Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Cauliflower Soup With Blue Cheese Walnut Baguette

Today is the first day of autumn and the weather is getting cool. It's my favourite time of year, leggings, oversized sweaters, leg warmers, changing leaves and SOUP. First day of autumns call for a good comforting soup. So me and my mom went looking for the perfect recipe and decided on a classic cauliflower soup kicked up a notch with so
me autumn flavours.

Looking through Pinterest I've felt inspired to make a real rustic meal. From the photography to the flavours. The creamy blue cheese and roughly chopped almonds adds the perfect rustic touch to the delicate cauliflower soup. And I even think I'm starting to get a hang of the photography though I still have a ways to go (so please, I invite suggestions! :) My biggest problem as far as picture taking, is a always make food come sun down! No sunlight, unfortunately makes for poorer picture :( But I will find a way with some practice!

All in all this recipe turned out to be just what I was looking for! It was like you could taste the autumn on your tongue! Definitely going on my staple soup list for those chilly evening when you need something to warm you up!


For the Soup
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1 Vidalia onion, peeled and diced
  • 3-4 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme (If you don't have fresh time on hand you can substitute for dried but fresh ingredients are always nice for taste as well as garnish)
  • 1 large Cauliflower, broken into florets
  • 1.2 litres chicken stock (approximately 5 cups....For this step you can also use 1.2 litres water with 4 chicken bouillon cubes)
  • ½ 35% cup cream
  • ½ cup milk
  • ½ cup grated Parmesan or Romano
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • ¼ tsp freshly ground nutmeg 
  • 2 tbsp cream extra (for garnish)
For Baguette
  • 1 French stick
  • soft blue cheese
  • walnuts, very roughly chopped (This can be substituted with Pecans as I did, since they were what I had around the house!)

1. Melt butter in a large saucepan (make sure it is large enough to fit all your cauliflower!) and add onion with some sea salt . Cook over a gentle heat for 10-12 minutes until the onion is soft but not coloured.

2. Add garlic and thyme and cook a couple of minutes more.

3. Add cauliflower and stock, cover and bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer and cook for 20 minutes or until the cauliflower is easily pierced with a knife. (At this step you want to make the cauliflower stalk is done tender as well because it will take longer than the rest)

4. Add cream, milk and Parmesan and cook a further 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and blend in a food processor, or with a hand blender until smooth and creamy. (A regular blender works just as well at this step but I would not recommend an electric beater with the whisk attachments, I attempted this first and the consistency did not come out smooth enough.)

5. Test for seasoning and if necessary add a little more sea salt and freshly ground black pepper . Serve hot with a swirl of extra cream and a sprinkling of nutmeg and the baguette! (At first I added the sprinkling of nutmeg for garnish but turned out to be a delicious addition that added a bit more flavour than the initial amount of it in the soup)

For The Blue Cheese Walnut Baguette

1. Slice French stick diagonally into 1 inch thick slices. (However many pieces you would like to serve...I did 8, 2 for each member of the family)  

2. Butter the bread and set oven to broil on highest rack and let the bread toast, this will only take a minute or two so watch very carefully, you would be surprised at how fast it happens!

3. Once toasted remove from oven and top with crumbled blue cheese and chopped walnuts

Monday, September 22, 2014

Almond Streusel Cherry Cheesecake Bars

So I have a family barbecue coming up and had been searching for that perfect dessert that will feed a crowd but still be beautiful and of course delicious. I considered your regular big batch desserts like brownies and cookies (of course these are still favourites of mine) but I was feeling the need to come up with something a little more summery and fresh. So it needed fruit, and it needed to be smooth and creamy...perfect solution: Fruit topped cheesecake! 

Cherry flavour is not at the top of my list but the fruit itself (rather than your cherry flavoured popsicles) is delicious, especially in contrast to the almond topping and amaretto cheesecake filling. Second, best part of this cake is the simplicity of the base, which is actually made from Betty Crocker Sugar Cookie Mix...along with a few other ingredients including cream cheese! Yes, there's actually cream cheese in the crust itself which gives it an amazing buttery texture.

This cake was a crowd pleaser! From my little cousin to my grandparents, everyone enjoyed this cake thoroughly. It was aesthetically pleasing and also had amazing summer flavours just perfect for a backyard barbecue! 

You will need a total of 3 (8oz) packages of cream cheese for this recipe
For the Cookie Base and Topping
  • 1 Pouch Betty Crocker sugar cookie mix (Having never used this before, looking for it at the store I was looking for a box, like a cake mix, though it actually turned out to be in a bag! Just to help you locate it on the shelf!)
  • 1/4 Cup Cold butter or margarine (Butter makes this easier because the firmer your butter is the better, though both will work)
  • 4 oz Cream Cheese
  • 1/2 Cup sliced almonds (You can buy blanched or natural sliced almonds, natural almonds/almonds with outer skin still apparent makes a prettier topping than blanched/skinless almonds do)
  • 2 1/2 Packages (8 zo each) Cream Cheese (20 oz total), softened
  • 1/2 Cup Sugar
  • 2 Tbs All Purpose Flour
  • 1 Tsp Almond Extract
  • 2 Eggs
  • 1 Can (21 oz) Cherry Pie Filling (I like to use E.D. Smith)
  • 1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter the bottom and sides of a 13x9 inch pan.
  • 2. Place cookie mix in large bowl. Cut in butter and 4 oz of cream cheese, using a pastry blender or fork, until mixture is crumbly. Put aside 1 1/2 cups mixture for topping. Press remaining mixture in bottom of the pan.
  • 3. Bake for 12 minutes
  • 4. Meanwhile beat 20 oz cream cheese, the sugar, flour, almond extract and eggs with an electric mixer on medium speed until smooth.
  • 5. Spread cream cheese mixture evenly over partially baked cookie base.
  • 6. Spoon pie filling evenly over cream cheese mixture.
  • 7. Sprinkle with reserved topping and almonds.
  • 8. Bake 40 to 45 minutes or until light golden brown.
  • Cool 30 minutes. Refrigerate about 2 hours or until chilled. (This cake tastes best completely chilled! So try and be patient! But if you're like me and you have no patience...you can remove a few pieces from the hot dish and places them in the freezer for 10 minutes or so  ;)