Apple Baklava

View my step by step video – coming soon

This post is sponsored by the Ontario Apple Growers – the opinions and recipe idea is entirely my own.

Do you know where your apples come from? Contrary to popular belief, they don’t magically appear on grocery shelves.

This year I was invited to tour with the Ontario Apple Growers. We headed to Wilmot Fams to the Apple Orchards and onward Algoma Orchards to a packing plant. Last year we visited another farm in the west end. Although it was an amazing trip, we didn’t get to see any of the apples on the trees as it was November and picking was done for the season. You can watch that video here – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e8J1BnQXSSI&t=239s

Ontario Apple farms are located in three different zones and they are all close to the lake regions – Lake Ontario, Lake Erie, Lake Huron and Georgian Bay.

This trip was made mid October and although Apple picking is finished for the most part, the trees are still laden with Ambrosia that is picked in the mid to late fall.

We started off at Wilmot Farms in Bowmanville. This farm is owned by the Stevens Family Charles and Judi and their daughter Courtney. Courtney is the seventh generation farmer in the Stevens family!

Ian Parker, Orchard Manager is very knowledgeable and it blew my mind to learn how much strategy and science in involved in keeping the apples safe. Everything is calculated, the height that the tree is allowed to grow to, and the distance between each tree and the rows. The trees are also thinned so they produce the right amount of apples. If it tree is over producing there are many methods to trim back the apples to maintain quality; including thinning, pruning and applying certain products. Machines such as frost fans are used to suck in the cold air and push it upward, pushing the warm air back onto the orchard. The difference even if it’s a few degrees can save the crop. They also protect the crop from hail using a hail cannon.

Apple Fact: There are 15 different main varieties of apples are grown on nearly 16,000 acres in Ontario

This farm grows about 10 varieties of apples at this time of year the Ambrosia is ripe for the picking. The Ambrosia is a fairly new apple discovered in British Columbia in the early 1990’s. This was found growing in the orchard among another apple variety. This fruit is typically picked late fall.

Many of the trees in the Orchard that are done for the season have a lot of fruit on the ground. In commercial growing, if the apples touch the ground, they cannot be sold under Food Safety protocols. I asked the farmer why the fruit couldn’t be saved by installing a net and the answer he gave me made perfect sense  – when the apple falls, even if it is caught in a net, when it collides with another apple it will bruise, which makes it unsellable. Also the cost of picking the apple on the ground for organic waste or cattle feed is labour-intensive & too expensive, so the best is to leave it on the ground to fertilize the soil for next year’s crop.

Our group of eager bloggers had plenty of photo ops to get up and personal with these beautiful fruit. Here you see my friend Puneeta from Maple and Marigold look for the perfect shot!

Other bloggers on this trip were The Kitchen Fairy, Eclectic Soapbox, Nutrition Artist, Little Sweet Baker, The Viet Vegan, The Messy Baker, The Cookie Writer, Imagelicious, Carmy – Run Eat Travel, The Unlikely Baker, How To Eat, Nomadic Nutritionist, Weekend at the cottage & Baking for Friends – check out their recipes too!

As I was busy admiring the flawless fruit that Eve lured Adam with, I spy a group of pickers! These pickers typically are seasonal agricultural workers that come from Mexico and Barbados to work in the orchard and pick fruit every year. They live on the farm for between 4-8 months and then either transfer to another farm, or go back home till the next season.

The farmers that run this farm are filled with passion and love for the apples. This farm also grows blueberries and you can pick your own in season.

After a busy morning trudging through the apple orchards, we were served a delicious apple themed lunch and these gorgeous apple centrepieces made by the owner Judi Stevens caught my eye.

After lunch we made our way to Algoma Orchards to meet Kirk Kemp a partner with Mike Gibson. In addition to running apple farms they run a top notch apple packing & storage facility and juice processing plant.

Apples arrive by the bins and start to move in massive streams of water to wash the apples and removed any stems and leaves. It is also a gentle way to move the apples through the grading process. This minimizes bruising and damage to the fruit.

