Saturday, June 28, 2008


You have to admit there is nothing like baking bread to get those juices flowing. I just love making this flat bread/focaccia, mainly because it is so easy to make, a crowd pleaser at any party, and guaranteed to disappear from the plate immediately. You can make it as simple as you want withh only a little olive oil and salt or add what ever you feel like, garlic, rosemary, onions, caramelized onions, olives, ricotta, even tomatoes or all of the above.Go for it!
At Shirley's birthday party we popped this bread in the oven and 15 minutes later served it with some olive oil and balsamic vinegar.. I know that's so retro but still the plate came back CLEAN. There are many focaccia recipes, this one I found to be the easiest to remember.
400ml of warm water
1T yeast
1/2 tsp sugar
31/2C flour
1 tsp salt
Olive oil
salt (I used Fleur de Sel Guerande)
What ever topping you wish
I make everything in my KitchenAid and attach the dough hook.
Preheat oven to 400F
Dissolve yeast and sugar in warm water. Let stand for about 10 minutes
Add flour and salt and mix with dough hook for about 3 minutes on medium and then on low for about 4 minutes while scraping down the bowl.
Dough will be a little sticky, if it is too sticky add a little more flour.
Rub a clean bowl with olive oil ,place balled dough into it, cover and place in a warm place and let rice for about11/2 hour.
When doubled in size take out of bowl and press into a rectangular pan.
Sprinkle with olive oil, and desire topping.
Let rise again, about 10 min.
Bake in 400F for about 15 minutes or until bottom and top are golden.

Thursday, June 26, 2008


Happy Birthday Shirley, a beautiful 85 young sweetheart, cherished mother of my best friend Cindy and surrogate mother to all of Cindy's friends. She deserved a special cake and a favorite celebration cake in our house is this German Frankfurter Kranz Torte. The origin comes from the city of Frankfurt Germany and Kranz means wreath, henceforth, I baked it in a bundt cake form. It does take a little time to assemble but well worth the effort.

Frankfurter Kranz Torte

1/2C butter
3/4C sugar
3 large eggs
rind of 1/2 lemon
3/4C sifter flour
1/3 C Corn Starch
2 tsp Baking Powder
1&1/2 C Butter cream frosting (recipe follows)

Praline, made with
1 T butter
1/4 C sugar
1 C blanched and chopped almonds or hazelnuts

Pre-heat oven to 350. Cream butter & sugar until fluffy. Add eggs 1 at a time incorporated them into the mixture. Mix in lemon rind, sift flour, cornstarch and baking powder and gradually stir into batter. Pour into a ring cake mould and bake 45 - 60 minutes. Cool thoroughly. Prepare frosting and praline.


Melt butter and sugar in a frying pan. When browned add nuts and pour onto a buttered plate. When cooled take a rolling pin and further crush the praline into smaller bits.

German Butter Cream Filling:

Six lg egg yolks at room temp.
3/4 C sugar
1/2 C water
1/2 T cornstarch
1/4 C soften butter
3-4 T flavoring to taste (vanilla, rum etc)

Over very low heat cook sugar, water and cornstarch until dissolved. Bring to a boil. Syrup should be 238F on a candy thermometer. Whisk egg yolks. VERY SLOWLY STIRRING CONSTANTLY in a thin stream add syrup to the egg yolks. DON'T do this quickly or you will scramble the eggs. Beat until mixture is smooth and creamy. Cool thoroughly. To make frosting beat soften butter to the cream mixture adding 3 or 4 tablespoons of your desired flavoring.

To Assemble Cake:

Cut cake either in half or 3 layers, lightly spread butter cream on each layer. Assemble layers and cover entire cake with remaining butter cream. Slowly coat outside butter cream layer with the candied nut praline. Refrigerate cake but take out 30 Min's prior to serving.


