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I don’t know where I learned to do this. I swear it was something I watched Jamie Oliver do, but upon searching my books and the net for some kind of proof – none was to be found. So now I will take full credit for this stunningly simple but amazing side dish. If you don’t have a microwave, bake them in the oven like normal. Still simple, just takes longer.

This was a part of my Saturday cooking demos at Cardamom and Cloves. So if you’d ever like to try a bit of what I’m making, or just want to watch what boils down to live Food Network, minus celebrity chefs plus me – come down to 440 Preston Street in Ottawa at 11 am any Saturday and enjoy!

Sweet potato

Smoked Spicy Sweet Potato Mash

Serves 2-4 as a side dish, or just me as a main because making other food seemed like too much work.

Ingredients
One lemon cut in half
2 sweet potatoes, peeled and cut in half
2 TBSP olive oil or butter
1.5 TBSP smoked Spanish paprika
Fleur de Hell salt
Smoky Don Smoked pepper

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In a microwave safe bowl, arrange sweet potatoes and lemon halves. Sprinkle with a good pinch smoked pepper and wrap in two layers of plastic wrap. Cook in your microwave on high for 10 minutes.

When you remove the bowl from the microwave, poke with a knife or fork to allow steam to escape. Be careful, it’s hot! Remove plastic wrap and lemons and toss. Add olive oil or butter, and paprika and mash. This will probably be super easy at this point. If it’s not, re-wrap and microwave another 3-4 minutes.

Once mashed and mixed with spice – top with a nice pinch of spicy Fleur de Hell sea salt. Serve right away!

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The name of this recipe is a mouthful – and so is the cake. Mouthful of ninja level awesome that is. Try making just the crumble as an awesome topping for yogurt, ice cream or hot cereal. I can even imagine how good it would be mixed into some carrot muffins.

Cardamom crumble cake

Cardamom Olive Oil Crumble Cake

Ingredients

Crumble
1 cup oats
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 tsp ground cardamom
1/4 tsp salt

Cake

1 1/2 cup flour
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground cardamom
1/2 cup milk
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup olive oil

Combing the crumble ingredients in a bowl. Set aside

In a large bowl mix together the dry cake ingredients. Make a well – add the wet ingredients. Stir to combine. Mix well.

Pour cake batter into a 9 inch, greased cake pan. Top with crumble and bake at 350 degrees for 50 minutes or until a fork inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.

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This Monday I was on Rogers Daytime – it was a lot of fun! I made this flavourful Island Marinade. I used it on chicken but I can imagine it would be fantastic on pork or cauliflower as well.

It’s the allspice that make this dish ‘island’. It’s a staple of Jamaican cuisine and is found in all the best jerk recipes. This one is mild, but if you wanted to punch it up, just increase the amount of Cayenne power or think about adding a few dashes of your favourite hot sauce. Every bite will remind you of beaches, warm sun and sweet drinks with little umbrellas.

All Spice

Allspice

Island Chicken

Ingredients
2 TBSP Garlic powder
1 TBSP Onion flakes
3/4 tsp Thyme, dry
1/4 cup Soy sauce
1 1/2 tsp Allspice, ground
3/4 tsp Black pepper
1/3 cup Brown sugar, packed
1 Pinch Cayenne
1/2 tsp Ceylon Cinnamon, ground
1/2 tsp Cloves, ground
3 TBSP Canola oil
1/2 cup Red-wine vinegar
4 Chicken breasts

Grind all spices together – add to other ingredients and pour over chicken breasts and marinade for 2-24 hours.

Grill, bake or BBQ Chicken as you normally would until cooked to an internal temperature of 165 degrees.

 me

One day it will be warm again… it’s just gotta.

recipes

This is a ridiculously simple recipe that makes me so happy. Not only does it taste amazing – but it makes your house smell fantastic while they are baking. I had them available as a sample at the store last Saturday – this Saturday will be a cardamom spiced cake – come out and try some!

Sweet Cinnamon Pretzle

Sweet Cinnamon Pretzel

Ingredients
1 large bag of pretzels
1/2 cup of canola oil
3 tsp freshly ground true cinnamon
1/2 cup granulated sugar

Pour pretzels into a casserole dish big enough so that they can spread out in a single layer.

Mix the oil, sugar and cinnamon. Pour over pretzels and toss to coat evenly. Bake at 250 degrees for 20 minutes, stirring once or twice through the cook time.

Serve warm to room temperature.

recipes

With the store now open at Cardamom and Cloves on 440 Preston Street… it’s safe to assume I have the best spice cupboard in the city. So what is a girl to do?? Add spices to everything! The first thing I made was in an attempt to satisfy my sweet tooth when the snack selection in my kitchen was dangerously low. Luckily this, almost caramel like popcorn does the trick. Sweet, salty and yummy – everything a snack craving tummy needs.

