Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Merry Christmas

Take a deep breath and relax. I want to wish everybody a very Merry Christmas. May your day be filled with peace and joy.

I was hopeing to post more entries this month but a problem with the computer, the server or even Blogger, made me eperience many moments of frustration. Such is life and I have long learned to just roll with the punches. I know how busy this season can be, but please take some time for reflection,take time for yourself and your family ,afterall, that is all that really matters.
I am looking forward to what 2010 has to bring, wishing you all the very best and don't forget to stop by and visit .

Monday, December 21, 2009


Sometimes you just have to do the recipe the way it is written, I've tried playing with Baba's cinnamon roll recipe and they just don't turn out the same, what can I say!? Where this recipe came from I really don't know , all \I can say is that this is my kids (Who are now grown-up) favorite recipe.
I think the reason why is because Baba Pauline twisted in some softened Turkish delight into the nut, raisin brown sugar cinnamon mixture. Yes you heard me correctly Turkish Delight. Most boxes come with a selection of flavours, rose, lemon, mint, bergemon. Actually, it's because of these flavours that I like to make these cinnamon rolls for Christmas.
I actually prepared these early in November and because all of Baba's recipes are made in huge quantities I ended up with at least 15 dozen bags of these little gems to freeze. I personally like to eat them frozen straight from the freezer... it's like candy, but just bring them to room temperature or nook them for a bit and they make a lovely roll any time of year, not just for Christmas.

Start by proofing the yeast. use 3 envelopes of yeast, 1 cup of warm water 1tsp. sugar. Set aside and let it rise for 10 minutes. In the mean time prepare your milk

Heat 6 cups of milk , Do not boil, to this add 1/2 pound of butter and let butter melt. To this mixture add 7 beaten eggs.

In a large bowl add 8 cups of flour and 3tsp. of salt (this will be half of your total 16 cups) make a well in the center and add the yeast mixture in the middle and taking some of the flour and slowly start incorporating the yeast and flower. This is where things will get messy and tricky.
You will now slowly start adding the milk to your flour mixture. Do not add all the milk mixture at once....rather slowly add the flour and milk in small batches kneading as you go along. Eventually you will be adding the reserved other half (8 cups) of flour as your dough will be sticky as you continually are kneading. It will take the full 16 cups of flour and at the end you will still to some extent have a somewhat sticky dough, but not like it was in the beginning. Form into a ball (huge) oil a clean bowl and let the dough rise in a warm place for1 1/2 hour. Pre-heat oven to 375.
When your dough is ready punch it down tear off a chunk and roll out on a lightly floured surface. Cut dough into triangular stripes fill with cinnamon mixture and roll up. Place on a pan and bake for around 20 minutes or until golden.

The cinnamon mixture can be personalized to your individual tastes. Pauline would grind nuts, walnuts oer pecans, add both brown and white sugar, raisins, cinnamon, and of course every triagle before it was rolled up and a stringy piece of turkish felight in it. She would roll out a piece of turkish delight between her hands to softrn it and make it pliable. The addition of Turkish delight is optional, but I would like to encourage you to try this lovely addition.

1 box TURKISH DELIGHT .... break in pieces and roll in yopur hands to make squiggly worms
2C brown sugar
1/2 c. white sugar
2 c. raisins
1 1/2 c ground nuts
cinnamon to taste
Mix all these ingredienys together, this is your filling
3pkg yeast
1 c warm water
1 tsp sugar
Mix together and let proof for 10 minutes
1/2 lb. butter
6 c. warm milk
7 eggs beaten
Heat this over low heat . Do not boil
16 c. of flour 3 tsp. salt mix, Only use 1/2 of flour at the beginning gradually add the other half as you are incorporating milk mixture to flour mixture. Knead
Let the dough rise in a warm place roll out cut in stipes fill with cinnamon mixture and turkish delight, bake at 375 for 20 min, or until golden. Drizzel with icing sugat optional, freeze in plastic bags.

Sunday, November 15, 2009


This is not the Julia Child's recipe but just a typical french braise. The recipe is out of the Food and Drink Autumn fall LCBO book (Liquor Control Board of Ontario). Saturday's are busy days in most households mine included. Weather permitting there is still some last minute yard work that needs to be done, groceries to be shopped and unloaded, cars that need washing and the ever endless house cleaning. When I have such a day I like to prepare some type of stew or casserole in the morning so that at the end of the busy day I am faced with a ready meal as opposed to still having to prepare one. This beef bourguignon is the perfect meal to prepare ahead and serve later.


2-1/2lbs of stewing meat cut into 2" cubes

Salt and freshly ground pepper

3T olive oil

4oz sliced double smoked bacon diced.

18 pearl onions, skinned

8oz small cremini mushrooms.

1 cup chopped onions

1/2 cup chopped carrots

1/2 cup chopped celery

2 cups red wine

2 cups beef stock

1 head garlic, dry papery layers brushed off, top third of bulb cut off.

1 bay leaf

2 stalks thyme

4 sprigs parsley


3 T softened butter

3T Flour
  1. Preheat oven to 300F (150C)
  2. Season meat with salt and pepper.
  3. Heat 1T of oil in Dutch Oven over medium high heat. Add bacon and saute until slightly crisp. Remove from pan and reserve.
  4. Add pearl onions and saute for 5mins. Add mushrooms and saute for another 5 minutes or until onions are tender and mushrooms are browned. Remove onions and mushrooms and reserve. Wipe pan out.
  5. Add another 1T of oil to pot and working in batches, add meat in single layers without crowding and brown on both sides about 1 minute per side. Remove meat and place in a strainer over a bowl to allow fat to drip out.
  6. Reduce heat to medium and add the remaining 1T of oil to the pot. Add the chopped onions, carrots and celery and saute for 5mins or until softened. Add wine scraping up any brown bits from the base of the pan. Bring to boil and boil for 1min, then add stock. bay leaf, thyme and parsley sprigs. Bring back to a boil and skim off any foam that rises to the top. Stir in the meat.
  7. Cover and bake for 2 - 21/2 hrs or until meat is tender. Add reserved bacon, onions and mushrooms, return pot to oven and bake another 15mins or until meat is very tender and sauce is rich.
  8. To make Beurre Manie, combine butter and flour to make a paste.
  9. If sauce is npt thick enough strain into a separate pot and add the beurre manie a bit at a time until it is thickened to your satisfaction. This should not be a very thick sauce. Season to taste and return to pot.

