Friday, December 31, 2010

Cookie Dough Truffles

The interesting thing about fantastic recipes found on the Internet is that most are viral so you really don't know where they originated, even though better blogs usually give credit where credit’s due.

Take this amazing (and amazingly egg-free) recipe for Cookie Dough Truffles as an example. Someone brought them into work as a treat, and said she got the recipe from one of her favourite blogs, The Girl Who Ate Everything, who in turn got if from Annie’s Eats, who adapted it from Mel’s Kitchen, who snatched it from Taste of Home, where this contest-winning recipe first appeared circa-2005 -- and with the inclusion of walnuts, no less.

Now it’s here, on the National Nosh.

Where will it show up next? Only Kevin Bacon knows for sure, but for the time being, here’s the scrumptious recipe.

Cookie Dough Truffles


8 Tbsp unsalted butter, at room temperature

¾ cup light brown sugar, packed

2¼ cup all-purpose flour

1 (14 oz.) can sweetened condensed milk

1 tsp vanilla extract

½ cup mini semisweet chocolate chips

1½ lb. semisweet (or bittersweet) chocolate, coarsely chopped
Mini chocolate chips (for garnish)


1. Combine the butter and sugar in a mixing bowl and cream on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Beat in the flour, sweetened condensed milk and vanilla until incorporated and smooth. Stir in the chocolate chips. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until the mixture has firmed up enough to form balls.

2. Shape the chilled cookie dough mixture into 1-1½ inch balls. Place on a baking sheet lined with wax paper. Cover loosely, transfer the pan to the freezer and chill for 1-2 hours.

3. When ready to dip the truffles, melt the chopped chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over a pot of simmering water. Dip each chilled truffle, one at a time, coating in chocolate and shaking gently to remove the excess. (If at any point during dipping, the cookie dough balls become too soft, return to the freezer to chill for 30 minutes.) Transfer to a wax-paper lined surface. If using mini chocolate chips for garnish, sprinkle on top quickly after dipping each truffle before the chocolate sets. Once all the truffles have been dipped, store them in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

Source: Originally from Taste of Home

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Amy’s Awesome 2011 Food Trends Forecast

The end of the year can only mean one thing: Summary year-end lists and trends forecasting. Here’s mine, from the January issue of House & Home magazine. The list is the same, but the writing isn’t (trying not to plagiarize myself here), so enjoy, and try them out, and why not pass them along? Here they are, in no particular order. I, for one, think we have a lot of delicious things to look forward to in 2011. Let me know if you agree. (And go suck an egg if you don't.)

1. Pop-Tarts Redux: Nostalgia never goes out of style. Case in point, the reemergence of that childhood favourite, the Pop-Tart. The world’s first pop-up Pop-Tart restaurant recently launched in Times Square, where the iconic toasted confection is being spun into menu items like the Fluffer Butter, marshmallow spread sandwiched between two Pop-Tarts frosted fudge pastries; and Sticky Cinna Munchies -- cinnamon rolls topped with cream-cheese icing and chunks of Pop-Tarts cinnamon-roll variety. But we prefer the slightly healthier home-baked varieties using simple wholesome ingredients via internet-spawned viral recipes.

2. Greek-style Yogurt: Yogurt is one of the fastest growing segments in the supermarket, and Greek-style yogurt, specifically is in high demand. Why? It’s thick, rich-tasting and delicious. When topped with good quality honey, it also makes for a dessert-worthy dish of Greek decadence. What’s more, doctors and magazines such as Cooking Light agree that eating a snack with protein rather than just carbs can help curb hunger, which in turn keeps daily calories in check, and this is where this new generation of thick low-fat yogurt comes in extra handy. With our favourite brand, Fage, finally hitting Canadian stores, we’re eating more of it than ever. Added bonuses: It’s rich in B12 (perfect for fighting off those winter blues) and is full of good-for-your-belly live bacteria.

3. Friendly Butchers: Last year the culinary rock stars were organic farmers, but this year it’s the friendly butcher’s turn to shine. People are taking butchery courses, are raising their own animals (or buying a share in one), and befriending the hip baseball-capped meat purveyors behind the shiny counters at new organic spots such as Kensington Market’s Sanagan’s Meat Locker or the consistently smiley service at stalwarts like Cumbrae's and Armando’s on Granville Island. Our newly forged relationships mean our butchers know what we like and will go to the back to get us the grass-fed hormone free beef that we desire.

4. Coconut Water: We’re touting it as this year’s “it” food. From its pure, potassium-rich water to its virgin oil being spun into products ranging from skin care to nutritional supplements (helping in the realms of digestion and high blood pressure), the coconut’s benefits are attributed to lauric adicd, capric acid and capyrlic acid. But let’s not forget its toasted flakes topping our buttercream-iced cupcakes or its rich milk stirred into our favourite curries. We also wouldn’t say no to a pina colada right about now. Still, the slightly sweet water straight from the young green coconut is perhaps the purest form of our favourite new ingredient (though we also enjoy the Vita Coco and Zico brands when we can’t get it fresh from the nut.)

5. Smoked everything: We loved it in BarChef’s Smoked Manhattan, in our favourite new smoked finishing salt and in our smoked meats, be it a Montreal smoked meat sandwich at Caplansky’s or the perfect BBQ at Brooklyn’s Fatty ‘Cue. Smoke is everywhere this year, and we’re totally addicted to its earthy, warming appeal. How to get the taste at home? While chefs prize their Big Green Eggs, we’re secretly coveting the Kalamaoo Outdoor Gourmet K900HS hybrid freestanding grill (starting at a mere $15,895). Bottom line: From mesquite wood chips to BBQ sauce, smoke is hot.

