Spicy Carrot Maple Soup

Since Baby E has started solid food, I've been spending a lot of time brainstorming quick and easy dishes that are healthy for both of us.

Like this Spicy Carrot Maple Soup.

I garnished the bowl in the photo above with a little crème fraîche, green onion and toasted sesame seeds, but if you left the crème fraîche off, this soup would be vegetarian and even VEGAN.


Spicy Carrot Maple Soup

2 lbs carrots, washed, not peeled, ends trimmed, rough chopped

2 shallots or 1 small-medium onion, diced

2 bay leaves

water to cover carrots

1 Cup Pure Infused Chipotle & Lemongrass Maple Syrup (see note below)

2 tsp kosher salt

1/2 tsp ground black pepper

- place chopped carrots, chopped shallots (or onion) and bay leaves in a large pot - cover carrots with water (about 10-12 Cups) - bring to a light boil and gently simmer until carrots are soft, 25-30 minutes

- purée with a handheld immersion blender or, carefully ladle hot carrots and liquid into a blender and process until liquefied - pour soup back into pot then stir in maple syrup, kosher salt and black pepper

*noteI happened to have a bottle of Pure Infused Chipotle & Lemongrass maple syrup in my cupboard which added a lovely sweetness and mild underlying heat but you can substitute 1 Cup of any maple syrup then add 1/2 - 1 tsp of dried red chili flakes to taste


Coconut Chili Lime Shortbread

Coconut Chili Lime Shortbread

1 C sugar

2 limes

1.5 tsp dried red chili flakes

2 C salted butter, room temp to soft

1/2 C dried unsweetened shredded coconut

3 1/4 C flour

- preheat oven 300º

- add sugar to bowl of stand mixer - zest both limes directly into sugar - mix with paddle on low to combine - add chili flakes to sugar and mix on low to combine

- add butter to sugar - beat on medium-high speed until butter is soft, fluffy and everything is well mixed 

- with mixer running on low, add coconut and allow to mix in, scraping down sides of bowl if necessary - add flour, about 1/2 C at a time until all flour has been added - turn off mixer and finish mixing by hand with a wooden spoon or hard plastic spatula

- turn dough out into a 10-12 inch round pan or 8 x 8 square pan - smooth dough evenly into pan with the back of a soup spoon - score the top of the dough with slicing marks (wedges for a round pan, squares for a square pan, or whatever other shape you like - you can also roll out dough and cut int shapes if you like) then prick all over with a fork or small skewer - bake 60-70 minutes or until top edges are lightly golden (thicker shortbread will need at least this much time, thinner shortbread will need less time, probably 45-50 minutes) - cool on a rack then slice, using score marks to cut

Lemon Cranberry Curd

I bought lemons before Christmas to make curd with and totally forgot about them. When I was at Halifax Central Library last week for a mom date, my new friend Meredith brought me a jar of Meyer lemon curd that she'd made and It was so delicious that baby and I ate the entire jar in one day.

It was so good I knew I had to make some myself.

As I was browsing the fridge, I noticed I still had fresh cranberries left over from the spicy bread pudding I made a couple of week's ago and thought, what the hell? Plus, making this beautiful curd gave me a chance to practice dark and moody food photography which I love love love.

Lemon Cranberry Curd

3 lemons

12 ounce bag fresh cranberries

3 eggs

1 C sugar

1/4 C butter

- juice one whole lemon into a small/medium pot - add cranberries and set over medium-low heat until cranberries can be easily crushed with a fork, about 10 minutes - remove from heat, mash cranberries and set aside

- in a large microwaveable bowl whisk eggs + sugar until smooth and sugar is completely dissolved (this step is really important - I whisk a few times over the course of ten minutes or so to make sure the sugar has completely dissolved into the eggs) - zest remaining two lemons into the eggs and sugar and then juice the same two lemons right into the bowl - break the butter into small pieces with your hands and add to the egg, sugar, lemon zest and juice mix - whisk everything together well

- microwave, one minute at a time, for 5 minutes, whisking well in between each minute - after five minutes, whisk and then, with the back of a spoon, press the cranberries through a sieve into the curd - discard cranberry skins - microwave one minute more - curd should be the consistency of loose pudding - if still too runny, return to microwave in 30 second intervals until thickened (it usually takes me one or two 30 second intervals to get my curd to the right consistency) - jar and refrigerate

***IMPORTANT*** - IF YOU DO NOT WHISK YOUR EGGS AND SUGAR UNTIL THE SUGAR DISSOLVES COMPLETELY you will probably end up with cooked scrambled egg bits. That's fine, but IF THIS HAPPENS - pour your curd through a sieve before you jar it. It will pretty much run right through - you may have to press the last bit through with the back of a spoon. The sieve will catch all of the scrambled bits.

