Monday, December 29, 2008

Christmas Gifts

So, what do you get a gal that has just about everything she could possibly need...of course ,"foodie stuff". I am always appreciative of all the gifts that I receive, but this year I must admit, I was once again blessed with more than anyone could possibly ask for. I already said all my thank yous, but seeing that this is a food blog I thought I would share some of the "Foodie", items that I received. The good news is that it doesn't take much to make a foodie's heart skip a beat. Of course, Gordon makes my heart skip a huge beat (along with my husband, who can still make my heart race quickly)... and this new cookbook will fit quite nicely beside, my Barefoot Contessa, Tyler Florence, Jamie Oliver, Giada and many more. I can hardly wait to try the lovely recipes from his book.

Aren't these just the cutest shopping bag??

Mt pouch was designed by Lucy Lu, my sister got some designed by Stella McCartney, and my friend received a set designed by Snoop Dog.. do you believe that?

They come 4 to a pack, I just love my Hippie Peace symbols and love that they are environmentally friendly and that celebrities are also getting on the band wagon.

Mario Batali is another chef whom I admire and this is his salt pig / barrel design. You are viewing it open, it has 2 containers that hold a substantial amount of coarse and plain salt.

Now you see it... now you don't.

You've just got to love these new gadgets for GARLIC. Will let you know in later posts if they work. The long one is another tool by Mario Batali, it has a dual surface to easily slice or grate the garlic. The little gizmo is called Garlic Zoom, you insert the garlic and inside is a blade that will chop the garlic as you zoom back and forth on the wheels.

and more great gadgets for baking, cookie making and even the dogs will benefit from this round of goodies.

What can I say I was spoiled horribly, but everyone will benefit from these oils, as they can only enhance the flavour! I am ashamed to say that there is more, but I don't want to bore you all, so the rest will have to wait for another post.
I want to wish everyone a very Happy New Year, may your year be filled with good health, good times with friends and family, much love and all the best for the new year.!

Thursday, December 18, 2008


The week has been busy with Christmas baking ,and I can hardly believe that next
week Ron comes home and Christmas Eve is upon us. In our home, Christmas Eve is just as important as the Christmas Day celebrations. I usually host the dinner and we will be 10 at the dinner table this year. My menu is already planned, Lobster Bisque,Shrimp and Pea Risotto, Herb Crusted Salmon,Tarragon Yellow and Green beans, Salad with Mache and for dessert, Chocolate Pots de Creme. After dinner, our custom has been to play a game,in the past we've played Pictionary, Trivial Pursuit, Charades, Uno, Brainiac, etc. etc. Someone always comes with the latest game that is out there ,we enjoy them all. Eventually we find ourselves in the family room catching a nostalgic favorite Christmas movie, and on many an occasion weather permitting we go to Christmas midnight mass. We also always open our gifts afterwards,and when all the OOHS and AHHS are done and the last goodnight has been said we fall into bed blissfully happy and tired. Funny, at this stage of our life we have toyed with the idea of going away for Christmas, but once again we opt for tho comfort of our home and the time spent with family and friends. Maybe next year, we'll go away. Talking about comfort food "GOULASH"' has been served in my family for as long as I can remember. I think every household makes some version of this Hungarian Goulash, but this is my version, and believe me I also never make it the same way. Goulash is traditionally made with beef, but the one that I made was with pork stewing meat. The Spatzles, which I have made on many an occasion from scratch, were , this time made from a package and simply boiled. I will provide the recipe for these lovely egg dumpling or noodle, but you will need a spatzle machine to prepare them. You can also just drop the dough into boiling water, but you would definitely want to see how to do it this way. Anyways, Goulash is just as good served with potatoes, or any other type of pasta.
2 lbs. stewing beef
2 cooking onions
salt/pepper/sweet Hungarian paprika
flour for dredging
oil for frying
2 bay leaves
beef broth
wine (optional)
Dredge meat in flour, and in small batches brown your meat. When all the meat has been browned saute your onions and return the meat to your casserole dish. Season with the salt, pepper, paprika, bay leaves. ( some people add tomatoes or tomato paste at this stage, but I usually do not. Reduce heat , cover and simmer the meat. The meat will produce it's own juices but I also like to add some beef broth just enough to cover the meat, and at this stage put the pot in the oven and slowly let it all simmer and get tender. ( about 11/2 hr). We like a lot of gravy so I always check the dish and add a little more beef broth. At the very end I like to include a good splash of wine when I thicken the sauce to make a gravy. But the wine is optional.
4 cups flour
5 eggs
1 tsp salt
3/4 cup water
about 2 quarts of water for boiling the dough.
Combine the flour, egg, salt and 3/4 cup of water. Working in small batches using a Spatzle machine, fill the cavity and drop dough into salted boiling water. When the Spatzles float to the top remove and continue with process.
I would like to take this opportunity to wish you all a very Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah. Take the time to be good to yourself and to others. May you find peace and joy in all things.
I hope to take pictures of the Christmas menu, but I can't promise that I'll get a chance to do it. Sometimes it's just about the food and the company and NOT about the picture and the blog. As this is my first Christmas blogging I don't know how I will juggle it all or even if I want to. So... Merry Christmas To All and To All a Good-night.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008


This recipe has been in my notebook for at least 25 years, it was given to me by my good friend Linda. Where it originally came from I really don't know. Suffice it to say, that for 25 years it has been a Christmas favorite. It freezes well but let me warn you it will disappear quickly when you put it on your Christmas dessert plate.