Serves 4-6

Tuesday, November 10, 2009


I really don't know why it is called Black Lentil Soup,other than it does call for black lentils. I have never seen black lentils, I used brown ones, I have seen orange lentils and green ones, but regardless of the colour, all I do know is that this is a different version from the German lentil soup (My Mom's recipe) that I usually make.
I am always on the look-out for a good hearty soup recipe , as Ron and I often enjoy just a soup for an evening meal. We love it's simplicity, comfort and many times, we just don't feel like thinking about what to make. A soup is easy, it usually requires no special ingredients, just clean out the fridge's vegetable drawer usually works for me, soup is easy to freeze or to keep in the fridge for a few days.
This soup actually has a story attached to it, I found it in the November issue of the Food and Wine magazine that I subscribe to. I love Indian food, and the magazine had an excellent article about a chef/sommelier Rajat Parr who puts an Indian twist on some of his dishes, the Lentil soup, was one of the lovely dishes highlighted, and the one that I had decided to make . Lentils are something that my family enjoys eating. either as a main meal or an a accompaniment to a meal. The soup turned out to be a huge hit and as I was raving about it to my girlfriend Seeta, telling her about this article and the chef's spin on food, doesn't she say that she knows of this young fellow (Rajat Parr and his family and his success in California) needless to say I am now saving the article for her and enchanted to once again learn how small our world is and how we are all connected.
But back to the soup. This earthy soup is Parr's take on an Indian dal .

1 cup lentils (about 6 ounces)
2 cardamom pods
One 1-inch piece of ginger peeled and thinly sliced plus
2T. minced ginger
6 T. unsalted butter
1 diced onion
2 garlic cloves minced
1/2 tsp. ground coriander
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp. garam masala
2 quarts vegetable broth
1 cup canned crushed tomatoes

  1. In a pot, cover the lentils, cardamom and sliced ginger with 1" of water. Bring to a boil and cook over moderately high heat until the lentils start to soften. Approx 10 mins. Drain the lentils and transfer to a bowl, discard the cardamom and ginger.
  2. Melt 3T of butter in the pot. Add the onion, garlic and minced ginger and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until softened (8 mins). Reduce the heat to low. Add the coriander, cumin, cayenne and garam masala and cook stirring until fragrant (approx 4 mins).
  3. Add the stock, tomatoes and lentils and bring to a boil over high heat. Simmer over moderate heat until the lentils are softened and soup has thickened (approx 1 hr). Stir in the remaining 2T of butter and season with salt. Ladle into bowls and serve.

(As a slight variation and because I add carrots to my mothers lentil soup recipe I also add 2 chopped carrots to this version.)

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Tequila Lime BBQ Chicken & Pesto Gnocchi

Ron was playing nursemaid, and chief chef, while I was suffering major pain with my sinus infection. Meals were simple, but oh so good. Every now and then, I would tell him to remember to take some pictures. The results were not were glamorous, but what it lacked in visual presentation, it made up in flavour. Ron also took the trouble to make home made gnocchi, you have just got to love the guy.

This is actually a lovely recipe from a Canadian chef named Rob Rainford. He is the Grill man on the Canadian Food network Channel. This recipe, is actually a great one to make in the summertime when your BBQ is all fired up, but Ron brought a little sunshine into a dismal winter day by changing a few ingredients, and just grilling them on the Foreman Grill/ The original recipe is called Tangerine Tequila Chicken Breasts and can be found at Ron substituted limes for the tangerine and used chicken legs and thighs. I'll post the original recipe. On a personal note this recipe almost reminded me of my good friend Lynne's Bajan Chicken recipe that she made for me a year ago when I was undergoing radiation. I'll have to get her to pass along a family recipe and post it sometime soon as it was absolutely delicious!

8 chicken breasts skeined and de- boned ( Ron used legs and thighs)

1/4 cup sugar

1/2 cup rice vinegar

1tsp dried chili peppers

zest and juice of 6 tangerines (Ron used limes)

3 T tequila

1 T fresh lime juice (Ron omitted this)

1/2 cup peanut or veg. oil

1T fresh mint leaves chopped 1/4 tsp. of salt.

In a med bowl wisk all ingredients.

Reserve 1/4 cup of marinade for basting.

Wash and pat dry chicken.

Place everything in a zip lock bag including pierced chicken and marinade for 3-6 hours.

Grill on our door or indoor grill basting as you go along.


It's the first of November and it is beautiful outside. The sun is shinning and Ron and I should have taken a drive in the country, but last night I boiled and got my potatoes ready for my annual perogie making session , so I stuck to my original plan and got on with the work.

This is actually my second post on making perogies, I posted last year on the 9th of December on a wintry snowy day, but I fear that I may have scared some of you off from attempting these delicious little dough filled pastas. Last year I roughly made 15 dozen, as I did today , mainly because they freeze so beautifully and it is great to have a bag of these that you can easily defrost and presto a great home-cooked meal. I know that you can just as easily go to your local supermarket and pick up a bag of machine made perogies, but trust me they don't even come close to the REAL thing. So today I took particular care about counting, and measuring and have figured out for you a one batch recipe that will easily yield 36 or more perogies depending on the size of your cut-out. I usually make a double batch times two and I can easily get over 150 of them. But working solo to make that amount takes at least 6 hours and I realize that many young moms work and would rather do other things on a Sunday morning with their families that make perogies!

