Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Melting Moments

It seems to me a bit crazy to post a recipe that I don't actually like. But here I go... My mom has made these cookies for us every year at Christmas for as long as I can remember. And I really don't like them. Though she also always makes shortbread, which I love, so she's still in my good books ;) I'm not sure if I liked them as a kid or not, but I can't remember ever liking them. I particularly don't like the candied cherries on top. My sister suggested substituting them with a Hershey's kiss this year. So I tried a little broken bit of the cookie in the tin and... no go...

But they are a huge family favourite and everyone else in my family both loves and devours them. So I figured that I should post them on here anyhow. I can't take credit for making the batch from the photo - that was my mom.

3/4 C brown sugar
3/4 C softened butter
1 egg
1 3/4 C flour
1/2 tsp. cream of tartar
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. vanilla
red and green candied cherries

1. Add butter to sugar. Add unbeaten egg. Beat until light.

2. Add vanilla and mix.

3. Gradually add sifted dry ingredients.

4. Drop by spoonfuls. Place 1/2 of a candied cherry on top of each cookie (or a Hershey's kiss).

5. Bake 10 minutes at 400 degrees Farenheit.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Thumbprint Cookie Drops

No time to blog much, between cookie making, packing to go home for Christmas and trying to give Logan at least a little bit of attention. But I wanted to get this up before Christmas, as these cookies look beautiful on a platter for Christmas. They're basically just a sugar cookie with sprinkles.

2/3 C butter, softened
3/4 C sugar
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla
2 C flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
2/3 C red and green coloured sprinkles
42 red and green coloured Smarties

1. In a bowl, beat butter with sugar until fluffy; beat in egg and vanilla. In a separate bowl, whisk flour, baking powder and salt; stir into butter mixture until smooth.

2. Shape dough by rounded teaspoonfuls into balls; roll in candy sprinkles, pressing to adhere. Place, 2 inches apart, on parchment paper-lined rimless baking sheets. Using thumb or thimble, make deep indent in centre of each.

3. Bake in top and bottom thirds of 350 degree Farenheit oven, rotating and switching pans halfway through (I didn't bother doing this) for about 10 minutes, or just until golden on bottom. Let cool on pans on rack for 5 minutes. Place chocolate candy in each indent. Let cool completely.

Makes about 42 cookies (though I doubled the recipe and only got about 50 or so).

Monday, December 20, 2010

Asparagus Soup

I bought some asparagus for Logan a few weeks ago and got the idea to make some asparagus soup with the leftovers. Oddly enough (or at least, it seems odd to me!), the little guy prefers asparagus to more bland things, like carrots, chicken, lentils, quinoa, etc. I think it's a texture thing... but at least he'll eat asparagus so that I can get one veggie into him other than sweet potatoes.

I made this to start dinner when friends were over this weekend. I served it with a few French croutons in them, because the French ones are super delicious (and so different than the ones here in Canada) and they are used in France more in soups than in salads. The recipe says that it makes 6 servings. When served before the main meal, this gave us 13 portions in all. I also stirred in some extra milk, as I found the soup a bit too thick.

3 medium leeks (white part only), chopped
3 tbsp. butter or stick margarine
4 C chicken broth
1 1/2 lbs. fresh asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
2 C diced peeled potatoes
1/8 tsp. white pepper (I just used regular pepper)
1/2 C 2% milk
1 tbsp. minced fresh parsley

1. In a large saucepan, sauté the leeks in butter. Add broth, asparagus, potatoes and pepper. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 10 minutes or until vegetables are tender.

2. In a blender, process soup in batches until smooth; return to the pan. Add milk; cook over low heat until heated through. Sprinkle with parsley.

Makes 6 servings.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Mom's Cheesecake

When I was a kid, I hated cheesecake. I know. What was I thinking?????? This was my mom's classic go-to dessert whenever we had company over and I always hated it. I used to give my parents a bit of a run for their money in terms of being a picky eater. Kind of funny, given that I love such a wide variety of foods now and will at least try almost everything you put in front of me (the list is long, including snails, rabbit, blood sausage, tongue, intestines, brain, etc. Can't say I liked much of any of those, but at least I tried them!). Perhaps Logan is following in my footsteps, as you can see in the following clip, for those of you who haven't already seen it on facebook:

Well, I have come to my senses as an adult and now love cheesecake. Love. With a capital L. I only make it when we have company over, as I figure that a whole cheesecake for two people is perhaps only slightly excessive. I made this this weekend when our friend Steve came over with his fiance Melanie and his son, Malcolm. All I can say is that it was good enough that the whole thing disappeared in one sitting. Only due to the guys, of course, as us girls managed to stick to one piece despite it being so delicious. Enjoy!
1 1/4 C graham crackers
1/4 C melted unsalted butter

Mix together and press into the bottom of an 9-inch round pan. Place in freezer for a bit. (Note: for a gluten free dessert, omit the crust, as I did this weekend, but will never do again, as I'm sure it just makes it that much better!).

2 x 8 oz. packages of cream cheese (don't use light!)
3/4 C sugar
1/2 tsp. vanilla

Beat well. Pour over graham cracker crust. Bake 25 minutes in a 350 degree Farenheit oven. Cool 20 minutes.

1 C regular sour cream
1 tsp. vanilla
3 tbsp. sugar

Mix and spread on top. Bake 10 minutes at 350 degrees Farenheit.

I served mine with a strawberry coulis, that I made by pureeing some strawberries that we had picked this summer and adding in just a bit of sugar.

Update April 14/11: you can substitute Splenda for the sugar for a diabetic-friendly version.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Burgandy Beef and Wild Mushroom Stew

I made this for dinner a couple of months ago when my uncle and grandmother came down for the weekend... clearly to visit Logan and not us :) Little did I know when I made it that my uncle doesn't like mushrooms. Oops... Oh well, I quite like it (though he said he liked it anyhow).

The recipes comes from Canada's Best Slow Cooker Recipes, that has lots of fabulous, quick recipes. I bought a huge pack of mixed dried mushrooms at Costco for a decent price and used those in this recipe. Be sure to rinse dried mushrooms well, in order to get any grit off of them before soaking them to hydrate.

1 pkg. (142 g) dried mushrooms, such as shitake or chanterelles
1 C boiling water
1/4 C all-purpose flour (I used whole-wheat)
2 tsp. pepper
1/2 tsp. dried basil
1/2 tsp. dried oregano
1/2 tsp. salt
2 lbs. stewing beef, cut into 1-inch cubes
2 tbsp. vegetable oil
1 C beef stock
2 medium carrots, peeled and cut lengthwise in half, then crosswise into thirds
1 onion, chopped or 15 to 20 pearl onions, peeled
8 oz. button mushrooms, quartered
1/2 C red wine
2 tbsp. tomato paste
1 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
1 bay leaf

1. In a 2-cup measuring cup, combine dried mushrooms and boiling water. Let stand for 20 to 30 minutes.

2. In a heavy plastic bag, combine flour, pepper, basil, oregano and salt. In batches, add beef to flour mixture and toss to coat. Transfer to a plate. In a large nonstick skillet, heat half the oil over medium-high heat; cook beef in batches, adding more oil as needed, until browned all over. Add beef stock to pan; stir to scrape up brown bits and transfer to slow cooker.