I believe it's the lemon frosting that makes this easy dessert so popular.

1 cup flour
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter

2 eggs
1 cup sugar
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1/2 cup chopped nuts
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup coconut
1/2 cup chopped maraschino cherries
2 T. flour
1 tsp. baking powder

1/4 cup softened butter
2 cups icing sugar
1 T. milk
1 T. lemon juice
1 tsp. grated lemon rind

BASE: Process all ingredients in food processor until it resembles coarse meal. Press into a greased 9 inch square pan and bake in a pre-heated 350 oven for 15 min.
FILLING: Beat eggs. Stir in sugar, vanilla, nuts and other ingredients. Spread mixture over partially baked base. Return to oven and bake for 30 min. at 350.Cool completely .

Frosting: Combine all ingredients, beating until smooth. Spread on filling. Chill until icing is firm. Cut into square bars. Makes about 30. Recipe doubles easily and freezes well.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008


We are having a snowstorm today and as I will be housebound it's a good day to make perogies. Let me warn you I know a few people that can single- handily polish a dozen of these off by themselves. Therefore, you might as well take the morning and make at least a hundred of these to eat and freeze. Yes you heard me correctly least a hundred!
The picture above shows a few rows in progress. Once they are all filled and pinched , I head over to the stove and the boiling begins.

No pretty pictures today, perogie making is serious business in my house and I had already planned on making this an all day event, as I am going to freeze these guys and have packages on hand not just for the holidays but also for those other cold winter days when I don't particularly want to shop or cook.

The above photo is of the perogies as they come out of the boiling water. I place about a dozen in a large pot of salted water and when they are floating to the top they are ready to be pulled out. At this stage you can then either serve them with a little melted butter , some sauteed onions and a nice dollop of sour creme. Some people like to fry them up also in the butter and onion and this produces a firmer perogie with a crisp skin. You can even deep fry their perogies. I prefer mine just boiled with some sour creme.

As mentioned no pretty plated picture, as my main goal was to go into production to freeze them. I should have taken a picture of how I do that instead of just showing you them in the freezer bag. But what I do after I've drained them is I lay them out on a greased tray and place them in the freezer for about 15-20 minutes. When they are slightly frozen I them bang the tray to loosen them up and then place them in the freezer bag. To reheat them I either reboil them from the frozen state or I just fry them up.
A note of interest, you can go on any Internet site and find a pirogi dough recipe, but believe me it will not be this one and may I say that no pirogi that you buy in the store will measure up to the quality of this recipe.
My MIL was born in Winnipeg, to Ukrainian parents she was ,"Baba ", to my children and to this day I have to compete with her recipes. Baba passed away in 1990, and if I want to take shortcuts with her recipes, I hear about it!
In truth, if you are going to make these, you might as well go for the best dough recipe and the best ingredients.
Perogies can be filled with almost anything you can imagine. The originals were made with cottage cheese and potatoes, now a days most people like the cheddar /potato version, while others like them with velveta cheese/potatoes. Bacon and or onion can also be added to the filling. Other fillings are mushrooms, sauerkraut, meat and fruit.
I boiled a 5 lb. bag of russet potatoes, mashed them , added sauteed onions, butter and cheddar cheese.and added them to the hot mashed potatoes. Seasonings are just salt/pepper to taste, but remember you can "Do it your way."Let this cool before filling the Perogies.
I always like to double the recipe , mainly because I make a lot of them so what will follow is the single recipe.
Paulina's Rich Soft Dough for Perogies
1/2 cup mashed potatoes
2tsp. shortening softened
2 egg yolks
1/2 cup lukewarm water (left over from the boiled potatoes)
2 cups flour
1 tsp. cream of tartar

Combine the mashed potatoes, shortening egg yolks and potato water. (you can do this in the food processor) other wise, beat well.

Stir 1 3/4 cup of flour with the cream of tartar, then stir into the potato mixture to form a soft dough. Add the other1/4 cup of flour 2 T. at a time until dough no longer sticks to your hands. Knead lightly , cover and let stand to rest for about 15 minutes.

Break off a section, roll out and using a round cookie cutter, or an empty Campbell soup can makes a nice size, shape out your rounds. Take each round fill it with the filling fold in half and carefully pinch the dough firmly, otherwise they will open when you boil them.

I like to fill all my perogies, cover them with a tea towel, and when they are all done then I proceed with the boiling of the.

Either enjoy them immediately or prepare for freezing.

Thursday, December 4, 2008


This recipe is not your traditional Linzer cookie, but rather a recipe that has been in my family for years . In German, my mom referred to this recipe as a ,"teegeback". or tea biscuit.

As you can see these cookies don't bake up very dark. It calls for 12-15 minutes but when you see that golden hue take them out and cool them on a rack. Ryan likes them filled with blueberry jam and dusted with lots of icing sugar. You can fill them with whatever filling you want and they easily lend themselves to whatever decorating you want to put on them as you can use any cookie cutter shape you want for this dough. I have evn used this dough and made it into a sweet pretzle shape and used an icing sugar paste as a decoration on top of the pretzle and added sugar crystals to make it look like salt.

