Sunday, March 15, 2009


I am at a loss as to where to begin. Since Ron has been home we have been trying to fit it all in . Seeing some friends, dinner out, dinners at home,repairs around the house, taxes, grocery shopping, cooking,laundry, you know too much to do not enough time to do it all before the call comes and he is gone again. Such has been the last few days. Ron bought me a gift, he is such a sweetie, or , I complained way too much when he didn't bring it home from Boston, the much desired ice cream attachment to my Kitchen Aid. So many of my foodie gals make their own ice-cream and raved about the process and end results, so naturally , I was anxious to give it a try. Little did I know that the process takes at least a good 2 -3 days. But this blog is not about the ice- cream (we made coffee)or the THERMOMIX that is next on my wish lists ... but what to do with all the egg whites that have been accumulating as a result of some custards , ice-creams and baking recipes. Originally , I was going to try my hand at some macaroons, but as I mentioned things have been a bit hectic here, so after browsing in my William and Sonoma book called Essentials of Baking, for the macaroon recipe , I came across the Almond Daquoise and thought that this recipe would go much quicker and we could have it with the coffee ice-cream that was now cooling in the freezer.

Not only did this cake recipe solve the problem of the egg whites, but I realized what a wonderful alternative for a flour -free cake, for wheat restricted diets.

In this photo I am applying the butter cream, I will give you the very best butter cream recipe at the bottom of the blog, but I did not use this recipe. Since the cake was just going to be just for us, (not company), I like to look for short cuts,as I did not have the time to make the real butter cream version. A very quick and easy way of making a butter cream is to prepare a cooked vanilla pudding ( I used the Dr. Oetker pudding because I like to control the sugar that I add into the mixture). Prepare it according to package instructions. Cool the pudding, bring 1 cup of unsalted butter to room temperature, then when the butter is soft , in my standing mixer while the butter is being beaten , I add the pudding by the spoonfuls to the butter , and voila, butter cream! When the butter cream is spread between the layers and around the caked then...

Take the almonds and one of the layers of the dacquoise , grind in the food processor and decorate the cake with the crumbs

Lightly dust it with some powdered icing sugar and refrigerate for an hour before serving.

The funny thing is that, after we made the ice cream Ron said not to make the cake as we just finished the lime tart yesterday. As a rule ,we hardly ever have dessert , certainly not after dinner during the week,so to have 2 desserts in one week is quite out of the norm for us, but I have to admit this cake is so light and delish I would recommend that you try ,it should you ever have left over egg whites in your fridge and want to try something different.After he had his dessert, Ron did say that it was light and a good idea afterall.

Looks like we'll be sending some over to the neighbours.

A lovely little slice with the coffee ice-cream I made from scratch with my new ice-cream maker. (More about the ice-cream at a later blog as I plan on making quite a few creams and sorbets over the next few months.)