Anything that hasn’t come off will be manually picked off.

The apples are then photographed 50 times and monitored by a machine. The fruit that are less than perfect are separated from the perfect fruit.

These move on belts like a highway of apples where they are cleaned. This plants can process 9000 cases of apples per day.

Kirk Kemp, guides us through the plant and we hang on every word.

The apples are kept in temp controlled storage rooms  till they are ready to be packed.

Once the apples are ready to be sold to the grocery store, they move through the plant on the belts and are sorted and boxed by staff.

Apple Fact: The top five varieties in Ontario (based on acreage planted) are McIntosh, Gala, Empire, Red Delicious, and Northern Spy.

Many of the popular store brands you see are packed right here. Boxes of apples are rushed out of here onto trucks to make it into stores for you!

And what does one do when one has way too many apples? Make apple juice and cider of course. Algoma Orchards invested in a state of the art facility to make apple juice that supplies many big brands. Their tanks are insulated which gives them much longer shelf life.

There is a lab on site that monitors the quality of the apple juice.

Apple Fact: It takes four apples to make a glass of pure apple juice.

This chamber controls all (I can’t remember what the specific task of this chamber is) the tanks and everything is temp controlled and computerized.

To keep the facility germ free, the ground is filled with soap suds.

And on our way out we were were sent home with a nice big bag of apples! Yummmm

Just in time for the Holidays, this Apple Baklava is a wonderful recipe to serve at a lunch or dinner party. Baklava is an old traditional favourite from Greece and the Middle East. Layers of phyllo pastry are brushed in butter and sandwiched between layers of sugar and nuts. Once baked, the dough is moistened with a delicate sugar syrup. The result is a delicious crispy and sticky sweet treat. In this recipe I used Cortland, they are perfect for baking and don’t discolor quickly. It’s also a soft apple which makes it great in a filling.

These little bundles are made in muffin tins and have a layer of delicious Apple right in the center. They bake up crispy with walnut and pistachio layers and the baked treat is drizzled in a sugar syrup enhanced with orange blossom.

This very decadent dessert can be served at your Holiday table with a dollop of ice cream. My only regret is that I didn’t make more as they were devoured quick!

Here is the super simple recipe!

Recipe:

1 cup Walnuts and Pistachios, crushed
2 tbsps Sugar
1 tsp Cinnamon powder
225 gms Phyllo pastry dough

1 cup melted butter 1 cup Apple cut in small dice

Using 5 sheets of pastry, brush butter in between and stack them

Make an indentation with a cookie cutter and cut around with a scissors

With the rest of the pastry, stack 2 -3 sheets by brushing butter in between and cut in squares or rectangles

Add the rectangles to a buttered muffin pan Mix together the Apple, Cinnamon and sugar and spoon into the center, cover with a disc, add more filling and add another disc Bake for 10 – 15 in a 350 degrees oven

Apple Facts courtesy of http://onapples.com/apple-facts

Check out my other Apple recipes:

Candy Apples: https://kravingsfoodadventures.com/candy-apples/

Cheddar crust Apple Pie: https://kravingsfoodadventures.com/candy-apples/

Curried Chicken Salad – https://kravingsfoodadventures.com/curried-chicken-salad/

Lemon & Garlic Chicken Dinner – Instant pot

This is easily one of the tastiest and quickest meals you ever prepared. Don’t know what to make for dinner? Throw a whole Chicken into the Instant Pot and once that’s cooked finish off with some Penne and Brussels Sprouts – delicious. Follow the video for step by step instructions to making this recipe in the Instant pot.

Recipe

3.5 lbs fresh whole Chicken
2 tbsps Olive Oil
1 tsp Salt
1 sp pepper
1/2 tsp Paprika
Juice 1/2 Lemon

2 – 3 tsps Oil
5 cloves Garlic
4 – 5 sprigs Thyme
2 cups Chicken or Vegetable Stock
2 cups Penne

Mexican Chilli – Instant Pot

This is my very first Instant Pot post — yay! I’m an Instant Pot virgin. I’ve resisted buying the IP for a very long time, infact a few have made their way over from the stores via my hubby the shopaholic and I’ve politely sent them back? Why? I really didn’t have the space for it, I still don’t. Because I’m a huge foodie and I run a YouTube channel I have amassed a crazy amount of cookware. The other day someone asked me what I would do if I won the lottery and she was surprised to learn that I would buy the house next door to turn it into a kitchen.

