Monday, 31 December 2012

Mediterranean Pork Kebabs - and variations

You can't go wrong with a kebab, they are versatile and fun.  Mix up the meat and veggies to what your preference is or what the fridge holds!  The trick to kebabs is cutting everything to about the same size so it cooks evenly.

1/2 cup Garlic and Herb marinade
1/2 cup ketchup
2 tsp each dried oregano leaves and lemon juice
500 g pork tenderloin cut into 16 bite size chunks
16 each bite size chunks zucchini and cherry tomatoes

  1. Soak 8 long bamboo skewers in cold water for 30 minutes.  Preheat the grill to medium high and grease the grate.  Stir the marinade with the ketchup, oregano and lemon juice until well combined.  Toss half of the mixture with the pork and vegetables; let stand for 15 minutes.
  2. Thread 2 pieces each of pork, zucchini and cherry tomatoes alternately onto each skewer.  Grill the skewers; turn as needed and baste occasionally with remaining marinade mixture for 10 to 12 minutes or until pork is cooked through.  Makes 4 servings.
For Steakhouse Mushroom Kebabs
  • replace Garlic & herb marinade with steak spice marinade
  • replace ketchup with Diana Marinade Western Smokehouse flavour
  • replace pork tenderloin with beef top sirloin
  • replace Zucchini and Cherry Tomatoes with Button mushrooms and red onion
For Spicy Tex Mex Kebabs
  • replace Garlic and Herb marinade with Diana Marinade Spicy Southwest flavour
  • replace ketchup with Diana Sauce original
  • omit oregano and lemon juice
  • replace pork tenderloin with chicken breast
  • replace zucchini and cherry tomatoes with red and green peppers

Sunday, 30 December 2012

Sensational Burgers Three Ways

A family favourite!  It is nice to change up the regular burger now and again.

Burger Ingredients:
1 egg, beaten
2 tbsp grated onion
2 tbsp Worcestershire Sauce
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 tsp each salt and pepper
500g lean ground beef or turkey
Hamburger buns (I like the thin ones)

Glaze Ingredients below

  1. Whisk the egg with the onion, Worcestershire sauce, garlic, salt and pepper.  Crumble in the beef (or turkey if making the Mango Tango Turkey Burger). Mix gently.  Chill the mixture for 15 minutes; then divide into 4 equal sized patties.  Preheat the grill to medium high and grease the grate.  Set the patties on the preheated grill and cook, covered for 6 minutes.
  2. Flip the burgers and reduce the heat to medium.  Choose a glaze below and mix ingredients.  Brush with some of the glaze.  Grill turning and brushing with glaze for 6 to 8 minutes or until 90C inside. Brush with any remaining glaze and top with cheese (if using) before removing from the grill.  Serve on buns with traditional garnishes.
*reduce Worcestershire Sauce to 1 tbsp if using turkey.


Swinging Sweet and Sour
Stir together 2/3 cup ketchup, 1 tbsp each brown sugar and cider vinegar, 2 tsp Dijon Mustard.  Works on beef - use mozzarella cheese 

Smokehouse Shuffle
Stir together 2/3 cup Ketchup, 1 tbsp brown sugar, 2 tbsp cider vinegar, 2 tsp hot sauce.  Works on beef - use crumbled blue cheese

Mango Tango Turkey
Stir together 1/3 cup each HP Sauce and Mango chutney, 1 tbsp each brown sugar and cider vinegar, 2 tsp Dijon mustard.  Works on Turkey - use cheddar cheese

Saturday, 29 December 2012

Grilled Tomato Pasta Salad

A salad with great variety and colour.  Lots of flavour.

2 lb (1kg) cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 tsp fresh ground black pepper
2/3 cup Diana Marinade, Garlic and Herb flavour
1 tsp finely grated lemon zest
2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
4 cups cooked orzo or other pastina (tina pasta shapes)
3 cups coarsely chopped baby spinach
1 cup coarsely shredded basil leaves
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
Toasted pine nuts

  1. Preheat the grill to mediumhigh.  Line the grate with a sheet of heavy duty foil.  Place the tomatoes in a large bowl and sprinkle with pepper.  Stir the marinade in a separate bowl with the lemon zest and lemon juice.  Gently toss the tomatoes with half of this mixture.  Whisk the olive oil into the remaining marinade mixture in the bowl; reserve.
  2. Brush the foil with a little extra olive oil.  Place the tomatoes on the foil, cut side up.  Grill the tomatoes for 5 minutes.  Reduce the heat to medium and grill for 15 minutes or until wrinkled and browned.   Lift the foil with the tomatoes and any juices onto a baking sheet.  Gently scrape the tomatoes into a bowl.
  3. Toss the orzo with the reserved oil marinade mixture.  Gently stir in the spinach and half each of the tomatoes, basil and Feta cheese.  Transfer to a deep plater or bowl.  Garnish the salad with the remaining tomato, basil, cheese and pine nuts.  Season with additional fresh ground pepper to taste.
Makes 8 servings

Wednesday, 26 December 2012

Grilled Salmon Fillets - 3 Ways

Don't let winter stop you from using the barbecue!  These are simple salmon recipes that are definitely kid friendly.

6 boneless, skinless salmon fillets
1 tbsp vegetable oil
Lime Wedges

  1. Stir the ingredients for one of the glazes below until smooth.  Heat on high in the microwave for 2 minutes; stop to stir twice.  Reserve.
  2. Preheat the grill to medium high; grease the grate well.  Brush the salmon with the oil.  Place the salmon on the grill.  Grill for 3 minutes.  Turn and brush liberally with the glaze mixture.  Reduce the heat to medium.  Close the lid and cook for 3 to 4 minutes or until just barely coral on the inside when tested with a knife.  Brush with additional glaze.  Serve with lime wedges.  Makes 6 servings.
Moroccan Spiced
1/2 cup ketchup
2 tbsp lime juice
1 tbsp brown sugar
2 tsp each ground cinnamon and ginger
1 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp each ground cumin and black pepper

Smokey Chili
1/2 cup Diana Sauce, Western Smokehouse flavour
2 tbsp lime juice
1 tbsp brown sugar
2 tsp chili powder
1 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp each ground cumin and black pepper

Lemon Tomato
1/2 cup Chili Sauce
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp brown sugar
2 tsp dried oregano leaves
1 tsp finely grated lemon zest
1/2 tsp black pepper

Tuesday, 25 December 2012

Shanghai Chicken Legs

A great BBQ recipe.  If you don't like dark meat change to Chicken Breast with the bone in.

4 chicken leg quarters, skin on
1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce, divided
1/2 cup HP sauce
1 tbsp each brown sugar and lemon juice
2 tsp each minced ginger and toasted sesame oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tsp Chinese five spice powder or ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp each salt and pepper
Snipped chives

  1. Preheat the grill to medium and grease the grate.  Marinate the chicken legs in the Worcestershire sauce for 30 minutes.  Blend the HP sauce with the brown sugar, lemon juice, ginger, sesame oil, garlic and five spice powder in a microwave safe bowl.  Heat on high for 2 minutes, stopping to stir twice, or until hot and bubbly.  Reserve.
  2. Sprinkle the chicken evenly with salt and pepper.  Place on the grill meaty side down.  Grill for 5 minutes or until well marked.  Baste with some of the sauce.  Turn the chicken and baste again with the sauce.  Turn off the burner directly under the chicken, leaving the other burner on.  Grill the chicken, covered, basting occasionally for 40 minutes or until very tender and cooked through.

Monday, 24 December 2012

Mushroom Tarts

This is a really rich accompaniment to dinner, but a very nice treat.  The pastry is very rich and if 1 tbsp is added, can be used for butter or fruit tarts.  If mushrooms are not your thing, substitute onions or your favourite roasted vegetable.  From Food and Drink 2003.

