So I guess it’s back to Winter again in Ottawa, even though it is technically Spring. Easter is one of my favourite times of the year. I love cooking a big Easter dinner for everyone. This year I was invited out to dinner so I decided to bring dessert. I wanted to try a new recipe so I opted for some southern comfort food and chose a Hummingbird Cake. This cake is full of flavour and excellent for a Spring picnic or Summer BBQ. I was really pleased with how it turned out and everyone at the dinner loved it!
Here’s how to make it
- 1.5 cups all purpose flour
- 1 cup sugar
- A few pinches of salt
- 1/2 teaspoon baking power
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon (if you want more of a cinnamon flavour add a full teaspoon)
- 3/4 cup vegetable oil
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 large eggs lightly beaten
- 1 cup of chopped pecans (divided)
- 1 cup of ripe banana (mashed)
- 1/2 can crushed pineapple (undrained)
- 1/2 cup butter
- 3 cups powered sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 package of Philadelphia Cream cheese
Heat it up and prep the pans
- Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and grease and flour 2 9-inche round cake pans
Mix the dry ingredients
- In a large bowl combine the flour, 1 cup of sugar, salt, baking powder, baking soda and cinnamon
Add the wet ingredients
- Add in vegetable oil, vanila extract and eggs. Stir until the dry ingredients are moist
Bring in the tropics
- Stir in the banana, pineapple and 1/2 cup of pecans until evenly mixed
- Divide the batter between the 2 cake pans and place in the oven for 25 minutes or until wooden toothpick inserted in centre comes out clean. Let the cakes cool in the pans for 10 mins and them move them to wire racks to cool.
Ice ice baby
- To make the cream cheese frosting: beat the butter with an electric mixer until softened and add powdered sugar gradually.
- Add vanilla extract and salt and mix until smooth
- Turn your mixer setting to Medium and add the cream cheese in 1 piece at a time. Mix until all the cream cheese has been incorporated.
- Once the cakes have cooled spread the frosting between the layers of cake and cover the top and sides of the cake. Sprinkle the other half of the chopped pecans over the top of the cake
This past weekend I was in Toronto and I got to check out one of my favourite places, Ladurée. Famous the world over for its Parisian flair Ladurée is a macaroon shop and tea room. Although it’s especially popular in Europe the company has made the trip across the pond and I’m thrilled that there’s one in somewhat close proximity to me. I simply love their macaroons and decor. To me this place is like every little girl’s dream – soft colours line the walls which are topped off by an elegantly carved out ceiling and of course there is the iconic green on the facade of the shop. Whether you’re stepping in for a peek or staying for tea Ladurée is a must do if you’re ever in Toronto! The Yorkdale shopping centre itself is quite glamorous in my opinion so it’s a perfect setting for this cute little macaroon shop.
As far as flavours go my personal favourites are the pistachio, coffee and vanilla. I also tried the rose flavour which I was quite surprised by. Ladurée offers a wide range of flavours to choose from and there’s really something for everyone 🙂 The shop also has a cute selection of gifts and souvenirs so if sweets aren’t your thing you can always grab a key chain, candle or gift box 😉
Mulled wine is a drink that’s synonymous with Christmas. I like to think of it as Christmas in a cup. It’s a great warmer on a cold winter day. The thing I like the most about this drink is the way it makes your house smell when you’re making it. The blend of spices along with the wine gives off the best aroma and makes your home smell inviting and festive 🙂
Here’s my recipe for Christmas in a Cup -Mulled Wine
- 1 (750 ml) bottle of dry red wine – I usually use a Cabernet Sauvignon
- 1 orange, sliced into rounds.
- 1/4 cup brandy – this is optional but it does add a bit more flavour to the drink
- 1/4 cup honey or brown sugar – I used brown sugar
- 8 whole cloves.
- 2 cinnamon sticks.
- 2 star anise
To make Mulled Wine combine the wine, orange slices, brandy, sugar and spices in a large sauce pan and simmer on a low heat for at least 15 minutes. Makes sure the heat is set on low as you don’t want the mixture to boil and the alcohol to evaporate. I like to let it simmer for about half an hour but you can allow it to set for up to 3 hours, if you’re that patient.
Once you get the aroma of the wine and the spices use a ladel and strainer to pour the wine in to glasses (you can also use mason jars for a more rustic look) and enjoy with a piece piece of Christmas Cake.
One of the things I love most about Christmas are the parties and entertaining. I enjoy hosting friends and family. In the coming days I’ll be sharing a few of my favourite Christmas cocktails.