6. Fried Chicken: Dished out from Harlem soul food kitchens to upmarket Jean-George’s restaurants, fried chicken is eaten down south, up north and throughout the belly of Canada. We’ve discovered that Korean chicken joints make some of the best stuff around – and Momofuku’s David Chang recently invented the superlative take on Korean fried chicken. Be it the Popeye’s chain or Thomas Keller’s crunchy dish at Ad Hoc, this is simple home cooking that’s also a finger licking guilty pleasure.

7. Young Chef Brigade: A new breed of chefs in their twenties and thirties aren’t waiting around to be given the chance to helm a kitchen – instead they’re making their own kitchens, and everything goes in them, in their largely bare-bones, nose-to-tail, field-to-table restaurants opened on a shoestring budget (in restaurant terms.) For instance, Toronto chef Nathan Iseberg opened The Atlantic with an initial budget of just $600!

8. Urban Bee Keeping: We’ve gone from growing herbs and heirloom vegetable gardens, to raising backyard chickens (for eggs) and now urban bee keeping. Some cities allow beekeeping, some ignore it and others have bylaws that restrict or ban the activity. Calgary has nothing on the books that doesn’t allow for keeping honeybees, providing they’re not a nuisance, while Ontario has a provincial regulation that does not allow bee hives within 100 ft of a property line. That said, from Manhattan rooftops to neighbourhood hives, we’re all abuzz about joining the ranks of these pollinating superstars, and we can’t wait to get our hands on the UK- designed urban bee hive called the Beehaus. Plus, it goes without saying that their sweet honey is the bee’s knees.

9. Kale Chips: A powerhouse of a vegetable married with a tasty crunchy snack? Who knew that eating our rich leafy greens could taste so sinful? Places like Live Food Bar and better health food stores have started packaging and selling them and Mark Bittman even showed us how to make them at the NYTimes web site: That’s what called hitting critical kale chip mass.

10. Fregola Sarda: This tiny toasted handmade Sardinian pasta has a unique nutty flavour and addictively tender bite. It’s also good for you; it has less carbs more dietary fibre and fewer calories than a typical pasta. Cooked in broth like rice, it’s a saucy side dish complimenting a simple fish dishes or rustic roasted meats, but cooked then cooled like Israeli couscous, it also makes for a great salad. It's popping up on rustic Italian restaurant menus from Noce in Toronto to Manhattan's hot new the Lambs Club.

That's all for now. Best wishes from the National Nosh, for a healthy, happy and delicious new year. And please, don’t forget to cook!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Snack of the day

They're not quite a chocolate bar and not really like M&M's -- though these new Hershey's Drops won't melt in your hands.
At first I was skeptical: They're a little too big for popping by the mittful, sort of waxy looking, and they don't even come wrapped in a candy shell. How was this chocolate experience going to go down?
I guess the idea here is portion control. You know; having a bite instead of a bar. (Does that ever really work?)
The press release that came with these soon-to-be-released treats (look for them in stores in January) explains how the drops feature "a milk chocolate recipe that was developed specifically for the Canadian palate and launched in 2009. Understanding that people in different countries have different taste and experience preferences, Hershey Canada has brought together the 'right amount of chocolate' with the 'right amount of creaminess' for Canadians in a new format!"
Apparently, we Canucks have grown accustomed to the sweeter and creamier British-style chocolate, so this chocolate is just for us.
And while I may not be in love with the new Hershey's Drops as a snack food, talk to me after I've finished my mug of "Hershey's Drops" hot chocolate this afternoon.

Friday, December 10, 2010

The most wonderful time of the year

Just because I don’t celebrate it, doesn’t mean I can’t love Christmas. Sure, there’s no tinselly tree in my home, no red stockings hung by the chimney with care, but oh holly, jolly, ‘tis the season for catching up with family and friends, drinking in both sparkling and creamy good cheer, but best of all, eating shortbread. Lots and lots of shortbread.

Some of it comes by way of the office, other times via cookie exchanges. Some shortbread is nibbled at parties, while more still is baked in my very own oven – but once a year, using one of my best-loved recipes.

But every so often, if you’re lucky enough, some of it, like this famous handmade, all butter Mary Macleod’s Shortbread, gets dropped off at your front door (Santa?)

Sold out of her Queen Street East shop in Toronto, but also at spots like Holt Renfrew (where only the best will do) there’s a real Mary behind the shortbread, a 70-something Scottish granny who has been baking up her biscuits out of her shop for clients near and far, for over 30 years.

Best bets: The traditional shortbread wedges, and signature chocolate crunch rounds. Even better bet? Seeing as they look homemade (because they are homemade), pile them into your own tins and Tupperware and claim them as your own.

I won't tell if you don't. Though, Santa may be watching...

Friday, December 3, 2010

Gratuitous banana shot

I've been travelling a little too much lately, so right off the bat I'm going to admit that this is going to be a pretty lame blog posting -- yet not as lame as you would think.
Why am I changing my mind mid-sentence?
First of all, this post is going to inform you that I've been in both Grenada and Montreal over the past week, and have eaten sublimely on each island. Some of my culinary findings will be showing up in future stories in House & Home magazine, on the Food & Wine blog, in the National Post, and yes, right here on the National Nosh.
There's the housekeeping bit out of the way.
So why else isn't this blog posting super lame? Because it includes a photo of a monkey eating a banana!!