3. Add carrots to slow cooker, along with onion, garlic, button mushrooms, wine, tomato paste, vinegar and bay leaf.

4. With a slotted spoon, remove rehydrated mushrooms from soaking liquid; coarsely chop and add to slow cooker along with soaking liquid; stir well to combine beef-vegetable mixture.

5. Cover and cook on Low for 8 to 10 hours or on High for 4 to 6 hours, until vegetables are tender and stew is bubbling. Remove bay leaf and discard before serving.

Serves 4 to 6 (though I find it makes much more).

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Brown Butter Babies

Here's another recipe that I tried for Christmas and I found them to be quite good. This also comes from the Canadian Living Special Cookbook Issue magazine I bought this year. I omitted the walnuts so that Ash could have some.

3/4 C unsalted butter
1 egg
1 egg yolk
1 1/4 tsp. vanilla
2 C all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. baking soda and salt
3 tbsp. granulated sugar
30 walnut halves

1. In small saucepan, cook butter over medium heat until brown and nutty, about 5 minutes. Let cool.

2. In large bowl, beat brown sugar with cooled butter until flurry. Beat in egg, egg yolk and vanilla.

3. In separate bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt; stir into butter mixture in 2 additions.

4. Roll by rounded 1 tbsp. into balls; roll in granulated sugar. Place, about 3 inches apart, on parchment paper-lined baking sheets. With bottom of glass or measuring cup, press to scant 1/2-inch thickness. Press walnut half into centre of each.

5. Bake in 350 degree Farenheit oven until golden, 12 to 14 minutes. Let cool on pans on racks for 3 minutes; transfer to racks and let cool completely.

Makes 30 cookies.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Shortbread Jam Bars

So Christmas baking has taken a major back seat this year with the hectic schedule we've been keeping up lately, between our basement renovations, taking care of my husband's mom's affairs and all of the doctors appointments we've had with Logan. I've also opted not to have a New Years party this year for the first time in a few years, which has also really taken away motivation to prepare anything.

Jerome's mom's belongings arrived this past Monday (9 cubic metres!! Where will we put it all???). So between the half unpacked boxes everywhere and the sawdust that continually plagues our house these days, I tend to opt to clean rather than cook/bake lately. We had decided to get a babysitter in to watch Logan for a few hours this weekend while to try to finally put our house in order again. Unfortunately, Jerome ended up getting sick all weekend, so our house is still a disaster...

I nonetheless decided to finally start doing some holiday baking despite the mess. So this is the first stab I've made at any holiday treats this year, and hopefully won't be the last. They were super quick to whip up (much quicker than mom's shortbread recipe, which I love, but is a pain to sift and work together) and were delicious. Though if you've got a huge gang, you might want to double the recipe as there is certainly not enough for a huge family gathering.

I got this recipe from the Canadian Living Special Cookbook Issue that I picked up last month. It's chock-full of interesting-looking (and hopefully delicious) holiday cookies. And since my 'no cookbook buying rule' doesn't extend to magazines, I'm all good ;) Plus, it's my own rule anyhow, so really, who cares??

Shortbread is one thing that I don't substitute whole-wheat flour for. I've never tried it, but it just seems to me that they wouldn't work out very well. But if anyone has tried otherwise and they've worked out just as well, let me know. Also, I used homemade cherry jam instead of the recommended types and it was still delicious.

1/2 C unsalted butter, softened
1/4 C sugar
pinch salt
1/4 tsp. vanilla
1 C all-purpose flour
4 tsp. strawberry or raspberry jam

1. In a bowl and using wooden spoon, cream together butter, all but 1 tsp. of the sugar, and salt; stir in vanilla. Stir in flour until just combined.

2. Divide dough in half. On lightly floured surface, roll each half into 8-inch log. Place, 2 inches apart, on parchment paper-lined baking sheet.

3. Press handle of wooden spoon lengthwise along centre of each log to create 1/4-inch deep groove. Refrigerate for 10 minutes (I skipped this step and they still worked out fine). Fill grooves with jam. Sprinkle remaining sugar over edges.

4. Bake in 325 degree Farenheit oven until golden brown, about 25 minutes. While still warm, slice into 1/2-inch thick bars.


I've also done them in cookie shape:

Monday, November 8, 2010

Rich Flourless Chocolate Cake

When we were in France recently, I was introduced to my first 'fondant au chocolat'. Which oddly, I had never before tried, despite my numerous and sometimes lengthy stays in France. In fact, I had always thought that a chocolate 'fondant' was the same as a chocolate soufflé. But no... it's even more dense than a souffle, making that much yummier. As the name 'fondant' (fondre means to melt, for those anglophones out there ;)) implies, the centre of the cake is runny. I guess kind of like chocolate lava cakes over here??

In any case, I went on a hunt for a recipe for a fondant I had eaten in France when we got home. Oddly enough, the one I had that was so tasty in France was from Pizza Hut. So random... a friend had come over one night to help pack up some of my mother-in-law's belongings and brought pizzas and these delicious fondants with her. Who would ever think that Pizza Hut would have any delicious desserts, never mind one of the best I've ever tasted?? And no, they don't sell them here in Canada at Pizza Hut. I've already checked their website... sniff...

So I came across this recipe in a cookbook called Best of Chocolat that my mother-in-law had given us awhile back and that I had yet to use. Sounded like it should kind of be like a fondant, so I gave it a try. And sadly, it wasn't at all. The cake was still good, but a bit rich for my taste. I thought I would post it anyhow for those who avoid gluten, as it's a nice option for them to have a dessert they can enjoy (here you go Kristy!). I probably won't make it again, as I have since found a recipe for the real types of fondants I was looking for, which I will post shortly. But Kris, I think you'll enjoy this. Though did I mention that it's rich? Check out the ingredients!!!

430 g butter
430 g dark chocolate
8 eggs
180 g sugar
300 mL table cream

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Farenheit.

2. Butter a 24-inch circle pan. Melt the butter, cream and chocolate in the microwave or in a pot over a pot filled with boiling water. Add the sugar and mix well to dissolve the sugar. In a large bowl, lightly beat the eggs with a whisk or fork then add them to the chocolate mixture. Mix well until the consistency of the mixture is homogeneous.

3. Pour the mixture into the pan and cook for approximately 40 minutes.

4. Let cool in the pan for approximately 40 minutes. Let cool. Once the cake is cool, wrap well and leave in the fridge for one night before serving.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Roasted Vegetarian Lasagna

So one post in the past two months... I guess that that's a testament to how crazy my life has been these past few months, as I have not only not been blogging; I haven't really been cooking or baking much at all either. Unless you count tons of pureed baby food, a couple of soups and some vanilla cremes (which I will get up here soon, as they are mighty delicious).

