Local Fare: Bake Sale!

Hello Friends!

Long time no chat. So much to catch you up on! First of all, I have fig&fennel cookbooks in again finally. They look awesome! If you would like one, email me at alison.leontaridis@gmail.com and I will send you one. They are $30 and you can pay me by paypal or email transfer. There are a few retail outlets in Calgary that will have them as well…Should have a list to you by the end of the week!

In other exciting news…Calgary Food Bloggers are joining forces to put on a bake sale this weekend!!! All proceeds will go to the Brown Bagging project with the Calgary Kids Society. There are going to be amazing, delicious treats, and it’s going to be a lot of fun, SO, you should come and visit me there this weekend! Feb 11 and 12, 10am-5:30pm at Casel Marche at 17th Ave SW and 24th St. I will be there Saturday, Feb 11 from 10-12. I will actually have cookbooks available too if you want to pick one up from me there.

On a personal note: I survived January with nary a scar. It was the most beautiful January ever. Lots on the go: Picky Princess is loving Kindergarten, I have changed Foodie Baby’s name to Baby Light because she lives on about 10 calories a day and no longer loves food. Sexy Husband and I are working on some exciting things including The 1Night Benefit Concert, that we produce every year to raise money for a local charity. This year we are hoping to raise $50,000 for the Calgary Dream Centre. You should come, it’s going to be a great concert. Check it out here!

Hope to see you Saturday!

Recipe: Chocolate Raspberry Shortbread Squares

Chocolate Raspberry Shortbread Squares

Well Hello!!!

It’s been a long time! I hope you are all warm and well with people you love. I can’t believe fall is gone and Christmas is nearly upon us. I’m finding myself drawn to simpler things this year. Other years I find time and inspiration for decor and crafts and elaborate desserts and dinner parties and new recipes galore. This year I’m happy to read the girls Christmas books, toboggan, and meet friends for a glass of wine. But I am grateful for the season. Grateful for winter magic in little girl eyes.

Mini Cookbook update: I know. I know. I’m working on it. It’s too long and dreary to explain but let’s just summarize: new publisher, new format, first experience outsourcing(amazing), new graphic work, not a lot of free time, setting up online purchasing, soon.

I’m pretty sure I haven’t cooked anything since I last blogged which was…2 months ago. It’s true. Sexy Husband is on tour, Picky Princess and (super picky) Foodie Baby eat about 1 calorie each for supper, so I slice a lot of apples and boil a lot of eggs. I’m unapologetic. It’s the season. And seasons change all the time.

THIS recipe, however, is amazing. It is a no-fail-go-to-every-winter-binge-worthy dessert. It is easy and was handed down to me by a lady named Gail, who is wonderful. Gail is a friend of mine from Saskatoon, where I went to university. I was just there to watch a show Sexy Husband sang in and…she made it again! It brought back the happiest most nostalgic memories, even though I’ve made them myself every winter. Something about Gail making them, reminded me of cold COLD winters in Saskatchewan, surrounded by the warmest people I’ve ever met. I can’t actually find the original recipe she gave me, but it’s one that I can make in my sleep because it’s THAT GOOD. If you have holiday parties, cookie exchanges, or boring lonely nights when your husband is away on tour: this is a great treat. I’ve discovered this year that is pairs nicely with red wine(go figure).

Chocolate Raspberry Shortbread Squares

1 cup unsalted butter

1/2 cup icing sugar

2 cups flour

1/2 can sweet and condensed milk(Eagle Brand)

1 bag(approx) chocolate chips

raspberry jam

Preheat oven to 350. Beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add flour and stir to combine. Press 2/3 of dough into a 8×8 glass baking dish. Bake for 15 mins. Remove from oven and drizzle with Eagle Brand, chocolate chips, small dollops of raspberry jam(try to space evenly for a little on every square) and the rest of the dough. Bake for 20 minutes more until edges are turning golden. Remove and cool completely. Cut into small squares(or large ones, whatever). They are much easier to cut if they’ve been in the freezer for a little bit.

Happy December!

Cookbook: Release Party

amazing and beautiful friends and family

prepping in the kitchen

 

 

seriously beautiful friends

I can’t believe it’s come and gone! We had such a great night. A deep and heartfelt thank you to all of you who came out to the Fig & Fennel Cookbook Release Party. I had such a beautiful night and feel deeply loved and supported! Cookbooks are sold out but I have another order in and will get an online order system set up soon! In time for Christmas orders!

A few things:

Thank you to Phil&Sebastian Marda Loop who were the most incredible and gracious hosts. It was a crammed full coffee shop and they made latte after latte, friendly as can be. Warren, gave up lots of space in his kitchen for us and was about the sweetest guy in the world. Brodie at Phil&Seb’s was so great to work with, and Kate who ran the night was sweet and lovely. I seriously couldn’t be more grateful.

Thank you to my amazing family for all the support. Jacquelyn who like the beaters, my Dad who stayed up way later than normal, my Mom and Auntie Rosie who ran the kitchen, my cousin Alex who came all the way from Toronto. They delivered sample after sample, and made sure it was a happy party. I couldn’t have had better help. I know they were prepared to buy my entire stock of books too, in case I needed them to step in.

