Sunday, 21 December 2014


Sparkly Cocoa Nib Butter Cookies
Happy Holidays!
Wishing Everyone a Very Merry Christmas, Happy Hannukah and Happy New Year!

These cookies are my fanciful take on chocolate chip cookies.  I've used cocoa nibs instead of chocolate chips...and a butter cookie instead of a toll house drop batter. These cookies are so easy and pretty.  Cut slices from a refrigerator-cold triangular log of my butter cookie recipe (below).  Then top with cocoa nib pieces and sprinkle with unrefined cane sugar.  Bake and package with the plain butter cookies and you've got a nice selection for gifting.

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
¾ cup Organic unrefined cane sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract (or 1 vanilla bean, ground up)
2 ½ cups sifted all-purpose flour
¾ teaspoon coarse salt

Extra ½ cup organic unrefined can sugar for sprinkling and rolling
Extra 3 tablespoons cocoa nibs for sprinking on cookies
1. Put butter and granulated sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment; mix on medium speed until pale and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Mix in whole egg and vanilla. Reduce speed to low. Add flour and salt and mix until combined.

2. Halve dough; shape each half into a log.  Form log into triangular shape. Place each log on a 12-by-16 inch sheet of parchment. Roll in parchment to 1 ½ inches in diameter, pressing a ruler along edge of parchment at each turn to narrow log.  Transfer parchment-wrapped log to refrigerator until firm, about 1 hour.

3. Preheat oven to 375ºF.   Roll log in extra cane sugar.  Cut into ½-inch thick slices. Space 1 inch apart on baking sheets lined with parchment.  Sprinkle with cocoa nib pieces and extra cane sugar.  Bake until edges are golden, 18 to 20 minutes. (cakebrain note: ensure the cookies are golden brown and they'll taste much more flavourful as well as have a better crunch). Let cool on sheets on wire racks. Store in airtight containers at room temperature up to 3 days.

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Ayoub's Dried Fruit and Mixed Nuts

love the chandelier in Ayoub's
If you love nuts and dried fruit, you'll have to check this place out.  Ayoub's first of all is beautiful. It's like walking into another world.  The white shelves, silver urns filled with fragrant spiced nuts and the huge candelier hanging in the centre of the room make for an impressive first impression.

Saturday, 16 August 2014

Crackle Crème, Vancouver

Duelling my 7 year old for the crackle!

Basho Cafe & Sweets, Vancouver

Matcha Latte Afternoon Tea special ($5)
Upon entering Basho Cafe on East Hastings (my old teenage stomping grounds!) you are immediately taken aback by the fine details evident in the decor and the food.  By gosh, even the door handle at the front has a knitted warmer wrapped around it!

Friday, 15 August 2014

Earnest Ice Cream, Vancouver

London Fog
Do you ever argue with family members about where to eat for dinner? well, this is us practically every weekend.  I figured out a compromise.   One person chooses the resto for dinner and another can choose a different place for dessert.  Win Win!

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Blueberry Milkshake

Blueberry Milkshake
My friend gifted me a HUGE ice-cream pail full of perfectly sweet local blueberries from a UPick farm in Richmond.  The blueberry season is here NOW! and I don't know about you, but I have blueberries starting to turn mushy and I'm heading to the freezer now with trays of them to save them for smoothies and baking.  

Aside from a healthy smoothy, a more decadent way to enjoy a nice heap o' blueberries is in a milkshake.  Here's my quick recipe:

Blueberry Milkshake
2 scoops vanilla ice cream (can be made dairy free with almond or coconut ice cream)
1 cup milk (can be made dairy free with almond or coconut milk)
1 cup blueberries

Combine all the ingredients in a blender and whizz until combined and no longer lumpy.

Parthenon Greek Supermarket, Vancouver & a GF rant

Spanakopita (Spinach Pie)
Spanakopita (Spinach pie) 
The best part of living in Vancouver is my proximity to good authentic eats if I'm craving it.  I live within 10 minutes of excellent foods from India, Greece, China, Japan, the Middle East, Italy, France and practically every other major country you can think of.  I'm so lucky. Today, the crave of the day was Greek.  The Parthenon is a Greek supermarket that's been around for ages.  It's always been there on W. Broadway as long as I can remember and I was born and raised in Vancouver.  Let me google it for you and see if I can find out.  Oh! Over 45 years!  that's pretty close to my age (which I shall stay mum about).