I will include the original recipe that I have from my mom, but this can easily be adapted for a food processor, if you are rushed and in a hurry. (On many an occasion either Rob or Ryan , when they were in school informed me that they needed 60 cookies for class the next day, and believe me I had to quickly make them and frost them at 9pm in the evening, so by all means don't feel guilty about using , 'the machines'.
500 g flour
6 g baking powder
150 g sugar
1 pkg. Dr, Oetker vanilla sugar
2 eggs
25 g butter
Mix the flour and baking powder in a large bowl. In the center make a well. In this well place the eggs, vanilla sugar and sugar. Take a little flour from the sides of the bowl and mix it together with the egg & sugar mass and form a rough dough. Slowly incorporate the cold cubed butter and keep adding a little more flour as you form it into a dough. Repeat adding the butter and flour. You should end up with a firm smooth dough after all the butter and flour is incorporated. Chill the dough for around 20 minutes. When chilled roll out and use whatever cookie cutter shape you wish. Bake in a 325 oven for around 12-15 minutes. Cool , fill and decorate.
* Cookies should have a very light golden hue.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008


With the Chuck Wagon out of the way I prepared the kitchen for my first ever attempt at making nut brittle. Until a few days ago I never even owned a candy thermometer, but when I saw this recipe from Anna Olsen's holiday favourites, I knew I wanted to attempt this recipe. I followed the recipe exactly and my first attempt yielded a very dark brittle, that was very thick and in my opinion had way too many nuts in it! I had boiled the sugar exactly 12 minutes as described in the notes, but as I had only a picture to compare it to, I thought it didn't look at all like it was supposed to. It did harden and was quite tasty, but decided to try again.
The second time I only used 11/2 cup of nuts as opposed to 2 cups and followed the recipe again. Put the timer on 12 minutes and lo and behold this time I got a lighter brittle... I don't know why, but at least it looked closer to the photo in the magazine. When it hardened I continued with the chocolate dip and the sea salt. Umm heavenly.

makes about 24pieces
1/2 C walnut pieces
1/2 C pecan pieces
1/2 C pine nuts
1/2 C almond slivers
1/4 C butter cut into pieces+extra for greasing
1 T vanilla extract
1 tsp. baking soda
11/2 C granulated sugar
1/2 C white corn syrup
1/3 C water
1 C chocolate chip
1 tsp. sea salt

1. Pre-heat oven to 350 .Spread all the nuts on un greased baking sheet and bake until toasted about 10 min. Cool.

2. Line a shallow pan with parchment paper and grease lightly.
In a small bowl place the vanilla, butter and baking soda. No need to blend. Set aside.

3. In a heavy bottomed sauce pan, over high heat bring sugar, corn syrup and 1/3 cup of water to a boil. While sugar cooks brush the sides of the pan with cool water. Boil sugar until it turns a light amber color about 12 minutes. Remove from heat and add the vanilla, butter and soda . Stir using a wooded spoon, mixture will foam up. Stir in nuts until they are all coated and spoon mixture onto prepared tray and spread as thinly as possible. You will have to work fast. Let brittle cool at room temperature.

4. Melt chocolate chip in microwave on MEDIUM stirring every 10 seconds. Crack the brittle and dip into the melted chocolate, place on the same greased parchment paper. Sprinkle with sea salt and let chocolate set.
Store in an airtight container. DO NOT FREEZE.


I"m back from Boston, and getting ready to do some Christmas baking and meal freezing so that when Ron gets home we can relax and enjoy the holidays and catch up with friends.
That means the next few weeks will be busy ones for me. One thing that will help are one pot meals that I can prepare early in the morning and then get on with the baking. (I still have 2 young men at home that come from work/classes and look for food.)
Chuck wagon is usually made with beef, but you can easily substitute, ground chicken, turkey or pork. I have made it with all of these and our favourite still remains the beef, but the chicken is a close second.
!/2 lb. bacon sliced
3lb. ground beef
about 3 cups finely chopped onion
1 up finely chopped celery
2 beef bouillon cubes
2/3 cup boiling water
2 cloves garlic minced
2 cups ketchup
2T. prepared mustard
salt/pepper to taste
2 cans molasses-style baked beans
optional about 1/4 cup brown sugar
Heat oven to 375 degrees. In a dutch oven or a large roasting pan fry bacon until crisp, set aside. Drain fat from pan. In the same pan. cook and stir ground beef, onion, celery until meat is brown and onion is tender. Dissolve bouillon cubes in boiling water; stir liquid and remaining ingredients into meat mixture. Cover; bake for 1 hour or until hot and bubbly. crumble bacon; sprinkle over beans. Makes 12 1 cup servings. ( Because ground beef varies in fat content you may want to spoon off excess fat after browning).** Optional you can also shred some Monterey jack cheese over bowls as an extra garnish.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Sizzling Pork Chops

Ron is working in Boston, actually his hotel is in Marlborough Ma. and I've come to spend some time with him, keep him company and make sure that he isn't eating too many meals out!
He always, stays in a suite that has a kitchen convenience, but this time the room had a full fridge, and micro but much to my surprise No Oven!! Only 2 burners, 1 pot and 1 frying pan. Oh My!! Well, looks like meals were going to be limited to frying, not the most healthiest way to cook, but it beats eating out every night.