So, to give you some encouragement, here is a recipe that will take just a fraction of the time, yield at least 3 dozen and you can probably even freeze some for another meal.
I made a Potato, cheddar ,onion filling today, but fillings are endless so use your imagination. Cheeses can range from Quark, Ricotta , to Cheese Whiz or Kraft Singles. You can add onions, bacon bits, parsley or whatever spice, herb that you like in your potatoes. I make perogies with a mushroom filling and a sauerkraut filling and even a ground meat filling. Like i said use your imagination.
Boil around 6-8 potatoes of medium size.
Drain and Mash potatoes with 250 Gr. of grated cheddar cheese. I used medium cheddar.
Saute 1 diced onion in some butter until translucent and add to mashed potato.
Set aside and let cool.
Take a soup spoon and scoop the mixture and form into little balls , this will be your filling. I do these balls in stages as I fill the perogies
You will need to boil 1 potato in some water before you start the dough. Take out the potato and mash it while it still warm, save the potato water as you will need it, let it cool to lukewarm.
Add 1/2 cup of mashed potato ( that you boiled and set aside, not the filling)
Add 1/2 cup of lukewarm potato water
2 egg yolks
2 T. of oil,or shortening
Add 2 cups of flour mixed with 1 tsp. cream of tarter
Pulse until a ball forms.
Remove from Processor and place in a bowl to knead lightly,add 2 T. of flour at a time just until dough does not stick to your hands. Roughly 1/4 cup rarely more. This is a lovely rich soft dough. Let rest for 10 minutes in the bowl covered with a cloth.
Split the dough in 3 sections and roll out on a lightly floured board . The dough will roll out easily use a round cookie cutter, glass rim or even an empty cleaned soup can as a cutter, as this is a good size for the rounds. Naturally the bigger your circle the more filling you will need and then you also end up with less than 3 dozen. But by all means if a bigger circle is easier to work with then use it till you get the hang of making smaller ones.
Take one of your circles , stretch it out a bit like a pizza, the dough is elastic and will stretch easily, fill it with the filling, wet half of the edge with some water fold it in half and pinch the dough together. Make sure you pinch it closed as otherwise it will open when you boil them.
Place pinched and filled perogies on a clean towel. When hey are all complete, Bring a big pot of salted water to a boil. Place around 8-10 of your perogies into the boiling salted water. When they rise to the top they are done. Remove with a slotted spoon and place in cold water if you are planning on freezing them. Them remove from cold water ,pat dry , freeze on an oiled tray for 20 minutes then bag them for later use.
OTHERWISE, continue boiling the batches, remove from boiling water, OMIT cold water bath , place on tray and when ALL perogies are boiled, in a clean frying pan melt some butter and saute about 1/2 a diced onion. When lightly browned add your boiled perogies to frying pan, just to reheat them and serve immediately with a dollop of sour cream.
I know it sounds long but it truly isn't if you make a batch. Get the kids to help pinch and your hubbie to do the boiling. It really is easy and delish..... and then again you can double the recipe and really go to town !

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Roast Loin of Pork with Sage

The mornings are quite frosty, we even have to scrape off the car windows, but believe it or not, the sage in the herb garden is still growing strongly.
Actually besides being an extremely hardy herb it also multiplied and grew like a weed! Ron had a great idea of using a bunch of this lovely herb on the pork roast. He started by seasoning the pork roast his usual way, by studding it with garlic and cloves, covering it with Dijon mustard and seasoning it very well with just freshly ground pepper and kosher salt.
The new twist then was to utilize the abundant sage.

He covered the entire roast with the sage leaves and then roasted it in the oven at 375 degrees. For about a titch over an hour. (You will have to adjust the cooking time to the size of your pork roast). What a wonderful juicy roast this turned out to be! Seriously I can't rave enough about how great this tasted, absolutely fantastic! We usually have left over pork roast for sandwiches but this time everybody had seconds.( Sorry no pictures of the finished roast we were all too anxious and hungry to take photos, it smelled so good we just wanted to EAT!)

Tuesday, October 20, 2009


Naturally if you are lucky enough to have a wood burning stone oven, you have it made for making pizza's. However, most of us don't, so the next best thing would be a PIZZA STONE that can be found at most kitchen specialty stores. The trick is to make sure that your stone is very hot before you use it. ( Again, this recipe is from the Random House ,"Earth To Table" book that I previewed a few weeks ago.

When I know the kids are coming home for dinner, or even a great party idea, I like to set out a bowl of ingredients both fresh from the market and store bought (mostly organic if you can get it.) and let every one make their own pizza.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. and heat a pizza stone for at least 30 minutes.

On a lightly floured cutting board roll out one batch of pizza dough into 4 eight(8) inch circles, letting it rest about 3 minutes if it is too elastic to work.

Working quickly remove hot stone from oven and slide dough on to stone. Arrange toppings on dough. Brush edges of dough with extra virgin olive oil. Return stone to oven and bake until edges are golden and crispy, 15 to 20 minutes, depending on the choice of topping ( the more topping the longer it will take).


TOMATOES: Use this versatile fruit to give inspiration. Try tomato confit( will blog this recipe at a later date) or sliced cherry tomatoes, heirloom tomatoes. sun-dried tomatoes , smoked tomatoes or spicy tomato sauce.

CHEESES:local cheese not only makes delicious pizza, but you can introduce your guests and family to interesting flavours right on their doorstep. Try mozzarella, ricotta, parmesan, gruyere,hard cheeses such as pecorino, or cheddar and cream cheeses.

MEATS: Aside from ham and pepperoni, all forms of charcuterie make excellent pizza toppings. Try smoked fish, salami, prosciutto, sausage, smoked turkey and smoked chicken.

EXTRAS:Add even more flavours with capers, lemon zest, chili peppers, hot sauce, anchovies, olives, and condiments such as La Bomba( recipe to follow in future blog , similar to an an anti pasto).

HERBS: Fresh herbs and lettuces add a real zing to even an ordinary pizza, We like arugula, Thai basil, tarragon and lemony sorrel. Add fresh herbs after the pizza comes out of the oven.








1 tsp. HONEY

Combine flour , yeast and salt in a standing mixer bowl.

Add 1 cup of the water oil and honey.

Attach the flat beater and mix on low speed until all is combined.

Remove the flat beater and attach the dough hook Gradually add the remaining water, mixing on low speed, until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl, about 5 minutes.

