Banana & Dark Chocolate Chip & Espresso Cupcakes with Cream Cheese-Yogurt Icing

  •  4-5 very ripe bananas, mashed well
  • 1 large egg, at room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons sour cream or yogurt
  • 4 ounces of espresso (or very strong coffee)
  • 2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon instant espresso granules (opt).
  • 1/3 cup melted, unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cups brown sugar
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup white whole wheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 package bittersweet chocolate chips

Icing

  • 8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 6 T unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/3 cup full-fat yogurt
  • 1 T lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 t vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 – 1 3/4 cups powdered sugar, (add in 1/4 cup increments until desired sweetness and texture is reached. I like my icing on the tangy side)
  • pinch of salt

Smoked Trout Pâté with lemon and herbs

  • 2 cans smoked trout in olive oil, ~4 oz each
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons Aleppo pepper
  • 2 teaspoons lemon zest
  • 2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves (OR 3 sage leaves, 1 teaspoon rosemary)
  • 1/2 teaspoon capers

Drain the oil from the fish, and add everything else to a food processor and process until smooth. Let sit in the fridge for a few hours to allow flavours to develop and the pâté to harden.

Zucchini Spice Bread

Adapted from this recipe on SmittenKitchen.com

  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup dark brown sugar
  • 3/4 cups white sugar
  • 2 cups grated zucchini
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 t orange extract
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 3/4 t crushed anise seed
  • 1/2 t cardamom
  • 1/4 t nutmeg
  • 1/4 t cloves
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1 1/2 cup whole fresh cranberries
  • 1 cup chocolate chips (optional)

Whisk together the eggs, oil and sugar until light and fluffy. Add in the vanilla and orange extracts and the zucchini. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, salt, spices, soda and baking powder. Add to the wet ingredients in batches until just barely mixed in. Add in the nuts and fruit/chocolate chips.

Grease and flour two loaf pans and pour the batter into them and bake at 350F for 50-60 minutes until golden on top and done in the centre. Cool on wire racks and turn out when cool.

*I use freshly ground whole spices whenever possible, so for this I simply approximated the amount of spices I would need and ground them all together in my spice grinder. I crushed the anise seeds with a small mortar and pestle until they were mostly all cracked open. You could also grind the anise seeds in with the other spices if you wanted, I just thought the little bits of anise flavour would be nice in this.

Spiced Tomato Ketchup

Adapted only very slightly from Hungry Tigress’ Sweet Tomato Ketchup

  • 4-5 lbs very ripe (home grown, heirloom) tomatoes in any colour you want, peeled and chopped.
  • 1 C raw sugar
  • 1  1/2 C white wine vinegar
  • 1 T sea salt
  • 1 head garlic, peeled & chopped fine
  • 2  1/2 T fresh ginger, peeled & chopped fine
  • 1-2 dried red chillies, pounded in mortar & pestle (or 1/2 – 3/4 t red pepper flakes)
  • 1/2 t  fennel seeds
  • 1/2 t cumin seeds
  • 1/2 t fenugreek seeds
  • 1/2 t allspice berries
  • juice & zest of one lime

Place in 1/2 pint or smaller mason jars. Yield: approximately 2 pints

Blanch your tomatoes: Bring a large pot of water to a boil, drop the tomatoes into the water a few at a time for 30-45 seconds and then immediately place them in a ice bath. This makes the tomatoes incredibly easy to peel (and it’s incredibly difficult to peel tomatoes if you don’t blanch them first.)

While waiting for the water to boil, zest and juice the lime and prep the garlic and ginger. Process the garlic and ginger into a smooth paste in a food processor. You will probably have to add some water for it to form a smooth consistency.

Pound the spices in a mortar and pestle, or do what I did and put them in a plastic ziploc bag and pound on them with a heavy rolling pin. You want the spices to be bruised and release their flavour, but not ground or crushed too much. Even though they’re whole, with all the cooking we’re going to do to them, the spices will essentially melt into the sauce.

Place all ingredients in a large non-reactive pot. You want lots of space so that when it bubbles up when thick it doesn’t splotch all over the place.  Warm on low until the sugar dissolves and then bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Cook for 1 1/2 – 2 hours until desired thickness has been reached.

Wwhile the ketchup is simmering prepare jars & lids for hot water bath processing. Process full jars for 10 minutes.

While this recipes says this is a ketchup, I’d say it tastes more like a tomato chutney. Which means it’s still fantastic on all the things you might use ketchup on: potatoes of all kinds, eggs, burgers, hot dogs, etc. It’d also be a fantastic sauce for meats on the grill, especially chicken or pork.

