I feel like it’s been awhile since I posted a food recipe (and with this post, I’m using the word recipe quite loosely). It’s not that we haven’t been cooking, it’s just that our food choices have been pretty basic and routine. I suppose that’s what summer time is about, though. More time spent outside, less time around the stove 🙂 We’ve been eating a version of this Greek salad for quite a few weeks now, so I thought I would share it.
This Greek salad doesn’t deviate much from the classic version. Sharp red onion becomes mellow in the balsamic vinegar, crunchy cucumbers and peppers add a sweet bite, and juicy tomatoes round out the salad combo. We add fresh mint, too, because it’s a great way to use up the monster bushels that currently seem to be in the markets.
What makes our version different is our secret high-protein ingredient. Dry curds! Have you ever had them? It’s cottage cheese, but without the milk fat. When you open the tub, you’re staring at… you guessed it… dry curds.
So, why go this route, instead of using the standard feta cheese? Well, we often try to limit our intake of super-salty foods, and we’re always looking for ways to add more protein into our meals. This power-house source of protein gives you a whopping 22 grams of protein in half a cup. This is a win-win addition, in our books!
I won’t lie – the dry curds don’t taste like feta cheese (they actually don’t have much taste on their own). But with a really flavourful balsamic vinegar and copious amounts of fresh herbs, I would argue this salad doesn’t need the extra salt.
This high-protein Greek salad has found its way into many of our meals. We have it alongside chicken or tuna sandwiches, it gets topped with perfectly poached eggs, and we’re not opposed to using it as a makeshift salsa with our salmon tacos! And it still tastes really good as leftovers a day or two later.
Every year, a week or two before the day, I start asking Jonty what kind of birthday cake he might like. Either a specific cake, or general flavours. Usually, I get a generic response that often includes the word chocolate. So I was quite surprised this year when he said he might like a Battenberg Cake (he’s never been so specific before).
A What-en-what Cake? You know, those checker-board cakes!
Ah yes, I did know. I have never eaten one, let alone actually made one, but that’s what Google is for, right? 🙂
The classic Battenberg Cake has a white and pink checker board pattern inside and is held together with apricot jam and covered in Marzipan. It is most-definitely British in origin, making it a perfect choice for my British hubby!
When I started poking around online, my suspicions were confirmed – the pink portion of the cake is dyed with red food colouring. I prefer not to use artificial dyes, if possible. Also, my mind immediately went to a chocolate variety because, if you know Jonty at all, you know his love for chocolate.
And what jam pairs well with chocolate? You guessed it. And so began my Chocolate and Raspberry Battenberg Cake journey.
I’m not going to lie – this cake requires a tape measure, a calculator and a bit of patience. But I promise you it’s not difficult! The hardest part might be making your foil / parchment liner and really, that portion probably took me longer than necessary because I was multi-tasking while making it. The good thing is that it is absolutely worth the time and effort.
So, here’s my version of a Battenberg Cake, in a nutshell.
Start by prepare a 23-cm (9-inch) square cake pan:
Grease the bottoms and sides of the cake pan.
Cut a piece of tinfoil and a piece of parchment paper into a 21cm x 42cm rectangle. Grease the tinfoil and place the parchment paper on top.
Fold the tinfoil / parchment in half, and then fold the centre over again to make a crease that is 5 cm wide. When you unfold the papers, the centre should pop up like a little tent. When you place this into your cake pan, this little tent will become the divider (see the pictures below).
Place this liner into your pan and start making the batter.
Make the cake batter:
The cake batter is a simple sponge cake recipe (so equal ratios of butter, eggs, sugar and flour). Half of the mixture is poured into one side of the prepared tin, and cocoa powder is mixed into the other half of the batter before pouring it into the other side.
Cream together some butter and sugar until it’s super light and fluffy.
Add the eggs, one at a time, and make sure to fully incorporate each egg before adding the next. If you don’t, your batter may look like it’s curdling. If this happens, just keep beating the mixture before adding the next egg.
The vanilla, flour and baking powder is added and whisked until combined.
Transfer half of the batter into another bowl (if you have a scale, this becomes really easy) and add a splash of milk.
In the remaining batter, the cocoa powder and more milk is added, and stirred to combine.
Each of the batters is poured into its respective cake pan side, and is baked at 350 F for about 28 to 30 minutes.
Assemble the Battenberg cake:
Time to get out your tape measure! Measure the height and width of each sponge cake, and decide how much you need to trim off the edges, in order to make the cake a square.