Finally after all the Black Friday hype, I agreed to keep one of the 4 IP’s by hubby ordered from various sources – for one it was the only 8 quart, bigger is always better right?

What drove me to try this recipe in the IP is that I could first defrost a hunk of ground beef from my freezer, before sauteeing it and then pressure cooking it to Instant Pot perfection.

As I write this post I’ve used this extensively so if you’ve never used one before but are used to using stove top pressure cookers, this will be a natural transition for you. If you’ve never used a pressure cooker, like ever, this will be earth shattering, eye opening and the best things since sliced bread – it’s all about perspective.

While stove top pressure cookers do a great job, you really can’t leave them unattended and most of the time I rely on my olfactory senses to gauge the doneness of the dish. No more, set the time and walk away … if you’re in a rush, force the pressure out, if not leave it to deflate like a balloon slowly and just unlock it when you’re ready to eat.


Recipe:

2 lbs ground Beef

1 cup diced Onion

3 tbsps minced Garlic

2 tbsps minced Jalapeno

1.5 cups diced red Pepper

1.5 cups diced green Pepper

2 cups mixed canned and drained beans of your choice

2 cups whole or diced canned tomatoes

2 cups stock

4 tsps Cumin powder

3 tsps Paprika

1 tsp Mexican Chilli powder

1 tsp black Pepper

Salt

½ cup canned Corn

¼ cup chopped fresh Cilantro

Set the IP to saute mode and heat some oil and saute the onion followed by the garlic and jalapeno

Add the Beef and cook till browned

Add the spices & salt

Add the red and green peppers

Add the beans and the tomatoes

Follow with the stock

Cancel the Saute setting, change to Pressure Cook or Manual and set for 10 mins

Once done allow the steam to quick release if in a rush

Cancel and set to Saute mode again

Add the corn and coriander

Serve with a dollop of sour cream and grated cheese

This Chilli is heart and delicious, top with some sour cream and grated cheese and you have an instant party! Speaking of parties, this is a great recipe for a potluck, double, triple or quadruple the recipe as required and take the IP with you so serve it hot and fresh.

Beef & Barley Stew

View my step-by-step video

The holidays are now behind us – we’re exhausted, depressed and have all those bills to look forward to. Most people are now starting to eat healthy again, since most of your clothes are probably a bit snug! I just returned from a fabulous vacation from San Fran and LA and put on some serious pounds eating my way through the West coast. Once Jan hits, the cold weather becomes more obvious, grey and unbearable. Enter soups and stews for a warm hug in a bleak January.

Using an inexpensive Beef Blade steak, this Beef and Barley stew also includes Mushrooms, Potatoes and Kale for a hearty meal. There’s a fine line between a soup and a stew – if you prefer this in a soup format, add more liquid to this recipe and it’s good to slurp.

RECIPE:

1 cup Coriander root

8 oz Beef blade steak

1 tbsp Peppercorns

1 cup Garlic cloves

2 + 1 tbsps Soya sauce

1 cup sliced Spring Onions

1 liter Beef stock

2 cups sliced Mushrooms

1 – 2 cups water

1 cup cubed Potatoes

1/2 cup cooked Barley

½ cup baby Kale

3 tbps Spring Onion leaves

Cut the beef into small cubes

Make a coarse spice paste by pounding together the coriander roots, peppercorns and garlic

Heat up some oil and saute the spice blend

Add the beef and saute for colour

Add the spring onion bulbs

Add the soya sauce followed by the stock cover and cook till the beef is nice and tender

Add more soya if needed

Add the mushrooms and continue to cook

By now the beef is tender and the stock has reduced

Remove the beef and mushroom bits

Add water to the left over thickened stock and add the cubed potatoes and allow to cook

Add the kale and the spring onion leaves

Add the beef and mushroom back into the pot, add more water and stir

Add the cooked barley

Cranberry Clementine Moscow Mule

Cheersto the season! This year I decided to make a delicious festive cocktail toserve at my holiday open house. Moscow Mules are all the rage, but these festive ones are a super hit!