Another retirement party! So far three principals, a director of elementary education at the board office, and a dear teacher colleague and friend. I t has been a busy week, another school year over and new adventures for the future. So far the weather is beautiful, although rain was predicted, but in honor of our friend's retirement, the pool party will go on without a hitch.
Strawberries are in their prime,and sooo sweet, so why not try this beautiful tart that combines everyone's favorite ingredients, strawberries, Baileys Irish Creme and of course cream cheese. I originally saw this recipe a few months ago on Nicole's site Baking and made a few adjustments ,so that it would fill my ten inch tart pan. So if you have a smaller tart pan do check out her site for the original recipe.
Crust (I did not double this, it was fine for the 10 inch pan, it will be thicker for a 9 inch pan .)
2C all-purpose flour
3T sugar
2/3C butter
1/4C ice-water
In the food processor pulse the first 4 ingredients until mixture is crumbly.
Stir in water, adding an additional tablespoon if necessary, until dough comes together.
Press dough into a disk and refrigerate 30 minutes. Roll out and press into your tart pan. Freeze for at least another 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
Place aluminum foil on top of pastry. Fill foil with weights ( beans, or rice) and bake for 12-15 minutes.
Remove foil and weights and continue to bake until golden brown. 20-25 minutes
Cool completely.
I needed to double the filling recipe, so use your judgement.This is the DOUBLED recipe.
2 8- oz cream cheese, softened at room temperature
1 cup powdered icing sugar
4 T Irish Creme (or 2tsp vanilla and 4T milk)
Strawberries cut in half.
Melt 4 ounces of chocolate in a double boiler or microwave.. Pour into crust. Spread evenly to coat the bottom . Refrigerate for 30 minutes. Beat cream cheese , powdered sugar and Bailey;s until smooth. Pour into cooled crust. Top with sliced berries melt remaining chocolate and drizzle over the berries.
Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. Enjoy!

Friday, June 20, 2008


I love it when Ron makes me lunch, he is a good man ,I guess I'll keep him a little longer. (ha, seeing that we will be married 33 years in July).Seriously though, he is always concerned that I get my veggies and my protein. So voila, a lovely mache salad with a smoked salmon,red onion,boiled egg with capers, and dots of mayo on pumpernickel bread. Yum

Thursday, June 19, 2008


Heidi, is my middle sister who loves to bake. She is quite good at it, and her cakes are delicious. Our mother was German, so tortes, were the only cakes we knew growing up. No store bought cakes for our birthdays, but delicious butter cream tortes that were lovingly created by her. Her reference , when she needed one, was a soft covered book called,"Backen Macht Freude", from the Dr. Oetker Backbuch series.
When my older sister Christel came for a visit, Heidi took the opportunity to make a Baumkuchen Torte. The literal translation means Tree Cake, as in the rings of a tree when you get a cross section to see how old a tree is. Heidi doubled this recipe,and made it in a square cake pan, cause we love our coffee and cake, but I will give you the single recipe that you make in a round springform. It takes a little preparation and baking time but well worth the effort.

Baumkuchen Torte

250 g. butter or margarine
250 g. sugar
1 pkg. Dr. Oetker vanilla sugar
2 eggs+4 yolks
1-2 T rum
150 g. flour
100 g. cornstarch
9 g. backing powder (3 teaspoon)
4 egg whites
175 g. icing sugar
2-3T hot water
1 walnut size pat of butter (melted)
Glaze (dark)
1 t. of white icing mixture
1 tsp of cocoa ( a drop or two of water to get the same consistency)
Beat butter and gradually add the sugar, vanilla sugar, 2 eggs and 4 yolks and the rum.
Sift with flour, cornstarch and baking powder together and gradually add this to the batter, mix well to incorporate the ingredients.
Beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form, carefully fold into the batter.
In a greased and floured springform, make your first layer.Approximately 3-4 T of batter should cover the base. Bake in a pre-heated 350 degree oven,8-10 minutes. Remove from heat.Continue in the same way for the second layer. Repeat this process until you have 7-8 layers. When done cool cake before frosting. I can bake this cake in my oven without making any adjustments, but depending on your individual stove , if you feel that your first layers are browning too quickly, by all mens, adjust your rackes, raising them as you get closer to the last layers. Or place a bowl with water on a lower rack and proceed with the baking of the layer by placing the springform on the rack over the water bowl.
Whisk the whit icing in a bowl and set aside a tablespoon of icing for the dark icing. Cover cake with icing sugar. Take chocolate icing ,and put in a small plastic baggie. Cut the tip off the corner, and proceed to make rows of chocolate circles on the top part of the cake. With a clean knife, run it through the circles to make the design. Remember to clean the knife before making the next ray dissection.You will need to work quickly as icing wants to set.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Panko Halibut