2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup cold butter, diced
1 cup cream cheese, diced

2 tbsp butter
250 g fresh mushrooms, chopped
250 g wild mushrooms, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 cup whipping cream
1 tbsp lemon juice
1/4 cup chopped green onion
1/4 cup chopped parsley
Salt and freshly ground pepper

  1. Place flour and salt in food processor.  Scatter over butter and cream cheese.  With on-off motion, pulse together.  Remove from processor and form into ball.  Chill for 30 minutes.  (I don't have a food processor so I use the old method of a pastry cutter and cut the butter and cream cheese into the dough by hand, you can also use two knives to do it.)
  2. Pinch 1 inch balls from pastry and pat into small tart or muffin tins.  Chill until needed.
  3. Preheat oven to 400F.
  4. Heat butter in skillet, add mushrooms and saute 5 minutes until juices disappear.  Add garlic and cream, bring to boil, add lemon juice, green onion and parsley and season with salt and pepper.  Spoon into pastry cases.  Bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until pastry is edged with gold and mushroom filling is hot.  Turn out of tins and cool 10 minutes.  These may be frozen on cookie sheets, placed in frozen state at 350F for 15 minutes or until filling is hot. 
Makes about 30 tarts.

Sunday, 23 December 2012

Coffee Roasted Rack of Pork

A wonderful dinner recipe.  You can't go too far wrong with rosemary and pork.  If you can't get or afford rack of pork - just get some bone in pork chops and cook in a pan.  I did that with this and it turned out well.  From Food and Drink 2003

1 rack of pork consisting of 6 chops about 1.6 kg
Salt and freshly ground pepper
2 tbsp Dijon mustard
1 tbsp chopped fresh rosemary
1 cup coffee
1 tbsp brandy
1/2 cup chicken stock
1/4 cup table cream
1 tbsp granulated sugar

1 tbsp cold water
1 tsp cornstarch

  1. Pat dry the meat, season, then spread mustard onto the fat side, sprinkle over the chopped rosemary.
  2. Preheat oven to 400F.
  3. Place the pork in a roasting pan, bone side down.  Roast for 15 minutes and then reduce temperature to 325F.  Continue to cook for 2 hours or until an instant read thermometer registers 165F when inserted into the centre of the roast away from the bone.  Remove from the roasting pan and allow to sit loosely covered with foil for 15 minutes.  (The roast will continue to cook).  
  4. Pour off any fat from the roasting pan, add coffee and brandy then bring to a boil, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan.  Reduce by a quarter, then pour through a fie sieve into a saucepan.  Add stock, cream and sugar and continue to boil until slightly thickened.  Season.  If you want a thicker sauce, mix water and cornstarch together and whisk into hot coffee mixture.
  5. Remove string from roast and slice into chops.  Serve with the sauce. 

Saturday, 22 December 2012

Pecan Pumpkin Cheesecake

A nice holiday treat and a change from the traditional pumpkin pie.  From Food and Drink 2003

1/2 cup melted unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
2 tbsp brown sugar
1/3 cup ground pecans or other nut
2 tbsp unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups cream cheese, at room temperature
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 cup pureed cooked pumpkin, fresh or canned
3 eggs
1 cup sour cream
3 tbsp all purpose flour
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tbsp lemon zest
2 tbsp lemon juice
1/2 cup whipping cream
1 tsp sugar
candied pecans

  1. Line base and sides of a 9 inch springform pan with parchment paper and brush sides with 2 tbsp melted butter.
  2. Stir together graham cracker crumbs, sugar, pecans and remaining melted butter.  Mix together and pat into bottom and sides of prepared pan.  Chill crust in refrigerator while preparing filling.
  3. Preheat oven to 350F.
  4. In a large bowl or a food processor, cream butter and cream cheese together.  Scrape down sides, add sugar and beat until light and fluffy.  Scrape sides again and beat in pumpkin.
  5. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.  Beat in sour cream, flour, vanilla, lemon zest and juice.
  6. Pour filling into chilled base.  Bake cake in centre of oven for 1 hour.  Leave oven door ajar, turn off heat, and let cake sit in oven for 1 hour.  Chill and remove from pan.
  7. Whip cream until soft peaks form then beat in sugar.  Pipe or dollop 10 rosettes of whipped cream around the top edge of the cheesecake.  Top each rosette with a candied pecan.  Place remaining pecans around the top of the cake if desired.

Friday, 21 December 2012

The Grand Ghoul

A nice after dinner aperitif.

In a cocktail shaker filled with ice, add 3/4 oz Grand Marnier, 3/4 oz Skyy Citrus Vodka, 1/2 oz lime juice and 2 oz Blood Orange Juice or 2 oz orange juice with 1 tsp grenadine).  Stir until chilled and strain into a martini glass rimmed with orange sugar.  Garnish with a black licorice straw.

Thursday, 20 December 2012

Hot Rummed Cider

Another yummy festive drink :)

In a saucepan, bring to boil 6 cups apple cider and 4 tbsp brown sugar.  Reduce heat and add 1 tbsp butter.  When butter has melted, add 1 1/2 cups amber rum.  Stir and serve in heat proof mugs.

Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Hot Apple Brandy

A nice festive drink!

In a saucepan, simmer 6 cups apple cider, 1 cup brandy, 1/2 cup apricot brandy, 3 cinnamon sticks and 1/2 tsp ground cloves for 20 to 30 minutes.  Serve warm.

Monday, 17 December 2012

Beef Tenderloin with Asian Flavourings

I love Asian inspired food.  This was excellent.  Make sure you use fresh ginger and not powderedFrom Food and Drink Summer 2011

3 tbsp soy sauce
2 tsp grated ginger
2 tsp chopped garlic
2 tsp cracked peppercorns
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1.5 kg beef tenderloin
Salt to taste

1 tbsp slivered onions
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp rice or cider vinegar (I use rice vinegar)
1 tsp Asian chili sauce or other hot sauce
2 tbsp vegetable oil
2 large Spanish onions, cut into 1/2 inch thick rounds
Salt to taste (I don't find I need any because of the Soy sauce)

1/4 cup low salt soy sauce
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
1 tsp grated lime rind

Maldon salt (I didn't do this)

  1. Combine soy sauce, ginger, garlic, peppercorns and oil.  Brush on beef and let marinate for 30 minutes to 2 hours.  Sprinkle with salt just before grilling.
  2. Combine ginger, soy sauce, vinegar, chili sauce and oil.  Toss with onions then sprinkle onions lightly with salt.  Reserve.
  3. Preheat grill to high and turn off middle burner.  Add meat to grill and grill with lid closed for 10 minutes, then turn over and grill another 15 minutes or until medium rare.  When you turn meat add onion slices to grill over the lit burners and grill for 5 minutes, turn over and grill another 5 minutes or until browned and juicy.  Let tenderloin rest for 5 minutes before carving.
  4. Combine soy sauce, balsamic vinegar and lime rind in a small pot over high heat.  Boil until syrupy about 4 minutes.
  5. Slice beef, sprinkle with Maldon salt and drizzle with soy balsamic glaze.  Serve with onions.

Sunday, 16 December 2012

Grilled Whole Veal Tenderloin with Brandy Butter Sauce

The Brandy Butter Sauce here is fabulous.  I used my gas bbq for this despite the recipe calling for an infra red one.  I just set one side on high for about 15 minutes and then seared the meat and then placed it on the unheated side to cook.  If you can't find veal tenderloin (I couldn't) use pork or beef tenderloin (I used beef).  From Food and Drink Summer 2011.

