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.