Father’s Day

So this year my family sort of skipped over Father’s day celebrations. We had a big wedding to attend so we decided to celebrate another night.

Gosh, where did this cake come from then!?

I have good news: I sold my first cake!

Yup, that’s right. I made this cake for another father in another family and they paid me to do it!

So I pretty much devoted my whole weekend to this cake.

I started bright and early Saturday morning after an early night on Friday.

First I made the crust — hardest part by far. This time I decided to cover the spring-form pan in tin foil to make it easier to remove the cheesecake later on.

Then I made the cheesecake and dropped some chopped oreos in the center.

I baked the cheesecake in a water bath for just over 1 hour at 350°F.

When I first took the cake out of the oven I realized it was a little browner on the edges than I would have liked, but I tried not to stress about it too much.

When I put the cake in the fridge to set and checked on it four hours later, I noticed the cheesecake had sunk in a very unattractive way — trying very hard to keep it together at this point.

I figured that my decorations would cover up any mishaps.

Then when I tried removing the cake from the tin foil – that darn tin foil – the foil was sticking to the bottom of the cake. At this point the cake and crust had cracked from all the handling — you must be so gentle!

I was very upset, so I put the cake aside and decided to start over.

How could I sell a cake that I wasn’t happy with?

I decided to decorate it anyway, just for the sake of it and ended up giving it to my boyfriend’s father – making sure to warn him of course about the random tin foil pieces that were still stuck to the bottom — so embarrassing!

He loved it though of course.

And I was happy that my second cake turned out much nicer. This time I baked it at 325°F for just under 1 hour.

I turned the oven off and let the cake cool off in the oven with the door ajar, hoping this would prevent cracking and sinkage.

It did! And no browning on the cake this time either 🙂

I also think my writing was much nicer the second time, what do you think?

By the way, when my cake buyer, who will remain anonymous, finds out I made two cakes for her when I wasn’t happy with the first one, she’ll probably freak out. But I was so much happier with the second so it was worth it!

Can you see the difference? Let me know.

By the way, this is another oreo cheesecake — same recipe as here.

Yours edibly,

Elana

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Salads

Contrary to what some of you may believe, I do eat more than just cheesecake — I swear! The other day I decided to make salad.

My sister Shauna just came back from a trip to Europe with her bf. She loves quinoa almost more than anyone I know, so I decided to make a quinoa salad for her. But then I was sort of in the mood for brussel sprouts (a personal fave) and I thought making them would be a good way to lure the bf over (he loves brussel sprouts too!).

So anyways, I made a quinoa salad with roasted tomatoes and kale, and a not-so-simple green salad with brussel sprouts, asparagus, and spinach.

Here is the recipe I made for the quinoa salad.

Roasted Tomato & Kale Quinoa Salad

Ingredients

  • 6 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 5 cloves garlic, pureed
  • 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1.5 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • salt & pepper
  • 8 kale leaves, chopped to bite-size pieces
  • 2 cups quinoa

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Place halved tomatoes in large glass baking dish (like a pyrex).
  2. Add garlic, oil, vinegar, crushed  red pepper flakes, basil, salt, and pepper to tomatoes and mix well.
  3. Roast in oven for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, mix in kale with tomato mixture making sure kale is nicely covered by dressing, and roast an additional 10 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile rinse 2 cups of quinoa in sifter to remove bitter coating. Place quinoa in pot with 4 cups of water. Bring to a boil then down to a simmer and remove from heat once water is absorbed.
  5. Pour tomato and kale mixture over quinoa while both are still warm. Mix well and serve!

The end result should look something like this…

Now for my not-so-simple green salad. The only reason why this isn’t so simple is because of the crazy veggies I have in it — brussel sprouts and asparagus are totally crazy. Otherwise, the method is so simple!

This is the recipe I made:

Green Salad

Ingredients

  • 4 cups brussel sprouts, quartered
  • 1 bunch asparagus, with ends broken off
  • 3 cups spinach, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, pureed
  • 1 tsp dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • a little salt and pepper

Method

  1. Heat a large braising pan or skillet with high edges to medium-high heat. Spray with a little Pam or add a tiny bit of oil.
  2. Once pan is hot add brussel sprouts and cover. Flip and turn brussel sprouts often, heat about 8 minutes before adding asparagus. Add asparagus to bottom of pan and heat about 5 minutes then add spinach. Cover pan and once spinach is wilted, brussel sprouts are slightly browned, and asparagus is tender, remove from heat.
  3. Meanwhile, prepare dressing by whisking together garlic, mustard, vinegar, oil, salt, and pepper.
  4. Drizzle dressing over green vegetables and serve.