1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1/4 cup brandy
1 tbsp fresh thyme, finely chopped
2 veal tenderloins, each about 750g, silver skin removed
1/4 cup steak spice
1 tbsp smoked paprika
2 tbsp olive oil

1 tbsp butter
1 cup thinly sliced shallots
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp brandy, diluted with 2 tbsp water
6 tbsp cold unsalted butter, cubed
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

  1. In a small bowl, whisk together the melted butter, brandy and thyme to combine.
  2. Pat tenderloins dry with paper towels.  Fill an injector with the butter mixture.  Stab and inject the tenderloins in multiple places.  Cover in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2 hours
  3. IN a small bowl, combine the steak spice and smoked paprika.  Remove tenderloin from the refrigerator, rub with the olive oil and then massage well with the spice mixture.  Set aside for 30 minutes to come to room temperature.
  4. For brandy butter sauce, place a medium saucepan over medium heat on the barbecue side burner or stovetop.  Heat 1 tbsp of butter until foaming.  Add the shallots and garlic and cook for 5 to 7 minutes, until very soft and fragrant.  Remove from heat and stir in the diluted brandy.  Whisk in the cold butter, 1 cube at a time, until fully incorporated.  If the mixture becomes too cool to melt the butter, place it back on the burner briefly while whisking constantly to ensure sauce does not split.  Season to taste with salt and pepper and keep warm over very gentle heat until ready to serve.
  5. Preheat the grill to medium high or 450F.  Preheat the infrared burner for 1 minute.  (If using a gas bbq use the above instructions).
  6. Place the tenderloin on the infrared burner and sear, about 1 1/2 minutes a side.
  7. Move tenderloin to medium high side and grill for about 4 to 6 minutes a side for medium rare.  Remove from grill and allow to rest for 5 minutes.
  8. Slice the tenderloin into 1 inch thick medallions, remove to a platter and spoon brandy butter sauce over.  Sprinkle with additional thyme leaves if you wish.

Friday, 14 December 2012

Baby Back Ribs on Maple Planks

I only have a propane BBQ - and I think that is what the majority of us use.  This is a recipe from Food and Drink 2011 that I loved. You can switch the maple planks for an apple wood or your choice.  Soak the wood in water for at least a couple of hours, overnight is better.  Use two 12 x 6 inch planks.  Serve with corn on the cob!

Barbecue Sauce
1 cup apple juice
3/4 cup ketchup
3 tbsp cider vinegar
2 tsp light soy sauce
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp molasses
1/2 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp garlic, minced
1/4 tsp black pepper

1 tsp paprika
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp thyme
1 tbsp garlic powder
1 tsp brown sugar
1 tsp dry mustard
1 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp black pepper

2 full slabs baby back ribs

  1. To make sauce, combine all ingredients in a medium saucepan.  Cook over high heat until reduced by half, or about 1 cup.
  2. To make rub, add all ingredients to a small bowl and stir to combine.
  3. Peel the thin membrane off the back of the ribs (this helps the meat cook more evenly and absorb more flavour while cooking).  Using your fingertips, rub the meat liberally with the rub, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 to 3 hours.
  4. Meanwhile soak planks in water for 1 to 2 hours.
  5. Ignite grill, turn to high and preheat for 10 minutes.  Turn 1 side off leaving the other on, and place planks on the side that has been turned off.  Close lid and wait for the planks to begin to crackle and smoke, between 3 to 5 minutes.  Turn planks over and place a rack of ribs on each plank, reduce heat to low, and close lid.  Maintain a temperature range between 275 to 300 F and cook for 3 hours.
  6. Brush both sides of ribs liberally with barbecue sauce and continue cooking with the lid closed for an additional hour.  Ribs are done when the sauce has become sticky and the meat separates easily from the bones.

Sunday, 9 December 2012

The West Coast Burger

A fabulous burger, my husband and myself really enjoyed these.  Not a really kid friendly recipe, but grill up a regular hamburger for them :)  from Food and Drink 2011.

Roasted Tomatoes
4 small ripe plum tomatoes
1/4 tsp each kosher salt, black pepper and granulated sugar

625 g boneless skinless salmon fillets, cut into chunks
125 g smoked salmon, coarsely chopped
3 tbsp dry bread crumbs
2 tbsp finely chopped fresh chives
2 tbsp mayonnaise
1 tbsp finely chopped fresh dill
2 tsp prepared horseradish
1 tsp finely grated lemon zest
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 tsp cayenne
4 thin multi grain burger buns
1/3 cup tartar sauce
1 1/2 cups lightly packed washed and dried watercress (or use baby spinach)
Half small red onion, thinly sliced
1/2 cup crumbled soft goat cheese

  1. Preheat oven to 250F
  2. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.  Cut tomatoes in half lengthwise and arrange cut side up on baking sheet.  Sprinkle evenly with salt, pepper and sugar.  Roast for 3 hours or until tomatoes are shrivelled slightly but still moist.  Let tomatoes cool to room temperature.
  3. In a food processor, (I only have a blender) pulse fresh and smoked salmon 8 to 10 times or until chopped but not pureed.  Scrape out salmon mixture into a large bowl.  Add bread crumbs, chives mayonnaise, dill horseradish, lemon zest garlic and cayenne and mix gently but thoroughly.
  4. Form salmon mixture into 4 even size patties about 1 inch thick.  Arrange patties in a single layer on a large plate.  Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
  5. Preheat barbecue to medium high.  Cook patties on well oiled grill for 8 to 10 minutes, turning once until browned on both sides but still coral coloured in the centre.  Just before burgers are ready, split buns horizontally and toast, cut side down, until golden.
  6. Spread bottom halves of buns with tartar sauce.  Top with watercress, red onion and 2 roasted tomato halves.  Add a burger to each bun and top with goat cheese.  Replace tops of buns.

Thursday, 6 December 2012

Arugula Salad with Grapefruit Vinaigrette and Spicy Shrimp

Alas I am not a big fan of the Grapefruit, but despite that I gave this recipe a try and I am so glad I did.  The spicy shrimp are wonderful and I enjoyed the grapefruit in the salad.  A nice healthy recipe just before you indulge over the holidays.  From Food and Drink 2011.

500g large tail on raw shrimp, defrosted
1 large garlic clove, minced
3 tsp thyme
1/2 tsp finely ground black pepper
1/2tsp salt
1/2 tsp dry mustard
2 tbsp olive oil

2 medium grapefruit
1 to 2 tbsp seasoned rice-wine vinegar
1 tbsp olive oil
1 small garlic clove, minced
1/4 tsp Dijon Mustard
4 cups lightly packed baby arugula
4 cups lightly packed baby spinach

  1. Peel shrimp if needed, leaving just tails attached; discard shells.  Dry shrimp well with paper towels.  Stir garlic with thyme, pepper, salt and mustard until well combined.  Rub all over shrimp; drizzle with 1 tbsp oil.  Toss until evenly coated.  Cover and promptly refrigerate for up to half a day.
  2. Section grapefruits by removing outer rind and membrane with a chef's knife.  Then holding fruit in hand over a large bowl, cut between inner sections leaving rubbery membrane behind.  Squeeze juice from membrane into bowl to use for dressing.
  3. Measure 1/4 cup grapefruit juice.  Stir with 1 tbsp vinegar, 1 tbsp olive oil, garlic and Dijon; taste and add remaining vinegar if needed.  Set aside.  Drain remaining juice from sections; drink or save to put in a smoothie at another time.
  4. When ready to serve, heat remaining 1 tbsp oil in large frying pan over medium heat until hot.  Add shrimp all at once.  Saute, turning frequently for 7 to 9 minutes or until hot, pink and firm.
  5. Toss arugula and spinach mixture with dressing.  Portion onto plates; dividing equally, drizzle with any remaining dressing in bowl.  Top with grapefruit sections and shrimp.  Serve right away.

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Mango Fruit Pavlova

This is a variation of a recipe I found in Food & Drink 2011.  I like Mango and it works well with the sweet meringue.

4 large egg whites at room temperature
1/2 tsp cream of tartar
3/4 cup sugar
1 tsp cornstarch
1 tsp white vinegar

1 cup whipping cream
2 tbsp sugar
1 tsp finely grated lemon zest
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 ripe mango

  1. Preheat the oven to 250F
  2. Trace an 8 inch circle onto a piece of parchment paper using a magic marker, and line a baking tray with the parchment paper, with the marked side down (so the ink won't transfer to the meringue as it bakes).
  3. Whip the egg whites and cream of tartar until they are foamy, then slowly pour in the sugar while whipping and continue whipping on high speed until the whites hold a stiff peak when the beaters are lifted (the whites will be thick and glossy). Fold in the cornstarch and vinegar.  Spoon the whites onto the parchment paper and spread it to fit the circle, using your spatula to create pretty swirls.
  4. Bake the meringue for 75 to 90 minutes until the exterior is dry, cracking the oven door if the meringue starts showing signs of browning.  Once out of the oven and cooled, the meringue should feel dry on the outside and peel away from the parchment easily.  If still a little soft, return to the 250F oven for another 10 to 20 minutes.  Cool the meringue on the tray before removing.
  5. Whip the cream to a soft peak and beat in the sugar, lemon zest and juice.  Chill until ready to assemble.
  6. Assemble the pavlova immediately before serving.  Place the meringue onto a platter and top with the whipped cream.  Peel and cut the mango into small pieces and spoon over cream.  Slice and serve as you would a cake or tart.
Serves 8

Honey Vanilla Cheesecake

A delicious moist cheesecake that can be topped with your choice of fresh fruit.  From Food and Drink 2011.