Ron's cupboard had the obligatory Mac n Cheese, and some pork chops in the fridge, a half opened bottle of wine , spicy brown mustard and a bottle of Worcestershire sauce , Tabasco sauce (To spice up his clamato juice, geez he's got his priority spot on!)

Well, my job was cut out for me. First we had to get those pork chops marinating, salt, pepper (the only spices he had) some vegetable oil ( not even olive oil!) some wine and those chops were now going to sit in some marinade.
Later on I browned the chops , sliced 3 onions (they were rather small), some garlic, added them to the browned chops, put a lid on the pan and lowred the heat to LO.
In the meantime I prepared the cucumbers, salted and drained them and diced in some green onions and tossed them in some sour cream. The Mac n Cheese was out of a box so that was fairly simple.
An hour later I took the lid off the pan and let the sauce , that came from the onions and pork chop juices reduce down and flavoured the sauce with some of that spicy brown mustard and a splash of wine. Not to brag but the chops were absolutely tender and quite flavourful. All in all not a bad meal. Next stop Trader Joe's for some groceries!

When Ron came home, I turned up the heat and got those pork chops sizzling in the pan. There were even 2 left to freeze, so that he could have a meal at a later date when I am back home and he is still finishing up in Boston.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Oatmeal Breakfast

Well ,today just called for a nice cup of coffee and steaming bowl of oatmeal with a drizzel of maple syrup! Why you ask? and surely we didn't need to serve the coffee in a Christmas mug?? has this blogger gone out of her mind? No not really!! If you scroll down you will see what greeted Ottawa this morning.


and more snow.

Boo , enjoyed the first snow fall and was eager to blaze trails!

and then of course she needed to be cleaned off!

Monday, October 20, 2008

Cauliflower Soup and The Schnauzers

It's a good day to clean out the fridge, have a bowl of soup and a good chat. No recipe today because it just isn't necessary. Bought some leeks and cauliflower and other vegetables at the market last week, but with all the traditional foods prepared first for Thanksgiving, other veggies just ended getting shoved further back in the fridge. Clean and chop the leek and 2 cloves of garlic sauteed in pan. In the meantime cut off the little black bits off the cauliflower, one was already getting those black marks. Separate the florets, dice 2 small potatoes and while I usually like to boil my cauliflower in milk I had around 5 cups of chicken broth left over from the holidays. Add everything to your pot season with salt and pepper and boil until tender. I cored and chopped 2 apples and added them to the soup a brought everything to a boil again for around another 10 minutes. Remove from heat, emulsify when cool add about 1 cup of heavy cream, again this was a left over, use milk if you are watching your weight. Lightly reheat and and adjust seasoning ,I added some nutmeg, then garnish with some sharp cheddar and chopped parsley. Lunch is served.

Meet Boo. Her real name is Blue Moon over Kentucky. Her mother's name was Tuck short for Kentucky. She is a miniature black schnauzer and she has a wonderful sweet, timid disposition. She is fiercely independent, but will come for a cuddle every know and then. The family connection is that she is the daughter of my sister's dog Skyler who was a champion and is her father.
Because of her good lines the breeder wanted her to have a litter and that was the condition of us being allowed to purchase her. Little did I know at that time that I would have 6 puppies in my home for 8 weeks after they were born. The short story is that Boo gave birth during a snow storm, my sons Ryan and Rob had to help with the birthing, and because of he weather there was no way these puppies were going home with the breeder, henceforth, our family room became a kennel for 8 weeks. Boo had 3 black schnauzer and 2 salt and pepper and 1 sort of salt and pepper puppy.

Meet her daughter Cherish (Cheri Pie as we call her). She was born not breathing, not quite sure what her coloring was and the breeder didn't think she was going to survive and as a result gave her to Ryan for his help with the birthing. Well she did survive, actually she is quite a butterball!. She is the total opposite from Boo. She is feisty, a talker, fearless, loyal, loves to give "kisses', is a ,"Cling-on" , and the laziest dog on the face of this earth. When she isn't in trouble, she sleeps under my bed and we literally have to drag her out from under there so that she can go out. She is forever looking for food and pretty much has her nose to the ground hoping that something will come her way. I could write a book about their escapades...but that will have to wait for another post. Gotta go and rake the leaves now.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Pepper Shrimp and Rice Casserole

Buy day today, last minute shopping to finish for Thanksgiving, new dishwasher arrived and installed, (yahoo, just in time for the holidays!) Brine prepared for the turkey (will post about that later) and a late afternoon appointment for my 6 month check-up with my oncologist.
Needless to say supper had to be quick. No recipe as this is a no brainer. Clean and dice red and green peppers. onions and garlic, saute until tender . In a little butter heat up shrimp coated with Bay Spice, until pink don't over cook as they turn rubbery. Add to your favourite rice. Sprinkle with some chopped parsley to garnish. Everybody, have a Happy Thanksgiving!

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Espresso Panna Cotta

Tuesday night of this week was our Pot Luck dinner at Janet's house. We are a bunch of retired and almost retired teachers that love to get together over good food,and just catch up on news. In this case how our summer was spent. Unfortunately a valued friend was missing from our group..not feeling well and in much need of a deserved rest. Get well Jan we missed you and hope to see you soon.