My sisters are definitely my toughest critics. I can usually tell immediately from their facial expressions if they like what I’ve made or not.

Sharona was very happy to see kale and all the other dark green vegetables at dinner — typical of someone who has spent most of their academic career studying Canada’s Food Guide.

Shauna was surprised that she enjoyed the quinoa because she usually doesn’t like tomatoes — score!

Michala wasn’t so happy about the brussel sprouts — whatever, you can’t please them all.

Ariella is in Dublin — one less critic to worry about.

Enjoy!

Yours edibly,

Elana

Peanut Butter Cheesecake

I made this cake specially for my friend Dana on her birthday.

It’s always fun making stuff for Dana because she is so easy to please! She made me feel like a million bucks when she asked me over and over “Did you buy this? No. Seriously, did you buy this?”

Why would I ever want to buy a peanut butter cheesecake when it is so much more fun to make it from scratch?

So I did. Now this cake was intense, 10 inches of oreo-peanut butter cup-cheesecake goodness.

This cake was actually…dare I say…quite dangerous.

The danger started with a stick of butter, a cup of roasted peanuts, and a package of oreos all blended together for the crust…

Then I added a layer of cheesecake filling…then a layer of chopped peanut butter cups…

Then some more peanut butter cheesecake filling.

I baked the cheesecake in a bain marie (water bath) to avoid cracking — success! I’ll make sure to remember to do that next time I make that Oreo Cheesecake.

The crucial step with this cheesecake was to allow it to set in the refrigerator – I set mine for about 24 hours.

When I initially tried to remove the spring-form pan from the cheesecake, which I attempted before setting the cake, the crust began tearing away from the cheese filling. The crust was also quite mushy and not so crust-like at all, despite me baking it for 1.5 hours!

Once I was able to successfully remove the cake from the pan, I added some decorations. Chopped peanut butter cups and drizzled milk chocolate — what could be better?

Nothing, according to Dana.

Thanks Dana, so happy you enjoyed it 🙂

I adapted a recipe I found here.

Warning: if you plan to prepare this cheesecake, do it well in advance of serving — and prepare for a dangerous ending to your meal.

My definition of dangerous: ingredients or flavours that are so intense and rich that they may be harmful to eat.

Yours edibly,

Elana

Wine & Cheese Party

I decided to host a little wine and cheese party before attending a wedding reception last Sunday. Any excuse to consume abundant amounts of cheese will do for me.

Selecting cheeses for a wine and cheese party should be carefully thought out, but I failed to do this. I just went with my gut in selecting a few and allowed Ellie to bring a couple more. Overall, we were quite happy with the selection, although now that I think about it, having a nice parmigiano-reggiano would have been nice — love that salty stuff.

Here we have (from the left) Jalapeno Gouda, French Wensleydale with Cranberries, & some cheese Ellie couldn’t remember the name of.

I guess it was sort of fun having a mystery cheese. It didn’t look too appetizing, as you can see, but it was by far one of my favourite because of its soft, creamy texture.

The next two cheeses are a Rosenborg Blue Cheese from Denmark and an Oka cheese from Quebec.

I think Ellie purchased a Providence Oka — it was semi-soft and tasted marvelous with a hint of honey on a baguette.

So of course there was baguette…

And a fine selection of crackers.

On the left are fig and olive crackers and on the right are apricot and rosemary slightly smashed-up crackers.

For me, I think the winning cheese was blue…

Okay, I’ll admit, the blue actually wasn’t my favourite. I think the Quebec, ugly, mystery cheese was my favourite, but I just wasn’t able to take a nice photograph of it!

Darn you ugly cheese.

Oh by the way, I didn’t take any pics of the wine. It just completed slipped  my mind. Everyone but me enjoyed white wine, I remember seeing a Chardonnay and Pinot Grigio. I, on the other hand, sipped on Shiraz, which paired well with the blue cheese, but little else.