1 1/4 cups graham cracker crumbs
2 tbsp granulated sugar
3 tbsp unsalted butter, melted

3 blocks (250 g each) cream cheese, at room temperature
3/4 cup liquid honey
1 tbsp cornstarch
1/4 tsp salt
3 eggs
1 cup sour cream
2 tsp vanilla

  1. Preheat oven to 350F.
  2. Grease an 8 1/2 to 9 inch springform pan.  In a bowl, stir crumbs with sugar then butter until combined.  Press onto bottom of pan.  To prevent water bath seepage, wrap outside of pan's base and up the sides with heavy duty foil.  Bake crust until firm 10 to 12 minutes.  Cool slightly
  3. Using an electric mixer, beat cream cheese until very creamy and smooth.  Beat in honey then cornstarch and salt.  Add eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition.  Scrape down sides occasionally.  Beat in sour cream and vanilla just until blended.  
  4. Turn into slightly cooled crust and smooth the top.  Set foil-wrapped pan into a roasting pan or casserole dish large enough to hold it.  Fill larger pan with very hot water to com 1 inch up the sides (this will minimize the cakes cracking and make it creamier).  Bake in centre of preheated oven until edges are set but centre jiggles slightly, about 45 minutes. 
  5. Turn off oven, leaving cake in oven for 45 minutes.  Remove from oven and run a knife around edges.  Cool completely on a rack then refrigerate at least 4 hours but preferably overnight.  Cut into wedges.  Wrapped and refrigerated, cheesecake will keep well for a couple of days.  Or wrap then rewrap in foil and cheesecake will freeze well for a month.

Monday, 3 December 2012

Polenta Lasagna with Roasted Vegetables

A wonderful dish you won't even know is meatless.  Well maybe you will, but you won't care.  From Food and Drink 2011

Roasted Vegetables
1 small whole head garlic
1 medium eggplant, peeled and cut into 1 inch pieces
1 each large red and orange sweet pepper seeded and cut into 1 inch pieces
1 each medium yellow and green zucchini, trimmed and cut into 1 inch pieces
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tsp Italian seasoning
2 bay leaves
1/2 tsp each salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 cups pasta sauce (good quality)

2 cups milk
2 cups water
1 tsp finely grated lemon zest
1 tsp salt
1 cup cornmeal
1 1/2 cups freshly grated Parmesan Cheese
1/4 cup finely chopped parsley

  1. For roasted vegetables, preheat oven to 425F.
  2. Slice top off head of garlic to expose cloves.  In a large roasting pan, toss together head of garlic, eggplant, sweet peppers, zucchini, onion, olive oil, Italian seasoning, bay leaves, salt and pepper. Roast, uncovered and stirring occasionally for about 45 minutes or until vegetables are tender and just beginning to brown.  Remove roasting pan from oven and set aside.
  3. Reduce oven temperature to 400F.
  4. When garlic is cool enough to handle, squeeze cloves from skins and stir into vegetables.  Discard bay leaves.
  5. Spread half of vegetables in a 12 cup baking dish.  Spoon half of pasta sauce over vegetables.
  6. For polenta, bring milk, water, lemon zest and slat to a boil in a large saucepan over high heat.  Very gradually add cornmeal in a thin stream, whisking constantly as you do so (don't add cornmeal too quickly or the mixture will be lumpy).  I find it helpful to use a small whisk for this.  
  7. Reduce heat to medium and cook, stirring often and reducing heat further if mixture spatters, for about 8 minutes or until polenta has thickened and is smooth.  Remove from the heat.  Stir in 1 cup Parmesan cheese and parsley.
  8. Working quickly, spread half of polenta over vegetables.  Top with remaining vegetables and pasta sauce.  Spread remaining polenta evenly overtop.  Sprinkle with remaining Parmesan cheese.  Bake uncovered, for 20 to 30 minutes or until bubbly and golden brown.  Let stand for 10 minutes before serving. 

Friday, 30 November 2012

Creamy Barley Risotto with Asparagus and Porcini

Love this take on a risotto, I am a new fan of Barley!  From Food and Drink 2011

1 pkg dried porcini mushrooms (if you can't find these, just saute some mushrooms and use chicken or vegetable stock for the mushroom liquid
2 tbsp unsalted butter
1 onion, finely chopped
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 cup pearl barley
1/2 cup dry white wine
4 cups vegetable or chicken stock
1 lb (500 g) thin asparagus spears
1/2 cup crumbled fresh soft cheese with garlic and herbs such as Boursin
1/4 cup snipped fresh chives
Salt to taste

  1. In a 2 cup glass measure, combine porcini mushrooms with 1 cup water.  Cover tightly with plastic wrap and pierce plastic wrap in several places with the point of a knife.  Microwave on high for 30 seconds.  Let stand for 5 minutes.
  2. Remove mushrooms, squeezing out and reserving soaking liquid.  Rinse and drain mushrooms, then chop finely.  Strain soaking liquid through a paper towel lined sieve into a medium saucepan.  Set aside.
  3. In a large saucepan, melt butter over medium heat.  Add onion, porcini and pepper.  Cook for 5 to 7 minutes, stirring often, until onion is soft but not browned.  Stir in barley until well coated with onion mixture.
  4. Add wine and bring to a boil, stirring until wine has been absorbed.  Stir in w2 cups stock.  Increase heat to high and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to low and simmer, uncovered and stirring occasionally, for about 20 minutes or until stock has been absorbed, and barley has swollen and is starting to soften.
  5. Meanwhile, add remaining stock to mushroom soaking liquid and heat over medium high heat until steaming.  Keep warm over low heat.
  6. Add hot stock mixture to barley 1/2 cup at a time, stirring often and allowing barley to absorb stock before adding more, until most of stock is used (you may not need all of it) and barley is tender but still a little chewy, about 20 minutes.
  7. Meanwhile trim woody ends from asparagus by snapping spears where they break naturally.  Cut asparagus diagonally into 1/2 inch pieces.  Stir asparagus into barley.  Cover and cook for 5 to 7 minutes or until asparagus is tender crisp.  Stir in cheese and half of chives.  Season with salt and more pepper to taste if necessary.  Spoon into shallow bowls and sprinkle with remaining chives.

Thursday, 29 November 2012

Falafel Cheeseburgers with Tzatziki

I am a confirmed carnivore, but this recipe could almost make me vegetarian!  A nice change to a regular hamburger with lots of flavour.  Even the kids ate it (although I didn't tell them it was chickpeas)  From Food and Drink 2011

1 can (540ml) chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh coriander leaves
3 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 clove garlic, coarsely chopped
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground cumin
Generous pinch cayenne
Salt to taste
4 oz (125g) Halloumi cheese thinly sliced (or your favourite cheese)
4 burger buns
1/2 cup tzatziki
4 boston lettuce leaves
Sliced tomato, red onion and/or cucumber

  1. Spread chickpeas out on a kitchen towel lined, rimmed baking sheet.  Blot with another towel until very dry.
  2. In a food processor (I only have a blender so that is what I use), combine chickpeas, coriander leaves, 1 tbsp olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, coriander, cumin and cayenne.  Pulse until mixture forms a crumbly paste that holds together.  Taste and add a little salt and more cayenne if necessary.   Pulse again to combine.
  3. Form mixture into 4 even sized patties, about 1/2 inch thick.  In a large nonstick skillet (I use my cast iron), heat remaining oil over medium heat.  Add burgers and cook for 3 to 4 minutes or until golden brown on the undersides.  Using an egg lifter, carefully turn burgers over.  Top each with halloumi.  Cook for 3 to 4 minutes or until burgers are golden brown and hot throughout, and cheese is starting to melt.
  4. Meanwhile, split buns in half and toast until golden brown.  Spread bottom half of each bun with tzatziki.  Top with lettuce, and tomato, onion and/or cucumber.  Place a falafel burger on each bun.  Replace tops of buns and serve at once.

