cookies

Make 3 dozen cookies

Ingredients:

1 cup flour (all-purpose)
1/2 cup cocoa (unsweetened)
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter (room temperature)
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 large eggs (room temperature)
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1 tbsp. instant espresso powder
8 oz. bittersweet chocolate (4 oz. melted and 4 oz. coarsely chopped)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F, with racks in upper and lower thirds. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa, baking powder, and salt; set aside.

Using an electric mixer, beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition; mix in vanilla. Combine espresso powder and melted chocolate; beat into butter mixture. With mixer on low, gradually add flour mixture; mix just until combined. Fold in chopped chocolate

Drop dough by one heaping tablespoon, 3 inches apart, onto two baking sheets. Bake until edges are dry, 14 to 15 minutes, rotating sheets halfway through. Transfer cookies to a wire rack to cool completely.

Recipe from Martha Stewart Holiday Cookies-2011

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Dorie Greenspan’s Pumpkin Muffins

Dorie-V1I had a great experience at IFBC2013 yesterday. I met my favourite cookbook author, Dorie Greenspan.

Dorie gave the keynote speaker address and for 45 minutes she had the entire room charmed. Her message was one of collaboration and building community.

Dorie spoke of her 11 cookbooks and her experiences working with other great chefs like Julia Child and Paul Hermes.

She spoke of her long career trying to make her life as a secretary, a teacher, a grant writer, a wife, a mother, a writer and a TV producer. The road to her wonderful life in Paris was filled with hard work and sometimes, very little pay. She was tenacious in building her dream and she always said yes to projects.

Her words inspired us, her honesty touched us and her charm was infectious.

Dorie left us with a few words of wisdom: “Say yes and follow your dream”.

I made these muffins from Dorie’s book Baking From My Home to Yours before coming to the conference.  As always, her recipes are accurate and the results are delicious.

Pumpkin-Muffins

Pumpkin Muffins

Makes 12 medium sized muffins

Ingredients:

2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
¼ tsp. baking soda
¼ tsp. salt
¾ tsp. ground cinnamon
½ tsp. ground ginger
¼ tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
Pinch ground allspice
1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature
½ cup sugar
¼ cup light brown sugar
2 large eggs
½ tsp. pure vanilla extract
¾ cup canned unsweetened pumpkin puree
¼ cup buttermilk
½ cup moist, plump golden raisins
½ cup chopped pecans or walnuts
½ cup unsalted raw sunflower seeds for topping

Directions:

Center a rack in the oven and preheat to 400 degrees F. Butter or spry 12 molds in  regular-sized muffin pan or fit molds with paper muffin cups. Place the muffin pan on a baking sheet.

Whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and spices.

In a stand mixer fit with a paddle attachment, beat the butter at medium speed until soft. Add both of the sugars and continue to beat until light a smooth.

One by one, add the eggs beating for one minute after the eggs are incorporated, then beat in the vanilla. Lower the mixer speed and mix in the pumpkin and buttermilk. Continuing at low speed, add the dry ingredients in a steady stream, mixing only until they disappear. Turn off the mixer and stir in the raisins and nuts using a rubber spatula.

Divide the batter evenly among the muffin cups and sprinkle each muffin with a few sunflowers seeds.

Bake for about 25 minutes, or until a thin knife into the centre of the muffins comes out clean. Transfer the pan and cool muffins for 5 minutes. Carefully remove the muffins from the molds and finish cooling on a rack.

Serve the muffins warm or at room temperature.

Cooks Note: If you want to kick these muffins up a notch, cut a small hole through the centre of the muffins from the top down and insert a squirt of cream cheese frosting using a pastry bag.

Recipe from Baking From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan

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Fresh from the Market Strawberry Cheesecake

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I went on an adventure this week.

There was a special fair held at Toronto’s Queen’s Park to build awareness of Ontario growers and producers. They had set up tents on the lawn of the Ontario Legislature to showcase the local foods and to offer free samples.

