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.