Turn onto lightly floured surface knead until dough is smooth and elastic , about 3 minutes.

Place in a large greased bowl, turning dough to grease all over. Cover with a clean damp towel and let rise in a warm place until double in size, about 1 hour or so.

Dive dough into 4 balls. Work each ball by pulling down the sides and tucking them under the bottom of the ball. Repeat about 4 or 5 times.

On a clean surface, roll each ball under the palm of your hands until smooth and firm.

Cover with a damp towel and let rise until dough has relaxed and started to rise again , 15-20 minutes.

The recipe says that you should be able to fit 4 small pizzas on one stone, but to tell you the truth, my stone only really holds 1 large pizza, and no matter how I placed it I couldn't get even 2 small doughs on it, so I don't know how big of a stone they are using, but I could only fit 1 on it small or large!

( see top of blog for further instructions for finishing and baking the pizza. )

Saturday, October 17, 2009


I have been feeling a little under the weather, it seems that everybody is either sick already or like me feeling achy . I am not a big tea drinker but felt like I wanted something warm and soothing.

Last month I was asked to preview the book by Random House Canada called "EARTH TO TABLE" Seasonal Recipes from an Organic Farm, by Jeff Crump and Bettia Schurmann. In their Fall Section of recipes was this lovely Mulled Cider recipe. Having just recently purchased some apples and cider from the Market , it was practically a no brainer that I would make this at some point.

Not only did this drink soothe , but as an added bonus it filled my kitchen with a lovely aromatic.

Mulled Cider and Cranberry

makes 6 cups

4 cups pure organic apple cider

1 cup cranberry juice

2 tablespoons of brandy, I used more

1/2 cup sugar (I used 1/4)

1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg

2 whole cloves (I used 4)

1 cinnamon stick

grated zest of 1 lemon and orange

apples slices and fresh cranberries to garnish

In a saucepan combine all the ingredients over medium heat just to combine the flavours do not boil. Strain and serve warm, add a few apple slices and cranberries to garnish.

WIENER SCHNITZEL/Bratkatoffel(Fried Potatoes)

Here is a late Octoberfest menu that offers you an alternative to the standard sausage and sauerkraut meal. Sometimes I get a yen for a good schnitzel and potato salad, and so today i thought I would post a common German or Austrian meal. Schnitzel can be made from both pork or veal cutlets that are pounded as thin as you can and then breaded in the trilogy(flour,egg, and bread crumb mixture) and then fried. I prepared veal cutlets early this morning, seasoned them with salt/pepper , breaded then and then fried them up.I placed them on a sheet that I later covered with foil and placed in the oven for a quick reheat at 350degrees for about 20-30 minutes.

Instead of the potato salad i made some pan fried potatoes or bratkatoffel in German. I also get some double- smoked bacon from the Polish Deli (where I get most of my meats, cold-cuts, bacon and sausages) In Ottawa that would be Adams Sausages off St. Laurent Blvd. (They are the best!!) I sliced about 6 slices of bacon, add a diced onion, scrubbed and sliced potatoes and a little oil (if necessary) and fry the potatoes up. This to can be prepared early in the day and then rehated. Season with salt, pepper and chopped parsley.

Yes , this meal has a lot of fried components (not for heart patients) I had some left over cucumber salad and thought this would be a nice refreshing addition.
The husband thought a cold beer was more refreshing and a better addition to an Octoberfest meal. After all, what would an Octoberfest be without the beer? So "Bitte ein Bitt". Which is a great German beer to try if you haven't done so yet.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving . Yes, in Canada we celebrate it more than a month earlier than our American neighbours. but other than not having the infamous "Black Friday" Sales, our Thanksgiving can be just as hectic and freaky ! I've done it all , as much as 20 people at 2 tables, to just Ron and I. To be truthful I as I am getting older I yearn for just the quiet 2 or 4 some dinner, but alas to date it is still at least 10 people squished around the table. This year we were 8 and there was a little more breathing room.
I have scaled back with the preparations. I no longer stuff the bird and turn it into a 3-4 day production. I now buy a fresh bird and just brine it the night before and then at a decent hour the next morning roast the bird, with the cavity just filled with an aromatic filling. Besides the bird we make the mashed potatoes, maple carrots, my sister brought the stuffing, Kohlrabi in a cream sauce the cranberry ring, and a refreshing cucumber salad. There was plenty of both red and white wine and of course the obligatory pumpkin pie , creme caramel, banana bread, assorted chocolates and sugar pie. ( A bit overkill in the desserts, but that's ok.)
However, back to the bird... I've been braining the bird for the past 3 years now and I must say for me it is the only way to go. There are many brine sachets you can buy, but why bother when it is so easy to make your own. There are probably many brine recipes out there and they are all good, find one that appeals to you and give ita try. I swear you'll never go back, to the old way of preparing your turkey. The bird was so moist, tender and flavourful. I used to even make an aromatic butter and rub the entire bird under the skin with this mixture, but now find that brining the bird gives it more flavour without all that extra fat!

1 gallon vegetable stock
1 cup kosher salt
1/2 cup brown sugar
1tsp black pepper corns
1tsp all spice berries
1 cinnamon stick
6 sprigs of rosemary
6 sprigs of thyme
6 sage leaves
1 1/2tsp. chopped candied ginger

Simmer above ingredients , let cool . To a large tub /pail (over 5 gallon) add 1 gallon of ice cubes, the turkey and cooled brine . Place in fridge and marinate over night.

The next morning remove turkey, wipe down, rub with canola oil, season with salt/ pepper and herbs of your choice. Place the aromatic filling in cavity and roast your bird according to the weight of your bird. When internal temperature reaches 170 degrees start basting the bird every 5 minutes for an additional 30 minutes to brown the bird. Let the bird rest before carving.

