Vanilla Bean Syrup

Vanilla Bean Syrup

A small glass jar of Vanilla Bean Syrup resting in a wooden tray draped with a laced napkin.

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Some of the simplest things are the most delicious. The combination of vanilla and sugar is just such an instance. This classic combo comes together as Vanilla Bean Syrup when you combine with water and give it a gentle simmer.

You might be asking what need you might have for this jar or aromatic sweetness? Let me give you plenty of reasons. One of my favourites is to flavour specialty coffee and teas like my Baileys London Fog. There’s no need to spend copious amounts of money at a fancy coffee shop when you can make your favourites at home. My second favourite way to use it is for brushing onto cakes. It adds tremendous moisture and flavour to cake layers or the tops of sweet loaves. But the list is longer yet, drizzle it onto fruit salad, ricotta pancakes, plain yogurt with fruit (that way you control the sugar), smoothies and cocktails. Enjoy!

Ingredients for Vanilla Bean Syrup resting in a wooden tray lined with a laced napkin and a stainless steel pot sits in the background.

Vanilla Bean Syrup
Print Recipe
    Servings Prep Time
    2/3 cup 10 minutes
    Cook Time
    5 minutes
    Servings Prep Time
    2/3 cup 10 minutes
    Cook Time
    5 minutes
    Vanilla Bean Syrup
    Print Recipe
      Servings Prep Time
      2/3 cup 10 minutes
      Cook Time
      5 minutes
      Servings Prep Time
      2/3 cup 10 minutes
      Cook Time
      5 minutes
      Ingredients
      Servings: cup
      Instructions
      1. Cut the vanilla bean in half lengthwise and scrape out seeds with a small spoon or knife.
      2. Combine sugar and water in a small saucepan over medium heat. Heat until mixture comes to a simmer and sugar is fully dissolved, stirring often. Once at a simmer, cook for 1 minute. Remove from heat and whisk in vanilla beans.
      3. Allow the mixture to cool to room temperature and then refridgerate in a sealed jar for up to 1 month.

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      Cherry Almond Danish

      Cherry Almond Danish

      It’s all about mom! Surprise her in bed with a warm, flaky danish and a cup of coffee. I know I would be thrilled at such a gesture. This lovely Cherry Almond Danish is made with ready-made puff pastry and can be assembled ahead of time, making it easy to have ready for the oven. With its flaky pastry, fruity filling and cream cheese layer this danish makes for a perfect brunch item for Easter, Mother’s Day or any entertaining occasion.

      Using pre-made puff pastry gives you peace of mind that it will be flaky and golden with very little effort. The cherry sauce has a hint of almond flavouring as does the sticky sweet glaze and it’s topped with toasted almonds. It’s a combination I love and it’s so easy to make, giving you no excuse not to treat that special lady or welcomed quests.

      A slice of Cherry Almond Danish sits on a white plate with a fork to the side. The plate sits on a flowered cloth that is draped over a wooden tray with a cup of black coffee in the upper right corner.
      Cherry Almond Danish
      Print Recipe
        Servings Prep Time
        8 1 1/2" slices 40 minutes
        Cook Time
        25-28 minutes
        Servings Prep Time
        8 1 1/2" slices 40 minutes
        Cook Time
        25-28 minutes
        A slice of Cherry Almond Danish sits on a white plate with a fork to the side. The plate sits on a flowered cloth that is draped over a wooden tray with a cup of black coffee in the upper right corner.
        Cherry Almond Danish
        Print Recipe
          Servings Prep Time
          8 1 1/2" slices 40 minutes
          Cook Time
          25-28 minutes
          Servings Prep Time
          8 1 1/2" slices 40 minutes
          Cook Time
          25-28 minutes
          Ingredients
          Danish
          Glaze
          Servings: 1 1/2" slices
          Instructions
          Danish
          1. Combine cherries and sugar in a medium saucepan and cook over medium heat until cherries are soft and syrupy about 10 minutes.
          2. In a small bowl whisk together 1 tbsp of cornstarch and 1 tbsp cold water. Stir into cherries and whisk constantly over medium-high heat until mixture comes to a full boil.
          3. Remove from heat and stir in almond extract. Allow to cool for about 10-15 minutes.
          4. Preheat oven to 425℉ and line a heavy baking sheet with parchment.
          5. In a small bowl cream together cream cheese, 1 tbsp of powdered sugar and vanilla.
          6. Lay puff pastry sheet on parchment and stretch slightly in width and length to 11-12".
          7. Using a pastry scraper or knife cut 1" wide fingers on the top and bottom third of pastry (length of fingers will be 3-4") and the centre 4" portion will be uncut (see photo).
          8. Spread cream cheese evenly along the centre uncut 4" portion of pastry.
          9. Spread cherry filling evenly on top of the cream cheese filling, leaving the fingers uncovered.
          10. Pull fingers across filling, alternating sides as you go (it's ok to have some small spaces in the pastry). Tuck any excess pastry underneath.
          11. In a small bowl whisk together egg and 1 tbsp milk or cream. Brush generously onto pastry.
          12. Bake in preheated oven for 25-28 minutes until golden and puffed. Remove from oven to a cooling rack for 5 minutes.
          Glaze
          1. In a small bowl whisk together 1/2cup powdered sugar and 1 tbsp milk or cream. Drizzle over pastry while warm and sprinkle with toasted almonds.
          2. Serve warm, cutting into 1 1/2" slices.
          Recipe Notes

