Thursday, June 18, 2009

Apricot Walnut Cheesecake Blondies

If you don't know by now I am a total chocolate addict, after every meal I usually eat some sort of chocolate and yes, lately this even includes breakfast! On all of the health blogs I read it seems everyone is drinking these smoothies called green monsters, which includes adding greens into the mix. I love spinach but somehow adding it to my smoothie made it taste too spinachy, so with that I came up with my own version of a green moster which includes a frozen banana, frozen strawberries, a big ol handful of spinach, chocolate almond milk and a scoop of cocoa powder. If this is how I can get my daily intake of greens I'm all for it! So it was a bit of surprise for me when all I could think about were blondies. Blondies? Sure you can add chocolate into it but its just not ENOUGH chocolatey goodness! Originally I was going to add white chocolate chips into this recipe but after making the cheesecake batter I decided I didnt think it needed it! I know the ingredient list is simple but let me tell you...these are GOOD, SO GOOD! So good in fact I ate 3 people. Adding apricots into the mix gave them a chewy texture without being too sweet and the toasted walnuts added a nice crunch while nicely complimenting the toffee like flavor of the brownie. These were actually meant to be a little going away gift for my friend so forgive me for my selfishness that I ate 3 of them...and then froze another 3. Okay I'm lying 5...before I packed up the rest for her! She's going away right? As I try and justify myself....she couldn't possibly eat all those before she leaves!
Apricot Walnut Cheesecake Blondies (Makes 16)

Blondie Batter
1 cup all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt
½ cup butter
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla
½ cup walnuts (toasted and chopped)
½ cup dried apricots, chopped

Cream Cheese Mix
4 oz low fat cream cheese
2 tbsp sugar
1 large egg yolk
1 tbsp flour

1.Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2.Lightly spray a 9x9” baking pan and line with one strip of parchment (the parchment paper can over hang, this is so it is easier to pull the brownies out)
3.To make the cream cheese filling beat together all the ingredients and set aside.
4.In a large bowl mix together flour, baking powder and salt.
5.In a small sauce pan melt the butter. Take off the heat and stir in the brown sugar just until dissolved. Add in vanilla and mix in the egg.
6.Add your butter mixture to your dry ingredients. Fold in walnuts and apricots
7.Place in the lined baking pan, spreading the batter out evenly. Using a spoon, place cream cheese mixture in blobs (yes this is a technical culinary term) across the blondie batter. Using a chopstick or knife swirl the cheesecake mix into the batter.
8.Bake for 30-35 minutes or just until toothpick comes out slightly moist.

*Note: If for some reason you don't like cream cheese (you're crazy), you can nix the cream cheese batter and just bake the blondie batter with whatever mix-ins you like*

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

BC Spot Prawn Tacos with Mango Cucumber Salsa

This right here is one of the many reasons I love Vancouver! Last month was the BC Spot Prawn Festival where down by Granville Island you could try a sampling of spot prawns done in different ways by some of the great chefs in the city. You can also buy them fresh off the boat along the docks which is exactly what I did. These prawns are so ridiculously good on their own, I didn't want to do anything too extravagant with them and just being on the verge of summer I wanted to do something light with clean and fresh flavors. I know some might be thrown off by their beady bulging eyes and maybe I'm just used to it because at our big Chinese family dinners they would come head and all, steamed with garlic and everyone used to say that the best part is when you twist the head off and suck out the brains. Too much!? Okay maybe just avoid the picture below and focus on the end product! All I did with these sweet little prawns was a quick saute (and I mean quick, do not over cook these!) in a bit of garlic and olive oil. I threw together a refreshing mango cucumber salsa with a little red onion, jalapeno, fresh lime, cilantro, mint and a squeeze of agave syrup for a bit more sweetness and served it on a sprouted grain tortilla with a handful of spinach and thick yogurt ( my substitution for sour cream). Served with a side of crispy roasted yam coins and this meal was complete!

Can't get any more fresh then this

BC Spot Prawn Festival: You can see where we were in line, which curved all the way to the white tents

One of the choices, Crispy Prawn Head w/ mayo, Poached Prawn and Watermelon

Tasting plate at the B.C Spot Prawn Festival