Logan has recently decided to go on a hunger strike after having gagged so much on his newly introduced chicken that he made himself puke up his whole meal a few times. He now refuses to even open his mouth for anything. So we've decided to take a break for a few days until he becomes interested in food again. Maybe in the time I'll save in the next few days in not having to feed him or prepare anything can be spent cooking some stuff for ourselves???

Thankfully, despite our hectic schedule over the past few months, my freezer stash has allowed us to not have to eat fast-food or store-bought frozen food. And Diane, there are still a bunch of meals left in the freezer, so yes, as you surmised, I do have a freezer that is completely packed with prepared meals. I don't particularly like store-bought prepared food. Not only is it not super healthy, I don't generally find it all that tasty either. So I pack the freezer so full of meals (hey, I like cooking!), that I oftentimes need to sit a cake of Diet Coke on top of it to keep it closed. Yes... I am a bit of a nut.

I generally freeze EVERYTHING, other than dishes with potatoes in them, as I find their texture changes once frozen. So whenever I make a new meal, we tend to eat it once or twice and then I stuff the rest into the freezer, in two person sized portions. Doing this enables me to rarely cook during the week. At most, I pull a little dish out of the freezer in the morning and maybe add rice and vegetables. I always have a huge stash in the freezer, as I cook more than we are able to eat... teehee... but this has come in super handy at times: right after Logan was born, coming back from France and just when I'm feeling downright lazy and uninspired. I suspect that as our family gets bigger that this is going to become less and less feasible as what are now leftovers will become just a meal. But in the meantime, I love being able to open the freezer in the morning and pick from a wide selection of healthy (well, usually!), homemade meals.

So enough babbling and on to today's recipe. This is one of the meals that is almost always in our freezer. It comes from the cookbook Crazy Plates, which is a super popular healthy cookbook, from the same series as Looneyspoons and Eat, Shrink and Be Merry! I had received the first of these cookbooks (Looneyspoons) from my parents as a gift when I left for university many moons ago (wow... am I really that old??). Any of the recipes I've tried from all three cookbooks have generally been very good. I used to use them all of the time as a student, but have gotten a bit out of the habit of using them lately.

I usually decide to make this recipe when some of the veggies in it are on sale, which is what inspired me to make it lately... particularly knowing that with winter coming, the price of veggies just continues to creep. It freezes well, though it ends up a bit watery when you reheat it. I end up just dumping the extra liquid off of the plate before serving it.

The recipe calls for 3 C of spaghetti sauce. I don't find that this is enough and find that the noodles dry out if I don't use more. I don't really measure how much I use, but just be sure to have all of the noodles covered. Also, I use homemade spelt lasagna noodles, which I make with my mom's old pasta-maker. Delicious. Definitely makes it all that much tastier. Though this time I did half homemade spelt-noodles and half store-bought whole wheat, as a piece on the machine broke halfway through :(

The veggies in this recipe are delicious. I often make a batch or two of just the veggies and then freeze them to be mixed with pasta and sauce and some chicken for a quick dinner. Or we sometimes just eat them as a side dish.

3 C sliced portabello mushrooms
2 medium zucchini, unpeeled, sliced
1 large red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1 large yellow bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1 large red onion, thinly sliced
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 tsp. balsamic or red wine vinegar
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp. each dried rosemary and dried oregano
1 C part-skim ricotta cheese
1 C low-fat (1%) cottage cheese
1/3 C chopped, fresh parsley
1/4 C grated Parmesan cheese
1 egg white
12 lasagna noodles, uncooked
3 C of your favourite low-fat spaghetti sauce
1 1/2 C shredded part-skim mozzarella or Swiss cheese

1. Spray a large roasting pan with non-stick spray. Add mushrooms, zucchini, bell peppers, onions, olive oil, vinegar, garlic, rosemary and oregano. Mix well, until vegetables are coated with seasonings. Roast, uncovered, at 400 degrees Farenheit for 25 minutes, stirring once halfway through cooking time.

2. While vegetables are roasting, prepare cheese filling and cook pasta. In a medium bowl, combine ricotta and cottage cheeses, 1/4 C parsley, Parmesan cheese, and egg white. Mix well. Refrigerate until ready to use. Prepare lasagna noodles according to package directions. Drain well. Rinse with cold water and drain again.

3. To assemble lasagna, spray a 9 x 13-inch baking dish with non-stick spray. Spread 1/4 spaghetti sauce over bottom of pan. Arrange 4 lasagna noodles, 3 lengthwise and one crosswise, over sauce. Spread 1/2 cheese filling over noodles, followed by 1/3 roasted vegetables. Sprinkle vegetables with 1/3 mozzarella. Repeat layering: 4 noodles, 1/2 cheese filling, 1/3 roasted vegetables, and 1/3 mozzarella, following by remaining spaghetti sauce. Top sauce with remaining roasted vegetables.

4. Cover with foil and bake at 375 degrees Farenheit for 35 minutes. Remove lasagna from oven, sprinkle with remaining mozzarella and parsley, and return to oven, uncovered, for 5 more minutes. Let cool for 10 minutes before serving.

Makes 8 servings.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Oatmeal Muffins

Here is another recipe I had made prior to leaving for France, but am only getting around to blogging just now.

I didn't bother making the streusel, but have included this part of the recipe for those who may want it.


1/3 C oats (quick or old-fashioned, uncooked)
1/4 C flour
1/4 C firmly packed brown sugar
3 tbsp. margarine or butter, chilled and cut into pieces


1 1/2 C flour
1 C oats (quick or old-fashioned, uncooked)
1/2 C sugar
1 tbsp. baking powder
1 C low-fat milk
1/4 C vegetable oil
1 egg, lightly beated
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 C to 1 C chocolate chips

1. Heat oven to 400 degrees Farenheit.

2. For streusel, combine oats, flour and brown sugar in small bowl; mix well. Cut in margarine until crumbly. Set aside.

3. For muffins, combine flour, oats, sugar and baking powder in large bowl; mix well. In small bowl, combine milk, oil, egg and vanilla. Blend well. Add to dry ingredients all at once; stir just until moistened.

4. Fill muffin cups almost full. Sprinkle with reserved streusel, patting gently.

5. Bake 18 to 20 minutes or until golden brown.

Makes 1 dozen.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Crème à la vanille

Here's another recipe for you, Eliza. Wheat-free and meat-free. Enjoy.

This recipe is absolutely delicious. I fell in love with these while in Paris this past fall, though I was buying the store-bought version then. They are so good that I actually brought one of them with me to the airport and ate it right before going through security (damn new rule of no liquids/gels on board!). I had brought one to the airport for Jerome too, but he didn't want it (Well... it is a dessert and we did pass customs at 11am. But whatever. You can only get these in France). I then proceeded to forget about his and managed to accidentally smuggle it back to Canada with me. After much debate (I mean, it was my last one!), I decided to share it with my friend Heather, who was a great support to me during our events in Paris, rather than just pig out on it myself. So there's the history behind these delicious little desserts. Though might I add, how is it possible that I've been to France a kizillion times before and had never had these???