          -Toast almonds in a preheated 350℉ oven for 10-12 minutes, stirring once.

          -Using a pastry cutter to cut fingers allows a clean cut without cutting through the parchment.

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          Roasted Gremolata Cauliflower

          Roasted Gremolata Cauliflower

          Cauliflower is boring!

          But it doesn’t have to be with a good roasting and the addition of a vibrant Gremolata.  Roasted Gremolata Cauliflower is anything but boring with its caramelized edges, fresh garlic, parsley and a good dose of lemon zest.  The Gremolata is a game changer for plain, boring cauliflower, transforming it into a flavourful and zesty side dish.

          What is Gremolata?

          Gremolata is an Italian condiment/accompaniment that is made with Italian flat leaf parsley, lemon zest, fresh garlic, olive oil and salt. It’s vibrant and fresh with a slight bitter note from the parsley and flavour punch from the garlic. If you have parsley, lemon and garlic, you’ve got a simple sauce that will spruce up so many things. It’s a classic accompaniment for the Italian dish Ossobuco but also great with fish, lamb and of course vegetables. 

          Roasted Gremolata Cauliflower
          Print Recipe
            Servings Prep Time
            5-6 people 20 minutes
            Cook Time
            30 minutes
            Servings Prep Time
            5-6 people 20 minutes
            Cook Time
            30 minutes
            Roasted Gremolata Cauliflower
            Print Recipe
              Servings Prep Time
              5-6 people 20 minutes
              Cook Time
              30 minutes
              Servings Prep Time
              5-6 people 20 minutes
              Cook Time
              30 minutes
              Ingredients
              Servings: people
              Instructions
              1. Preheat oven to 400℉
              2. In a large bowl stir together parsley, lemon zest, garlic, salt and 3 tbsp of olive oil. Set aside.
              3. Remove outer leaves from cauliflower and cut the head into quarters. Easily core the cauliflower by cutting it out of each quarter, allowing any remaining leaves and stem to come away with it.
              4. Break or cut the cauliflower into large bite-size pieces. Toss cauliflower with remaining 1 tbsp of olive oil and a few grinds of a pepper mill. Spread out evenly on a large baking tray.
              5. Roast in the oven for about 30 minutes, turning once, allowing the bottom edges to become golden and caramelized.
              6. Remove from oven and add to the bowl of Gremolata along with the parmesan cheese. Toss to coat evenly and season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately.
              Recipe Notes

              -make as a vegan option by omitting the parmesan cheese or using your favourite alternative cheese.

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              I may receive compensation for purchases made through this site, at no cost to the purchaser. Compelled to Cook is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com
              Slow Cooker Lentil and Ham Soup

              Slow Cooker Lentil and Ham Soup

              A day for family…

              February 18, 2019 marks Family Day in my province of Alberta, Canada.  A holiday to promote family values and spending time together as a family.  Slow Cooker Lentil and Ham Soup is perfect for your family day weekend.  Super easy to toss together in your slow cooker, and forget about until dinner time. Giving you the whole day to spend with your family without having to worry about dinner until the last few touches are required, which is hours later.

              Dinner is ready…

              With just a couple of last minute touches to the soup, the whole family can enjoy a hearty and satisfying soup made from scratch.  It’s a wonderful bowlful to warm everyone up from a day of outdoor activities even if it’s not a holiday.  The recipe makes about 10 cups and freezes well too.

              To ham or not to ham…

              I love the subtle smokiness a ham bone can bring to soup and I just happen to have a ham bone leftover from the holidays. If a ham bone isn’t available to you, a smoked pork hock works just as well and they’re readily available all year.   I also like the texture and flavour of meaty little bites of ham throughout the soup too, so I’ll definitely ham it up when I can. But don’t fret, this is a lovely vegan soup without the ham if that is your preference.  The dill and vinegar in the recipe add a little brightness to the soup and helps to cut the starchiness of the lentils.  It’s so, so good.

