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 (http://www.randomhouse.ca/) and by the authors Jeff Crump and Bettina Schormann (http://www.earthtotable.ca/).

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 (http://www.randomhouse.ca)a/ 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.(http://www.earthtotable.ca/)
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 http://www.pc.ca/