Another, unfortunate incident was that I didn't bring my camera, as Janet had made this wonderful chicken and pineapple casserole and not only did it look good but more importantly it tasted great!(Should have taken pictures and included it in this blog.) I said that I would bring the dessert but it had turned into one of those days when everything that could go wrong ...did!!! I made the panna cotta in the afternoon thinking I would have enough time for it to set firmly before adding the espresso layer, the bottom line was that I should have started things earlier or just added a fruit layer, that didn't need to set. In hindsight, a fruit layer would have been a better idea, as most of us don't like to drink coffee late in the evening. What can I say we are getting older!

To make a long story short, the panna cotta did eventually set, not as firmly as I would have liked, but six desserts carefully went into a shoebox, so that I could put them on the floor of the car and not worry about them as I was driving to Janet's house. WRONG... as I turned the corner at the end of the road , one panna cotta toppled over hit the next one which in turn fell over and then the next 2 just followed domino style. Two did survive, and the 4 of us truly enjoyed eating them. Thank goodness for the bakery section at the grocery store, I did stop and buy a cake, but it turned out to be unnecessary and was taken to Chelsea Elementary for the staff to enjoy. ( Everybody deserves a sweet treat).

May I suggest that you prepare them early in the morning if you are planning to serve them in the evening. They truly are a simple preparation and they make a light delicious dessert that can be eaten any time of the day.


1 C heavy cream

1 C whole milk

1/4 C sugar

1/2 envelope powdered gelatin

1 tsp vanilla


4 tsp. instant espresso powder

1/2 envelope powdered gelatin

10 oz water

2 oz. brown sugar

For the panna cotta. sprinkle gelatin over 1/2 cup of milk in a pan until dissolved. Add sugar and remaining milk until all is dissolved, but do not boil. Remove from heat and stir in the cream and vanilla. Pour into glasses and let set in refrigerator.

For the espresso jello,Heat water to a boil. Remove from heat and sprinkle gelatin over water. Stir until dissolved. Add espresso and brown sugar. Stir until dissolved and let cool. Pour over SET panna cotta and refrigerate until jello layer is set.

( recipe from

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Chocolate Espresso Fudge Cake

Ron is back from Kentucky and it's good having him home. I offered him a week off to relax and sleep in... but the "man", was anxious to get started on my ."Honey -dew list", That's the list of things that need to be done as a result of Ron being gone for 12 weeks. He already put up the blinds in the kitchen, a new bay window was installed while he was gone and the green trash bags taped up just didn't cut it any more, he also took out the old central vac that was broken and replaced and installed the new one, and did some yard work on the days when it didn't rain.

As a result of his abundant energy I felt it only fair that the man get a special treat and as he just had a birthday last month, why not a belated birthday cake.

This cake is a modified version from ," Death By Chocolate ", by Marcel Desaulniers, but I actually found the recipe on Jenny's blog called ,"use real butter". When you have a free moment check out her web site as she has some fabulous recipes and she also has a photo blog and takes wonderful pictures.

We usually don't make a big deal about birthdays at our age, but we have always been fortunate to spend it together with loved ones and special people. Last year Ron was working in California and Kay and Sam Tran and the associates got him a birthday cake and then they sent me pictures to show me that they were taking good care of him,as that was our first birthday apart. This year, alas , no cake and he had a lonely supper by himself , although he made it a little festive by going out to ate at P.F.Chang's one of our favorite places in the US. we don't have any in Canada yet, sure wish we would get one in Ottawa.

So, only a really special cake was in order! This one required a little bit of time, which sometimes is a luxury, but this cake lent itself nicely to being assembled in stages.

One of the problems I usually encounter when frosting layer cakes is that I never really know how much frosting should go in between the layers. I always worry that I won't have enough frosting left to cover and decorate the outside of the cake. As you can see I could have made the middle layer with the espresso ganache thicker. Oh well next time.... and yes there will be a next time as this cake is a keeper.