1 1/3 C. plus 1/4 C. whole almonds, toasted
1 C. granulated sugar
2 tsp. corn starch
6 large egg whites at room temperature
1 tsp.vanilla extract
rich almond butter cream
confectioner sugar for dusting
Preheat oven to 300 F. toast the almonds for 10-15 minutes. When cool put 1 1/3 C. of the almonds and 1/2 cup of the sugar and the corn starch in the food processor and grind to a powder.
Take parchment paper and 2 sheet pans, draw 2 8 inch circles on the parchments for a total of 4 rings.
With your whipping attachment put the egg whites in the bowl and whip until soft peeks form. Continue beating vigorously while adding the remaining 1/2 cup sugar and vanilla until the whites are stiff and glossy. Be careful not to over whip as they can become dry and powdery.
Pour the almonds over the egg whites and with a rubber spatula fold the almonds into the stiff egg whites.Spoon the mixture into a pastry bag with a 1/2 inch open tip. Staring at the center of the circle make spirals until you reach the edge of your outline. Repeat this process so that you have 3 complete circles. The last circle will be not as complete as the other 3 because you will not have much batter left . that is Ok because this layer will become your crumbs to decorate the cake. Bake for 50-60 minutes. The batter will be brown and golden cool on racks and remove the paper. They will firm up as they cool.
Prepare butter cream ( or try my quickie version ,listed at top)
when cake is cool and circles are uneven you can take a bread knife and saw edges to make circles even. Butter the first 3 layers with the butter cream. Take the 1/4 C. of toasted almonds the small 4th layer of baked batter and pulse in your food processor to decorate the top of your cake and around the sides. Dust with icing sugar (Optional) It will keep well covered in the fridge for 2 days.
6 large egg yolks
2/3 C. sugar
1/2 C water
1 C. unsalted butter room temp.
2 tsp almond extract
1 C. pastry cream (recipe to follow)
Whisk egg yolks in a bowl and set aside
In a small sauce pan over medium high heat, combine the sugar and the water and bring to a boil. Cover and boil for 1 min. The steam willwash the sugar crystals down the sides of the pan. Uncover and continue to boil until syrup reaches 238F on a candy thermometer, about 5 minutes.
While constantly whisking pour the syrup SLOWLY into the egg yolks. Continue to beat until cool and thick. Beat the butter into the egg mixture until smooth and satiny , You are now ready to beat in the pastry cream to complete the butter cream process.
1 1/2 cup whole milk
1 vanilla bean halved lengthwise and scraped
4 large egg yolks
1/2 C. sugar
2 T cornstarch
2T butter
Over med heat , heat the milk and vanilla bits until bubbles form around the edges of the pot. Remove from heat and remove the vanilla bean pod. In a bowl whisk the egg yolks, sugar and corn starch until smooth. Slowly mix in the hot milk. Return the entire mixture to the saucepan and over med. heat continue whisking until mixture thickens about 3 minutes. Strain mixture through a fine mesh sieve into a clean bowl, add butter and stir until butter is melted and mixture is smooth. Cover with film wrap and refrigerate for 2 hours or 2 days.
While this is the real way to make butter cream, it certainly is a long process and absolutely worth it when making a butter cream. Especially when impressing your guests with fine desserts. However, you can see why I choose to make my version of a simpler butter cream, with just the pudding and butter. Actually it was a recipe that my mother often used for her tortes and everybody raved about them and no one was the wiser that she didn't always make the long version.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009


I can't remember the first time I had a key lime pie (that's how long it's been,) but what I can tell you is that once you've had one you're hooked for life. It's also one of my ,"Go to recipes", when I know that a light dessert is a must. Actually Ron makes the ULTIMATE key lime pie, but I'll let him blog his recipe at another time. Ron is coming home tonight (late) his plane only lands at 10:38, I know he isn't going to want a big meal so I made some chicken soup and should that be too much, I'm hoping that he will make some room for Key lime pie. The truth is that I had bought a bag of key lime last week and it was time to do something with them. I also wanted to make a lighter recipe and so decide to make a tart as opposed to a pie.

As you can see, Key limes are much smaller than Persian limes. Their skin is much more softer and they are more tart in flavour. I've included 2 Persian limes in the picture to show you the difference in size. The truth is the recipe called for 2/3 cups of lime juice and as we had used some of the key limes to flavour some coke and beer during the weekend, in truth it turned out that I needed to add the juice of the other 2 limes to get my required amount.

Instead of a pastry dough I decided to use up some graham cracker crumbs and some coconut. 1 cup of each. To that I added some melted 1/4 cup of butter. Mix together and press into a tart pan. Bake for 5 min. at 350.

Beat 3 egg yolks for 5 min. until creamy with around 2 teaspoons of grated lime. To this slowly add 1 can of sweetened condensed milk.Continue beating on medium speed until mixture is creamy and incorporated. Slowly to this mixture add the 2/3 cups of lime juice, continue to beat for a dew minutes, mixture will still be thick and creamy. Pour into partially baked tart, return to oven and continue baking at 350 for another 12-15 minutes. When done . remove from oven, cool on rack and then refrigerate, Serve with whipped cream.