In a bowl place 1 carrot roughly chopped, 1 onion quartered, 1 apple quartered, 6sage leaves, 6 sprigsrosemary, 1 stick cinnamon ,1 bay leaf, 1 cup water, microwave for 5 minutes. Remove the filling and stuff the cavity with this stuffing. You can put the water in the bottom of roasting pan or discard it.
6 springs of sage

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Roast Pepper pasta

So you've heard that saying when life hands you lemons, make juice? Well we've been busy here at home and sometimes even though the urge is there to make an elaborate meal, sometimes it's just easier to succumb to the fatigue and make something super simple.

For us that usually means a pasta dish. So just take whats hanging around , for us it was some tomatoes and peppers and make a sauce for the pasta. No recipe today as I'll let the pictures do the talking. Boiled some pasta, roasted some peppers added the tomatoes from the garden ,red ones that got made into sauce, yellow ones to garnish. A little parmigiano and a simple quick meal. Enjoy.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

BloggerAid Book Review

I am very proud to belong to a dedicated group of Food Bloggers that are trying to do their part in making a difference on Global Hunger. Our group is of course, BLOGGERAID CHANGING THE FACE OF FAMINE.
One of our projects will be our very own cookbook , "The Blogger Aid Cookbook."It will be released shortly and the proceeds from this book will benefit Friends of WFP.

BloggerAid is also hosting an event with publishers from around the world that have given them books to distribute for Review. I have been fortunate enough to be asked to review the book, EARTH to TABLE Seasonal Recipes from an Organic Farm from Random House ( and by the authors Jeff Crump and Bettina Schormann (

Thank you BloggerAid for your confidence in me.

This book was much anticipated and when it finally arrived everyone had their dibs on thumbing through it and quickly ear marking their favorite recipes from this book for a future meal. Trust me , if 4 people can request a different recipe from a book , you know that you have a winner on your hands.That event is a five star endorsement.

The author Jeff Crump developed his talents in Vancouver and California. He is a Canadian Slow Food Pioneer and the Executive Chef at the Ancaster Old Mill. His partner and award winner pastry chef,Bettina Schormann is also a proud member of the Slow Food Movement and also works with Jeff at the Ancaster Old Mill as the pastry chef.

The book itself is all about encouraging us to eat, "locally". Quite simply that means eating seasonally. The book is divided into four seasons and Jeff and Bettina have included the best and most delicious of what each season has to offer. Many recipes are classical, familiar, yet they are presented with a new twist, others are totally unexpected and exciting.

Each season is prefaced with a background journal of the authors own trials, tribulations and philosophy. Before each Season,there is a highlighted How To section and a Spotlight section that are both informative and helpful. Included is also a Profile section that introduces you some famous and innovative chefs from around the world like Heston Blumenthal and Thomas Keller.

The book was easy to read and thus made it a pleasure to peruse over a cup of coffee or even at night while lying in bed. All recipes have a little personal introduction, and everything is e clear and precise. Most recipes fit on one page and are accompanied by wonderful simple but rustic photographs taken by Edward Pond who in my opinion captured the essence of this book with his beautiful photographs.

This book arrived about ten days ago and as a true food blogger I was anxious to dazzle family and friends with an imediate recipe out of this book. As we were just at the end of summer and I had a whole basket of plums left I decided to make Jeff and Bettina's plum tart recipe (pg. 142). I ended up with eight individual galettes and one plum tart and these lasted a total of two days (see previous blog entry for the recipe). Ron who is our family pizza maker was anxious to try the pizza dough recipe on pg.184. It was made with local honey and yielded 4 -6 oz . balls of pizza dough and we all created our own personalized pizzas that ranged with toppings that included, potato and rosemary, yellow squash, sage, and pancetta to the traditional pepperoni and cheese.

The unanimous family decision was to make WHITE TRUFFLE RISOTTO with CAULIFLOWER. This recipe is out of the Fall section of the book . I had added some mushrooms because ,it was suggested in the book that the greater variety of mushrooms you use ,the more flavor your risotto will have. As I was not able to purchase any white truffle I did however, substitute this delicacy with 2tsp of white truffle oil that was drizzled over the dish. The reason why we chose the risotto recipe is because autumn is the time to really start cooking again, after the fast cold soups and salads of the summer. Autumns bounty is over-flowing and in the fall we crave something rich and earthy. Risotto is one such meal. Depending on how you make it, it can stand alone as a main meal or ca be made lighter as a side dish. By the addition of the pancetta, cauliflower, mushrooms and parmigiano you start to coax out new flavors and different textures in this dish. The White truffle Oil much to our amazement was both light and complex and made us feel we were eating a fabulous dish out of a a five star restaurant.

In our busy, time pressured lives I really feel we have become food robots. The risotto dish is a labor of love in that it does take time to properly cook the Arborio rice and to meld all the other flavors into the rice. We have to learn to slow down and to reconnect with the seasons and live more sustainable lives. The cookbook is filled with earthy recipes that do just that.

The bottom line is that this book helps you to rediscover the seasons. Seasonal eating ensures that you are consuming what is naturally good for you to eat at the right time of year. Don't get into the trap of eating the same foods all year round simply because they are more readily available. Eating seasonally is all about enjoying food rather than its abstinence and Earth to Table is the perfect tool to help you on your way. This truly is a beautiful book in every way.

Thank you once again to Random House Canada and BloggerAid.


(serves 4)

  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter

  • 5 cups wild mushrooms thinly slices

  • 3 cups small cauliflower florets

  • 2 shallots finely diced

  • 1/4 cup diced pancetta

  • 1 1/2 cup arborio rice

  • 1 cup dry white wine

  • 4 cups hot chicken stock

  • 1 cup grated parmigiano cheese

  • 1T minced flat leaf parsley

  • 1tsp minced fresh thyme

  • salt & freshly ground black pepper

  • shaved fresh white truffle or 2tsp white truffle oil

In a large skillet, melt 2T of butter over medium high heat. Add mushrooms, cauliflower, a pinch of salt and a splash of water; saute until liquid is evaporated and mushrooms appear dry, about 15 min's. Transfer to a plate and set aside.