Jerome's mom had given us a cookbook called Petites Crèmes awhile back, but I had never actually made anything from it (what was I thinking???). It has all sorts of different flavours of creams: vanilla, chocolate, coffee, apple, even rhubarb. So I set out to learn to make these the instant we got back. And despite Jerome's pleading, I've only made the vanilla one (even though I've made them several times) as I'm still just as in love with them now as I was in Paris. Perhaps one day when I truly OD on them, I'll make him some chocolate ones (or maybe on his birthday... teehee... wait... that's my birthday too... so maybe vanilla and chocolate??). Anyhow, I'm getting off track...

The dessert is a bit like a pudding, but way, way better than any pudding you'd get in Canada. The secret is using real vanilla bean (not liquid extract) and making sure that it's good quality. We're lucky enough to still have vanilla from our trip to Tahiti, which makes these absolutely delicious. Though I'm a bit concerned about how I will manage once we run out and have started e-mailing vanilla producers in Tahiti to see if anyone will ship us any, as it's way better than anything you find over here.

Ok, ok, so you just want the recipe and not all of my related babble... well here you go:

4 egg yolks
1 egg
2 C homogenized milk (3.25%) (don't substitute lesser fat milk)
1 vanilla bean (I use about 1/3 of a bean and split it in half)
a little less than a 1/2 C of sugar

1. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees Farenheit.

2. Beat the eggs in a bowl. Add the sugar and beat vigorously with a whisk for 3 minutes.

3. Slowly heat the milk with the vanilla bean in it in a pot. Once the milk is almost boiling, remove the vanilla bean and scrape the seeds into the milk. Pour the hot milk mixture onto the beaten eggs and mix well. (Note: if the milk is not hot enough, the texture of the pudding won't be thick enough. Also, you can't let the eggs sit for a long period while heating the milk, so be sure to do it as the milk is heating and re-beat a bit again if necessary).

4. While still hot, divide the mixture between 6 ramekins. Place them into a large baking dish (I use a 13 x 9 glass dish). Pour water into the dish, avoiding the ramekins, until the water is halfway up the sides of the ramekins. Cook for 30 minutes. (Note: cooking time varies depending on how high the water comes up the sides of the ramekins. The creams are done when they jiggle a bit when shaken and don't seem too liquidy. I have cooked them anywhere from 30 to 50 minutes. When eaten, the texture shouldn't be too liquidy).

5. Let the creams cool and then place them in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour before serving. Serve cold.

Note: before cooking, you can place a piece of vanilla on top of each cream.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Back to Real Life

So there has been a real lull in my blogging to date... as many of you know, my mother-in-law passed away at the beginning of this month. So blogging hasn't been a priority lately, as I'm sure it won't be for a little while longer, as we settle back into real life here at home and catch up on everything back here.

It was all a bit of a crazy ordeal: visiting her regularly in the hospital, arranging her funeral, emptying out her apartment and shipping much of her stuff back to Canada, while at the same time dealing with a general strike in Paris and taking care of a 4/5 month old baby... I don't think we've ever been quite so happy to be back home.

However, despite the craziness my life has been over the past 6 weeks (or perhaps because of??), we still managed to try to enjoy French food and wine to the fullest while we were away. Well... the wine as much as any breastfeeding woman without a pump can... there were even a few super tasty desserts that I somehow only tried for the first time this trip, despite the fact that I've been going to Paris regularly for the past 15 or so years.

My new goal in life is to find recipes for some of these super delicious treats... as well as to learn how to make a pâte feuilleté (flaky pastry) as good as my mother-in-law's. We still have one in the freezer here that she made for us on her last trip out here that we will one day savour in her memory. And also, to make her famous crème caramel, that every single person we crossed in our trip over there this time talked to us about, even though I've never even had it! Jerome doesn't like crème caramel, which I guess explains why she didn't ever make it for us. But we have her handwritten recipe book with all of her recipes and over the next little while I'll make them and get them up here on the blog for all to enjoy.

I wanted to come on quickly to write, as Alanna pointed out to me that I somehow missed the flour in the Reverse Chocolate Chippers posted on Jan. 31/10. I've adjusted the recipe now, so it should work now if you make it :P Apologies to anyone who may have tried to make it already, as I'm sure it wouldn't have worked. But the cookies are delicious, so if you tried them before and they didn't work, be sure to try them again now that you have all of the ingredients.

On that note, I am going to go relax for awhile... I'm sure it'll still be a few good weeks before I'm back to cooking and baking as usual. Just one last thing...

In memory of Josiane: La tête haute by Les cowboys fringants

Monday, September 6, 2010

Chicken Curry

I got this recipe back in undergrad, many moons ago, from my roommate at the time, Aleya. This is an authentic homemade chicken curry and is delicious. I haven't made it in absolute ages and am not sure why... I think it may be because it doesn't freeze well, due to the potatoes. Though I suppose I could always just make it without the potatoes to freeze it and add them in the day I'm serving it. I served this with brown basmati rice and a salad.

This recipe makes quite a decent portion. I made it when we had people over for dinner this weekend and 5 of us ate it for dinner. I think there was enough leftover for Jerome and myself to eat it for another 3 dinners.

3 C chicken, skinned and cut into pieces
5 tbsp. oil (I just used a bit)
2 large onions, finely chopped
1 tin peeled tomatoes, chopped (I used the large can)
5 potatoes, peeled and chopped
2 tbsp. tomato paste
1 tsp. garlic paste
1 tsp. ginger paste (be sure to use fresh ginger and not powder, as it's not at all the same)
2 tsp. dried coriander
2 tsp. dried cumin
1/2 tsp. turmeric
1/2 tsp. red chili powder
3 tbsp. plain yogurt (optional)
salt to taste
lemon juice to taste

1. Heat the oil in a medium sized saucepan. Add the onions and fry until golden brown. Add the tomatoes, salt, ginger, garlic and all the powdered spices. Fry on low heat for 10 minutes, adding a little water at a time, until sauce is well blended.

2. Add yogurt (optional) and tomato paste and cook until sauce is dry. Add the meat and cook on medium heat, stirring occasionally until meat juices are dry.

3. Add 2-3 cups of water to desired consistency (the gravy should be quite thick if it is to be served with naan, paratha or rotli and slightly runny if it is to be served with rice).

4. When meat is tender, add potatoes and cook until potatoes are done.

5. Add lemon juice. Bring to a boil and serve with naan, paratha, rotli or rice.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Chocolate Chocolate-Chip Cookies

This recipe was sent to me by Katie, who had gotten it off of the Whole Foods website - a store that I love and wish we had in Quebec...

If you make sure that the vanilla, cocoa and chocolate chips are gluten-free, then these cookies are gluten-free and a great option for anyone with Celiac disease. I made them for my sister this weekend, who has Celiac. Finally an easy dessert that I have the ingredients for that I can make for her when she's visiting!! These would be particularly good with peanut butter chips.

1/4 C butter, softened
3/4 C sugar
2 eggs
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/3 C cocoa powder
1/4 C coconut flour (I picked this up at the bulk food store)
1/2 C chocolate chips
1/2 C chopped walnuts (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Farenheit and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Set aside.