Wednesday, 6 August 2014

Matcha Chiffon Cake (gf)

Matcha Chiffon (GF)
I'm looking forward to seeing a few of my high school classmates today.  It's kind of neat to be able to see them so many years later and catch up.  I see some of my high school friends only once a year.  We make a bit of time to have coffee or tea and chat for hours about life events and all sorts of things.

Gluten Free Flour Blend

The following GF flour blend recipe is the one I have tripled and kept in an airtight container to be used in place of regular flour.  It has been truly amazing and I imagine you can adapt it, as I have seen numerous permutations on the net.  For cakes, you will find that using the Thai Rice Flour brands that I have pictured below are important for fine texture.  You will find the 3 Elephants Brand rice flours in Asian markets.  They are really cheap.  You can buy a whole bunch at once and  blend up your mix.  For the other starches, I believe brands are not as important. 

Tuesday, 29 July 2014


One Blueberry Muffin.  Now. 
My 7 yr old loves blueberry muffins.  The trouble is no one else in the household is that crazy about them.  

Monday, 28 July 2014

CHRISTMAS IN JULY COOKIE CONTEST: Vanilla Pod Butter/Tiffany Snowflake Cookies

Christmas in July Cookie Contest!
Can you believe I've been blogging since 2007 and this is the 1st contest I'm entering?  I'm submitting my butter cookie recipe to the Eat In Eat Out 3rd Annual Christmas in July Cookie Contest

Matcha Coconut Mochi (GF)

Matcha Coconut Mochi.  An excellent Japanese sweet to serve with tea or coffee.
Summer's here and I have the kids full-time.   Aside from locking them out of the house once because they were fighting, I think I've been able to keep them busy enough to stay out of trouble.

Monday, 7 July 2014


Fresh local strawberry & vanilla ice cream tarts 
In keeping with my "Lazy Summer" theme I started with my last post, I thought I'd show you a sneaky-delicious treat to use up those local strawberries that are so juicy sweet this month.  After we visited the driving range in Richmond, we noticed the blueberry & strawberry farm next door to it had a "U Pick" sign.  It didn't take much to convince the kids to pick berries.  They were half-way across the strawberry field before I could finish "Do you want to pick..."

Sunday, 6 July 2014

Matcha Madeleines (GF)

Matcha Madeleines (gf).  Note the "hump"...a good thing 
Madeleines are one of the most beautiful little cakes I've ever seen and positively scream of lazy days on the patio.  Perfect for afternoon tea or coffee.

Saturday, 5 July 2014


This Lazy Cool Cucumber Salad is what I look most forward to during a bbq each summer. 
Chop the cucumber in 1 cm rings and then in quarters

Monday, 2 June 2014


Gluten Free Banana Chiffon Cake
Right.  It's been a long time since my last post.  
No regrets though (sorry dear readers) as real life takes precedence over virtual life!
"Cloud 9" GF Flour Blend from Costco & Whole Psyllium Husks

Saturday, 4 January 2014

Chocolate Quinoa Layer Cake with Chocolate SMB (GF)

Chocolate quinoa layer cake with Chocolate Swiss Meringue Buttercream
Booya. I feel huge.  I've been eating nonstop since holidays began.  This Chocolate layer cake was a dessert I made for a NYE dinner party.

I doubled my usual cupcake recipe and baked the batter in 8 inch circular pans.  Then I ended up reserving one layer for the freezer as I thought 3 layers would be enough.  And it was.  I had just enough SMB to frost all the sides.  The layers were moist and I did not have to slice them though if you like lots of frosting I guess you could.  However, at that point you would also need way more buttercream.

I thought of melted chocolate decorations as I was too lazy to pipe buttercream around the cake.  I think they turned out quite well considering I had not made these before.  I made big evergreen trees and plastered them on the sides of the cake.  Then I topped the centre of the cake on top with a daisy and a bunch of swirls of chocolate. 

For the over the top Chocolate Swiss Meringue Buttercream, I used THIS recipe and added 4 oz dark melted chocolate to the buttercream.
For the Chocolate Quinoa Layers, I used THIS recipe BUT ADDED 1/4 CUP MORE COOKED QUINOA TO EACH BATCH.  It has more quinoa than the original recipe; is baked in 8 inch layers (2) and I doubled the recipe and added 5-10 minutes to the baking time.  Make the recipe twice because only one batch will fit in your blender or processor anyway.  You will kill your Vitamix if you try to do a double batch (and it won't fit anyway).  Freeze one of the layers so that you'll have 3 layers in total from the double-batch (or make extra cupcakes with the batter after you make 3 layers).


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