Spicy Cranberry Bread Pudding

Remember that beautiful loaf of bread I got from Pete's Fine Foods

I made bread pudding and it was SO SPICY.

If a gingerbread man had a love affair with a chai latté it would taste like this bread pudding.

A slight burn in the mouth from the white pepper and cardamom offset by the tart tang of fresh cranberries and lightly sweetened egg soaked bread.

Get down on it.

Spicy Cranberry Bread Pudding

6 eggs

2 C milk 

0.5 C brown sugar, packed

1 Tbsp ground ginger

1 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp ground cloves

1 tsp nutmeg

1 tsp ground white pepper

3/4 tsp ground cardamom

2 C fresh cranberries

1 loaf of crusty bread, cut into 1-inch cubes

- In a large bowl, whisk eggs and milk - add brown sugar and spices whisking well to combine - add cranberries and cubed bread - toss to coat - cover bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate one to twelve hours

- Preheat oven to 350º - line a 9x13 oven-safe dish, or a large springform pan with parchment paper - pour bread pudding into parchment lined pan - bake 40-45 minutes until lightly browned on top - serve warm drizzled with maple syrup and/or a dollop of whipped cream

I like to make my bread pudding the night before, let it sit, covered, in the fridge overnight, and then pop it in the oven the next morning for breakfast.

Recipe inspired by this incredible butternut squash, chorizo and blue cheese strata by my pal Kathy Jollimore at eatHalifax!

Duck Confit

I was so intimidated to make duck confit. I've eaten it a few times in restaurants and it's always been so delicious that I thought it would be tough to replicate the incredible flavour at home.

I was wrong.

It's quite possibly one of the easiest things I've made and gives huge 'bang for your buck' flavour.

I didn't really follow a recipe, instead, I consulted a couple of chef friends for advice and then just kind of winged it. Is that a legit term grammatically? 'Winged it'? Also, is that in bad taste considering I'm talking about duck?

Oh dear.

Bad taste. 

*eye roll*

You can make this recipe with two duck portions + one container of duck fat or four duck portions + two containers of duck fat. I used four frozen duck legs, thighs attached, and two containers of duck fat that I got at Pete's Fine Foods. I didn't measure out salt, garlic, herbs and peppercorns, I just made sure each duck leg had lots.

Duck Confit

4 frozen duck legs, thighs attached, thawed

kosher salt

garlic cloves, sliced

bay leaves, torn

fresh herbs, chopped (I used rosemary and thyme)

peppercorns (I used pink and black)

2 x 300g containers of duck fat

canola oil

- sprinkle the bottom of a 9x13 Pyrex dish with kosher salt, sliced garlic, torn bay leaves, chopped fresh herbs and peppercorns - take each thawed duck legs and press, skin side down, into salt and herbs to coat - turn legs over, skin side up and repeat, making sure duck legs are well coated all over and adding more salt and aromatics if necessary - cover and refrigerate 12-48 hours (I did 48 hours)

- preheat oven to 200º - remove duck from fridge - line a baking sheet with paper towel - rinse each duck legs well under running water and lay on paper towel - pat dry with more paper towel 

-  wash Pyrex dish and return duck legs to dish, skin side up - place Pyrex dish on stovetop and turn burner to LOW heat - scoop duck fat over duck legs and allow to slowly liquify over legs - once duck fat is melted, top with canola oil if legs are not fully submerged - if you want, you can add more sliced garlic, torn bay leaves, chopped herbs and peppercorns - cover dish tightly with foil (as tightly as you can considering it's full of liquid) - carefully place dish in oven and cook duck overnight 8-12 hours (I cooked mine for 12 hours and it was amazing)

- carefully remove dish from oven and gently remove foil - using tongs, remove duck legs from dish and place in storage container (I used an 8x8 square Pyrex dish with a snap-on lid) - allow duck fat to cool slightly and then strain into storage container to remove aromatics and re-submerge legs - store in fridge

*most recipes I've seen will tell you to use a Dutch-oven style pot with a tight fitting lid to confit duck. I have two cast iron Dutch-ovens but wanted the duck to cook in the same pan so I used a 9x13 Pyrex dish covered in foil and was VERY careful when placing it in and removing it from the oven - if you're doing two duck legs you could use an 8x8 square Pyrex dish

* I know it is NOT RECOMMENDED to heat Pyrex dishes on the stovetop, but I used very low heat, just warm enough to liquify duck fat - don't do this if you're nervous about it

* I stored my cooked duck confit in the fridge for two weeks and then pulled all of the meat off and froze what was left - as long as the duck is submerged in fat, it will keep in the fridge for at least a month - you can reserve the duck fat after the fact and use it in place of butter or oil in cooking