              Now, about the lentil…

              I could rattle on and on about the lentil, but the lentils website is very informative about the varieties, nutrition and cooking of the lentil.  It’s a good read with lots of information.  

              Slow Cooker Lentil and Ham Soup
              Print Recipe
                Servings Prep Time
                10 cups 30 minutes
                Cook Time
                7 hours
                Servings Prep Time
                10 cups 30 minutes
                Cook Time
                7 hours
                Slow Cooker Lentil and Ham Soup
                Print Recipe
                  Servings Prep Time
                  10 cups 30 minutes
                  Cook Time
                  7 hours
                  Servings Prep Time
                  10 cups 30 minutes
                  Cook Time
                  7 hours
                  Ingredients
                  Servings: cups
                  Instructions
                  1. Rinse and drain lentils. Add lentils along with onion, celery, carrots, cabbage, garlic, parsley, bay leaf, thyme to your slow cooker.
                  2. Cut excess ham away from bone and save for later.
                  3. Add ham bone and 7 cups of broth to slow cooker. Stir to combine, cover and cook on low for about 7 hours, stirring once or twice.
                  4. While soup is cooking, coursely chop or shred ham. Cover and refrigerate until soup is ready.
                  5. Remove ham bone and bay leaf from soup. Adjust consistency with the additional cup of broth. Stir in chopped ham and white vinegar. Cover and allow to cook for 5-10 more minutes to warm ham. Add a generous sprinkle of fresh dill and season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve with a dollop of sour cream and more fresh dill.
                  Recipe Notes
                  • a smoked pork hock will work in place of a meaty ham bone.
                  • for a vegetarian/vegan option, use vegetable broth and omit the ham and sour cream.

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                  I may receive compensation for purchases made through this site, at no cost to the purchaser. Compelled to Cook is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com
                  Spiced Rum Caramel

                  Spiced Rum Caramel

                  Delicious doesn’t have to be complicated.  Spiced Rum Caramel signifies how only a few ingredients can be transformed into something amazing.  With its burnished colour, creamy texture and buttery caramel taste, it’s the perfect topping for ice cream, cakes and apples to name just a few. 

                  There’s no need to ever buy store bought again, because making your own is easy with a little know how.  Mainly, you don’t want any sugar crystals to form.  NO stirring is key to help prevent sugar crystals forming on the side of the pan. Sugar crystals form when the hot sugar hits the cold pan side or cold whisk if you were to stir it. This, in turn, can cause the whole sauce to become crystallized. You can brush down the sides of the pan with water and a pastry brush if a few crystals start to form. 

                  The second important thing is timing.  It takes seconds to go from a light amber colour to a dark, overcooked colour.  The goal is a deep amber colour and knowing where that is, comes by doing. It may take a try or two to know exactly where you like it.  If in doubt, it’s best to opt for a slightly lighter colour than to go too far the other way, which will have a bitter taste.  Your caramel will still be amazing. Enjoy!

                  Spiced Rum Caramel
                  Print Recipe
                    Servings Prep Time
                    1 1/4 cups 10 minutes
                    Cook Time
                    12 minutes
                    Servings Prep Time
                    1 1/4 cups 10 minutes
                    Cook Time
                    12 minutes
                    Spiced Rum Caramel
                    Print Recipe
                      Servings Prep Time
                      1 1/4 cups 10 minutes
                      Cook Time
                      12 minutes
                      Servings Prep Time
                      1 1/4 cups 10 minutes
                      Cook Time
                      12 minutes
                      Ingredients
                      Servings: cups
                      Instructions
                      1. Assemble all ingredients prior to cooking.
                      2. Combine sugar and water in a medium-large saucepan (I used a 3 quart). Heat over medium-high until sugar is dissolved, gently swirling pan once or twice. DO NOT STIR. If any crystals form on the side of the pan, brush away with water and a pastry brush. Allow to cook at a boil until starting to turn an amber colour, about 10 minutes.
                      3. Once the outer edge starts to turn colour you can gently swirl the pan a couple of times to evenly distribute, once again, do not stir. When it becomes a deep amber colour, remove from heat and whisk in heavy cream. The mixture will bubble vigorously. Once it has smoothed out, whisk in butter and salt. Stir in rum. Pour into a sealable jar and allow to cool completely prior to storing in the fridge.
                      Recipe Notes

                      -If in doubt about the colour, opt for slightly lighter.  Going to dark will result in a slightly bitter/burnt taste.

                      -Makes about 1 1/4 cups and will keep in a sealed jar for up to a month in the fridge.

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                      Affiliate Disclosure

                      I may receive compensation for purchases made through this site, at no cost to the purchaser. Compelled to Cook is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com