Winter Recipe Roundup


What happens when you give drunk people fire and tell them to spell.

Judging by my Facebook feed, everyone wants this winter to die a fiery death and never return.  Well, suck it up, because I have more winter photos to share, as well as a reminder of the winter recipes we posted.  Hopefully soon this winter will be a distant memory, and you can look back on this post fondly in October when you’ve forgotten that time when it was technically spring but still -14 degrees Celsius and snowing outside.

Also, we busted our asses in a snowstorm to take these photos “in the name of Crustcrumbs!“, so you are going to look at them, okay?  Okay.

Actual snowstorm.

Our shooting conditions.

Winter Recipe Roundup

1. Ice Fishing & Perch Soup

For this recipe, we trekked over to Minet’s Point Park in Barrie to visit the cool ice fishing tepees.  We pretended to go ice fishing to the amusement of the locals while John cooked fish on a portable grill and served it up in a soup.  In a glorious display of grace and finesse, I slipped on the ice and injured my hip like a 90 year old woman.

Perch Soup

2. Hickory Smoked Venison Shoulder

The venison was smoked on the BBQ.  I made John go outside in the snowstorm to check on the meat while I took pictures through the window “for artistic purposes”.  This was also my first time trying venison and it was tasty, but not as tasty as the wild rice salad John made as a side dish, which I am still obsessed with to this day.

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3. Gluten-Free Sticky Toffee Pudding

We baked a cake in a wooden wine crate in a campfire (sort of).  Spoiler alert: the wood crate caught on fire.  The cake was still tasty, because John says it’s impossible to screw up sticky toffee pudding.  Even when it’s gluten free.  I didn’t take a good photo of the final product because cider.

Sticky Toffee Pudding

More Pictures

Ice fishing huts

Cooking Outdoors

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Sticky Toffee Pudding

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Sticky Toffee Pudding

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Enjoy spring!

Gluten Free Sticky Toffee Pudding

Sticky Toffee Pudding

I know you’re not going to make sticky toffee pudding in a wood box while standing around in three feet of snow. We didn’t – well we did but we finished the dessert in the oven – and even if we had taken it all the way, it would still only be for the sake of taking pictures of it baking in a wooden wine crate. Maybe it was a result of a little cabin fever, stubbornness, and a few craft porters tipping the 10% ABV point, leaving me with little fear of the cold and non-stop snow we’d been seeing all day. Determination meant we were going to get the most wintery photo-set out of this weekend, frostbite be damned.

Sticky Toffee Pudding

The real reason for the wooden oven experiment was to show that sticky toffee pudding is pretty hard to mess up. It’s a dark, damp cake made with dates and treacly brown sugar, and because of this it can stand up to a lot of undeserved punishment. So on top of the unconventional make-shift oven, we went with a gluten free version of sticky toffee pudding. The nubbly almond meal and dousing of bourbon really make this cake dense – a bit brick-like in the stomach, which would only be a welcome thing on such a bleak winter’s day.

Sticky Toffee Pudding

This is one of those recipes that really benefits from those big impossibly plump and soft organic Medjool dates that are somehow fresher than the non-organic varieties. The bourbon is optional, though appropriate with all the butter and brown sugar happening in this cake. If you wanted to leave the bourbon out entirely, you could replace it with water.

Sticky Toffee Pudding

As for serving this cake, you have to make the sauce to accompany it. It’s rich and comforting and this pudding needs that kind of familiarity as the cake itself, though related to a sticky toffee pudding, is nothing close to what would satisfy a sticky toffee pudding purist. Though as we have taken an unconventional route thus far, you might as well add a scoop of vanilla ice cream to serve along with it, letting the melting custard meld with the hot sauce.

Sticky Toffee Pudding

Hopefully soon, wintery scenes like this will be a distant memory and when we’re no longer trapped by snow and ice, we can repress those memories and replace them with this pudding. Now that it’s finally spring, it’s time to finally shift the focus onto brighter, more verdant adventures.


Gluten Free Sticky Toffee Pudding

For the Pudding
250g organic Medjool dates, pitted
50g Demerara sugar
125ml water
75ml bourbon
100g unsalted butter, melted
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
200g ground almonds
20g coconut flour
3 large eggs

For the Sauce
65g Demerara sugar
65g unsalted butter
125ml whipping cream (35% M.F.)

Preheat the oven to 350°F and line an 8-inch springform pan with parchment paper. Alternatively you could butter 6 ramekins or any other dish that’s large enough to take the batter.

In a small saucepan, combine the dates, sugar, water, and bourbon and heat over medium-high until the liquid begins to simmer. Remove from the heat and let sit for 10 minutes to let the dates soften. Pour the dates and their liquid into a food processor and add the butter, ground ginger, and ground almonds. Purée everything until fairly smooth – a few bits of date are fine in the final pudding. Add the coconut flour and eggs and blend again until fully incorporated. Pour into the prepared pan and bake for approximately 40 minutes or until a tester comes out relatively clean.

For the sauce, bring the sugar, cream and butter to a boil in a small saucepan. Reduce heat and simmer for approximately 20 minutes, until it reaches the consistency of thin custard.

To serve, place a piece of the warm pudding in a bowl or dessert plate with high sides and drench in the sauce.

Sticky Toffee Pudding

Ginger Ice Cream

Ginger Ice Cream

The sourness from the lime slime oozes into the spicy ginger and boozy-sweet apple in this ice cream, making for a superb dessert tribute for a bunch of 80s children to enjoy on Halloween as they rewatch Ghostbusters for the hundredth time and cry about how how old they are.