Mango-Pineapple Sorbet

4 ripe ataulfo mangoes*
1 large very ripe pineapple
juice of 2 large lemons
1/4 t kosher salt
1 1/4 c white sugar
1/3 C light corn syrup

Cut the cheeks off the mangoes and scrape the flesh out with a spoon and place into a bowl. Chop the pineapple into 2″ chunks and add to mango. Juice the lemons and sieve the juice to get rid of any seeds or large bits of pith. In 2-3 batches, add the fruit to a blender and add in 1/3-1/2 of the lemon juice to each batch. Purée until very smooth. Pass the purée through a fine mesh sieve to extract the mango and pineapple fibres, using a large spoon to push and stir it around to extract as much juice as possible. You should end up with less than 1/4 C of fibrous pulp and around 3-4 C of thick purée. Add in the sugar, corn syrup and salt and whisk until totally dissolved. You shouldn’t need to heat this at all to get it to dissolve.

Chill in the freezer, stirring every 30 min or so until very cold: 30-32F. Place in a ice cream maker and churn until the paddle won’t turn any more. Place in freezer and freeze for a couple hours to firm it up. It is very important that your purée be as cold as you can get it w/o it freezing before starting to churn it if you have the kind of ice cream maker that contains a frozen pack and isn’t self-freezing because your sorbet won’t freeze before the ice pack gets too warm if you don’t.

*or whatever mango you can find. I used these as they’re more flavourful, have a smaller pit (and therefore more fruit) than standard mangoes. They’re ripe when they’re dark yellow-orange and slightly wrinkled skin.

Herby Crab Dip

1 1/2 C plain, full-fat greek yoghurt (or plain yoghurt drained overnight in a fine sieve or cheesecloth, then measured to 1 1/2 C)
1/2 C light mayonnaise
1/2-3/4 lb crab meat, chopped
1 T minced fresh dill
2 T minced fresh Italian parsley
4 scallions, thinly sliced
1/4 C finely shredded very sharp white cheddar cheese
zest of 1 lemon
juice of 1 lemon
1 1/2 t worchestershire sauce
1/4 t kosher salt
tabasco sauce to taste OR cayenne
freshly ground black pepper to taste
1/2 t white sugar if needed to balance flavours

Serve with a vegetable and cracker tray and a side dish of cocktail sauce.

This is also easily made vegetarian with the omission of the crab and replacement of traditional worchestershire sauce with a vegetarian kind or even a soya sauce like tamari.

White Wine Vinegar Refrigerator Pickles

This is heavily based on a champagne vinegar pickles recipe from my friend Chandelle.

This will give you enough for a 1 quart jar. I usually make between 3 and 6 times this amount because of how much I love pickles.

1 1/2 lb small cucumbers, quartered or
1 1/2 lbs larger English cucumbers cut into spears, seeded if necessary
1 1/4 C water
3/4 C white wine vinegar
1 1/4 T white sugar
1 T kosher salt
3 whole garlic cloves
3 bay leaves
1 T mustard seed
3/4 T dill seeds
1 t peppercorns
2 sprigs of fresh dill

Make sure the cucumbers are clean of dirt and debris.
Combine the water, vinegar, honey, salt, garlic, and spices (except dill) in a small saucepan.
Clear the room and bring the brine to a boil.
Reduce heat and simmer 5 minutes.
Turn off the heat and let the brine cool for 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, pack the cucumber spears into a wide-mouth quart-size jar.
When the brine has cooled, pour it over the top of the pickles.
Tuck the dill sprigs into the jar.

Refrigerate.

The pickles will last for a month in the fridge and taste best after a week.

I also like to add in 1-2 seeded Anaheim peppers per jar for a nice subtle heat. I’ve also added in red and yellow banana peppers. Basically if I don’t have enough cucumbers, I add in whatever vegetables are ripe from the garden which are relatively soft and easy to pickle within a week (like peppers).

If making more than one batch at a time, once the liquid has cooled, remove the garlic and bay leaves with a slotted spoon and then place the correct amount into each jar. Add in about 3/4 of the necessary liquid to the cucumbers and then spoon the appropriate equal amount of spices into each jar, filling with the rest of the liquid. If you’re making a large batch, you could also do it all in a plastic pail. A sextuple (6x) batch will fit perfectly into a 5 quart (1 Imp gallon) pail, depending on the size and how well you packed in your cucumbers.