2. In a medium bowl, use an electric mixer to cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in vanilla.

3. Sift together cocoa and flour into a second bowl, then add to butter-sugar mixture and beat just until combined. Stir in chocolate chips and walnuts, then set aside to let batter rest for 5 minutes. (Coconut flour will absorb the liquid and thicken as it sits).

4. Drop the cookie dough by rounded teaspoonfuls onto prepared baking sheet, leaving 2 inches between cookies. Bake 13 to 15 minutes, or until cookies are slightly set in the centre. Allow cookies to cool on baking sheet for a few minutes before transferring to a wire rack to finish cooling.

Makes about 18 cookies.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Creamy Maple Syrup Dressing

This is a simple, tasty homemade salad dressing. I have no idea where I found the recipe, but it's one of few salad dressings that both Jerome and myself like. I love oil and vinegar dressings, with tons of vinegar in them... my mouth is watering just from writing that. Yum! Jerome doesn't really like vinegar and prefers creamy dressings, which I'm not a huge fan of. This one is creamy but still has a bit of the tangy flavour to it that I like of a salad dressing.

1 C your favourite mayonnaise (I used Hellman's light)
1/2 C pure maple syrup
1/4 C apple cider vinegar

Mix all ingredients together thoroughly. Chill and serve with salad.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Apple Cake/Muffins

Wow... I wrote this back before we left for France months ago and just came across it now, realizing that I didn't ever post it. So the comments are no longer timely (nor is the tank top that I am wearing in the photo as I stare out the window at the snow on our front lawn), but here's the recipe all the same.

This recipe comes from the cookbook Simply Great Food by the Dietitians of Canada. I was looking for a healthier recipe to use some of the apples we got while apple-picking this weekend and knew this cookbook would have something good. I used all whole-wheat flour instead of the recommended mix of white and whole-wheat. The recipe is actually for carrot cake, but they recommend using either a mixture of carrots and apples or just apples as a variation, so I made it with only apples this time. I also threw in a handful of raisins and opted to make it in muffin tins instead.

3/4 C all-purpose flour
1/2 C whole-wheat flour
1 1/4 tsp. baking powder
1 1/4 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. salt
3 eggs
1/2 C vegetable oil
1 C lightly packed brown sugar
2 tsp. vanilla
2 C grated carrots (or apples, or a mixture of both)

1. In a small bowl, combine flours, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt.

2. In a large bowl, bean eggs, oil, brown sugar and vanilla until well combined. Fold in dry ingredients. Stir in carrots. Pour into prepared 13 x 9 inch pan.

3. Bake in a 350 degree Farenheit oven for 30 to 35 minutes.

Makes 20 servings.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Spaghetti Squash with Tomatoes and Cheese

I got this recipe from the fall 2010 edition of the What's Cooking magazine, published by Kraft and made it last night to accompany dinner. I had never had spaghetti squash (at least that I can remember) until spending a week with Katie at her parents'. And I fell absolutely in love with it and began buying it obsessively. Which is why my husband no longer likes it... So when I saw this recipe, I thought that it might be a way to sneak spaghetti squash past him again. Though he didn't say anything about liking it, he also didn't say anything about not liking it, so I'll consider that approval ;)

1 large spaghetti squash
2 small tomatoes
1/2 C grated mozzarella cheese
1/4 C light grated Parmesan cheese (I used fresh Parmesan)

1. Prick a large spaghetti squash with a fork to let steam escape and microwave on high for 10 minutes, turning after 5 minutes. Let stand 5 minutes, then slice it open. Remove seeds and scrape sides with a fork to create strands.

2. Mix in 1/2 C shredded mozzarella cheese and 2 small chopped tomatoes; sprinkle with 1/4 C light grated Parmesan cheese.

I mixed everything together in advance and then put it in a casserole dish, sprinkled with the Parmesan to be reheated for dinner. I put it in the oven at 350 degrees Farenheit for 15 minutes, just enough to reheat it and melt the cheese.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Blueberry Purée

I was at the library the other day and randomly came across the book Easy Gourmet Baby Food. Randomly, because I was looking for travel guides. But you know me... who could pass up getting a book with such a title?? And I love it already and am going to run out to buy my own copy despite my 'no more buying cookbooks' rule. I mean, really... that doesn't include cookbooks for kids food, does it?

One of the reasons this cookbook is so great (other than the appetizing recipes) is that there are tips for how to use many of the recipes in adult meals as well.

So in flipping through the appetizing recipes, such as roasted banana purée, cauliflower and chickpea chowder, red lentil and apple, grilled chicken and avocado, papaya and coconut milk purée, mini sweet potato muffins with maple syrup glaze... where do I stop??? Wait, what was I saying... yes, in flipping through the recipes, I decided to start making some baby food to take advantage of the cheap (and fresh) fruit and vegetables while they're still in season. So here's my first go at baby food. Still simple, since it'll be a bit before Logan can eat anything truly interesting.

I figure that if I start making something once or twice a week and popping it in the freezer (haha, that poor freezer!), that I'll have a huge stash of food put away for busier days when he's running around everywhere and making me weary! And I now have all the time in the world, since as of today, with Logan having started his reflux medication, he will now (mark my words) SLEEP EVEN WHEN HE'S NOT IN MY ARMS!!! Woot woot... Such a simple solution!! Thank goodness for Evelyne.

Blueberry Purée

2 C fresh or frozen blueberries
1 1/2 C water

1. In a saucepan, combine blueberries and water. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Boil until berries are splitting in half, about 10 minutes.

2. Transfer to a blender and purée until smooth. Let cool until warm to the touch, or transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 1 month.

The purée looks thin while warm, but will thicken as it cools.

Makes about 1 cup.

Not just for babies: Cut a 6-inch round of Brie in half horizontally and spread with about 2 tbsp. of this purée. Wrap tightly in foil and bake in a 300 degree Farenheit oven until soft, about 15 minutes.

Whatever, I'll ignore that last recommendation and keep it in the deep freeze longer. And I just froze it in ice cube containers. Once frozen, I'll pop them into a ziploc bag and move on to the next batch.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Mushroom Bread

Here is another French recipe, so the quantities are again in grams and mLs. So you'll have to get a food scale to make it. The recipe also calls for Alsacienne yeast, which, to the best of my knowledge, can only be found in France or in French-specialty stores. I googled it, and it seems that this can just be replaced by baking powder. I've never done it this way, as we bring the little packets back with us from France each visit. But if you want to try it using baking powder, you would use 11g.

This recipe is for a savoury bread, that is nice served as an appetizer at a party or to accompany soup for dinner (which is what I made it for). I had made it for last year's New Years party, but had never gotten around to posting it. I often get asked for the recipe when I make it, as it's a bit different from recipes from over here.

The other thing is that bread pans in France aren't as wide as they are here. I'm sure though that it would work in a bread pan from here, just be sure not to use one of the extra-wide ones, of you may not have enough batter to fill the pan so that the bread will rise enough.