In the same skillet, melt 2T of butter over medium heat. Add shallots and pancetta; saute until until softened; about 2 min's. Stir in rice until well coated (do not let brown). Stir in wine and cook, stirring constantly, until liquid is absorbed. Stir in 1/2 cup of stock and cook, stirring constantly, until stock is absorbed. Continue adding stock 1 cup at a time, stirring constantly until absorbed before adding more. It will take about 20 min's to incorporate all of the liquid.

Stir in mushroom mixture ad cook until vegetables are tender and rice is creamy, about 5 min's. Stir in the remaning butter, cheese, parsley and thyme. Season to taste with salt and pepper and let stand for 2 min's. Ladle risotto into warm bowls ad garnish with shaved truffle or drizzle with the white truffle oil.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Last Bite of Summer Plum Tart

So much to do so little time to do it all in. Where has the summer gone? Without getting too heavy I can honestly say that this has not been such a great summer. Oh, don't get me wrong there were some really super days always connected to family and good friends being together but as far as weather and vacation goes , nope the summer was a bust. Thank goodness we went to Florida in March for some sun and relaxation, because the summer so far has been full of rain and home- improvements that are at this very moment still on going.
Last week in the mail I received from RANDOM HOUSE CANADA ( great book to View and Review for a very important Blog that I belong to called BloggerAid Chaning the Face of Famine,
but to be truthful other than just quickly flipping through the book ( how could I not resist doing that!) I haven't as yet, had the time to actually sit and give it the time it deserves. As a matter of fact a few family members have done exactly the same thing. Ron , the hubby,lingered at the pizza recipes and after reading the recipe said, "That's different I'd like to give that a try." Well that comment was a good sign because he is our resident pizza dough/pie maker so I pretty much suspected that this book has something new and different to add to everybody's traditional tried and true recipes. Ryan, The boy, was positively drooling over the White Truffle Risotto With Cauliflower recipe . Have I piqued your interest yet? Well let me share with you a last bite of summer.I still had some some lovely Ontario plums left and thought what a great way to end the summer and give you guys and gals a little peek at a recipe from the book with their Plum Tart. This one came from the book that I will be reviewing by Jeff Crump and Bettina Shorman called EARTH TO TABLE, Seasonal Recipes from Earth to Table.(
Stay tuned for more recipes and a review on this book.

8 plums cut into wedges
2/3 c. sugar divided
1T. ground cinnamon
all purpose flour
1 recipe pate sucree
1/2 c. frangipane made with almonds
2 large egs lightly beaten
In a Bowl toss together plums, 1/2 c of the sugar and cinnamon; set aside.
Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone mat.
Lightly sprinkle with flour and set aside.
On a lightly floured surface, divide pate sucree into equal portions. Using a floured rolling pin roll out into 7 inch rough circles.Transfer to prepared baking sheet.
Spoon 1 T. of frangipane in the center of each dough circle ad spread out evenly leaving a 2 inch border.
Place a scant 1cup of plum wedges in the center of each circle lift border of pastry up over filling, letting pastry fall naturally into folds.
Brush sides with egg and sprinkle with remaining sugar.
Refrigerate for 10 minutes. Preheat oven to 350 F. with rack placed in the bottom third bake tarts till filling is bubbling and crust is golden brown about 45 minutes.
Let rest for 5 minutes before serving.

2 1/2 C. flour
3 T. sugar
2 tsp. salt
1 C. cold unsalted butter
2 large organic egg yolks
1/4- 1/2 cup ice water
In a bowl combine flour, sugar, and salt.
Using a box grater, grate butter into flour mixture.
Toss together like a salad using your fingers.
In another bowl whisk together yolks and water.
Add to flour mixture a few teaspoons at a time kneading dough until it comes together. Shape dough into a disk .
Wrap in plastic and chill for about 1 hour.

1 C. unsalted butter softened
1/2 C. ground almonds
1/4 C. icing sugar
1/4 C. flour
2 organic eggs
Using an electric mixer mix butter , nuts,icing sugar flour and eggs until smooth

Sunday, September 13, 2009


It's Ron's birthday and one good turn deserves another! He baked a birthday cake for me, it's only fair that I do one for him. Ron's favourite cake is a Frankfurter Kranz torte and naturally he gets one every year, but this year I decided to make something different. They say that mastering a Classic Genoise is arguably the most important cake in a baker's repertoire. Mainly because The Genoise allows you the possibility of making a variety of different layer cakes using this as a the base.

The cake gets its personality from the cake syrup which is used to flavour and moisten it, as it tends to be drier than most cakes. After the cake cooled , I used a tooth pick to perforate the cake so that when it came

time to brush on the Kaluha syrup it would drain and moisten the cake nicely. Actually any simple syrup flavouring would work but the consensus was to booze up the cake.A simple syrup is made with equal parts of water and sucar brought to a boil and the any flavouring added to it. I also decided to go all out with the frosting, attempting a Rich Kaluha Butter cream for the outside and a Pastry Cream filling on the inside. What you don't see is the failure of these two frosting...10 egg yolks and nearly a pound of sweet butter later , suffice it to say that the mixture separated and no amount of trying to safe it (by adding confectioners sugar) did the trick. I still don't know what went wrong but it all went south when I added the syrup , yes this too called for syrup to be added to the mixture . I think it wasn't quite in that ball forming stage that it called for, even though it reached the required temperature. Everything was either still too hot or whatever because the frosting turned to liquid. Or maybe the Kaluha alcohol did something to the mixture. I don't know, but I do know that I didn't have time to figure things out just then, but will definitely try making this again.

In the end I used my quick version of what I make as a butter cream which is basically boiling vanilla pudding, cooling it and then in a standing mixer adding around 1 cup of butter while the mixer is running. As you can see you can add any flavouring to this or even cocoa powder to make it into a chocolate frosting.

All in all the Genoise was a wonderful batter and one that I would certainly make again. I do think that on my wish list would be to take a cake decorating course. Great taste and Ron really loved the cake even if it wasn't a Frankfurter Kranz (see that recipe under cakes.)


3/4 C cake flour

4 large eggs

2/3 C sugar

4 T unsalted melted and cooled butter

1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

Position rack in middle of oven and pre heat to 350. Butter a 9 inch cake pan and line the botton with buttered circle cut to fit, dust with flour.