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Pan Bagnat

This is a fantastic sandwich which originates from Nice, France.  From Food & Drink 2011

1 cup sweet white onion, very thinly sliced into rings
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
4 cans (198g each) Tuna in oil, drained
1/3 cup good quality olive oil, plus more for drizzling
1/4 cup capers, drained
1/2 cup fresh basil, coarsely chopped
Freshly ground pepper
2 baguettes
10 leaves Boston Lettuce, washed
12 slices tomato
4 eggs, hard boiled, peeled and sliced
1/2 cup brine cured black olives, coarsely chopped

  1. Place in a medium bowl onion, vinegar and sprinkle of salt (I omit the salt).  Stir and let rest 5 minutes. Add tuna, olive oil, capers and basil.  Season generously with salt and pepper.  Stir together while breaking the tuna into small pieces. 
  2. Slice baguettes in half lengthwise.  Remove the bread from the inside of the bottom halves of the loaves to form a gully.
  3. Place the lettuce on the bottom halves of the loaves.  Place tuna mixture on top of lettuce and then tomato and egg slices on top of tuna.  The tuna mixture may be quite runny.
  4. Sprinkle with olives.   Drizzle with olive oil and cover with top of baguette.  Slice each baguette into 4 pieces.

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Orzo with Fresh Orange and Olives

This is a great side dish.  I really enjoy Orzo and this is a nice recipe to try it out with if you haven't used it yet.  Orzo looks like rice but is a pasta.  Most grocery stores will stock it.  I have used it in soups when I have some left over.  The black olives in this recipe contrast nicely with the plain pasta flavour.  This recipe is from Food and Drink 2011.

2 large oranges
1 tbsp butter
12 oz (375 g) orzo pasta, a scant 2 cups (do not rinse)
1 large clove garlic, minced
2 2/3 cup chicken broth
1/4 to 1/2 tsp salt
1/4 to 1/2 tsp hot red pepper flakes
16 black olives, preferably Kalamata
1/4 cup thinly sliced green onions

  1. Section 1 orange by removing outer rind with a chef's knife.  Then, holding fruit in hand over a large bowl, cut between inner sections leaving rubbery membrane behind.  Squeeze juice from membrane behind.  Squeeze juice from membrane into a glass measuring cup.   Augment with juice from bowl of sections and from second orange as needed to equal 1/3 cup.  Cover and refrigerate for up to a day, if not using right away.
  2. When nearly ready to serve, heat butter in a large saucepan over medium heat until bubbly.  Stir in dry orzo, saute, stirring frequently for 5 to 7 minutes or until about half of grains are golden.  Stir in garlic; cook 1 minute.
  3. Add broth, juice, salt (I omit the salt) and pepper flakes.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat so mixture gently bubbles.  Cook uncovered for 10 to 15 minutes or until orzo is tender and broth is absorbed.
  4. Meanwhile, pit 10 olives; cut into largish pieces.  Reserve remainder for garnish.  When orzo is cooked, stir in olives and chives; turn into warmed serving dish.  Garnish with orange sections and black olives. 

Saturday, 24 November 2012

Ale Braised Short Ribs

Beer and Beef, it doesn't get much better than that!  Dark ale works best in this recipe, but use what you have.  From Food and Drink 2011

1.75 kg beef short ribs cut 2 to 3 inches thick and sliced into pieces with 1 to 2 bones in each
Salt and pepper to taste
2 tbsp vegetable oil
2 cups onions, coarsely chopped
2 tbsp garlic coarsely chopped
2 tbsp fresh sage coarsely chopped
2 tbsp tomato paste
2 cups dark ale
1 cup beef stock

  1. Heat oven to 350F.
  2. Generously season short ribs with salt and freshly ground pepper.
  3. In a large ovenproof pot, heat oil over medium heat.  Sear the short ribs in oil until well browned on all sides, work in batches to avoid overcrowding the pot.  Place browned ribs aside on a plate.
  4. Discard excess oil from pot, add onions, garlic and sage and saute until onions are nearly tender, about 10 minutes.  Add tomato paste and cook for 1 minute longer.
  5. Place ribs back in pot along with ale and beef stock.  Bring to a simmer, cover and then place in preheated oven.  Bake for 3 hours or until meat is very tender and falls apart when gently pulled with a fork.  Remove from oven.
  6. Set ribs aside and pour the pan juices through a strainer to remove the solids; reserve liquid.  Place ribs and strained liquid back into the same pot and cook over low heat until the liquid has reduced to a sauce consistency, about 10 minutes.
  7. Season to taste and place everything in transportable and oven friendly dish.  When ready to serve, place in a 350F oven and warm through.  Serve ribs covered with sauce.

Thursday, 22 November 2012

Japanese Chicken Curry

I love, love, love this one!  The Japanese curry powder in this recipe uses a lot of healthy turmeric, giving it a distinctive yellow look.  Serve with rice or noodles.  From Food & Drink 2011

1 1/2 lbs (750g) boneless, skinless chicken thighs
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 cup thinly sliced onion
1/2 cup coarsely grated peeled apple
2 tbsp Japanese Curry Powder (recipe follows)
1 tbsp chopped fresh ginger
1 tbsp chopped garlic
3 tbsp flour
2 cups chicken stock
4 cups baby spinach
2 tbsp finely chopped coriander

  1. Cut chicken thighs in thirds.  Season chicken thighs with salt and pepper.  Heat 2 tbsp oil in a large skillet over medium high heat.  Add thighs in batches and sear about 1 minute per side or until lightly golden.  Reserve.
  2. Reduce heat to medium.  Add remaining 1/4 cup oil and onion into skillet and saute for 2 minutes or until onion is softened.  Add apple, curry powder, ginger and garlic and saute for 1 minute or until fragrant.  Stir in flour and cook, stirring for 1 to 2 minutes to cook out floury taste.  Add stock a little at a time until well combined, and bring to a boil.  Simmer 5 minutes to thicken, and taste for seasoning.
  3. Return chicken to skillet and cook in sauce for another 10 minutes or until thighs are cooked through.  Add spinach and coriander.  Cook just until spinach wilts.
Serves 4

Japanese Curry Powder

2 tbsp turmeric
1 tbsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp ground cardamom
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp ground fennel

Combine all spices in a small bowl and stir until uniform.  Extra curry powder keeps well in a sealed container.  Makes 4 tbsp.

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Pizza Margherita with Arugula

I am really starting to enjoy Arugula, it has a slightly bitter, peppery taste that accents most meals very well.  I can sometimes have a hard time finding the Halloumi cheese where I live and have never seen Guernsey Girl cheese.  But the nice thing about this is you can experiment with something new that is in your area!  I really liked the crust for this - simple and quick!.  I use a pizza stone I got from Pampered chef years ago - it is invaluable and far superior to an inexpensive one I received.  I would say it is definitely worth investing in a good quality stone for this recipe.  From Food and Drink 2011

4 tsp olive oil
1 large garlic clove, crushed with side of knife
1 can tomatoes, preferable San Marzano type
1 3/4 to 2 cups all purpose flour
1 envelope or 2 1/4 tsp instant or bread machine dry yeast
1 tsp salt
1 1/4 cups very warm water
6 to 8 large fresh basil leaves, chopped
6 tbsp freshly shredded Parmesan cheese
1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
3/4 cup shredded Halloumi or Guernsey Girl cheese
2 cups lightly packed baby arugula
Pinches of coarse salt