This tends to go bad quickly because it is so moist, so if possible, keep it in the fridge.

180 g flour
1 package of Alsacienne yeast
3 eggs
100 g grated Emmenthal cheese (I used light Swiss)
1/2 C olive oil
100 mL milk
300 g of mixed mushrooms (I typically mix portabellos and regular white mushrooms)
2 shallots
a handful of fresh chopped parsley (I just put in dried)
a pinch of salt
pepper to taste

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Farenheit.

2. Melt a bit of butter in a pan. Add the chopped mushrooms and cook. Add the shallots and cook with the mushrooms for the last minute of cooking time. Let the mixture cool.

3. Mix together the eggs, oil and milk, then add salt and pepper. Mix in the flour and yeast.

4. Add in the cheese, parsley and mushrooms and stir.

5. Place in a non-stick bread pan. Cook for approximately 50 minutes. Let the cake cool before taking it out of the pan.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Comforting Shredded Beef

This recipe comes from Canada's Best Slow Cooker Recipes, which is a wonderful cookbook with lots of quick and easy recipes for the slow cooker. I've tried many in the book and they've all been excellent. We used to make this one a good handful of times each winter, but ran out of the cognac my dad used to pass along to us, so we haven't made it in awhile. I made it without the cognac this time... not nearly as good as when you include it, but it was still good.

The meat just falls apart it is so tender. You can just serve it like that, which we usually do the first day we have it, or can use it to make sandwiches, which we tend to do with the remaining meat. At times, I will freeze the leftovers and use them later in sandwiches. One of the other recipes in the same cookbook suggests using the meat and Provolone or Swiss cheese in a tortilla with some of the onion slices for a sandwich.

1 3- to 4- lb sirloin tip roast
1 tbsp. vegetable oil
1/4 C cognac or brandy (optional)
2 C beef stock
1 C red wine
2 onions, sliced

1. Season roast to taste with salt and pepper. In a large skillet or Dutch oven, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add roast and cook, turning meat with a wooden spoon, for 10 minutes or until brown on all sides. Pour cognac over meat (if using) and flame with a match. Transfer meat to slow cooker.

2. Add stock to slow cooker, along with red wine and onions. Cover and cook on Low for 10 to 12 hours or on High for 6 to 8 hours, until meat is very tender. (If using a large (4- to 6- quart) slow cooker, meat may not be completely submerged in liquid; turn 2 or 3 times during cooking so exposed edges will not dry out).


3. Remove meat from juice and let stand for 10 minutes. Using a fork, pull apart roast, following the natural grain of the meat. It should fall apart very easily. Serve with beef juice or dipping.

Serves 4 to 6 (though I actually find it serves way more)

Difficulty level: easy to moderate 

Monday, August 16, 2010

Fragrant Coconut Rice

I made this for dinner the other night, to accompany a lentil dish. I had wanted to try another brown rice risotto recipe that I have but was out of short brown rice, so I tried this recipe instead. The recipe comes from The Complete Whole Grains Cookbook.

1 1/2 C coconut milk (I used light)
1 C water
1 stick cinnamon, about 2 inches long
1 C brown basmati or brown long-grain rice, rinsed and drained

1. In a saucepan over medium-high heat, bring coconut milk, water and cinnamon stick to a rapid boil. Stir in rice and return to a boil. Reduce heat to low. Cover and simmer until rice is tender and liquid is absorbed, about 50 minutes.

I just threw everything into my rice cooker and hit cook.

Makes 4 servings.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Blueberry Oatmeal Squares

This is my new favourite dessert. Delicious. It's kind of like date squares, but with cooked blueberries in place of the dates. I can't remember where I got the recipe from, as I also made it once last summer, but I don't remember it being as good as this (or I probably would have made it more!). I decided that I needed some sweet junk around the house last week to ease the sweet notes of a screaming, fussy baby. So although I got little else done last week, I made a point of making time to make dessert. We just finished the last pieces this evening and I'm already having to restrain myself from making a second batch, I loved it that much. I think that next year I may also try it with blackberries in place of the blueberries, just for a change, as I love it with the blueberries.

To make it again, I would cut back the sugar in the topping and would probably also cut the butter back some and melt it instead, so that it will go further. But make it the way the recipe says if you're making it for company, as I'm sure the butter is part of what makes it so tasty.

2 1/2 C rolled oats (not instant)
1 1/4 C flour (I used whole-wheat, as I almost always do)
1 C packed brown sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
1 C cold butter, cubed

3 C fresh blueberries
1/2 C sugar
1/3 C orange juice
4 tsp. cornstarch


1. For the filling, in a saucepan, bring blueberries, sugar and orange juice to boil; reduce heat and simmer until tender, about 10 minutes. Whisk cornstarch with 2 tbsp. water; whisk into blueberries and boil, stirring until thickened, about 1 minute. Place plastic wrap directly on surface; refrigerate until cooled; about 1 hour. 



2. In a large bowl, whisk together oats, flour, sugar, orange rind and salt; with pastry blender, cut in butter until in coarse crumbs. Press half into 8-inch square parchment paper-lined metal cake pan; spread with blueberry filling. Sprinkle with remaining oat mixture, pressing lightly.

3. Bake at 350 degrees Farenheit approximately 45 minutes. Let cool before cutting into squares.

Makes 24 squares.

193 calories per square.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Apple Cider Cinnamon Jelly

So here we are at my 100th post... wow... 100 recipes in a year. And that doesn't count the recipes I've made and never got around to blogging. Thanks to Steph for the idea. I hope that everyone's enjoying the recipes. I've certainly gotten lots of feedback from people that they're being used and it's nice to be able to just say 'go to my blog' when people ask for recipes instead of having to dig them out and send them each time.

So on to today's recipe...

I decided that while I had the canning materials out from making salsa, that I would also go ahead and make some apple jelly, since I was running out. The worst part of canning (to me, at least), is having to drag everything out. So I set out to can some apple jelly.

This recipe comes from the cookbook The Complete Book of Year-Round Small-Batch Preserving, which I believe is a book that Karen had recommended to me many years back. I've always been tempted to double or triple the recipe, but have been afraid that it wouldn't set properly, so if I've done double batches, I've always prepared them in separate pots. But this year, I figured that, with baby, I no longer have the luxury of taking all that time to make separate batches. So I threw three batches into one pot and set out. Much to my dismay, when I opened a jar a few days after making this, I realized that the jelly hadn't set (sniff, sniff... 3 batches and 6 x 500 mL jars later...). So I'm still without apple jelly, as I didn't have the energy to start all over again at that point (having then, already put all the canning crap away!). Heather and I have decided to use it instead of maple syrup on pancakes and the like (great idea Heather!) so we'll see how that works out. At least I won't have to throw it all away...

In any case, this is a great recipe and is very simple to make (as long as you don't double it!!).