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Cinnamon Brown Sugar Popcorn

Ingredients
1/2 cup unpopped popcorn
2 TBSP butter
1 TBSP packed brown sugar
1/4 tsp sea salt
1/4 tsp lemon juice
1/4 tsp ground Vietnamese cinnamon (or any kind you have – I like the Vietnamese because it is a touch spicier than true cinnamon)

Pop your popcorn how ever you like – in an air popper is great, or you can put it in a paper bag and microwave it. I put mine in a pot on the stove.

Melt butter – add all other ingredients and pour over popcorn. Mix together with large spoons and allow to cool for a minute before eating – the hot sugar will cool on each kernel like caramel popcorn. Enjoy!

 

 

recipesIt’s a chilly Christmas Eve here in Canada’s Capital and that calls for something warm that has a little bit of a festive flair. Aka – booze. Sure you could go for egg nog – but honestly I’ve always hated that drink. Don’t worry, if you are nogged out or were never on the nog bandwagon in the first place, this spiced hot chocolate is amazing! Drink it spiked with  a heated good quality tequila or a spiced rum, or any liquor of your choosing. It’s also fantastic all on its own – but I like a little kick.

Mexican Hot Chocolate

1/2 tsp cinnamon, ground
1/4 tsp cardamom, ground
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp chili powder
Pinch of nutmeg, ground
Pinch of cloves, ground

2 cups milk of your choice
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 TBSP cocoa powder
A pinch of salt
1/2 tsp vanilla extract or 1/2 a Mexican vanilla pod with innards scraped out and the pod reserved for another use.

flickr user Lindsay Tyler

1. Add all spices (not vanilla) to your spice grinder or mortar and pestle – blend together into a fine powder.

2. In a small pot, bring milk up to a simmer over medium heat. When starting to get little bubbles around the edges, whisk in chocolate chips, cocoa powder, spice powder and salt.

3. Stir until the chips have melted and the ingredients are completely combined. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla seeds or extract.

4. Pour into glasses. Add about an ounce of desired kick, marshmallows, whipped cream, sprinkles, or whatever else you love.

 

Merry Christmas!

 

Sometimes I think I’m just figuring out this spice store stuff as I go along. Mainly because… well… that is exactly what I’m doing.

When I began my start up fund on Indiegogo, I knew vaguely what perks I wanted to offer. Whether it be event tickets, recipes or spice kits – I had a general impression. I did not, however, know exactly what those events, recipes and spices would be. Until this weekend, when I sat down and worked it out.

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I thought I would take baby steps and feature some of the perks in their own posts. Probably because I’m too lazy to write it all out in one go… and if I were you I wouldn’t be reading a post that long either. I’ve got things to do… like complaining about the weather and telling people about the movies I’ve watched. You know, important things.

Let’s start with the first perk! For a $10 donation to my start up fund, you get a 3 spice sample kit. So, 3 x 2oz tin jars of spices. Which spices?? Well that’s up to you! Everyone who opts in for this perk will get an email that lists the options and they can choose which pack they get. Each kit includes 2 recipe cards that use the spices and gets you in the draw for a bonus prize! What are the options??

1 – Salt: This pack includes a sample of Sel Gris, Himalayan Pink and Sonoma Sea Salt

2 – Moroccan: 2 oz each of cumin, ras el hanout and turmeric

3 – Caribbean: this sample pack will feature all spice, cloves and dried chili peppers

4 – Greek: in here I’ve got all spice, anise and fennel

For each of the packs you also get to choose if they come to you pre-ground (which will be done just prior to sending out) or left whole so you can keep them until you are ready to use them!

All in a cute little package, bow and all. Doesn’t that sound like the best stocking stuffer idea ever?!?

If you want to get yours – click here!

And if you’d like to check it out, here is my appearance this morning on CTV!

I’m going to go out on a limb and say that my dog, Lemon, isn’t quite right mentally. I often make jokes that his parents were first cousins, or that he was dropped on his head when he was a baby. But the truth is… Lemon has extreme anxiety.

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It’s something that he has had since I first got him at 8 weeks old and I suspect he was born with it. Either that or the thought of having to live with me for the rest of his life damaged him in deep, scarring ways.

Here is a list of things Lemon is frightened of just off the top of my head. There are probably loads more – but these are the main ones:

– keys
– utensils
– wine bottles clanking together
– plastic bags
– paper bags
– the sound of anything sautéing on the stove
– the sound of water boiling
– wheels of all kinds from cars to granny shopping carts
– all large vehicles
– bath time
– water (that you would go in, not drink)
– hair cuts
– nail clippers
– car rides

Recently it has gotten a lot worse. His list started to include:

– sunlight
– being anywhere except in his crate

What’s dog anxiety look like?? Well, for Lemon it includes licking his paw obsessively (it used to be until he bled, but luckily that has stopped), tail between the legs, and trying to make himself as small as possible while shaking and quietly whimpering and sometimes making himself sick.