  1. Combine oil and largely intact garlic in a small dish; set aside.  Place tomatoes in sieve over large bowl to catch juices.  Split open tomatoes to assist in draining; drain 15 to 30 minutes.  Then chop; also set aside.  (Juices can be frozen for use in a different recipe.)
  2. To make dough, stir 1 3/4 cups all purpose flour with cake flour, yeast and salt in a mixer fitted with a dough hook; make a well in the centre.  Add water. (water should be very warm to the touch like bath water.) Mix on medium speed until all flour is incorporated into dough; add remaining flour as needed to have soft, slightly sticky dough.  Alternatively mix by hand.  Turn out on well floured surface.  Let rest, covered, for 10 minutes.
  3. Arrange 1 oven rack on the lowest level (or 1 above the lowest level if oven element is exposed).  Preheat to 450 F.  Meanwhile use nonstick oil spray to coat three pizza or baking pans large enough to fit pizza dimensions in step 4.
  4. Divide dough into thirds.  Gently shape dough into a round or rectangle about half the size needed; place on pans.  Pat out each third into 11 inch rounds or 9x12 inch rectangles.  Form a small rim around edges.  (this pizza dough does not stretch well).
  5. Dividing all toppings among 3 pizzas, scatter tomatoes over dough, avoiding rim.  Scatter basil, Parmesan and mozzarella over tomatoes.  Lightly scatter with Halloumi, including a bit on the rim.  Remove and discard garlic from oil.  Drizzle each pizza with about 1 tsp of garlicky oil.  
  6. Immediately place pizza on lowest rack, baking in batches as needed.  Bake 10 minutes; use a spatula to turn up 1 corner of the dough to check for browning.  Continue baking for another few minutes as needed.  When nicely browned, slide pizza off pan and onto a cooling rack.  Scatter each with pinches of salt and about a third of the arugula.  Cut into wedges with scissors; serve immediately.

Monday, 19 November 2012

Potato Salad with Avocado and Arugula

A wonderful different potato salad.  I love the avocado in it and the Arugula gives it some bite.  You can peel the potatoes but I prefer the skin on.  From Food and Drink 2011

3 lbs (1.5 kg) small new potatoes
3/4 cup light sour cream
3/4 cup light mayonnaise
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup finely diced red onion or thinly sliced green onions or snipped chives
1 large or 2 small ripe avocados
3 to 4 cups baby arugula, coarsely chopped
Grape tomatoes

  1. Generously cover potatoes with cold water in a large saucepan.  Bring to a boil over high heat.  Reduce heat to maintain a gentle boil; cook covered for 20 to 25 minutes or until just tender when pierced with a  skewer.  Drain; cool until able to handle.
  2. Meanwhile, in a large mixing bowl, stir sour cream with mayonnaise, salt and pepper.  Stir in red onion.
  3. Cut warm potatoes into bite size chunks; add to dressing as cut.  Using a large spoon or spatula, gently mix potatoes by lifting up from bottom of bowl and turning over.  To aid in rapid cooling, make a well in salad centre if in a bowl or spread out in a large metal pan.  Cover with plastic wrap; refrigerate several hours or up to a day until cold.
  4. When ready to serve, dice avocados.  Stir potato salad gently; fold in avocado until just mixed.  Fold in arugula.  Garnish with additional red onion or halved grape tomatoes.

Sunday, 18 November 2012

Vegetable Crudite with Tarragon Mustard Dip

Choose the best vegetable you can get and try to vary the colour.  You can also use this dip for shrimp and chicken.  From Food and Drink 2011

1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 tsp lemon zest
1 tbsp lemon juice
2 tbsp grainy Dijon mustard
1/4 tsp each salt and freshly cracked pepper
1 tbsp finely chopped tarragon

Vegetables can include: radishes (trimmed and halved) blanched snap peas, sweet bell pepper strips, small carrots and asparagus spears

  1. In a bowl, combine sour cream, mayonnaise, lemon zest and juice, mustard, salt, pepper and tarragon.  Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour and up to 2 days.
  2. To serve, spoon a scant 1/4 cup into a small stemless Martini glass.  Stand glass on a plate and arrange fresh vegetables around plate.

Saturday, 17 November 2012

Layered Endive, Frisee and Bacon Salad

This salad is so elegant when served in a martini glass!  From Food and Drink 2011

2 slices brioche
4 slices double smoked bacon, chopped
1 shallot, minced
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
1 tsp grainy mustard
2 cups lightly packed chopped endive and frisee
1 tbsp white vinegar
4 eggs
pinch each of coarse salt, freshly cracked pepper and fine herbs

  1. Toast brioche and cube.  Set aside
  2. In a large skillet, cook bacon until cooked but not crisp.  Use a slotted spoon to transfer bacon to plate.  Drain all but 2 tbsp of the fat from the pan.  Add shallots until tender and golden.  Whisk in olive oil, red wine vinegar and mustard.  Keep warm.
  3. Divide endive and frisee between 4 large martini glasses.  Layer brioche over each and top with bacon.  Drizzle each with warm shallot dressing.
  4. Meanwhile, fill large ban with water about 3 inches up the sides of the pan and bring to a simmer with white vinegar over medium heat.  Gently crack eggs, 1 at a time, into custard cups and slide them into the water.  (I found this a little tricky making sure they didn't tip). Poach for about 4 minutes, until the whites are set but the yolks are still runny.  Scoop eggs with a slotted spoon, draining well.  Top each salad with an egg and sprinkle with coarse slat, fresh cracked pepper and chopped fresh herbs.  Serve immediately.

Friday, 16 November 2012

Lemon Roulade with Whipped Cream, Limoncello and Lemon Thyme

A light and wonderful dessert.  I find roulades elegant and easier to make than you might think.  Serve with strawberries, blueberries or raspberries.    From Food and Drink 2011

3 tbsp unsalted butter
3 tbsp all purpose flour
1 cup milk
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 tbsp grated lemon rind
Pinch salt
2 tbsp lemon juice
4 large egg yolks
5 large egg whites
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup all purpose flour
Icing sugar

1/2 cup whipping
1/4 cup mascarpone
2 tbsp granulated sugar
1 tbsp limoncello
1 tsp lemon thyme

  1. Preheat oven to 375F.  Line a 9 x 13 inch metal baking pan with buttered parchment paper so that it goes up all 4 sides.
  2. In a large pot, over medium heat melt butter and add flour.  Off the heat, whisk in milk, sugar and grated lemon rind.  Return pot to heat, and bring to a boil, then simmer slowly for about 2 minutes.  SEason with salt and stir in lemon juice.  Let cool for 10 minutes.  Add yolks 1 at a time, beating well after each addition.  Set aside.
  3. Place egg whites in a large bowl and whisk with a pinch of salt until foamy.  Continue to beat egg whites, adding sugar a little at a time until egg whites are glossy and hold droopy peaks.  Stir a large spoonful into milk mixture.  Fold remaining egg whites into mixture along with 1/4 cup flour.
  4. Pour into prepared pan and spread evenly.  Bake for 18 to 20 minutes or until puffed and golden. Turn out onto a tea towel sprinkled heavily with icing sugar (to prevent sticking_.  Remove parchment paper and let cool.
  5. To make filling, combine whipping cream, mascarpone and sugar and whip until stiff and well combined.  Add limoncello and lemon thyme and whip again.
  6. Spread roulade with filling and roll up from the short side using the tea towel as a guide to help rolling.  Let sit, seam side down, for 30 minutes or refrigerate until needed.  Cut into slices.  SE
  7. Serve with Limoncello Whipped Cream
LIMONCELLO Whipped Cream

You can flavour whipped cream with any kind of liqueur

1 cup whipping cream
2 tbsp icing sugar
1 tbsp limoncello

1.  Combine whipping cream, icing sugar and limoncello in a chilled bowl.  Beat with electric beater until soft peaks form.
2.  Dollop on the roulade.

Thursday, 15 November 2012

Sauteed Shrimp with Warm Mint and Pea Pesto

From Food and Drink 2011, If you are short of time, make the pesto ahead and warm up just before serving.

