Tuesday, July 14, 2009


Trust me THIS is the one....read on...
Carrots are definitely at the top of the list as a multi tasker root vegetable. You name it and you can do it with a carrot. Eat it raw, shred it , boil it, mash it,bake it.It can stand on it's own, pair it up with other vegetables and of course the number one thing to do with carrots is turn them into a cake. I don't know anyone that does not have a carrot cake recipe in their recipe file. I have an least 3 recipes for carrot cake in my note book. (My mother-in-laws version, my sister's and mine that was given to me by Dell at least 30 years ago made with pineapples along with the carrots and everything else.
Alas, this is not my carrot cake...it's Ron's. He has been home now since the 1st f June, my ,"Honey-Do", list is just about complete and I can tell that Ron is itching to get back to work because he is puttering around the kitchen adding a pinch here and there to my cooking... (he thinks I don't see him do it!) and thus, after browsing through some old cooking and wine magazines came across this version of carrot cake from an L.C.B.O. 2003 Food and Wine edition.
I'll give the man some credit, THIS really is the BEST classic Carrot Cake I've ever had.

Honey Butter Carrot Cake
2C flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp cloves or all spice
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 C butter softened
1/2 C honey
2 eggs
1 C sugar
1tsp vanilla
3 cups finely grated carrot
1 apple peeled and grated
1 C pecans coarsely chopped

1 250 g pkg regular cream cheese
1/2 C butter softened
2 T honey
2 T finely grated orange, lemon.lime zest or a mixture of all 3
2 tsp lemon juice
4-5C sifted icing sugar

Pre- heat oven to 350 degrees
Butter 2 ...9 inch pans
Stir flour with all the first 6 ingredients. In another bowl using an electric beater cream nutter until light and fluffy.
Slowly beat in honey the eggs one at a time.
Bear in sugar and vanilla.
Add flour mixture into butter mixture in thirds, stirring until just absorbed.
Stir in carrots, apples and pecans.
Divide batter into 2 pans.
Bake 35-40 minutes or until cake tester inserted into center comes out clean.
Invert and cool then ice.
Garnish with extra chopped pecans around the outer edges and swirls of either lemon or orange strips on top. Or leave as is..as it probably won't last long!

Sunday, July 12, 2009


Have I mentioned yet that our summer so far has been an extremely wet one? I don't mean to be such a grouch, but when will the sun come out and play? With all this damp dreary weather I find myself sitting at the kitchen table and preparing more fall seasonal foods, instead of sitting by the pool catching some rays. Peroshki is another one of my Mother-in -laws recipes. Pyrohy, Pyrizky and Peroski all refer to a filled pastry made of yeast raised dough. The name stems from an archaic word ,PYR, meaning banquet which indicates that this pastry was more than likely featured at banquets in days past. Ukrainian dishes are neither spicy nor bland, they are subtle and pleasing having their own indefinable qualities. But the good thing about the fillings that go into these pastries is that you can spice them up any way you like them.

As with most Ukrainian dishes that involve dough, you might as well clear your day, because you might as well make a whole batch and freeze them for that occasion when you want to pull out something for an after school snack, or a quick lunch or snack. They also make a lovely appetizer . Fillings can either be savoury or sweet. Favourites in our house are mushroom fillings, sauerkraut, meat fillings (beef, pork, veal,saugage or combination of these , or chicken and turkey) .
I had a kilo of sauerkraut still in the freezer and thought that as it was another rain day again today I would use it up and make some peroski. First i boiled the sauerkraut in it's own juices and covered it with a little water, a bay leaf and some juniper berries, to soften it up and expel some of its bitterness, Then I drained it and in some oil sauteed some onions, double smoked bacon and added some chopped kielbasa. To this I then added the drained cooked sauerkraut and let it saute and simmer for about 45 minutes on low heat until tender . Make sure that it does not burn , you may add some white wine, or some more oil to prevent burning. Season with salt and pepper. Place in a bowl, and let it cool completely, I usually prepare the fillings the night before. I realize that a sauerkraut filling is not to everybodys taste buds, but as I said you can fill it with whatever filling you desire. A very quick meat filling that I make in a pinch when I don't want to boil and shred my beef is to fry up ground hamburger meant in onions and seasonings ,when cooked through I add a can of Campbell's mushroom soup ( without the added milk), cool this meat mixture and use that as a filling.Seasoning can be whatever you feel like from simple salt and pepper to more intense flavouring like chili and hot sauce.
1 pkg. yeast
1/2 cup warm water
1 tsp. sugar
1 cup sour cream
1/2 lb. tenderflake or crisco
1/2 tsp. salt
3 T sugar
4 Cups flour