Recipe:

Per serving

Ice

2oz, 60ml shot of vodka
200 ml of Cranberry juice
200 ml Ginger Beer
Frozen Cranberries

Sprig of Rosemary

Squeeze of Clementine juice

 Add the ice, top up with the vodka & cranberryjuice and pour over the ginger beer.Add frozen cranberries and the rosemary as garnish and finish with a squeeze of clementine juice

Easy Microwave Marzipan

I don’t have a huge sweet tooth, but can never turn down Marzipan, especially my homemade recipe make with ground Almond or Cashew nuts, Icing sugar and egg white. Typically Marzipan is made with powdered blanched, skinned and dried almonds, but if I can splurge, I try to buy Cashew nuts and powder that instead for a beautiful taste. Traditionally, Marzipan is made by cooking all the ingredients over a low flame. It requires your undivided attention and a lot of muscle power. A decade or so ago I figured out a way to make this relatively easily in the microwave, and this is the recipe I will share with you!

Recipe

Ingredients

  • 100 gms(3.5 oz) ground almonds or almond meal
  • 200 gms (7 oz) icing sugar
  • 2 egg whites (40 -50 ml)
  • 2 drops almond essence

Instructions

  1. Process everything together with half the egg white and then process again
  2. Take the mixture out and add to a microwaveable plate, cover with cling film and zap in the microwave for 10 secs, 3 to 4 times
  3. Remove and scrape onto a board to cool
  4. Once cool add food colouring and knead adding extra icing sugar if sticky
  5. Divide and roll into balls and then press into the molds

Panrolls

View my step-by-step video

Pan rolls are delicious savory stuffed crepes – they can be stuffed with ground beef, chicken or shrimp. Both my grandmothers prepared these and passed it onto my Mom, who passed it on to me! These crepes are simple made with flour, water and eggs and stuffed with a filling, then brushed with egg wash and dredged in breadcrumbs before shallow frying.

I made these for my Holiday Open house, but these can be served as a snack or even at the lunch or dinner table. Truth be told, I love leftovers for breakfast!


Kul Kuls – Crispy fried Holiday Cookie

View my step-by-step video

 

 

 

Kul Kuls are my favorite sweet treat over the holidays. It’s fair to say that it doesn’t feel quite like Christmas, unless I make a batch of these crispy deep fried dough springs. This recipe is adapted from my Aunty Celie’s recipe that I prepared a few years ago. The recipe is pretty much the same,

I just added some semolina for extra crispiness. This special dough is made with flour, eggs, milk, sugar and the star ingredient – melted ghee. This turns the dough into a golden hue. The dough is then flattened and rolled on a comb to create a spring like look.

Kul Kuls – Crispy fried Holiday Cookie

Ingredients

  • 2 Egg Yolks
  • 1 3/4 cup Sugar
  • Pinch of Salt
  • 1 cup Milk
  • 700 gms sifted all purpose Flour
  • 3 tbsps Semolina
  • 175 - 200 ml melted and cooled Ghee

Instructions

  1. Mix together the yolks, sugar, milk and salt
  2. Using a paddle attachement start adding in the semolina and flour
  3. Halfway through switch from a paddle attachment to a dough hook
  4. Add the melted ghee and keep kneading
  5. Turn it out on a board and knead by hand
  6. Divide, wrap in plastic wrap and chill
  7. Divide into small pieces, press down to flatten and then roll on a comb
  8. When you have them all prepared, deep fry in hot oil and keep aside

https://kravingsfoodadventures.com/kul-kuls-crispy-fried-holiday-cookie/

Chicken Patties

View my step-by-step video

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

These Chicken Patties are reminiscent of the the patties sold in bakeries in Mumbai (Bombay) & Goa. Layers or buttery puff pastry encases a creamy Chicken filling. The filling is super easy to make using Bechamel and cooked Chicken to make a simple filling! These can be made year round but especially spectacular over the holidays! Try this for yourself!