Ready to go into the fridge. Won't make the whipped cream till Ron gets home.
8:05 the phone rings.
When Ron left Denver this morning the weather wasn't that great but he managed to get his flight and it left on time, but during the flight he got delayed and rerouted and it seems with only limited fuel left the flight landed late in Winnipeg, and by the time he got through customs he unfortunately missed his connecting flight to Ottawa. However, I think there is a conspiracy afloat...Ron was originally to have a 2 hour stopover in Winnipeg, his cousin Larry was going to meet him at the airport for coffee, catch up on news and help him pass the time. I heard that Larry brought the whole family entourage of cousins with him to the airport. Sounds more like my man has been kidnapped for the evening and he'll be returning to me tomorrow. That's OK Babe enjoy yourself.

One lonely slice for me. Wow that's tart...just the way I like it.

and plenty of pie left for tomorrow, just in time for a cup of coffee to share with my hubby.

Now doesn't that look great.
I know that most key lime pie has that smooth green color, and I could have added a few drops of food colouring to the lime mixture. I choose not to, but it's your choice. Would make a nice St. Patty's Day pie for next week's celebration.

Saturday, March 7, 2009


I just love the way the kitchen smells when I am poaching something. All warm , fragrant with a hint of spice. Such was the case today. I was poaching the chicken for the chicken enchiladas and truly the house smelt heavenly. Isn't it amazing how some smells trigger certain emotions.There are probably many different ways of preparing enchiladas, all of them equally correct, but today's version is actually a Rachel Ray recipe that can be easily found on the food network or here:

Now for the confession, I had chicken breasts in the freezer, but when I went downstairs to the freezer to get them ,I found a package of turkey breasts that I had purchased a while ago. Costco sells everything in bulk and this was obviosly a left-over package that needed to be used up, before the chicken breasts. I made a quick decision to substitute them and use them up.Talking about using up things left over, enchiladas is a good way to use those left over tortillas from past fajitas and left-oversandwich wraps. As a result the enchiladas were made with spinach, tomato and regular tortillas and it didn't matter! If anything it added to the flavour.

Another short cut that I did was that I skipped making the sauce that Rachel Ray's recipe included and just used up the opened jar of left over salsa. That's the beauty of this recipe you can use up some of those things that just hang around forever in the fridge. I also didn't bother shredding the Monterey Cheese, but just layered the slices over the enchiladas and broiled under the broiler for about 6 minutes to get them nice and golden and bubbly.

A lovely Cesar salad accompanied this dish and even that was a quick job. I made the dressing all in the blender. If Ron had been home he would have rubbed the salad bowl with the garlic, beaten the egg yolk in the bowl, lovingly chopped the anchovies, added the lemon juice and Parmesan cheese and then ever so slowly drizzled in the olive oil and then whisked it all to a creamy perfection... not me I just threw everything in the blender and then at the end added the oil in a steady stream and adjusted the seasoning and my dressing I bet was just as good as Ron's. Anyways the entire meal was delicious even if I say so myself!

3C chicken broth
4 chicken breasts ( I used turkey)
1 bay leaf
2 springs fresh oregano (I only had dry)
1 small onion quartered

2T tomato paste (I used 3 because the turkey breast were so much larger than the chicken)

1 tsp. chili powder

1 tsp. cumin



2 c. tomato sauce

2 tsp hot cayenne pepper

1/4 tsp. cinnamon

1 tsp. chili powder

21/2 cups shredded Monterey cheese

8 tortillas kept warm in oven while preparing the chicken.

Bring the broth to a boil and then add your chicken breasts. onion, bay leaf and oregano. Return to boil and then cover the dish and and reduce heat to a simmer and let the chicken poach for 10 minutes. Remove the chicken and with 2 forks shred the chicken add the tomato paste, 1/2 cup of the broth liquid and then mix and add the seasoning.