Mint and Pea Pesto
2 1/2 cups fresh green peas
1/2 cup chopped fresh mint
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 tbsp butter
1/4 cup whipping cream
Salt and freshly ground pepper

Salt to taste
1 1/2 lbs (750g) large shrimp, shelled
2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup chopped shallots
1 tbsp chopped garlic
1 tsp hot smoked Spanish paprika
1/4 cup white wine
1/4 cup chicken stock
Freshly ground pepper

  1. Bring a pot of water to a boil.  Add peas and blanch for 1 minute.  Drain and rinse with cold water to stop cooking.  Set 1 cup peas aside.
  2. Add remaining peas to a food processor along with mint, cheese, butter, and cream and process until almost smooth.  Stir in reserved peas and heat in a skillet until warm and slightly runny, adding a little more cream if needed.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  3. Salt shrimp.  Heat oil in a large skillet over medium high heat.  Add shallots and garlic and saute for 30 seconds or until beginning to soften. Add shrimp and paprika and saute for 2 minutes or until almost cooked through.  Add wine and stock and bring to a boil.  Boil until shrimps are pink and slightly curled, about 1 minute longer.  Use tongs to remove cooked shrimp from pan.  Cook juices for 1 minute longer or until reduced to about 1 tbsp.  Scrape sauce over shrimp, toss together and season with salt and pepper to taste.  Serve with warm Pesto.
Serves 4

Monday, 12 November 2012

Roasted Maple Glazed Chicken with Roasted Seasonal Vegetables

The original recipe called for Cornish Hens…but I switched for chicken.  I feed a family of 4 and it just seemed a better fit - besides the kids would never eat a "baby chicken".  Roasted vegetables are one of my favourite foods.  This one has fennel, which I am just starting to use.  Give it a try if you haven't used it - it definitely has a different flavour.  If you are not adventurous - just omit it and add some more squash or sweet potatoes.

Roasted Vegetables
1 small pepper squash, cut into 8 wedges
2 red onions, cut in 1/2 inch thick rings
3 portobello mushrooms, halved (or use cremini mushrooms - about 8)
1 fennel bulb, trimmed and cut in 6 pieces
2 sweet potatoes, peeled and sliced 1/2 inch thick
1/4 cup olive oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1/2 tsp grated nutmeg
2 tsp fresh thyme

1 chicken
salt and pepper to taste
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 spanish onion, peeled and chopped
3/4 cup white wine (enjoy the rest)
1/4 cup maple syrup
2 tbsp cider vinegar

  1. Preheat oven to 450F.
  2. Place vegetables in one layer in roasting pan.  Toss with olive oil, salt, pepper, nutmeg and fresh thyme.  Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until browned and tender.
  3. Remove backbone from chicken.  Break breastbone and remove.  Turn chicken onto flesh side and flatten.  It is now butterflied.  Season with salt and pepper.
  4. Heat a skillet over high heat and add 1 tbsp vegetable oil.  Sear chicken skin side down, about 2 minutes.  Flip when the skin is light golden.  Sear underside.  Add remaining oil and fry a piece at a time.
  5. Place onions in roasting pan and add wine.  Place a rack in pan and place bird on rack, skin side up.  Roast 15 minutes.  Combine maple syrup and vinegar and brush liberally over chicken.  Roast another 5-10 minutes and baste again.  Roast another 5 to 10 minutes basting frequently or until juices are clear.  Remove from oven and cover with a clean tea towel.  Cut into quarters.  Strain pan juices discarding onions.
  6. To serve:  put one of each kind of vegetable on to a dinner plate.  Place a piece of chicken over the vegetables.  Drizzle some of the strained juices over.
From Food and Drink 2000

Sunday, 11 November 2012

Almond Diamond Cookies

Easy and delicious!  Toast the almonds for a different flavour, or drizzle some chocolate over top.

2 cups butter, softened
1 cup brown sugar
1 tbsp finely grated orange rind
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp salt
4 cups all purpose flour
2 tbsp milk
1 cup sliced almonds
2 tbsp granulated sugar

  1. Preheat oven to 350F.  Combine butter, sugar, orange rind, vanilla and salt until fluffy.  Stir in flour 1/2 cup at a time until combined.
  2. Press dough evenly into a buttered 15 x 10 in rimmed baking sheet.  Brush evenly with milk.  Sprinkle with nuts and press lightly into dough.  Sprinkle evenly with sugar.
  3. Bake in preheated oven for 18 to 20 minutes or until lightly browned.  Remove from oven and let cool for 10 minutes.  Starting in one corner, slice into bars.  Rotate pan and slice again starting at the opposite corner to make diamond shapes.  Let cool in pan on rack.

Saturday, 10 November 2012

Chocolate Pâté with Coffee Aspic

I was a little concerned about doing this recipe as I do not generally like aspics - or any jelly type dessert.  They kind of remind me of the 50's type of desserts.  This however was different enough that I decided to try it.  I like the coffee and chocolate mixture (of course) and the gelatine top is interesting with the added liqueur..I used Kahlua.  Definitely an adult dessert.

2 tsp unflavoured gelatine
2 tbsp cold water
2 tbsp granulated sugar
1/2 cup hot, strong black coffee
2 tbsp coffee flavoured liqueur

1 pouch unflavoured gelatine
2 tbsp cold water
3 egg yolks
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup hot milk
8 squares bittersweet chocolate, melted
1 1/2 cups 35% whipping cream

  1. Sprinkle gelatine over cold water.  Let stand for 1 minute.  Add sugar, hot coffee and liqueur and stir until sugar dissolves.
  2. Butter 9 x 5 in loaf pan very lightly.  Line with 4 inch wide piece of waxed paper or parchment long enough to overhang long sides of pan.  Smooth down completely.  Pour coffee mixture into pan; transfer to refrigerator and chill for about 15 minutes or until set.
  1. In a medium saucepan, sprinkle gelatine over water.  Let stand for 1 minute.  Whisk in eggs and sugar and blend well.  Stir in hot milk.  Cook, stirring over medium heat for about 5 minutes or until thickened enough to coat the back of a spoon.  Stir in melted chocolate and let cool completely.
  2. Whip cream until stiff.  Using rubber spatula, gently fold cream into chocolate mixture.  Spread mousse evenly over set jelly in loaf pan.  Cover tightly.  Place in refrigerator for at least 3 hours or up to 2 days.  Turn pate out onto serving platter; remove paper.  Slice to serve.

Friday, 9 November 2012

Chocolate Cookie Buttons

Great for Christmas!

1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 egg
4 squares semi-sweet chocolate, chopped
1 tsp vanilla
1 3/4 cup all purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt

12 squares semi-sweet chocolate
3 squares white chocolate

  1. Preheat oven to 350F.  In a large bowl, cream butter.  Beat in brown sugar and granulated sugar until very smooth.  Beat in egg.  Microwave chocolate on medium for 1 minute.  Stir until smooth.  Stir in chocolate and vanilla into creamed mixture.  Stir in flour, baking soda and salt.
  2. Roll teaspoonfuls of dough into small balls.  Place on lightly buttered baking sheet and set in freezer for 5 minutes or in refrigerator for 15 minutes.  Bake cookies for 10 minutes.  Cool completely on rack.
  1. Microwave semi sweet chocolate on medium for about 2 minutes.  Stir until smooth.  Set bowl of melted chocolate over pan of steaming water.  Dip cooled cookies into melted chocolate.  Lift out and place on a rack set over a baking sheet.  Once chocolate is firm, microwave white chocolate on medium for about 45 seconds.  Stir until melted and smooth.  Decorate cookies by drizzling with white chocolate.
Makes about 6 dozen.

** I changed this up for the picture and used milk chocolate for the topping decorated with smarties

Tiramisu Cheesecake Bowl

This dessert can be made in one large bowl or individually - you choose :)

11 Graham Wafers
1/2 cup strong coffee
2 tbsp coffee liqueur or brandy
1 pkg (250 g) Cream cheese
1 cup Mascarpone cheese
1 tsp vanilla
1 pkg unflavoured gelatine
1 cup milk
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 cup sour cream
1 square bittersweet Chocolate, finely grated

  1. Spread wafers, overlapping if necessary in bottom of an 8 inch round glass dish or serving bowl. Mix together coffee and liqueur.  Brush evenly over wafers.  Beat cream cheese until smooth.  Add mascarpone and vanilla, beating until smooth.
  2. Sprinkle gelatine over 1/4 cup of the milk.  Let stand for 1 minute.  Combine remaining milk with sugar and bring to a boil.  Stir gelatine into milk mixture.  Let cool slightly.  Beat half of the milk mixture into mascarpone mixture.  Scrape onto graham wafers and smooth to cover evenly.
  3. Mix sour cream with remaining milk mixture.  Drizzle over mascarpone layer.  Gently smooth until even.  Refrigerate for at least 2 hours.  Just before serving, sprinkle grated chocolate over top.