A lot of times home made ice cream freezes too solid and requires some time out of the freezer before it can be scooped. For those uninitiated to home made ice cream, it’s a hard first lesson to take. One of the reasons this happens is because most home ice cream makers aren’t able to churn enough air into the mix before running out of space in the machine. A trick learned from the genius Nigella Lawson is to take the extra step to whip the cream before adding it to the cooled custard in order to incorporate extra air into the ice cream before freezing it. Fat, sugar, and alcohol also help to keep ice cream from freezing solid after it’s frozen in the freezer. This recipe does have a higher portion of fat but it’s worth it and it’s not too sweet, allowing the spiciness of the ginger to come through. The Calvados is optional, though apart from being delicious, the alcohol will help to create a softer texture.

Ginger Ice Cream Recipe

Makes approximately 1 1/2 litres

100g fresh ginger, unpeeled and thinly sliced
500ml whole milk (3.8% M.F.)
6 large egg yolks
125g granulated sugar
200ml whipping cream (35% M.F.)
1-2 tablespoons Calvados (optional)

In a medium pot boil the ginger in water for 2 minutes then drain, discarding the ginger water. This will kill the enzymes in the ginger that could potentially curdle the custard – a crucial bit of information taken from ice cream master David Lebovitz.

In the same pot as the drained ginger, add the milk and heat to just steaming, before it reaches the boiling point. Remove the pot from the heat and leave to steep, covered for 30 minutes to an hour.

In a medium bowl, whisk the egg yolks and sugar until pale yellow and thick ribbons fall back onto themselves when you hold the whisk above the bowl. Slowly whisk in the warm ginger-infused milk then strain the custard mixture back into the original pan, reserving the ginger. On low heat cook the custard, stirring constantly for approximately 10 minutes until thickened and just starting to coat the back of a wooden spoon. Strain the custard back into the bowl and return the ginger pieces to the mix. Leave to cool slightly before covering and refrigerating to cool completely. If you’re impatient you can place the bowl of custard in a second bowl filled with ice, stirring the custard until it’s completely chilled.

Once the custard is cold, discard the ginger and gently whip the cream to thicken it to the same consistency of the custard. Add the thickened cream and the Calvados (if using) to the custard and freeze in your ice cream maker.

Cheesecake with a Coconut Crumb Crust

Cheesecake with a Coconut Crumb Crust

This cheesecake is perfect without any topping. That said, there are some people out there that can’t have cheesecake without a topping. They might look at a plain cheesecake as naked and unfinished, having never reached its full potential. In this instance they’ll be wrong but to avoid tears over cheesecake at the table, serve this cheesecake with the lime slime on the side. On Halloween of course, the slime is mandatory for everybody.

This cheesecake recipe was so close to being gluten-free from the start that it only made sense to make it 100% gluten-free. This was completely to my benefit, not because I’m gluten intolerant but because Jen is and there was no way I was going to have to take home a cheesecake to eat by myself after a shoot full of desserts, some of which Jen couldn’t eat. Two days after the shoot she sent me an email to say that she’d eaten three quarters of my “STUPID DUMB CHEESECAKE”. Making someone else fat, is in my books, a success.

Cheesecake Recipe with a Coconut Crumb Crust

Makes one 8″ round cheesecake, serves 1-8

For the crust crumb**:
40g coconut flour
25g runny honey
35g unsalted butter, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon fine sea salt

For the cheesecake:
unsalted butter (for greasing)
3 x 250g packages cream cheese at room temperature
zest from half a small lemon
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
210g granulated sugar
125ml whipping cream (35% M.F.)
4 large eggs, at room temperature
50ml half and half (10% M.F.)

In a frying pan, add the coconut flour and toast over medium heat, stirring constantly for approximately 5-10 minutes, until the flour is a medium golden brown, reminiscent of graham crackers. Do not over toast. Remove the pan from the heat and scrape the toasted flour into a small mixing bowl. Add the rest of the crumb ingredients to the bowl and combine using a fork, until thoroughly mixed through.

Heat the oven to 375°F. Generously butter an 8-inch springform pan and line the bottom with parchment, so that the paper reaches just above the rim of the base. Now butter the top of the parchment layer. Next wrap the outside of the pan with two layers of aluminum foil so that the layers reach the top of the pan. At this point you should have all the assurance you need that the filling will not seep out and the water bath will not seep in. Sprinkle the inside of the prepared pan with the crumb, creating an even layer of crumb along the bottom and sides.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, add the cream cheese, lemon zest, and vanilla and beat on medium speed until smooth. Add the sugar and whipping cream and continue to beat until just incorporated. Add the eggs, one at a time, being sure to incorporate each egg fully before adding the next. Beat in the half and half. The goal is to incorporate as little air as possible into the mix, eliminating much chance of the cake rising during baking and falling during cooling.

Pour the mixture into the prepared pan. Set the filled pan into a larger pan (a 9 x 13 inch pan works well) and fill the larger pan with boiling water, enough so the water reaches just under the half way mark on the outside of the 8-inch pan. Place in the oven and bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes or until the centre of the cake is just set. Take the pan from the water bath and place on a cooling rack for 15 minutes before unmolding. Allow to cool completely before serving.

*If you’re not in the mood to make gluten-free crumbs for the crust, you can substitute about 40g of store-bought graham cracker crumbs.

*If you want a more traditional bottom layer crust, double the crumb quantities and add an additional 80g of unsalted butter (for a total of 150g). Press this crumb into the bottom of the prepared pan and proceed.