Chicken Patties

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup Butter
  • 2 tbsps Flour
  • 1 cup Milk
  • 1.5 cups cooked diced Chicken
  • 1 tsp dried Parsley a
  • Salt & Pepper
  • Dash of Hot sauce
  • 1 kg Puff pastry
  • 1 beaten Egg

Instructions

  1. Prepare the filling - melt the butter, add the flour and the milk a little at a time
  2. Add the cooked chicken and the parsley, mix and then cool
  3. Add salt, pepper & sauce
  4. Cut the pastry into circles, you need 3 circles per patty and this will make 24
  5. Brush the bottom circle with the egg wash and add 1 tsp of the filling
  6. Add the second layer of pastry and brush with egg again and then add the final layer
  7. Make a depression with a smaller cutter and prick the outer layer with a fork
  8. Bake for 25 mins

https://kravingsfoodadventures.com/chicken-patties/

Egg Curry – Anda Masala

View my step-by-step video

 

 

 

 

As far as Egg curries go, there are probably more than a 1000 different ways to make it. From the north to the south there are various different regional recipes and then there are the distinct curries from our neighboring countries – Pakistan, Bangladesh & Sri Lanka. Egg curries can be made with whole boiled eggs, or egg halves like I’ve used in this recipe and also in an egg drop style also known in the Middle East and Israel as Shakshuka.

This is a great curry to make, especially when you don’t have other protein on hand and you’re wondering what curry to make to satisfy your hungry family.

Egg Curry – Anda Masala

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup sliced Onions
  • 5 red de seeded Kashmiri chillies
  • 2 inch piece of Ginger and
  • 4-5 Garlic cloves
  • 1 inch cinnamon stick
  • 3 green Cardamoms
  • 6 Cloves
  • 6 Peppercorns
  • 3 tsps Coriander seeds
  • 2 tsps Poppy seeds
  • 1 tsp Fennel seeds
  • 1 tsp Cumin seeds
  • 1/2 cup fresh grated Coconut
  • Water as required
  • 4 Eggs, halved
  • 1 Egg white
  • 1/4 cup diced Onions
  • 1 tbsp sliced green Chilli
  • 1/2 cup fresh Curry leaves
  • 2 cups of Water
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • Salt
  • 2 tsps Sugar
  • 1/4 cup fresh Coriander

Instructions

  1. In a pot saute the onions and red chillies
  2. Add the ginger and garlic cloves
  3. Add the cinnamon, cardamoms, cloves & peppercorns
  4. Saute everything well and then add coriander, fenel, cumin and poppy seeds
  5. Remove everything and allow to cool
  6. Dip the egg halves cut side into the egg white and place face down for the eggs to seal
  7. Once done, flip over and keep aside
  8. Saute the fresh grated coconut till a light golden brown and just add it to the other whole spices and chillies
  9. Add everything to my food processor, together with some water to get it started and grind it
  10. Add water as required a little at a time till you get a nice smooth blend.
  11. Add more oil to your pan and saute the diced onions, chilli and curry leaves
  12. Add the spice paste
  13. Add water to your processor
  14. Saute the masala with the onion, chilli and curry leaves for a few minutes
  15. Add 1/2 tsp turmeric
  16. Add the water and salt to taste and allow this to heat up
  17. Put a lid on this and allow it to cook.
  18. Taste again for salt and add more if required
  19. Add 2 tsps Sugar to balance the salt and spices
  20. Cover this again and continue o cook on a simmer for another 5 minutes
  21. Immerse the eggs in the gravy, cover and cook for a few more minutes.
  22. Finally add the fresh Coriander to garnish

https://kravingsfoodadventures.com/egg-curry-anda-masala/