Dissolve yeast in warm water with 1 tsp sugar and let stand for 10 minutes to proof.
Beat eggs and add the cup of sour cream to them.
Mix together the lard or vegetable shortening with the remaining sugar salt and flour. Add the yeast and egg sour cream mixture. Mix with a wooden spoon , beat well. Place dough in an oiled bowl cover with wax paper and top with a dinner plate and refrigerate overnight. In the morning roll out dough to 1/4 inch thick with a cookie cutter cut out circles, place about a heaping teaspoon of filling in each circle. Pinch together sided , form in an oval and place seam side down on a greased baking sheet. Let rise for about 15 minutes, brush with an egg wash and bake in a 375 degree oven for about 25 minutes or until the tops are golden. Place on rack to cool. These can be frozen and reheated in the microwave.(Depending on the size of your circle cut out this recipe should easily yield 6 dozen, I also made a meat filling with 1 kilo of hamburger meat and doubled the dough recipe , needless to say my freezer is starting to get full of goodies with all this rain weather) Oh my gosh I'm still complaining about the weather.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009


It's time to clean out the fridge again, that , and the fact that Ryan had stock taking last night would be home rather late and asked for a Ratatouille to eat when he got home. It's easy to reheat and add to rice. I usually don't add mushrooms to my version of this dish, but as I said, it was clean-up time. While I prefer a green pepper because the flavour is more distinct ,alas , it was only a red pepper that I had. The point here is, that this dish lends itself very easily to substitution, so long as the main components are present. (Onions, garlic, eggplant, tomatoes, zucchini, and peppers.) After I assemble all of the ingredients, I clean them and rough chop everything, as Ryan likes his vggies cut bigger and chunkier..

I will not give specific quantities as it just depends on what you have on hand. Last night I sauteed, 2 organic onions, 6 garlic cloves in some olive oil, until onions are translucent and you begin to smell the garlic.

Be careful not to let the onions or garlic burn.

I like to buy my tomato paste in tubes, the cans are always more than a recipe calls for, and I know that you can always freeze the extra, but I'm not organized enough to take it out of the freezer ahead of time.

This tube allows me to use only what I need. I squeezed out a very generous tablespoon into the sauteed onions and garlic.

Once it is fully Incorporated and beginning to stick to the bottom of the pan,

I made a cup of vegetable broth, and added it to the mixture.

You could also use chicken stock if you so prefer. Continue stirring for about one minute and now you are ready to add the chopped vegetables.

Please don't add the tomatoes until the end.

The eggplant will cook off tquickly creating more liquid, the zucchini will take the longest to cook. Ryan does not like crunchy vegetables, i usually cook the zucchini fist before adding the eggplant and peppers. Last night I just put a lid on the pan and let them steam through. Then after about 10 minutes I removed the lid and let the broth reduce down a bit. when you add the chopped tomatoes it will once again create more broth.

Add the diced tomatoes (fresh or canned) and at this stage lower the heat and just let the vegetables heat through as to your desired firmness of how you like to eat your veggies.

At the very end I like to adjust the seasoning, salt, pepper, chopped basil, I also added oregano
and then garnished with some chopped parsley. Ryan likes to eat his over a bowl of rice, the rest of us like it served cold with a crust of bread. You can also add an extrs drizzle of olive oil and some olives if you have them on hand.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Rain, rain go away

It's 7:03 in the morning and we have another rain day! The patio is not being used very much this summer at all, as a matter of fact I don't know why the umbrella is still up?

Sunday was actually a nice day and we could have sat outside on the patio, but when the day was so nice it seemed a shame to just waste it. So we took the opportunity to go downtown and stroll by the Byward market and check things out. I picked up some fresh pasta and buns from LaBottega, some Polish Kielbasa from the Continental Deli, and some beefsteak tomatoes, spring onions and small cucumbers from the market. Later we had a coffee and a brioche at the outdoor cafe and just sat and watched all the tourists go by.

This year looks like we aren't going to have much of a summer, so you might as well take any opportunity to enjoy the day as they come along.

There has been cooking, of course, but rather than always running and getting the camera, I have been just enjoying the company and conversations that are taking place around the meals.It seems like everybody has been busy and it's nice to just be all together and get a chance to catch up. It's also nice to have Ron home for an extended time and be part of it all. ( I must say that when he is home I want him all to myself, but then there are obligations to be filled, dinners to be recipricated, and time for him to get in some golf with his friends, ect.) There has been much comfort foods this summer so far, Pate Chinois, Lasagna, heavier warmer meals, due mainly to the weather. On the occasion that we have BBQed, we didn't even have the pleasure of eating it outside. I think that I am sounding as blue as the weather, don't get me wrong I do love and appreciate the rain, but not for almost 5 straight weeks! Let's hope the sun comes out.