2 1/2 C fresh-pressed apple cider (I use fresh apple juice)
1 stick cinnamon, 4 inches, broken into 4 pieces
3 1/2 C granulated sugar
1 pouch liquid fruit pectin

1. Combine cider and cinnamon pieces in a large stainless steel or enamel saucepan. Cover and bring to a boil over high heat, reduce heat and boil gently for 5 minutes. Strain cider through several layers of cheesecloth, reserving cinnamon pieces to add to jars. Rinse saucepan.

2. Measure 2 cups cider and return to saucepan; add sugar. Bring to a full boil over high heat, stirring constantly. Stir in pectin, return to a full boil and boil hard for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat.

3. Ladle into sterilized jars, add one piece of cinnamon to each jar and leave 1/2 inch headspace. Process for 5 minutes.

Note: I never bother straining the cider through the cheesecloth and just use the full amount of the remaining cider instead of the 2 cups measured out in step 2. Probably because I don't strain it, I get a froth at the top of my jelly, which I just skim off prior to closing the jars, making sure that I respect the headspace indicated.

For instructions on how to can, go to my post of Aug. 3/10 on salsa.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Sugar-Free Date Muffins

I think that this is one of my absolute favourite muffin recipes. It's quick to make, delicious and healthy. I got it from Lyne, where I used to work and love to have these around for breakfast, snacks, etc. There's no added sugar in the muffins, as the dates make the muffins sweet enough, which make them nice and healthy.

I made these last week to take over to Liz's and then just whipped up another batch this morning for breakfasts. Mmmm... did I mention these are my favourites?

1 C dates
1 C water

Rince the dates and place in a pot with water. Bring to a boil and let simmer for a few minutes, stirring frequently. Let cool.

1/4 C vegetable oil
1 egg
1 1/2 C whole wheat flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. vanilla
1/3 C sunflower seeds

I also add a handful of raisins into the batter.

1. Beat the oil and the egg with a fork and then incorporate date mixture, stirring.

2. Add the rest of the ingredients and then mix.

3. Cook at 350 degrees Farenheit for 25 to 30 minutes.

Makes 9 muffins.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Grilled Tomatoes Stuffed with Oka

I made these tomatoes for dinner the other night with a couple of the tomatoes I had bought for making salsa. There's nothing better than in-season tomatoes. Mmm... We made these in the oven instead of on the bbq, as it was raining out. Just add a salad and a piece of baguette and you've got a relatively easy complete meal.

2 slices of crumbled bacon (I used turkey bacon)
1/2 chopped onion
4 medium sized tomatoes
1 tbsp. Dijon mustard
2 beaten eggs
1 slice of whole-wheat bread, cut into cubes
1/3 C 10% (I substituted milk)
1 C Oka cheese, shredded or cubed
salt and pepper, to taste

1. Preheat barbecue or oven to 450 degrees Farenheit.

2. Cook onion and bacon in a pan until the onion is tender. Let cool.

3. Cut the top off of the tomatoes and empty the inside of each tomato with a spoon.

4. Add the rest of the ingredients to the bacon mixture, mix and stuff the tomatoes with this preparation. Place the lid of the tomato on the top of each tomato and cook on the barbecue (or in the oven) approximately 12 minutes.

Serves 4.

You can replace the Oka by St-Paulin, aged Gouda or medium cheddar.
For a vegetarian option, just omit the bacon.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Black Bean and Corn Salsa

So I did end up making salsa this week... though I only made two batches since it's so much harder to get things done than it was pre-baby and essentially took me a full day to get each batch. But I did get it done, just with many breaks between each step. I ended up going to Marché de l'Ouest and got a huge box of slightly damaged tomatoes (perfect for cooking with) for only $10. Which got me 18 jars of salsa, plus a few toasted tomato sandwiches.

A tip about how to quickly peel the tomatoes. Bring a pot of water to a boil. Core the tomatoes and cut an x into the bottom of the tomato. Place tomatoes in boiling water for one minute. Remove and let cool. The skin will then easily peel off, starting from the x.

12 C chopped, peeled tomatoes, about 24
3 cans corn
2 cans black beans
1 pkg. Bernardin salsa mix
1 1/4 C cider vinegar
1 bunch fresh cilantro, chopped

1. Wash, core, seed and chop tomatoes; drain off excess liquid. Measure 12 cups.

2. In a large stainless steel saucepan, combine Bernardin salsa mix and cider vinegar. Add tomatoes, black beans, corn and cilantro; mix well. Bring to a boil; boil gently, uncovered, for 5 minutes.

3. Ladle salsa into a hot jar, leaving 1/2 inch headspace. Using a nonmetallic utensil, remove air bubbles. Wipe jar to removing any stickiness. Process for 20 minutes.

Makes about 8-9 500mL jars.

Some tips on canning:

The jars need to be sterilized prior to placing food in them in order to eliminate possible bacterial growth. Wash jars and then place in a 225 degree Farenheit oven for at least 20 minutes. You then spoon the hot salsa into the hot jars, using a canning funnel, if you have one. You then need to get the air bubbles out of the jar prior to sterilizing, again, to prevent bacterial growth. You can buy a kit that has a tool to help get the bubbles out, a funnel, lid lifter, headspace gauge and jar lifter for about $15 at Canadian Tire. Alternatively, you can use a spatula to coax the bubbles to the top.

You then need to measure the headspace for the recipe you are making. Headspace is the unfilled space above the food in a jar and below the lid. This space is needed for expansion of the food as the jars are processed, and for forming a vacuum to preserve the food, once the jars are cooled. Again, you can get a headspace gauge to easily judge how much space to leave (1/2 inch, for this recipe).

The next step is to prepare the snap lids, by placing them in hot, but not boiling water and leaving them there until you use them. Recommendations used to be to boil them for 5 minutes, but they no longer recommend placing them in boiling water. You then place the lids on the cans, using a lid lifter, so that you don't burn your fingers. Then screw on the screw tops just until you meet resistance, being careful not to overtighten. Note that you can reuse the screw tops, but cannot reuse the snap lids. Also, be sure not to tighten the screw top once you have processed the jars, as this can affect the sealing process.

Once the lids are placed, bring water to a boil in a waterbath canner, which is a huge black pot used for canning. These usually come with a canning rack, so that you can get the jars in and out of the boiling water without burning your fingers. You should probably start the water boiling way before you are ready for it, as it takes quite awhile for such a large quantity of water to boil. I often start boiling the water well in advance and then top it up by adding a few kettles full of boiling water.

You need to process the jars while they are still warm, otherwise they will crack when they are placed in the hot water. Alternatively, you can place the jars in the water while it is still cold, but I find that it takes forever for the water to come to a boil this way. You then need to leave the jars in the water for 20 minutes (for this recipe), once it has come to a boil again after placing the cans in it. Also, be sure that the water covers the top of the jars. Once they have been processed long enough, take them out, being careful not to burn yourself as I did this week (as the scab on my stomach proves!).