Swift flour on to a plate a set aside.

Put eggs and sugar in a stand mixer and place in a pan in which the bowl will fit snuggly, fill it half way with water and bring it to a simmer.

Set the bowl with the eggs and sugar over simmering water (make sure it is not touching the water) Stir gently with a whisk only until mixture is warm and sugar disssolves (160 F).

Remove bowl from water and bring to stand with paddle attachment beat on HIGH speed until mixture is light and has tripled in size and is thick enough to fall like a ribbon , around 5-7 minutes.

Sift flour a second time over the batter using a rubber spatula fold in gently but quickly with as few strokes as possible while turning the bowl continously (I asked one of the boys to help rotate the bowl).

when incorporated gently fold in the butter and vanilla (I substituted Kaluha for vanilla) be careful not to over fold and deflate the eggs as the batter will lose it's volume.

Pour batter into prepared pan.

Bake cake until it springs back or comes out clean with a toothpick approx. 30 minutes. Remove cake and plce on wire wrack to cool and remove parchment paper.


Citrus, oranfe flower, rose water, or alcohol for the vanilla.

I also made 2 of these cakes as I wanted it higher that just one cake cut in half.

Thursday, September 10, 2009


Chelsea Elementary School / Loblaws Peanut -Free products

The following is my second instalment in BloggerAid Changing The Face Of Famine View and Review Program. I personally started the sampling with the low fat Blue Menu Peanut-Free Whole Wheat Bran Bites with Maple and a cup of tea and I can unequivocally state that not only did they hit the spot as a late afternoon pick me up but they were delicious and the subtle maple flavoring was a nice added touch. Dani my five year old niece entering kindergarten had the peanut-free animal crackers and told her mommy she would like them in her lunch box every time. Some of the big boys in the neighborhood who sampled the Loblaw's peanut-free Dipped and Chewy Chocolate Granola Bars said that not only were they great tasting but in a mock-up blind fold test could not tell the difference between the peanut-free brand and their regular brand. With a good cross selection of samplers the consensus is that they Loblaws Peanut-Free products passed the test in flavor and taste. 5star!

However, last week I went to visit one of the schools that I taught at within the Western Quebec School Board. Chelsea School is located in the municipality of Chelsea, Quebec, in the beautiful picturesque Gatineau Hills. It is a school committed first and foremost to the children that they serve. The purpose of my visit was to donate the rest of the Peanut-Free products that Loblaws had so generously sent to me (see previous post) and to meet with Ralph Mason the principal who was graciously going to distribute the products to Peanut- free classrooms . Those rooms that had a child in it with a peanut allergy.

When I taught there in early 2000 the school did have a Peanut-Free program in place to accommodate children with peanut allergies. Ralph mentioned that he was extremely concerned with the rise in numbers of allergy afflicted children at Chelsea school , in particular, peanut, egg, and milk. For him as a principal it means making drastic changes to existing policies and possibly going totally Peanut-Free throughout the entire school. However, this would require much dialogue and debate between himself and concerned parents on both sides of the issue.

More and more schools are banning peanut products as the number of kids that have this potentially threatening allergy has dramatically grown. At Chelsea, out of nearly 300 students 4 have severe peanut allergies (not to mention the number of students there with milk and egg allergies). However, with parents on both sides of the fence totally banning these products leaves the school smack in the middle of this controversial issue. What to do?

To totally ban these products can be seen as an infringement on the rights of parents and children without allergies. They believe that banning any specific food group is not teaching children how to live and grow in the real world, instead children should be taught to be on guard for the possibility of an allergic reaction and should be taught skills to deal with the situation. Thus, most schools have a workable compromise in place, after all, allergies are serious and should not be taken lightly.

Peanut and some other foods can cause the body to go into anaphylactic shock, a life threatening condition where a person's blood pressure and their air way narrows. This condition can normally be relieved with a dose of adrenaline, called an epinephrine pen.

At Chelsea school medication is held and dispensed at the office only. Ralph is looking into possibly having these epi-pens in the classrooms (in a safe and secure place) of those designated children that need them. This however will need discussion and negotiation between the parents and the school. In my opinion Chelsea has a very good policy in place that respects all parents and especially the children with these special needs.
Kindergarten classes are generally designated Peanut-Free because these young children have a tendency to put most things into their mouths. Classrooms with a peanut allergy child in it are designated as a Peanut-Free room. The child with the peanut allergy has his/her picture posted, a Peanut-Free logo is put on the outside classroom door and parents and classmates are asked to provide a Peanut-Free lunch kit in respect to the child with the peanut allergy. All classrooms do their part to reduce trash, go green and do their part to safe-guard against peanut allergies or children with allergies in general. One way of alleviating this problem is that all children eat their snacks at their desks before going out to recess. All trash is then collected in a contained area and students are asked to wash their hands and desk before going outside to play. Lunch is also eaten at their desk and similar precautions are taken. In common areas where tables are used these are frequently washed daily and again common sense precautions are stressed.

The bottom line is that you just cannot monitor what each child eats for breakfast or outside of home or school nor can you monitor every ones lunch kit. Schools are trying to do their part by educating the school population as a whole and putting policies in place to safe-guard children with allergies and above all to ask parents to diligently read labels.

President's Choice freshly baked Peanut- Free Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies .

Companies like Loblaws are also taking a leading role in producing and providing these products and making them easily accessible. It is just as easy for busy working parents to find these Peanut-Free products and replace them for their regular brand of cookies, crackers and granola bars. These products are comparable in price and the taste testing kids gave these products a thumbs up in taste and texture.In other words they are tha same, without the peanut! As always, there is nothing as safe, good or as nutritious as baking something yourself, but how convinient to be able to purchase Peanut-Free products such as the Peanut-Free Soft and Chewy Chocolate Chip cookie that can easily be served as an after school snack. Also, how easy is it to include an individually wrapped Peanut-Free Crispy Rice Bar as a recess snack in a lunch kit making it a worry free product, just in case. I even used the Peanut-Free products in an after dinner parfait for dessert. Simply layer a decorative glass with a layer of jello, crushed Peanut-Free cookie or flavored Bran crackers and top with a layer of tasty yogurt, garnish with the peanut -free cookie. Voila, easy-peezee, pretty and Peanut-free. Once again a huge thank you to Loblaws for their Peanut-Free products. Thank you to the tasters who gave a huge thumbs up for flavor and texture of these products and to Ralph Mason who will distribute some of these Peanut-Free products to the classrooms with kids who have peanut allergies at Chelsea Elementary School.