4 oz unsweetened chocolate, chopped
8 T unsalted butter, room temperature
2 tsp melted butter for pan prep
2C cake flour
2tsp. flour for pan prep
2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 C light brown sugar, very tightly packed
4 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 C water
1 C sour cream
1C heavy cream
2T unsalted butter
2T granulated sugar 8 oz semisweet chocolate, chopped
1T instant espresso powder
8 oz semi sweet chocolate , chopped
2 oz unsweetened chocolate, chopped
2 tsp instant espresso powder
1 lb unsalted butter. room temperature
5 egg whites
1 C granulated sugar
CAKE: Preheat oven to 350F. Heat 1 inch of water in a double boiler over medium heat.
Place 4 oz unsweetened chocolate in the top half of the double boiler and heat for 6 minutes.Remove from heat and stir until smooth. Prepare your pans, I used 2 9x2 inch cake pans. Combine together in a sifter the remaining 2 C flour, baking soda and salt. Sift onto wax paper and set aside. Combine the brown sugar and 8 T of butter in a bowl of the electric mixer and use the paddle. Beat on low for 3 minutes, scrape down the sides and beat on high for 2 minutes. Scrape down the sides and beat on high again for 2 minutes. Add 4 eggs one at a time beating on high for 30 seconds after each egg addition scrape down the sides.Add the melted chocolate and vanilla and beat on low for an additional 30 seconds. Bring 1 cup of water to a boil. While the water is heating operate the mixer on low while adding 1/3 of the flour and 1/2 of the sour cream,allow to mix for 30 seconds. Add the other 1/3 of the flour and remaining sour cream and beat for 30 seconds. Add the last of the flour with the 1 cup of boiled water and mix for an additional 30 seconds. With a rubber spatula further mix the batter to make sure that everything is smooth and incorporated. Divide the batter between the 2 cake pans and bake 45-50 minutes . Cool cake and invert onto racks. Refrigerate until needed.
GNACHE: Heat the heavy cream,2 T of butter and 2T of sugar over medium heat stirring to dissolve the sugar. Bring the mixture to a boil. Place 8 oz semisweet chocolate and 1 T instant espresso powder in a stainless steel bowl. Pour the boiling cream over the chocolate and espresso . Let sit for 10 minutes, then stir until smooth. Keep at room temperature until ready to use.
BUTTER CREAM: Heat 1 inch of water in the bottom of a double boiler over medium heat. Place 8 oz of semisweet chocolate,2 0z of unsweetened chocolate and 2 tsp espresso powder in top of double boiler. Allow to heat for 10 minutes, transfer to a stainless steel bowl and stir until smooth set aside until needed.
Place egg whites and sugar in mixing bowl. Set bowl over pot with 1 inch of heated water over med. heat Whisk gently until mixture reaches 140 F about 6 minutes. Remove from heat and attach the balloon whisk. Whisk on speed 4 until stiff. Turn down speed to #3 and whip until cool. This will take a bit of time. Change to a paddle and gradually add the softened butter by the spoonful. Mix to emulsify. Once desired consistency has been reached fold in the cooled chocolate until well incorporated.
ASSEMBLY: Trim off the domed tops of both cakes. Slice each cake horizontally into 2 equal layers. Place the top layer of cake onto the bottom of a closed spring form pan. Evenly spread one cup of butter cream over the cake. Place second layer of cake over the butter cream and gently press into place. Pour one cup of ganache over the cake spreading evenly to the edges. Refrigerate remaining ganache. Place the 3rd layer of cake on top of the ganache and press into place. Spread butter cream evenly over this layer. Place the remaining cake layer cut side down onto the butter cream and gently press into place. Cover the entire cake and pan with plastic wrap and freeze for 1 hour. (I froze the cake over night and continued the following day). Remove cake from spring form and using a cake spatula evenly spread butter cream over the top and sides of the cake. Fit a pastry bag with a star tip and fill it with butter cream. Fill another star fitted pastry bag with the remaining ganache. Decorate the cake as desired. Refrigerate the cake but bring to room temperature for 15 minutes before serving.
Very rich, but remember to share and or you can freeze this cake for a rainy day.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Four Roses Apple Kuchen

The Four Roses in the title does not refer to the brand name of Flour, but to a well known Bourbon called, Four Roses Bourbon. Yes, it's time for another entry in Kentucky cuisine.

German immigrants to 19th -century Kentucky brought many of their culinary traditions to the Bluegrass State. This apple cake, also known as APFELKUCHEN, in German is a lovely buttery pastry that combines the best qualities of both a cake and a pie.

The recipe called for Four Roses Bourbon of Lawrenceburg, it is said to be one of the mellowest spirits distilled in the U.S., I am told that it lends a lovely distinctive flavour to this rich cake. Unfortunately, I only came home with a bottle of Woodford Reserve Bourbon from Kentucky, and the only other Bourbon in the house was Jack Daniels, and let's face it that is a Tennessee whiskey, and I am after all, blogging about Kentucky!

The recipe also called for tart apples, and under any other circumstance I would have used a Granny Smith apple as that is a tart apple, but alas, I still had Pink Ladies left over in the fruit crisper from the LCBO recipe I made last week, so Pink Ladies is what I used for this cake recipe. All in all, I'm not following the recipe that well far I used the wrong Bourbon and the wrong apple, but this cake turned out so delicious that when I offered it with vanilla ice cream or I was even willing to whip some cream laced with a little bourbon , everyone just wanted it plain and raved on how delicious it was!

What amazes me is that Kentucky is considered a ,"Bible Belt State", but they sure love to cook with their bourbon! What is going to amaze my Husband when he comes home from Kentucky on Wednesday is the fact that I have used his "GOOD" Bourbon in these recipes, and the poor man probably won't have a dram left to taste!!! A word of caution you REALLY do taste the bourbon in this cake!
As the last recipe I made from Kentucky, this too came from David Domine's book called Adventures in New Kentucky Cooking. This cake is for Rita and the guys and gals at the Richmond store that closed it's doors today, wish I was there with y'all to say good-by, enjoy the cake.
1 C softened unsalted butter
1 C granulated sugar
2 C sifted all-purpose flour
1 tsp. salt
1tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp.baking soda
1T vanilla
1/2 C Four Roses Bourbon
1/2 C buttermilk
8 tart apples peeled, cored and thinly sliced
2 T lemon juice
1/4 C all purpose flour
1/2 c brown sugar
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. salt
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.
Add the eggs one at a time and continue mixing.
Sift together the flour, salt, baking powder and baking soda.
Add to the butter mixture along with the vanilla extract, bourbon and buttermilk.
Mix only until well incorporated and free of large lumps.
The batter should be very thick and dough like. Spoon it into a spring-form that has been greased and floured and spread out.
Toss the apple slices with the lemon juice, brown sugar, flour, cinnamon and salt in a separate bowl until well coated.
Spoon over the batter mixture in the cake pan.
Use the back of the spoon to press the apple mixture down a bit.
Bake, covered with aluminum foil, for 30 minutes.
Remove the foil and bake for another 15-20 minutes until golden brown or a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. ( I have a gas oven and needed to bake it 30 minutes after I removed the foil)
Remove from the oven, cover with the foil again and allow to cool.
Dust with powdered sugar, if desired, and serve with hand-whipped cream laced with bourbon.
Toss the apple slices with the lemon juice,
4 large eggs