After the jars have cooled, inspect them to be sure that the snap lids have sealed. If you press on the centre of the lid, it should not pop back up. If it does, you need to reprocess them again in the boiling water so that the lids seal (or alternatively, put that jar in the fridge and use it immediately). And that's it. It all sounds complicated, but it's actually quite easy and lets you enjoy fresh, homemade, delicious salsa year-round.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Blueberry Pound Cake

Wow... I see that it's been almost a month since I've been on here. Life's been crazy lately with non-stop visitors to see Logan, on top of renovations to our bathroom and basement. Hence my lack of time to blog. Though I did manage to make a few things over the past month that I'll add here when I have a chance.

I'm not sure where I got this recipe, but I try to make it once each year during blueberry season. The recipe says that it makes 16 portions, but it makes way more than that. 4 of us had it for dessert at least 3-4 nights, plus I brought it on a picnic with family and stuffed the remainder in the freezer. So only plan to make it when you have a crowd (or a huge appetite!).

I also find that I always have a hard time getting this to cook properly. I've tried it in a bread pan before and it's way too big and the outside burns before the inside is cooked (and it takes way longer than the recipe indicates). I don't have a tube pan, though perhaps I need to buy one so the inside of the cake will bake. I made it in a flower shaped deep round pan and had to lower the temperature towards the end so that it all cooked. And I think it took about 2 hours in all to cook. Another option might be to split the recipe in half or, if making the whole recipe, splitting it between two different bread pans.

I didn't make the sugar/lemon drizzle that goes on top - mainly because I forgot. But it sounds like it'd be good...

3 C sugar (I used 2 C)
1/2 C light butter
1/2 (8-ounce) block 1/3-less-fat cream cheese, softened
3 large eggs
1 large egg white
3 C flour, divided
2 C fresh or frozen blueberries
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 (8-ounce) carton lemon low-fat yogurt
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 C powdered sugar
4 tsp. lemon juice

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Farenheit.

2. Beat first 3 ingredients at medium speed of a mixer until well-blended (about 5 minutes). Add eggs and egg white, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition.

3. Combine 2 tbsp. flour and blueberries in a small bowl, and toss well.

4. Combine remaining flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add to sugar mixture alternately with yogurt, beginning and ending with flour mixture.

5. Fold in blueberry mixture and vanilla.

6. Pour cake batter into a 10-inch tube pan coated with cooking spray. Bake at 350 degrees Farenheit for 1 hour and 10 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in centre comes out clean.

7. Cool cake in pan 10 minutes; remove from pan. Combine powdered sugar and lemon juice in a small bowl; drizzle over warm cake.

Serves 16.

Update June 2011: I made this with 2 C of sugar instead of 3 C and separated the cakes into two loaf pans.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Pound Cake

This recipe comes from The Fannie Farmer Cookbook that my dad gave to me when I was first in university and just learning to cook. My guess is that he probably doesn't even remember giving it to me!

I made this in a square pan instead of a loaf pan, since it was to be crumbled to put in trifle and I figured that it would cook more quickly in a square pan. I'll post the recipe for the trifle shortly.

1/2 lb. butter (do not use margarine)
1 2/3 C sugar
5 eggs
2 C cake flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. vanilla

1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees Farenheit. Butter and lightly flour a 9 x 5-inch loaf pan.

2. Cream the butter, slowly add the sugar, and beat until light.

3. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating each in well.

4. Stir in the flour, salt and vanilla and combine well. Spoon into the pan and bake for 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 hours. Cool in the pan for 5 minutes before turning out onto a rack.

Serve with fresh fruit, ice cream or a sauce.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Strawberry/Blueberry Tart

We were looking for inventive ways to use the mountains of strawberries that we had picked when my husband decided to make a French strawberry tart. He made me the little heart shaped one with strawberries on top for our 9th wedding anniversary. It was so good that I decided to make a larger version myself for dessert for my parents' visit this past weekend. Unfortunately, we had already eaten through the vast majority of our fresh strawberries, so I made one with blueberries instead. The recipe might look a bit complicated, but is actually quite simple to make (in other words, I even managed to make it!).

You would normally use a shortbread-type crust for this type of tart in France, but we decided to use the simple crust from the Chocolate Pie posted on March 2/10 instead, as it is tasty and really quick and easy to make.
125g of softened butter
additional butter for pie pan
pinch of salt
115g icing sugar
2g of powdered vanilla
1 egg
4 egg yolks
300g of flour

1. To prepare the pastry, put the butter and salt in a food processor and pulse until it becomes creamy. Incorporate the icing sugar, vanilla, eggs and flour and mix together by pulsing until the pastry forms a ball. Place in a Ziploc bag in the fridge for 2 hours. Be sure not to overmix the pastry.

2. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Farenheit. Use a bit of additional butter to prepare a 24 cm pie pan. Roll the pastry to fit the pie pan. Pierce the pastry with a fork and bake for 15 minutes.

The recipe for the crème pâtissière comes from the Larousse des Desserts, which we picked up alongside the Larousse du Chocolat before my husband moved to Canada from France. Again, because this is a French cookbook, recipes are given in grams rather than in cups. But you it is well worth buying an inexpensive food scale, if only to be able to make this recipe and the Chocolate Pie posted earlier!! You'll also need a food thermometer, but you can also get one that's not too expensive.

We used the vanilla beans that we had bought direct from the producers in Tahiti. Though vanilla beans are expensive here, I would recommend buying some instead of using vanilla extract for this recipe, as it makes a big difference in the flavour. Also, don't substitute a lower-fat milk for the 2%, as that's what makes the cream so creamy.

Crème pâtissière:
1 1/2 vanilla beans
30 g cornstarch
80 g sugar
350 mL 2% milk
4 egg yolks
35 g butter at room temperature (we used light butter)

1. In a large bowl, beat the egg yolks for 3 minutes with half of the sugar.

2. Split the vanilla beans lengthwise with a knife and scrape out the grains. Mix together the cornstarch and the rest of the sugar in a pot. Pour in the milk, mixing continually with a whisk. Add the vanilla beans and the grains and bring to a light boil, while constantly stirring with a whisk.

3. Pour a bit of the milk mixture into the egg yolks and mix.

4. Pour the egg mixture into the pot with the milk mixture and cook, stirring the whole time. As soon as the mixture reaches a light boil, remove the pot from the heat. Remove the vanilla beans.

5. Pour the cream into a bowl and place the bowl inside a second bowl, filled with ice cubes (I just placed the first bowl into a bowl of cold water).

6. When the cream reaches a temperature of 50 degrees Celsius, incorporate the butter, by whisking the mixture rapidly.

It is very important to continue whisking the mixture the entire time, otherwise, you will end up with lumps in your cream.

The cookbook says that it is preferable to make the cream the day that you are using it, as it begins to lose its flavour after 12 hours. However, we ate some 3 days after my husband had first made it and it seemed fine to me.

To assemble the tart, you spread the crème pâtissière on the bottom of the pie shell and then cover the top with berries. Voilà. I wouldn't put the fruit on further in advance than you have to though.

Variation: you can make chocolate crème pâtissière by mixing in 250 g of dark grated chocolate when you remove the cream from the heat in step 4. It should be stirred in 1/3 at a time. I was thinking that a tart with chocolate crème pâtissière might be nice with strawberries on top one day... hmm... the next time people visit???