Thank you to Leon and Graham for organizing music and sound. What’s a party without music? All week they worked for me, instead of the other way around. So grateful. And to the beautiful and talented Sarah Vann who came and sang and played and lit the room up with her incredible smile.

Thank you to the most supportive group of friends I have ever had. You have all treated me like the cookbook was equivalent to a Nobel Peace Prize. I was overwhelmed by one friendly face after another. It was honestly one of the most beautiful nights of my life.

Cookbook: Announcement

 

This morning I made my muffins, from my own cookbook. I can hardly believe it. After a year and a bit of cooking, writing, editing, cooking, cooking cooking, editing, crying….it’s done! I received the sample copy earlier this week and last night in the wee hours, I ordered my first batch of fig & fennel Cookbooks! Yay!

I’m figuring out order options etc, so stay tuned, but I will tell you that we are having a Cookbook Release Party on October 22 7-9pm at Phil & Sebastian‘s in Marda Loop (for you Calgary friends and foodies). There is going to be live music (obviously) and lots and lots of samples of food from the cookbook. Plus, as always, amazing coffee from P&S! Come buy a latte and a cookbook!

Cookbook Preview: Toasted Coconut Cookies

toasted coconut cookies

Thought I’d break out a little cookbook recipe to share with you all this week! I love this beautiful picture Kristy-Anne took. Something about the light makes me hopeful for spring. Enjoy!

Toasted Coconut Cookies

makes approx 3 dozen

1 cup coconut flour

1 cup spelt flour

1 cup dried unsweetened flaked coconut

1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 cup coconut oil

1/2 cup honey

1 egg

large handful of chocolate chips

 

Preheat oven to 350

Whisk dry ingredients together.

In a 2 cup measuring cup, stir together coconut oil, honey, and egg. Pour into dry ingredients and stir together. Add chocolate and stir. Drop teaspoons full of batter onto parchment lined baking sheets. Lightly pat down. The cookies will not spread hardly at all. Bake for 15 minutes until toasted looking.

 

Cookbook Preview: Brussels Sprouts

Brussels Sprouts

This post is dedicated to my fabulous blog friend Danielle in Vancouver, who has discovered a new love for Brussels sprouts and was looking for recipes. I happen to have the YUMMIEST Brussels sprouts recipe ever and it also happens to be in the cookbook, so: Cookbook Preview! Photos courtesy of Kristy-Anne at Up & Away Studios.

My dad, who is the healthiest man alive, loves all food EXCEPT Brussels Sprouts. Growing up, it was the only food that seemed to me like even grown ups think is DISGUSTING. They looked like awful little green brains and I refused to eat them. Then, we were visiting some family last year in Toronto. And my cousin Alex made this dish for us. I should title the recipe: Brussels Sprouts Are Not Disgusting. In fact they are amazing. And everytime I make this recipe, I hoard as many of them as possible. One of my favorite recipes of all time.

Enjoy!

Brussels Sprouts

approx 2 lbs of fresh brussel’s sprouts, halved

1 large sweet onion, sliced

3 tbs extra virgin olive oil

1/4 cup vegetable stock

3 tbs apple cider vinegar

1 tbs fresh rosemary, chopped

1/2 cup roasted sunflower seeds and/or pumpkin seeds

salt and pepper

Directions: Preheat oven to 400. Parboil brussel sprouts, drain. Combine sprouts with onions and toss with olive oil, salt and pepper. Roast in oven until golden and a bit crispy, approximately one hour. Combine herbs, stock and vinegar in a small saucepan. Simmer for 5 minutes. Put sprouts on a serving plate and pour stock mixture over them. Add sunflower seeds.

Cookbook: Production Update

Kristy-Anne and I met this week to go through and do an initial edit of the cookbook images. I haven’t seen most of them since they were actually taken when we did the final cooking of the recipes, mostly last spring, and I was totally stunned by how beautiful all the images are. I LOVE them. Fig&Fennel is going to be full of beautiful images of delicious healthy food. And it’s coming along! Once the chosen images are edited, I’ll start the graphic design part of the cookbook and from there we’ll decide if any other recipes need to be added, any blog favorites, and hopefully, we’ll have it out, at least for sale locally, sometime in the spring.

So there you have it. Cookbook Update.

Cookbook Preview: Banana Bread

banana bread

Let’s be honest…the expression “this is the BEST banana bread you will ever eat” has been waaaay over used. Everyone has their favorite banana bread recipe and I do not want to take anything away from your passed-through-the-generations sacred family recipes. And, of course, any banana bread will taste good if you mix in white flour, white sugar, and random fats for moistness(I know people who add mayo! ick!). But THIS banana bread…is amazing. And completely and utterly healthy. So I’m going to go out on a limb and claim that this is the BEST healthy banana bread you will ever eat! It’s in the cookbook. It’s easy to make. It does not disappoint. I make it all the time because I never mind my kids eating it because there is no sugar in it!