The local producers included a local dairy that was handing out free ice cream cones and an apple orchard that provided free apple bumbles. There were also mushroom, strawberry and asparagus growers as well as representatives from Ontario Pork and the Ontario Beekeepers Associations. There was even a flower farmer who handed out free blooms to the guests.

We spend too much time in the winter months running from store to store to find the freshest produce. In the summer we are so lucky to have local markets popping up all over the city allowing us to taste the food fresh from the farms. Many of those markets offer organically grown produce.

I enjoyed seeing the fair and chatting with some of the participants. I learned a few things about Ontario farming and discovered a few gems. Did you know that there is a beekeeping operation on the roof of Toronto’s historic Royal York hotel that makes award-winning honey? I didn’t.

No matter where you live it is important to buy local and support your local farmers and food producers. I made this luscious Strawberry Cheesecake recipe to celebrate the local farmers and taste of the season.

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Strawberry Cheesecake

Ingredients:

For the crust:

1 3/4 cups graham cracker crumbs
3 tbsp. sugar
Pinch of salt
1/2 stick (4 tbsp.) unsalted butter, melted

For the cheesecake:

2 pounds (four 8 oz. boxes) cream cheese, at room temperature
1 1/3 cups sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
4 large eggs, at room temperature
1 1/3 cups sour cream or heavy cream, or a combination of the two

For the topping:

4 cups fresh strawberries, sliced to 1/8 inch\

Directions

To make the crust:

Butter a 9-inch springform pan—choose one that has sides that are 2 3/4 inches high (if the sides are lower, you will have cheesecake batter leftover)—and wrap the bottom of the pan in a double layer of aluminum foil; put the pan on a baking sheet.

Stir the crumbs, sugar and salt together in a medium bowl. Pour over the melted butter and stir until all of the dry ingredients are uniformly moist. (I do this with my fingers.) Turn the ingredients into the buttered springform pan and use your fingers to pat an even layer of crumbs along the bottom of the pan and about halfway up the sides. Don’t worry if the sides are not perfectly even or if the crumbs reach above or below the midway mark on the sides—this doesn’t have to be a precision job. Put the pan in the freezer while you preheat the oven.

Center a rack in the oven, preheat the oven to 350°F and place the springform on a baking sheet. Bake for 10 minutes. Set the crust aside to cool on a rack while you make the cheesecake.

Reduce the oven temperature to 325°F.

To make the cheesecake:

Put a kettle of water on to boil.

Working in a stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the cream cheese at medium speed until it is soft and lives up to the creamy part of its name, about 4 minutes. With the mixer running, add the sugar and salt and continue to beat another 4 minutes or so, until the cream cheese is light. Beat in the vanilla. Add the eggs one by one, beating for a full minute after each addition—you want a well-aerated batter. Reduce the mixer speed to low and stir in the sour cream and/or heavy cream.

Put the foil-wrapped springform pan in the roasting pan.

Give the batter a few stirs with a rubber spatula, just to make sure that nothing has been left unmixed at the bottom of the bowl, and scrape the batter into the springform pan. The batter will reach the brim of the pan. (If you have a pan with lower sides and have leftover batter, you can bake the batter in a buttered ramekin or small soufflé mold.) Put the roasting pan in the oven and pour enough boiling water into the roaster to come halfway up the sides of the spring form pan.

Bake the cheesecake for 1 hour and 30 minutes, at which point the top will be browned (and perhaps cracked) and may have risen just a little above the rim of the pan. Turn off the oven’s heat and prop the oven door open with a wooden spoon. Allow the cheesecake to luxuriate in its water bath for another hour.

After 1 hour, carefully pull the setup out of the oven, lift the springform pan out of the roaster—be careful, there may be some hot water in the aluminum foil—remove the foil. Let the cheesecake come to room temperature on a cooling rack.

When the cake is cool, top with strawberries and chill the cake for at least 4 hours.

Recipe from Baking by Dorie Greenspan