Ron and I like to pick up our fresh fish from the Pelican Fish Market. When time allows we like to have lunch at their attached restaurant. They have the best calamari crispy but not greasy. That day I had ordered a Talapia breaded in Panko and fell in love with this Asian bread crumb. Panko is a Japanese bread crumb, coarse and jagged- edged it is made from the soft tender centers of the bread rather than the crust. They are lighter than traditional western bread crumbs and maintain essential crispiness longer and contain less salt and calories. The best part is that they absorb far less grease than western bread crumbs and taste yummier.
So the halibut we purchased to b.b.q. I now decided to ,"Panko".
I pre -heated the oven to 400 degrees, I did not want to fry these beautiful halibut pieces, as everybody is trying to eat healthier, so I lightly coated a backing sheet with olive oil and placed it in the oven to heat up, while I prepared the fish.
1. Coat fish in flour seasoned with salt and pepper.
2.Dredge fish in an egg and water mixture.
3.Lastly coat in Panko bread crumbs.
I then lowered the heat to 350 degrees placed my halibut pieces on the heated baking sheet and lightly sprinkled Olive oil on top of the fish. Bake in oven for 30 minutes.
Wow, the results were fantastic, light , crispy and with a fraction of the calories than pan frying them! I highly recommend the Panko bread crumbs.
In Ottawa I have not found them at our local Loblaws, but as mentioned the Pelican carries this product and possibly other fish markets may carry them also.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Just a bit of info

I thought maybe it was time to explain a few things about this blog. It is very evident that I am not a professional photographer nor do I own an expensive camera, or have ever even shown an interest in even taking pictures. I love to eat ,therefore ,I have to cook, on occasion I bake, but in truth my sister Heidi loves to bake, is extremely good at it and will always do the baking for any celebration/holiday, so I defer to her ,mainly because she does it so much better than I do. I am also no computer wiz, and when things go wrong I ask the hubby,( who also is no computer wiz) to help me out ,which is often!! As a result, my blog is not very slick and beautiful looking, (like some of the food blogs that I have been reading), but I am willing to learn, and hopefully will improve as time goes by.
I started this blog more as a record of some family recipes, for my kids, and other reasons that I will post at a later date. The food is REAL, not staged and many times prepared and presented the way my family likes to eat it. Thus, many vegetables are over cooked, not the most nuticious way of eating or preparing them, but that is how they like to eat them, and for dietary reasons find them easier to digest, so after many attempts to get them to eat them differently, I have for the most part given up .This is not an excuse , just an explanation for not making the photos look ,"their best." But as I have said , I want to keep it real, and hopefully you will still enjoy the posts.

Friday, June 13, 2008


Ron on occassion
likes to putter around the kitchen, which is fine by me because he usually likes to make a dessert.His most recent contribution, besides doing all the outdoor grilling lately was this simple but delicious creme caramel. Sometimes the best desserts are the ones that have been around forever. This one got rave reviews! Recipe courtesy, The Cookworks 2003.

Creme Caramel

2/3 cup sugar

1/3 cup water

1 cup milk

1 cup heavy creme

4 egg yolks

1/2 cup caster or fine sugar

1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Special equipment a pastry brush, 6(4-ounce) ramekins.

Pre-heat oven to 325 degrees F

Place the sugar and water in a heavy-bottomed saucepot over low heat. Let the sugar dissolve. Carefully brush the walls of the pot with a little water to prevent the sugar from crystallizing on the sides. Increase the heat to medium-high and boil until the syrup turns golden brown. Remove from the heat promptly and carefully divide the hot caramel among the 6 ramekins. Let cool for at least 2 minutes

In a medium saucepan, bring the milk and cream to just below a boil over medium-high heat. Meanwhile, mix together the egg yolks, caster sugar, and vanilla in a large mixing bowl. Place the mixing bowl on top of a towel to keep it from wobbling while whisking the hot liquid. Gently whisk 2 tablespoons of the hot mixture into the egg mixture. Slowly whisk the remaining hot milk 1/3 at a time, trying to prevent excess bubbles. Strain through a sieve.

Place 6 ramekins evenly in a paper towel=lined baking dish to prevent the ramekins from sliding. Pour mixture evenly into the caramel -coated ramekins. Place on the extended middle rack of the oven. Carefully pout boiling water into the baking dish until 2/3 of the way up the sides of the ramekins. (be careful not to get any water on the custard mixture.) Cover the baking dish with foil and very gently slide it towards the center of the rack. Bake for about 35 mins. or until the custard is almost fully set. Remove from the oven. Use tongs to remove the ramekins from the hot water bath. Let stand at room temperature for 5 minutes then refrigerate until well chilled.