Enjoy!

Yours edibly,

Elana

Oreo Cheesecake

I made this cake special for the birthday girl Lynn. Lynn claimed to be allergic to oreos for quite some time in her youth — yet it was always obvious that her ‘allergy’ was non-existent and that she in fact LOVED oreos and ate them regularly.

So oreo cheesecake it was — plus I wanted to try making something new and making cheesecake seemed like it would be a fun challenge.

The toughest part to make was the crust…of course.

Making the crust even and smooth took me…I’m slightly embarrassed to say… an hour or so, I just couldn’t tear myself away.

The filling was easy peezy, mainly composed of cream cheese and sour cream among a few other items.

I arranged some extra oreos in the filling and it was ready to bake.

All was going smoothly until I removed the cake from the oven and noticed this…

What a crack! And I’m not talking about the good craic that you can find in Dublin…this was a nightmare.

But I went from being the saddest person in the kitchen to the happiest pretty fast once I learned that it is easy to repair a crack in a cheesecake.

All I needed was a palette knife and some hot water and I was able to smooth over the crack — no problem and then I could decorate.

I managed to snap a shot of the center of the cheesecake before it was quickly devoured.

Not bad, not bad, I’d say.

You can find the apparent Cheesecake Factory recipe here.

Please try this at home, it was pretty easy to make and the crowd will love it!

Oh and make sure to let me know how it goes if you do find the time to bake it.

Yours edibly,

Elana

Birthday BBQ

In celebration of my friend Lynn’s birthday, we decided to have a pot luck barbecue. It was a nice, chilly evening with cheeseburgers, salads, dips, and lots of condiments.

Ali did a marvelous job on the grill, cooking all the beef burgers, chicken burgers, and chicken dogs until they were juicy and tender.

While waiting for our meat to cook, we munched on pita and some amazing dips — courtesy of Sofra.

Clockwise from the top: hummus, eggplant, mystery dip, baba ghanoush, and tzatziki.

Here is a delicious salad with mixed greens, pears, walnuts, and blue cheese — sophisticated and stinky.

Creamy coleslaw — so much better than plain old vinegar coleslaw.

And… more beautiful salads!

From the left: edamame and kale salad, mango salad — with big chunks of mango that everyone thought were butternut squash, and roasted red pepper chick pea salad.

And finally, a delicious quinoa salad.

What would a party be without quinoa?

Quinoa salad with black beans, edamame beans, red pepper, and broccoli — I packed some leftovers for lunch.

Some things I forgot to photograph: beer, condiments, cheese, buns, vinegar coleslaw, chicken dogs — sorry, I must have been so hungry I forgot.

Dessert pictures to come.

Yours edibly,

Elana

Mini Red Velvet Cupcakes

I had not one, not two,  but three of my closest friends birthdays this weekend, so obviously, I wanted to bake something.

Ellie and I decided to make Magnolia’s Red Velvet Cupcakes — you just really can’t go wrong with the Magnolia recipes.

We used one recipe and with that one recipe we were able to make 48 mini cupcakes and 12 regular cupcakes — pretty wild eh!?

From previous experience, I believe one of the most important steps is mixing the cocoa powder and red food colouring to a smooth paste. We were a little low on food colouring — we used 5 tablespoons instead of 6, but the colour still was great!

It’s always easy to use a KitchenAid to do all the dirty work, i.e. mixing.

Just make sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl.

Isn’t the colour beautiful?

Use a spring-action scoop for filling the trays. It makes less of a mess and it’s easier to make sure all the cupcakes are the same size.

Bake for 15-20 minutes and here they are!

Not bad, not bad. We gave one lucky cupcake two liners, can you spot which one that is?

Next up, piping. We used a large star tip and large round tip for piping. The piping took just a few minutes.

Which do you prefer – star tip piping at the back or round tip piping at the front?

By the way, we obviously used cream cheese frosting for the cupcakes — you just can’t use anything else.

Here’s a closer image of these pretty little things.

Oh no, what happened to this one?

You always have to taste everything you bake or cook — that’s a RULE!

And we made 60 cupcakes so a few missing is no big deal…

You can find the recipe here.

Yours edibly,

Elana