Banana Bread

Makes 1 large loaf or 2-3 mini loaves

1 1/4 cups spelt flour

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/4 tsp baking powder

1 tsp cinnamon

1/2 cup maple syrup (or agave nectar)

1/4 cup olive oil

2 large eggs

4 bananas, mashed

1 tsp pure vanilla extract

handful of chocolate chips or nuts(optional – but who opts out of chocolate?)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350. Lightly grease 1 large or 2 small loaf pans.

In a mixing bowl, whisk together dry ingredients and set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together all the rest of the ingredients(except chocolate) until well combined. Add in dry ingredients and mix until just combined. Stir in chocolate chips if using.

Bake until a tester inserted in the centre comes out clean, approximately 45 minutes for large loaves and 30 minutes for small loaves.

Foodie Baby's favorite treat

 

 

Cookbook Preview: Maple Apple Cake

I am VERY excited to make a cookbook announcement…cooking/photographing production is DONE! I can barely believe it. I might add a few more once it’s all together, but for now…done. Now onto the easy task of writing/editing/graphic designing/publishing (right). No I am actually very pleased with how it’s coming. I love the content. They are recipes I’ve written and use frequently and am confident to pass on. My photographer is brilliant, her work pure art. And I’m just starting back into regular September life with preschool schedules, gymnastics etc, so it’s easier to plan to write from the MacBook wherever I may be instead of cook all afternoon in the kitchen.

So to celebrate the end of one part of this journey…a little cookbook preview! This was the last recipe I did and it is such a delicious cake, it disappeared before I had much of a chance for a photo. I honestly do not think that your guests or kids or whomever your critics may be will have ANY idea that this cake is pretty darn healthy. It uses a little bit of butter, but mostly yogurt, a teensy bit of raw sugar but mostly maple syrup, so….it’s a treat, but just barely.

Quickly Disappearing Maple Apple Cake

Maple Apple Cake

Serves 12

Cake

3 cups spelt flour

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp cinnamon

1/2 cup butter, softened

1/2 cup raw sugar

3 eggs

1 cup greek style vanilla yogurt

1/2 cup maple syrup (the darker the better)

2 cups shredded apples

Glaze

1/4 cup butter

1/4 cup maple syrup

1/4 cup heavy cream

Directions: Preheat oven to 325 with a rack in the middle. Grease a bundt pan. Sift together first three ingredients into a medium bowl. Set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter and sugar on medium speed until smooth (about 2 minutes). Add eggs one at a time and beat to incorporate after each addition, scraping the bowl down each time. Add yogurt and maple syrup and beat until incorporated. Add flour and beat on low until just combined. Stir in apples. Pour into bundt pan and bake until cake is set and a tester inserted into the middle comes out clean approximately 50 minutes. Cool for 5 minutes in pan on a rack. Turn onto platter.

Prepare the glaze: in a small saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Add maple syrup and bring to a boil. Simmer for 5 minutes, swirling the pan frequently. Add heavy cream and bring back to a slow boil. Simmer for another 5 minutes or until glaze begins to turn a deeper shade of amber. Cool in pan for 10 minutes.

Assemble: With a skewer(a chopstick works great), pierce holes in the top of the cake so that the glaze will soak in. Pour the warm glaze over the warm cake. Serve.

Enjoy!

Think Fresh: Kamut

Mushroom Spinach Kamut

What the heck is kamut right? Kamut is an ancient form of wheat. Similar to spelt. It pops up in ancient writings such as the Bible(rumored to be the grain Noah kept on the ark). It is high in protein, and very high in selenium. While it is not gluten free, because it is a form of wheat, it is more tolerable to people with wheat sensitivities than many other forms of wheat. It is super easy to cook and delicious! The best part is that…it’s LOCAL! Yes! Grown right here in Canada, it is an Artesian Acres product I bought at a little market in Salmon Arm, BC. So I’ve had this big bag of it for some time and have wondered what to do with it. I have baked with kamut flour before but never used the full grains which look a lot like rice. I had a very hard time finding other recipes for cooking kamut so thought I’d try to whip something up.  Kamut is so shockingly easy to make…ready for it….get a pen….Step 1. Soak grain in water.

That’s it. No step two. You soak it until it softens a bit, overnight or so. I soaked it two nights so that it sprouted. It still retains a nice kind of crunch to it, no mush at all. Once you’ve soaked it, follow this super easy recipe and you will have a delicious risotto-like entree or side dish!

Mushroom Spinach Kamut

Serves 2 entrees or 4 side dishes.

Saute one chopped sweet onion, one clove of garlic and 3 tbs of extra virgin olive oil over medium heat until onions begin to soften. Add 2 cups of sliced mushrooms and saute until they also start to soften. Stir in 2 cups of soaked and sprouted kamut kernels. Add 1/4 cup of white wine and 1 cup of vegetable stock. Simmer until the liquid has evaporated and broth becomes quite thick, approx 20 mins. Stir in 1/2 cup coarsely shredded parmesan cheese and 4 cups spinach. Stir until spinach wilts, 1 minute. Serve!

Kamut is available at most health food stores. It’s so mild that I think it would turn nicely into a breakfast dish, porridge style. Let me know if you give it a try!

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