To serve, dip the ramekin in very hot water for 15-20 secs. Run a sharp knife around the sides of the ramekin. Invert the custard onto serving plates. The caramel will pool around the inverted custards. Serve immediately.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Spring Vegetable Soup with Wieners

Yes, I know that it is finally hot enough outside to fry an egg on the driveway, but believe me, my fridge really needed to be cleaned out and what better way to use up all those "older vegetables". but in a soup?
Not to mention the package of left over wieners that I bought at Costco to serve with the potato salad. I usually buy my sausages and frankfurters from Adam's deli, they make the best in all of Ottawa, but they are in the east end and I live in the southwest , and I had a very busy week with my sister who was visiting from Delaware , so it was easier just going to Costco and buy the wieners there, the drawback is that I ended up with more than I needed or could possibly eat in a week! So why not add them to the soup?
There really is no recipe for this soup, as you use up whatever veggies you have left in the fridge. In my case it was,carrots, celery, a small piece of cauliflower, a package of left over baby spinach, green beans, and some diced potatoes (about four). First I sauteed some double smoked bacon (from Adam's deli),and a small diced onion in some olive oil, then added the carrot and celery , and then around 6-8 cups of boiling water, then the potatoes, cauliflower and beans. To that , I also included a cube of fat free all vegetable bouillon by McCormick, just for a little extra flavour. Bring it all to a boil and then simmer until the veggies are soft, and at the end I added the wieners and some salt and pepper.
By the time the soup was ready, the sky turned dark and the heavens opened up with rain! All in all, the soup turned out not to be such a bad idea after all.
Serve with a rustic bread and garnish with some parmesan cheese. (optional)

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Lazy Days of Summer and Salads

Well, the lazy, hazy days of summer like weather have finally arrived and I don't much feel like cooking in the kitchen!
The hubby has been at the grill , nothing fancy , just some brats and chops, while I made us a quick potato salad with a fresh garden salad with a simple oil and vinaigrette dressing. I thought the chive flowers would add a little festive touch to a plain but good meal.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008


Pies were always my MIL's domain. She truly was the apple pie queen, her pies were tender, flaky,deep-dished brimming with fruit, not to mention that lovely heavenly, cinnamon smell that would scent up the entire house and just make your mouth water for a piece of pie.
I never even tried to bother baking pies, mainly because on the few occasions that I attempted a pie crust it turned out a nightmare experience and I ended with a pie that sat on the kitchen counter for a week and could literally kill someone. Even my own children at the time made it perfectly clear, that Baba Polly's pie were BEST and I shouldn't even try to bother making them. Well Baba Polly passed away 18 years ago, and for some crazy reason I got it into my head to give it one more try.. OK maybe this my my third try. I called Auntie Louise and asked her how she made her pie crust.. just follow the Crisco recipe it's idiot proof, well this idiot couldn't get a crust that was light and flaky. Then I tried a very good friend who swore that she followed the Tenderflake recipe, and even convinced me to make the 5 cup of flour version, because as she reminded me, " you can freeze the dough and it will be fabulous ." That dough just wouldn't roll out without me having to patch it all up. Hopeless, and here I had wasted 5 cups of flour, but I was determined!! I would master this dough. The solution came with a Food TV recipe from Anna Olson . OMG! Her pie dough was absolutely wonderful!! I did it in the Cuisinart Easy Peasy, and a charm to roll out and then to fold in half ,lift and place in the pie plate. Yahoo this old bird did it. Even the kids (Young men) said that this was just as good as Baba's. Can you believe it? So hear goes, for all you gals , who like me, are willing to give pies one more try.

Pie Crust (2 / 9 inch pie plate)
21/2 C. flour
1 tsp.salt
1/2c. butter
1/2c. vegetable shortening
1 T. lemon juice
6-10 T. ice-water
Cut butter and shortening into flour . I pulsed it in the Cuisinart, Add lemon juice, pulse and slowly add ice water until dough forms a ball ,while machine is running Split dough in half, cover with wrap and refridge for at least 30 min. Dust rolling pin and station with flour and roll out dough a little larger than pie pan. Fold dough in half and cover pie plate. I like to use a glass one, (it was my MIL's and she swore they are the best) Fill with fruit, brush rim edge with an egg and water mixture and cover with top layer of dough. Make a few slits for steam to release, brush top layer with egg mixture and dust with crystal sugar.

Blueberry Filling
8 C.of rinsed and picked over blueberries
2/3C. sugar
4T. cornstarch
1T.lemon juice
2T. water or rum
1/4tsp. cinnamon
Mix ingredients and fill pie plate, cover with dough, make a few slits in top layer, brush with egg wash and sprinkle layer with sugar. Bake 375 for 1 -1 1/4 hr.

Results: It could have been sweeter (husband's comment) You probably can add some Splenda or up the sugar to 3/4 cup. I would also probably add another tablespoon of cornstarch or maybe omit the water, as it was a tad liquidy,BUT, the dough was tender and light and all in all a very tasty Pie!