My sponges were wider than tall, but I didn’t waste a lot of extra cake, so I decided to make my Battenberg into a 3×2 rectangle, instead of the classic 2×2 square. The choice is yours!
Warm up some raspberry jam and use this as a glue to hold the cake pieces together.
On a counter sprinkled with icing sugar, roll out your marzipan into a rectangle, big enough to wrap around the cake (so the same length + 4 times the width).
Spread jam on the top of your cake, then invert this onto one end of the marzipan. Spread jam on the next side of the cake, then roll it onto the marzipan. Do this until all sides of the cake are spread with jam and covered with marzipan.
Trim off the ends, to make everything nice and neat, and to show off your great checker board pattern!
You can eat this cake right away, or keep it tucked in the fridge until you’re ready for it. We nibbled away on it over the course of 3 or 4 days, and it almost tasted better the longer it sat! We just made sure to wrap it tightly in parchment paper to keep it from drying out.
So, what was the verdict for this Chocolate and Raspberry Battenberg Cake?
Jonty loved it, and said it tasted just as good as he always remembered!
Moira loved it, and actually wants to make it again, because she’s pretty sure she can do an even better job the next time around!
The classic Battenberg Cake takes on a twist, with chocolate and raspberry. Adapted from Baking Mad and Jamie Oliver recipes.
150 g flour
1 tbsp baking powder
½ tsp sea salt
150 g granulated sugar
150 g unsalted butter, softened
3 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tsp milk, divided
1 tbsp dutch-processed cocoa powder
100 to 125 g raspberry jam (plus a few drops of water)
225 g marzipan
Pre-heat the oven to 350 F.
Prepare the cake pan:
Grease the bottoms and sides of a 23-cm (9-inch) square pan.
Cut a piece of tinfoil and parchment paper into a 21cm x 42cm rectangle. Grease the tinfoil and place the parchment paper on top.
Fold the papers in half, then fold the centre over again to make a 5cm overlap. When you open the tinfoil/parchment paper, you should have an inverted tent in the centre. This becomes your cake pan divider.
Place this into your greased cake pan and start making the batter.
For the cake batter:
In a small bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar on medium-high speed until the mixture is light and fluffy.
Add in the eggs, one at a time, fully incorporating each egg into the batter before adding the next egg. Then add in the vanilla extract.
Whisk in the flour mixture until it is fully combined.
Transfer half of the batter into another bowl. To this, add 1 tsp of milk.
In the remaining batter, add the cocoa powder and remaining tsp of milk. Whisk to combine.
Pour each batter into its respective side of the prepared cake pan. Bake for 28 to 32 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the centre comes out clean.
Let the cake pan cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes, then remove the sponges from the pan and allow to cool completely.
To assemble the cake:
Warm the raspberry jam with a few drops of water
Slice each flavour of sponge cake into equal sizes, trimming off the edges in order to make them square.
Place a chocolate and vanilla slice side by side and use the raspberry jam to glue the pieces together. Do this with the remaining pieces, making sure to alternate the colours.
Roll out the marzipan on a counter top lightly sprinkled with icing sugar. The size of the marzipan should be the same length as your cake and 4 times the width.
Spread more jam on the top of your cake, then invert this onto one edge of the marzipan. Spread jam on the next side of the cake before rolling it over the marzipan. Continue to do this for the remaining two sides of cake. So the entire cake will be covered with marzipan, and held together with the raspberry jam.
Trim off both ends of the cake, to even them up. Place the cake, seam side down, on a serving platter.
Serve immediately, or allow to chill in the fridge before slicing.
This cake tastes even better on the day after baking. To store in the fridge, wrap it completely in parchment paper and place in a sealed container. It should keep like this for 3 or 4 days.
Enjoy this Chocolate and Raspberry Battenberg Cake!
In these last few weeks, we have been treated to some gloriously warm weather. We’ve been able to get out climbing every few days and enjoy warm bike rides in the sun – it’s been fantastic! With these days filled with activities, it’s always nice to keep some extra snacks in the freezer for when we know we’ll be doing a lot. Enter our latest granola bar rendition – Cranberry Chia Endurance Bars. This tasty, portable snack has kept us fueled through our first few climbing days of the season.
These cranberry chia endurance bars have a few great attributes:
No refined sugar: These bars use a combination of super sweet Medjool dates as the sticky base, along with dried fruit (cranberries, in this case) and coconut for added sweetness.