Monday, September 22, 2008

Squash Ravioli With Sage Butter Sauce

Another recipe from the Fall LCBO magazine. Actually this time I didn't plan on making this but was actually going to make a squash soup.However, my sister Heidi brought over Tupperwares filled with Yellow squash soup, cauliflower soup, onion soup and mushroom soup with a label that said to add cream! Let's not forget the Borscht that I made last week, do you blame me for not wanting to cut up the butternut squash and turn it onto soup!#? So instead it sat on the counter under the microwave and today after a week of sitting there it was finally "D" day or at least "R" day for Ravioli.
I made a quick trip to the grocers for some Chinese dumpling wrappers, I would have preferred round ones but alas they only had square ones. I started making the ravioli by using 2 wrappers and keeping them square, but after making a few of them this way I wanted to make them smaller and just used one sheet and folded them on the diagonal to form little triangles. You can choose to make them any way you want.

Squash Stuffing

5 T unsalted butter

1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes

2 C cooked and mashed butternut squash or Hubbard

1/4 C Amaretto cookie crumbs

Salt to taste

2 egg yolks (save whites for brushing the dumplings)

1/2 C Parmesan cheese grated

1/2 C fresh white bread crumbs


24 round or square wonton wrappers

egg whites


Melted butter about 1/2 C and sage leaves

2 T lemon juice

1/2 C grated Parmesan

Peel and boil squash.Melt butter with the red pepper flakes. Add squash, crumbs salt and mix well.Pure mixture and let cool. Add egg yolks, Parmesan,and bread crumbs and combine.

Lay out wrappers on tray. Spoon out mixture on centre of wrapper brush edges with the egg whites , sealing edges well. making sure to squeeze out any air bubbles. Repeat

Heat olive oil and add sage on medium heat .Don't burn, reserve as garnish.

Bring large pot of water to boil. add ravioli when they float to the top about 3 minutes take them out with a slotted spoon and lay on a oiled cookie sheet so that they don't stick.

To make sauce melt butter add more fresh sage leaves and cook for 2 minutes until butter is a golden brown color. add lemon juice and season with salt and pepper. Toss in ravioli and garnish with sage leaves and extra Parmesan cheese.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Orange Ricotta Pancakes

Orange Ricotta Pancakes what a great way to start the Sunday!
Just as I was beating the egg whites, by hand, (i don't know what possessed me to beat them by hand) the phone rang and it was hubby, who is still in Kentucky but only until the first of October Yippee! I told him I was trying out some new pancake recipes to treat him with for when he gets home.
There are many Ricotta Pancake recipes out there, see which appeals to you or just try this one. Yummy with maple syrup, jam, or like my Robbie eats with...smeared with peanut butter and smothered in maple syrup.
Orange Ricotta Pancakes
1 C Ricotta cheese
1/4 C melted butter
3 large eggs separated
1 tsp vanilla sugar
1/2 C of flour
2T sugar
1 T zest of either Orange or lemon
Combine the cheese, melted butter egg yolks and vanilla sugar and put aside. Combine the flour, sugar, and zest into a separate bowl. Add the flour mixture to the cheese mixture and incorporate the ingredients. Beat the egg whites until they are stiff. Carefully combine 1/3 of the stiff egg whites with the pancake batter, keeping everything light and fluffy. Add remaining egg whites again, gently fold into the batter mixture and then spoon onto a warm griddle.
(I got 4 large pancakes and 6 smaller ones from this recipe, probably would yield 8- 12 medium sized pancakes.)

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Summer Spinach Salad

These days the mornings in Ottawa are actually quite cool, as a matter of fact I turned the heat on in the car this morning!
The beauty of our weather is that by the time most folks are driving home from work , the weather is down right balmy , and everyone is taking advantage of the beautiful sunshine and driving with the windows open. So while it is still officially summer for a few more days ... why not make this beautiful spinach salad with the last remains of summer fruit. But please, don't spoil it with some bottled dressing , it only takes afew minutes to make some home-made raspberry vinegrette.
Raspberry Vinegrette
1/2C vegetable oil
1/2 C raspberry wine vinegar
2 tsp. dijon mustard
1 tsp. honey or sugar
1/4 tsp. oregano
1/4 tsp. ground pepper

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Chicken Braised with Apples and Cider

Our Ontario LCBO, puts out a quarterly Food and Drink magazine. It is a beautiful magazine that couples great food with accompanying drinks that not only compliment the food,but gives you the consumer, a fool proof method of purchasing something new , ( wine or spirits) and knowing it will go well with the food. Or forget the booze, ( but why would you!) and just enjoy the wonderful recipes that are offered in the magazine.
I had chicken breasts bone -in , defrosting in the fridge, and just happened to flip through the magazine when I came across this recipe and as luck would have it I had 6 Pink Lady apples in my fruit bowl. The recipe calls for a whole chicken and a casserole that fits the chicken snugly, to keep all the juices in. Here is the recipe as in the Autumn 2008 LCBO magazine.