If you love chocolate, coffee and mint together then Peppermint Chill is the drink for you. It’s very easy to make and a nice treat to indulge in during the holidays 😉
To make the Peppermint Chill you’ll need: Peppermint Mocha Kahlua (it’s a limited edition flavour that’s usually available around Christmas time), Bailey’s, Chocolate Ice Cream, Martini Glasses and Candy Canes.
Prep the glasses:
- Place the candy canes in a plastic bag and crush them to form small chunks
- Mix equal parts sugar and water in a pan and bring it to a simmer
- Dip the rim of the Martini glass in the sugar and water mixture and then in the crushed candy canes. Ideally the candy cane dust should coat the rim of the glass.
Before making the drink take the ice cream of out the freezer and let it sit for 5 mins so it softens.
Mix the drink:
- In a shaker place one and a half scoops of ice cream
- Add 1 shot glass of Kahlua (approx. 1.5oz)
- Add 1 shot glass of Bailey’s (approx. 1.5oz)
- Shake well for about 2 mins
- Pour mixture in the the Martini glasses
- Top with whipped cream and cocoa power
I’ve been a tea drinker ever since I can remember and high tea is something I really enjoy. Attending the Holiday High Tea at the Chateau Laurier hotel in Ottawa has become somewhat of a tradition for me. Even though I moved to Canada from Sri Lanka when I was just 5 years old, my family doesn’t have a lot of relatives here in Ottawa so we’ve kind of had to make our own Christmas traditions. The Chateau Laurier offers a lot of great dining events around the holiday season including a Christmas dinner in the ballroom. My favourite event however is their Holiday High Tea.
High Tea at the Chateau Laurier is hosted at Zoe’s Lounge. The restaurant recently went through a major renovation and I highly recommend checking out their new look. The tea menus change according to the season and although High Tea is offered throughout the year the Holiday edition is especially popular. You can find their holiday menu here. Typically the menu consists of some savoury sandwiches, scones with Devonshire cream and strawberry jam and some desserts served on a 3 tier platter.
There is usually a wide selection of tea to choose from and a tea sommelier to guide you through the options. I normally choose the traditional English Breakfast tea but this time I decided to change things up and try the Ice Wine flavoured tea – it was a welcome surprise. The ice wine added a fruity flavour to the tea which was quite light. The nice thing about the teas is that you can determine how strong or weak you want the tea to be depending on how long you steep it. The staff at Zoe’s even give you a handy tea timer so you can perfect your tea to your liking.
In addition to the finger food and tea selection Zoe’s also offers some holiday inspired cocktails. I tried the Kir Under The Mistletoe, a Christmas spin on the traditional Kir Royal which just happens to be my favourite cocktail. I loved this cocktail and would recommend it to anyone who likes Champagne or Prosecco. It was a perfect blend of fruity and sweet.
Many people ask me what I wear to High Tea and my honest answer is it depends. In the Summer I usually wear a dress with a matching fascinator. This time however I opted for pants and a top since my reservation was for 4:15 and the sun usually sets around 4:30 in the Winter in Canada. I found this fabulous statement sleeve top at Suzy Shier. This top honestly looks like a haute couture piece with its organza sleeves and medallion embroidered hem across the bottom. I paired the top with these jacquard print pants which I picked up at Le Chateau a few years ago. You can still find them at their outlets 🙂
If you ever plan on going to High Tea at the Chateau I highly recommend making a reservation in advance as space is limited and it tends to sell out soon. The same goes for their other Christmas dining events. The best way to avoid disappointment is to book early so if you’re in Ottawa and looking for something special to do this holiday season check out the Chateau Laurier and don’t forget to walk around the hotel to take a look at their Trees of Hope display 🙂
Brunch is one of my favourite things to do on the weekend 🙂 Beats + Brunch is the trendiest brunch event in Ottawa at the moment. Held at the Rooftbar Bar – Copper Spirits and Sights atop the Andaz Hotel, the event takes places on the last Sunday of every month. Seats are hard to come by as the event is always sold out but I was fortunate to make in for the August and September editions. Beats + Brunch is a buffet style brunch with appetizers brought to your table. $40 plus taxes gets you access to the buffet, appetizers, tea/coffee and a glass of bubbly. You can take in views of the Byward Market and Parliament while you eat as this brunch offers indoor and outdoor seating on the 16th floor of the hotel. I highly recommend making a reservation far in advance to avoid disappointment. It’s also a good idea to check in with the staff at Andaz and confirm your reservation.