Good carbs and protein: Rolled oats are a great source of complex carbohydrates, protein and fibre, as are the chia seeds. Both help to ensure your energy levels stay high throughout the day.
Anti-cramping secret: Coconut water!! We love this stuff. It’s a great source natural of potassium and electrolytes, and we’ve found it helps us avoid leg cramps after a big day of exercise.
So here’s the deal with these bars:
You start off by soaking some Medjool dates in the coconut water until they’re really soft (maybe 15 or 20 minutes, depending on how soft your dates are to start). Then you give them a good whiz in the blender or food processor until you end up with a sticky date paste.
Throw in the chia seeds and let that mixture gel while you’re prepping the rest of the mixture.
For the main granola bar ingredients:
Grab some oats (large flake or quick cook), seeds (I used pumpkin) and nuts (I used walnuts and cashews). These get toasted over a medium heat until they start to get nice and fragrant.
Then, into a bowl they go, along with some dried fruit (cranberries and coconut are always a good pair) and the chia-date puree.
I’ll say a few things about these bars. If you’re looking for a crunchy, stick-together granola bar, this is not the bar for you. Even after baking, these cranberry chia endurance bars are still fairly soft and, depending on your ingredients, have a tendency to crumble. This is not a deal-breaker in my book, however. We pack these into a small tub and nibble away at them throughout the day.
If you want a nice neat bar, just make sure to chop up your nuts and seeds so they are fairly small in size. This will definitely help make the bars stick together.
Hopefully you’ll enjoy these bars as much as we do! They also make a great pseudo granola – just crumble them over your favourite yogurt for a little breakfast treat.
125 g (3/4 cup, about 8 large) soft pitted medjool dates, roughly chopped
⅔ cup coconut water
60 g (1/3 cup) chia seeds
1 tbsp pure vanilla extract
2 tbsp coconut oil (or other neutral oil)
165 g (1½ cups) rolled oats
70 g (1/2 cup) pumpkin seeds
45 g (1/2 cup) walnuts, chopped into small pieces
70 g (1/2 cup) cashews, chopped into small pieces
1 tsp ground cinnamon
¼ tsp sea salt
70 g (1/2 cup) dried unsweetened cranberries
30 g (1/2 cup) unsweetened flaked coconut
To make the chia-date puree:
Place the chopped pitted dates and coconut water into a high-speed blender and allow them to soak and soften for at least 15 minutes. After this time, puree the mixture until smooth.
Add the chia seeds and vanilla extract and pulse briefly to combine.
Let this mixture set for 10 minutes, to gel.
To make the endurance bars:
In a large skillet over medium heat, warm the coconut oil until melted. Add the oats, pumpkin seeds, walnuts and cashews and stir to combine. Toast the mixture, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes, until the mixture becomes fragrant. Add the cinnamon and salt and stir briefly.
In a large bowl, add the oat mixture, cranberries, flaked coconut and chia-date puree. Stir to thoroughly combine.
Pre-heat the oven to 350 F and line a 9 x 9-inch pan with parchment paper.
Spoon the oat mixture into the prepared pan and press it down firmly to flatten. You may want to use a wet spatula to firmly press the granola mixture down.
Bake for 22 to 25 minutes, or until the top of the mixture looks dry and lightly browned.
Remove from the oven and allow the bars to cool completely, in the pan.
Once completely cold, remove the bars from the pan using the edge of the parchment paper. Use a sharp knife to cut the bars into the size of your liking.
For bars that stick together very well, make sure to chop all your nuts and seeds into small pieces. These bars freeze very well. Cut them into bars, wrap well with parchment paper and store them in a freezer-friendly ziplock bag.
I’m just popping in with a quick post today. We’ve got company this week, and it’s nicer to be outside than at the computer! This recipe for pickled ginger has been sitting on the back-burner for a few months now. It’s one of those little condiments that we like to make every so often because it keeps in the fridge for a while and always adds an unexpected zip to so many foods.
I always assumed that pickled ginger could only be found in your local sushi joint, or purchased in a jar that had been sitting on the supermarket shelf for who knows how long. I also assumed that the pink ginger you get with your sushi must have colouring added to it.
A few quick searches on Google assured me that I was wrong on almost all accounts. Making your own pickled ginger is super easy. Like, 4-ingredients easy.