For more information on Loblaws Peanut-Free products and other products contact

Sunday, August 30, 2009


This is my first installment as part of my participation in BloggerAid Changing the Face of Famine's View and Review Program. This is the viewing part.

I have received my box from Loblaw filled with a great selection of Peanut Free products from President's Choice to review.

Thirty years ago when I started teaching ,children with peanut allergies were practically unheard of. The majority of kids came to school with a PB&J sandwich. Now, one child in every 150 in the world is afflicted with this allergy. I can remember when a loaf of bread and a jar of peanut butter was a staple in every classroom, because it was the product of choice for those children who inevitably forgot their lunch on the bus, at home, or whose parents simply failed to provide a lunch. Now it has become a school's mission to keep these children safe and many schools across Canada are enforcing stricter peanut-free rules.

Loblaw as a company is also playing an important part with making the difficult task of identifying peanut-free products a little easier. The consumer can now see a clear and prominent peanut-free logo on its packaging. Coast to coast the stores are incorporating displays and signs to help the consumer quickly identify these peanut-free items.

Let's take a closer look.

Loblaw has graciously filled the box with peanut-free snacks that focus on value, quality and convenience for parents during this hectic back to school time.

No-Name, is one of it's top two National Brands on the market and in my opinion they picked the best products to be made peanut-free. What better choice than Zoo Animal Snacks and Crispy Rice Marshmallow Squares. How often have I seen these in a child's lunch kit as a recess snack, what great items to be peanut-free.

President's Choice is the other National Brand in the top two category. How innovative of Loblaw to be expanding and revitalizing their peanut-free freshly baked products. These are produced off-site in a Loblaw's peanut-free baking facility. They offer a selection of ten peanut-free freshly baked items and have now included six new peanut-free products such as President's Choice Teensy Weensy Muffins in Blueberry, Carrot, Banana and Chocolate Chip, all individually wrapped and lunch box ready. I can't wait to try the President's Choice Soft Baked Cookies in Oatmeal Cranberry, Chocolate Chipand Banana Bread . These are going to be used as peanut-free desserts at my house.

When you ask consumers if they have seen or used any peanut-free products the standard response is, "Of course, President's Choice peanut-free Granola Bars." These are readily available and at a great value when purchased in the popular Club Pack format.

Loblaw is also taking the lead in expanding the peanut-free product line in their healthier Low-Fat President's Choice Blue Menu products. This is one of my favorite brands and it reflects Loblaw's commitment to address and serve the changing dietary needs of Canadians. WOW not only peanut-free but healthy and low in fat.

A huge thank you to Loblaw for a very generous sample box of peanut-free products. For more info on Loblaw, their stores and products please visit and parents don't forget it's up to you to carefully read product labels to ensure safe family eating.

Stay tuned for part two. I will be visiting Chelsea School and donating the peanut-free products that Loblaw's has so provided. I will talking to teachers and children and getting their comments on these peanut-free products and we'll have some fun when I incorporate some of the peanut-free products into my own kitchen. Recipes to follow.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009


Happy Birthday to me! Hubby made me a birthday cake the night before. You should have seen him surrounded by cook books and it was already 9pm! I had my doubts that this cake would materialize. In the end he found his mother's recipe for walnut torte written on a scrap piece of paper in her own version of some kind of shorthand that only she would understand. The amazing thing was that the recipe only had ingredients marked on it no directions what so ever. For her it was not a problem after all she made a cake practically every weekend, but for Ron this was definitely going to be a learning curve. I must say for the man who stayed up until midnight to pull the cake out of the oven and then got up early in the morning to frost it..."The man done good!" the cake was delicious, he is anxious to try baking it again, because he has already figured out that he whipped the egg whites a tad too much, and he would not leave it in the oven for a full hour, because as he said, "I smelled it already after 45 minutes I should have checked it at that time, instead of leaving it in there for the full hour!" Pauline had written at the end of the ingredients... Bake at 350 for 1 hour or less. Ron felt the cake needed Less! He solved the problem by saturating the cake with RUM, which as far as I was concerned made the cake extremely moist and packed a lovely punch!
I think it only fair to give you guys the ORIGINAL RECIPE as it was written by my MIL., but Ron felt that I should write what he did so...
Walnut Torte
8 oz of walnuts (Ground)
12 eggs separated
4 T. cake flour
2 t. baking powder
1 C. sugar
1t. coffee (optional)
4 cap-fuls of rum
Bake 350 for 1 hr. more or less
1/2 lbs. of butter
3/4 C icing sugar
3 eggs
5 squares unsweetened chocolate melted
juice from 1/2 lemon
3T. rum
Ron figured out how to assemble the cake by doing the following... he said I should include his directions, so I'm typing as he dictates.
1. Beat the egg yolks with the paddle attachment
2.Add the sugar and continue beating if you are adding the coffee and rum do it at this stage.
3. In food processor combine walnuts, flour and BP and pulse to a fine consistency
4. Beat egg whites until stiff
5. Add walnut mixture to egg and sugar batter
6. Gently fold in egg white to batter mixture do not overwork
7.Pour batter into 2 springform pans greased and floured or in Ron's case he poured the batter into 3 -9 inch round forms.
Bake at 350 for 1 hour or less, as oven temperatures vary check after 45 minutes.
Cool on racks , when cool take a toothpick and poke holes in cakes. pour the rum onto cake layers to moisten before frosting.
Good Luck!
You gotta love men, they think they can do it all... it's easy peasy! I'm not complaining, I got a cake that he made with love !