1 tsp. cracked fennel
1 tsp. cracked coriander
2 tsp. chopped fresh thyme (I had dried)
1 tsp. cracked black pepper

1 4 lb. whole chicken
1 T. vegetable oil
2 T. butter
2 Pink Lady or Royal Gala apples peeled and diced
1 C apple cider
1T. cider vinegar
1/2 C whipping cream
1 T. lemon juice
2T. chopped chervil
Salt/pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 300 F

Combine fennel, coriander, thyme and black pepper. Reserve 1 tsp. spice mixture and season chicken all over , wit remaining mixture. ( I rubbed it into 4 chicken breasts)

Heat oil and butter in an oven proof casserole over medium-high heat. Brown chi ken until golden. Remove from heat and wipe the pan clean.

Add butter and apples to pan and saute for 2 minutes or until tinged with gold. Pour in the apple cider and cider vinegar and remaining spice mixture and bring to boil for 1 minute

Return chicken to casserole, cover and bake for 1 hour. Remove lid and bake another 15 minutes until juices run clear.

Remove chicken and apples. Add cream to sauce and bring to boil. Boil for about 2 minutes or until sauce thickens. Add lemon juices reserved apples and chervil and simmer for 1 more minute. Cut chicken (if you made a whole one) pour sauce over it and surround with apples.

Note. You might want to double the sauce as it was a huge hit!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Meatless Beet Soup

My sister brought over some beautiful baby beets that she purchased from the ByWard Market. In my household and in the Ukrainian cuisine Borscht is a a staple and national dish. There are numerous adaptions to what people claim to be borscht, and to be honest every time I make it I too take liberties with ingredients. But the one constant is that it is made with beets.

My borscht turned into a very hearty soup, as my sister also included a zip lock bag full of cleaned and diced vegetables. It was a difficult week for me as I had a recall notice to a mammogram that I had done a week earlier. Even though I put on a brave front I was a little freaked, as I was diagnosed with breast cancer a year earlier, and went through treatment all winter and spring, I couldn't believe it was possibly happening again. Anyways , I digress, I just didn't want you to think that I was too lazy to cut my own vegetables, my sister was just being thoughtful and helpful as she knew I had other things on my mind.

Back to the borscht , as mentioned it can be made various ways, with meat, without, with cabbage, or potatoes or mushroom dumplings ( like I included) with sour cream,or without, as a clear broth or full of winter vegetables or summer vegetables. I think you get the picture that , you can really improvise with this soup. It can also be eaten hot or cold and still tastes great.

My MIL used to take out a bowl of soup , let it cool mix the sour cream into it and then return it all to the pot . This would turn the red soup into a lovely pinkie rose color. I prefer to keep my soup au natural, and let everyone decide how they would like to garnish their own soup.
When preparing the beets, you also have a choice as to whether you prefer to boil or roast the beets or just peel them as they are. roasting the beets adds a nice flavour and boiling them provides you with an additional beet broth. These methods also make peeling the skins easier without loosing much of the flesh. You can do this a day ahead, or when in a time pinch you can just peel the beets and add them to the diced vegetables at the same time. The recipe I am giving you calls for boiling the beets.
2 pounds beets
1 carrot
1 parsnip
1 turnip
2 celery stalks
2 med. onion (i had leeks)
1 bay leaf
3-4 pepper corns
3 dried boletus or 1/2 lb. chopped mushrooms sauteed (optional) but i will include them in the directions
1 tsp. sour salt or lemon juice sour salt is a crystalized citric acid
salt/pepper to taste
fresh chopped dill
sour cream to garnish
If using mushrooms... soak boletus over night,cook in a little water until tender cool and chop, and reserve liquid for later use . If using fresh mushrooms saute and set aside to be added to soup after vegetables are tender. If preparing beets ahead, scrub and cover with water and cook until tender over low heat about 1 hour. Cool and peel, strain liquid and reserve for later use. (wear rubber gloves when peeling beets or you'll have purple hands).
Peel and cut up other vegetables. Add bay leaf, peppercorns, and boletus or mushrooms to vegetables.
Cover with enough water and cook until tender.
Add reserved beet juice to vegetables. If you did not boil beets ahead and just included them in the vegetable preparation, you may want to add some tomato juice at this point for added liquid.
Shred beets in food processor and add to soup. Simmer gently.
add mushroom liquid (if you prepared the boletus) citric acid or lemon juice, salt and pepper and bring to a gentle boil, then turn heat to low.
Taste, the flavour should be TART, mellow and full , adjust all seasonings including the tartness.
Garnish with mushroom dumplings (vushka)3-4 in soup plate, sour cream and dill. Enjoy!
The mushroom dumplings are optional, the soup is excellent without them as a garnish, usually we do not include them, but it just happened that I had some frozen.
Boletus can also be replaced with dried Porcini mushrooms.