Prepare the sauce ( or just cheat and use your left over salsa sauce like I did) When sauce is ready add a little to a baking dish. Take your tortillas and fill each with the chicken filling and roll up placing them seam down in the baking dish. Spoon the rest of the mixture over the dish , cover with the cheese and bake under the broiler until cheese is melted, golden and bubbling.

AS mentioned this is my improvised version for the authentic Rachel Ray recipe go to the site listed above.


Wednesday, March 4, 2009


Yes I'm back , Colorado is a place I would like to return to. I found it absolutely beautiful and would love to visit some of the places that we did not get to this time around. Time will tell if we ever return. The funny thing is that 34 years ago Ron was scheduled to go to a conference in Aspen that had unfortunately fallen through, I remember we were newly-weds and I was so jealous that he was going becauseI wasn't able to go.I was teaching and you just didn't take time off to join your husband, the School Board would not give you time off for that! Well to make a long story short, we did get to go,34 years later. Ron is still in Denver, hopefully returning next Wednesday, I did get to go and spend some time with him, see some sights and hopefully it won't be another 34 years before we return.
The weather here in Ottawa has just been gloriously sunny, cold, but what the hell here it's still winter. I can't complain seeing as my sister got snowed in , in the Washington DC area. The weather is making me feel itchy for some spring cleaning, but that soon passed as I decided to make the "Boys" a nice supper instead. What I started with was a brine for the pork chops. I like to do that sometimes with pork especially when they are a thick cut.

This is a sugar- salt solution with apple juice concentrate. The only sea salt that I had left had lavender in it and that is what you see floating in the brine, it did not call for it, as mentioned it was all that I had and it certainly didn't harm it.

Place the pork chops into the brine and let it marinate for no longer than 2 hours as you really don't want it to break down the meat texture too much.

While the pork is in the brine, get your apples ready for caramelizing and I also decided to serve this with a celery root puree instead of mashed potatoes.

This recipe came from Tyler Florence's book called, "Real Kitchen" with some minor adjustments that I made along the way.

One Boy loved it and had seconds, the other doesn't like his meat with fruit...oh well you can't please everybody. Thankfully the pork chops produced enough Au Jus for him to pour over his celery root puree. ( Hey Ma, why do the potatoes taste funny? #@**?)
1 gallon water
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup sea salt
1 cup thawed frozen apple juice concentrate
1 T black peppercorns
2 fresh thyme sprigs
(I also added a bay leaf)
4 pork chops
sea salt & freshly ground pepper
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 T. unsalted butter
2 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and sliced( I used 3 apples)
2 fresh thyme leaves
1/4 c. raisins
3/4 c. frozen apple juice concentrate
3 T. brown sugar
1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp.ground cloves
pinch of cardamon
pinch of dry mustard
sea salt/pepper
juice of 1/2 lemon
Combine the ingredients foe the brine in a plastic bag or bowl. Because this is a cold brine that does not get boiled make sure the salt and sugars are dissolved. Refrigerate and do not brine for longer than 2 hours as the meat will get mushy.
Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees. Discard brine, pat the chops dry season with salt and pepper and in a heavy skillet with some EVOO, brown your pork chops for 4 minutes on each side. Remove the pork chops and place on a baking sheet and bake in the oven for an extra 30 minutes. They are done when the center is still rosy and the internal temperature is between 140-145 degrees.
In the meantime prepare the apples. Melt the butter in a med/high pan add the sliced apples and thyme sprigs and coat in a frying pan for about 8 minutes, until the apples get a nice hue to them.Toss in the raisins and the apple juice stirring up the bits from the pan.Stir in the brown sugar the the rest of the spices. Squeeze in the lemon juice to wake up the flavours and simmer for another 10 minutes, or until the apples soften and brown. Serve over the pork chops.