Also, pink ginger is actually a thing! If you can find young ginger (with paper-thin skin), the colour of that root is naturally pink. If you can’t find young ginger (it’s tricky!), then your standard supermarket ginger will do just fine – just make sure to look for really fresh ginger with really thin skin. You should be able to see bits of the ginger peeking out around the skin. This will be more tender and less fibrous, and generally make nicer pickled ginger.
So the hardest part of this recipe might be slicing the ginger into whisper-thin strips. I’ve tried a variety of methods – a really sharp knife, a mandolin, and a vegetable peeler. In the end, I found my veggie peeler seemed to be the easiest for me.
The rest of the pickled ginger recipe is easy:
Peel the ginger, slice it very thin and add it to a glass jar with a tightly fitting lid.
Boil rice vinegar, water and sugar in a small sauce pan until the sugar dissolves.
Pour the vinegar mixture over the ginger. Let it cool, and refrigerate for a few hours.
That’s it! It literally takes me less than 10 minutes to make this jar of pickled ginger, and it lasts in the fridge for up to a month. We use the ginger on everything from tacos to fish to burgers to salads.
And, there’s no need to waste the pickling juice, either! When we roast veggies in the oven, we’ll toss a few tablespoons of the pickling juice over the vegetables while they roast, for a great punch of flavour.
If you’re looking for a way to freshen up the taste of your old standby recipes, give this pickled ginger recipe a try.
Mint and chocolate are one of my favourite flavour combinations. That, or peanut butter and chocolate. In my book, the mintier the merrier! These mint chocolate chip cookies definitely live up to their name, due to mint-infused butter AND peppermint extract, and tons of chocolate in every bite. It could be the winning cookie for Mothers Day 🙂
I made these the other week, in preparation for one of our climbing competitions on Vancouver Island. They’re easy to pack, and are the perfect size to nibble on between climbs. We both ended up nabbing first place in our age category, so perhaps they can be called Winning Mint Chocolate Chip cookies 🙂
I’ve made treats with mint before, but I usually stick to peppermint extract and not fresh mint. So when I saw a version of these cookies floating around online, I became intrigued with the idea of infusing mint into the butter. Would it make the mint flavour stronger? It definitely makes the kitchen smell fantastic, as it simmers away, so I count that as a win.
If there’s a downside to this recipe, it’s only that you need to give the cookie dough some time to hang out in the fridge, at least an hour. So if you’re in need of a cookie ASAP, this is probably not the recipe for you.
BUT, if you’re able to plan ahead a bit, give this one a whirl. I let the cookie dough rest in the fridge overnight, and then baked them the next day when I had some free time. Because we don’t make cookies very often, I don’t mind waiting for a treat like this!
These cookies are thin and crispy, but are oh-so minty and chocolatey. They freeze really well and somehow taste even better, straight from the freezer.
Given their size, I think they’d also make fantastic ice cream sandwiches! And seeing as the weather is almost warm enough (we finally took the winter flannel sheets off our bed this week), I’m thinking another batch of these might be in order 😉
In a small saucepan, add the butter and mint and melt over medium heat for 2 to 3 minutes. The butter will start to foam up and turn slightly brown. Remove from the heat and allow to cool for 30 minutes. The butter should still be warm and not returned to its solid state. Strain out the mint using a fine-mesh strainer, and set aside the mint-infused butter. *
In a large bowl, cream together the butter, brown sugar and white sugar, about 3 to 5 minutes. Add the egg, vanilla and peppermint extract and beat for another minute.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients (flours, baking soda and sea salt). Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and stir to incorporate. Add the chocolate chips and mix to combine.
Place the bowl in the fridge for at least 1 hour, up to overnight.
When read to bake, pre-heat the oven to 350 F and line baking trays with parchment paper. Place tablespoon-sized balls of dough on the pan, spaced at least 5 to 7 cm apart and sprinkle each with a bit of flaky sea salt, if you'd like. The cookies will spread when baking.
Bake for 10 to 15 minutes. If you like your cookies on the soft side, stick closer to 10 minutes. The cookies will continue to cook slightly, even once you remove them from the oven.
Cool on the baking tray for 5 minutes, then remove and place them on a wire rack to cool completely.
* If you don't want to strain out the mint, chop the mint very fine before adding it to the butter. There's no need to strain the mint afterwards, and the texture of the cookies doesn't change (you'll just see flecks of green dotted throughout the cookies). This version might taste even mintier! ** These cookies freeze very well.
Enjoy these Thin & Crispy Mint Chocolate Chip Cookies!