After a couple weeks of not seeing him. And having to carry him outside where he would reluctantly go to the bathroom then try to run back inside. I knew I had to do something. Luckily my brother and his wife really know their dogs so I was pointed in the direction of the latest in dog anxiety treatment.

Lemon

Better days

It might sound ridiculous… and I will say I scoffed at the idea, but it’s called a Thundershirt. I never wanted to dress my dog up. I thought it was a waste of money. Even though I’m sure he would rock a bowtie like no body’s business… I am, above all things, cheap. I mean… practical. So first I made him one… I cut strips off of one of my t-shirts and made him a homemade straight jacket.

To my utter amazement. It worked. Apparently the gentle constant pressure works like swaddling a baby… or a Jodi in a snuggy.

So I went out to get him a real one so he wouldn’t look so silly. No one should be seen in public in a homemade straight jacket. There I found calming treats and spray. He hates the spray (which works by combining pheromones with lavender and chamomile) but I like the way it smells, so too bad buster. But the treats make a significant difference.

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I may be bias… but I think he rocks that Thundershirt.

The combination of all three has us going for walks again, sitting on the couch to cuddle while watching movies and over all just a much better behaved dog.

Another thing he really seems to like is the scent of vanilla. I made a French toast loaf the other day, recipe below, and found him sitting in front of the oven while it cooked. And yes… I joined him. Because it really does make your house smell fantastic.

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A warm, sticky mess of goodness… just like Lemon!

French Toast Loaf

1/2 loaf of bread
3 eggs
1 1/4 cup milk
1/8 cup sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1 TBSP vanilla
1/2 cup apples cut into small cubes or dried fruit like cranberries
pinch of salt

1/8 cup butter
1/8 cup brown sugar
1/8 cup flour
1/4 tsp cinnamon
pinch of salt

In a mixing bowl combine the eggs, milk, first amount of cinnamon, vanilla, sugar and a pinch of salt. Tear the bread into chunks and add to the egg mixture. Allow it to sit for at least 10 minutes to soak up all the eggy goodness. You can leave it overnight at this point if you want.

Add the fruit – stir to combine and dump the whole mixture into a loaf pan or muffin tins that have been sprayed with oil, lightly.

Combine the butter, brown sugar, flour, salt and second amount of cinnamon in a separate bowl. Pour over top of the bread/egg mixture in the loaf pan.

Bake at 350 for 25 minutes until the egg has set. Serve to your bestest buddy.

spices

There is something missing in Ottawa. For the longest time I couldn’t put my finger on it… then suddenly it hit me. We need a really fabulous Spice Shop. Somewhere that carries hundreds of varieties of herbs, spices and salts with wonderful staff that knows everything there is to know about their products and is willing to help you.

That last part is the kicker. I don’t know if you have every had this happen, but it was sadly routine for me while searching out flavourings in this city. You know what you need – the recipe told you – but it’s hard to find. Impossible even. After the 3rd or 4th store you try – you finally find it. Not much thanks to the surly staff member who simply pointed at an aisle and said “should be down there if we have it”. You take your purchase home, none the wiser about its potential beyond that one dish you are attempting.

I want to change all that.

I have a dream to open Ottawa’s premiere spice shop – I’m calling it Cardamom and Cloves. This is my baby.

But it takes a village to raise a child. So I’m asking for your help. There are so many things you can do to make this dream a reality right from the comfort of in front of your screen.

spice

1. Follow Cardamom and Cloves on Facebook and twitter!

2. Tell me about your favourite spices, herbs, blends, brands. Anything that knocks your flavour socks off – I want to know about! Maybe it was a dish you tried while travelling. Maybe it’s just something you read about recently – either way let me know!! You can comment here, or shoot me an email cardamomandcloves@live.ca

3. This is a biggie. You can contribute to my Indiegogo campaign. Not only will you get to light up my life – but you give me the chance to get some really amazing products into your hands. It’s very simple to do – just click here to get started. The more we can raise, the less I need to borrow, the better chance this has of succeeding. Can’t contribute financially?? Just spread the word! Many hands make light and fluffy work.

I’m so excited to finally start getting the word out. And I’m looking forward to opening in Spring 2014 – see you there!!

 

 

I Say Random Things On Twitter…

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Instagram Photo Oddness...

Ah crap... Just a smidge too long under the broiler. Summoning up my inner Julia Child for the umpteen time today. .
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#turkey #sesoning #pastry #quiche #wfd #wfl #brunch #juliachild #wwjcd #whatwouldjuliachilddo Turkey Sesoning spiced savoury pie pastry!

Half is being frozen for chicken pot pie later in the week and half is being turned into a smoked cheddar, ham quiche. Knowing me...it will look "rustic". ;) #spice #spiceshop #fresh #organic #handblended #ottawaeats #brunch #wfl #wfd #dayinthekitchen This is an accurate representation of my day. The cherry on an invigorating and simultaneously exhausting week. 
Equal parts good and bad, high and low, home and work. #momboss needs a #coffee lol

Past Foodie Adventures…