Thursday, 8 November 2012

Chocolate Cranberry Scones

A festive twist to the usual scone.

2 1/4 cups cake and pastry flour
3 tbsp granulated sugar
1 tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/3 cup cold butter, cubed
4 squares semi sweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup dried cranberries or cherries
3/4 cup milk
1 tbsp brown sugar
2 squares white chocolate

  1. Preheat oven to 400F.  Combine flour, sugar, baking powder and salt.  Use pastry blender or two knives to cut butter into dry mixture until crumbly.  Stir in semi-sweet chocolate and cranberries.
  2. Make a well in dry ingredients; add milk and stir with fork until ragged dough forms.  Turn out onto work surface and knead just until ragged bits are incorporated into dough.  Gently pat dough into 3/4 inch thick disc.  Use 2.5 in cutter to cut out scones.  Place on unbuttered baking sheet.
  3. Sprinkle tops evenly with brown sugar.  Bake in preheated oven for 12 to 15 minutes or until golden on the bottom; broil for 45 seconds or until top is golden.  Let cool on wire rack.  Microwave white chocolate on medium for about 1 minute.  Stir until smooth.  Drizzle over cooled scones.
Makes 12 scones

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

S'Mores Slice

A different way to enjoy your s'mores without a campfire.  The kids will love these.  If you aren't into marshmallows, just switch the topping for your favourite icing and ice once base has cooled.

4 squares unsweetened chocolate
3/4 cup butter
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
3 eggs
2 tsp vanilla
1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup coarsely broken graham wafer crackers
1 cup mini marshmallows
4 squares semi sweet chocolate, chopped

  1. Preheat oven to 350F.  Butter a 9 inch square baking pan; set aside.
  2. Microwave unsweetened chocolate and butter on medium for 1 to 2 minutes, or in heavy saucepan set over low heat.  Remove from heat and add salt.  Stir until smooth.  Stir in sugar and eggs, adding one at a time.  Stir in vanilla.  Gradually stir in flour until well combined.  Spread into prepared pan.  Bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes. 
  3. Toss graham wafers with marshmallows and semi sweet chocolate.  Spread evenly over hot chocolate base.  Return to hot oven for 2 to 3 minutes or until marshmallows and chocolate are softened.  Press down topping with the back of spoon.  Cool on rack and slice into bars.
Makes 32 bars.

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Braided Sweet Loaf

Well, I am trying to stay away from breads...but I haven't eliminated them completely.  For a treat - and to share with others here is a fantastic loaf.  It originally called for raisins...I prefer nuts, but you could use chocolate chips, dried fruit, or whatever you prefer.

4 cups unbleached bread flour
1/2 cup sugar
2 pkgs quick rise yeast
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup warm milk
1/4 cup butter, softened
3 eggs, beaten
1 cup toasted almonds

2 tbsp corn syrup
2 tsp butter

  1. Combine flour, sugar, yeast and salt in a mixer fitted with a dough hook. (I don't own one of these so I just mix by hand). Add milk, butter and eggs; beat well for 2 minutes.  Knead in almonds with your hands for about 5 minutes or until dough is smooth and elastic.
  2. Cut dough into three equal pieces.  Roll each piece into a 14 inch long cylinder.  Squeeze ends of cylinders together and braid tightly.  Squeeze loose ends together and tuck under loaf.  Transfer to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.  Cover loaf loosely and let rise for 45 minutes or until double in bulk.  Preheat the oven to 375F.
  3. Bake for about 25 minutes in centre of preheated oven or until hollow sounding when tapped.  Let cool for 10 minutes.  Stir butter with corn syrup and brush evenly over warm loaf.  Cool completely on a rack before slicing.

Monday, 5 November 2012

Chocolate Pecan Tarts

These are outstanding!

3 cups all purpose flour
2 tbsp granulated sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups cold butter, cubed
1/2 cup ice water

3/4 cup butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
3 eggs
1/2 cup milk
1 cup maple syrup
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup pecan halves
6 squares semi sweet chocolate, coarsely chopped


  1. In Food processor, combine flour, sugar salt and butter.  Blend until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.  With motor running, add ice water.  Turn out onto plastic wrap and press into ball. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.  (I do not have a food processor - I just use a hand held pastry cutter - you can also use a fork or two knives - to do the blending).
  2. Preheat oven to 375 F.  Roll out pastry to 1/3 inch thikness and cut with 4 inch round cutter.  Fit into 18 muffin tins.
  1. Cream together butter and brown sugar.  Beat in eggs, one at a time.  Beat in milk, syrup and vanilla.  Sprinkle pecans and half of the chocolate into prepared tart shells.  Divide egg mixture evenly between tart shells.  Bake in preheated oven for 10 minutes.  Reduce heat to 325F and bake for about 25 minutes longer or until crust is golden.
  2. Sprinkle remaining chocolate evenly over tarts.  Let soften for 2 minutes.  Spread with back of spoon.  Run knife around edge of pans and lift out tarts.  Let cool on a rack.

Sunday, 4 November 2012

Marble Cake with Brown Sugar Buttercream

This is a classic.  Fun with chocolate and vanilla cake and the brown sugar buttercream is a real treat!

2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
4 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
1 cup butter, softened
1 cup milk
4 squares semi sweet chocolate, melted

3 egg whites
1 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup water
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp lemon juice
1 1/2 cups butter, softened
Chocolate Curls (optional)


  1. Butter three 8 inch round cake pans.  Preheat oven to 350F.
  2. Whisk eggs with vanilla.  Set aside. Combine flour, sugar, baking powder and salt.  Stir butter into flour mixture until well combined.  Gradually add milk and beat with electric mixer for 1 minute.  Beat in egg mixture.  Measure out 1 cup of the batter and stir with melted chocolate.
  3. Scrape remaining batter into prepared pans.  Drop a large dollop of chocolate mixture in centre of each pan.  Spread using the back of a spoon and then draw a knife from the centre of pan to edge, blending batters.  Zig-zag the tip of a knife through batters to integrate.  Bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes or until golden and cakes spring back when lightly touched in the centre.  Cool on a rack for 10 minutes.  Turn out onto rack and let cool completely.
  1. In large heatproof bowl, beat egg whites, sugar and water.  Set bowl over barely simmering water and beat egg mixture until thick, marshmallowy and warm to the touch, for 5 to 7 minutes. Remove from heat and add vanilla and lemon juice.
  2. Beat for about 5 minutes or until cool and very thick.  Add butter in dollops, beating well between additions.  Ice cake, swirling frosting decoratively.  Garnish with chocolate curls.
Makes 10 servings

Saturday, 3 November 2012

Warm Chocolate Cake

Warm, rich, chocolate cake!  Great with a dash of whipping cream or ice cream.  Truly a comfort food. From Food and Drink 2003.

6 oz (175g) bittersweet chocolate
2/3 cup unsalted butter
1/3 cup sugar
6 egg yolks
3 egg whites
1/3 cup all purpose flour

  1. Preheat oven to 425F.  In heavy pot on low heat, melt chocolate and butter together.  Cool slightly.
  2. Beat together sugar and egg yolks with an electric mixer until thick and creamy, about 4 minutes.
  3. Pour in chocolate mixture and beat together for 5 minutes.
  4. In a separate bowl, beat egg whites until stiff peaks form, about 3 minutes.  Fold into mixture along with flour.
  5. Pour into 6 nonstick buttered moulds or non stick muffin tins. (I did the muffin tins and found that I used 12 - you will have to adjust the cooking time to about 4 minutes if you do this). Bake for 5 to 7 minutes or until edges are just cooked and centre is still liquid.  
  6. Cool for 5 minutes in tins.  Carefully remove to serving dishes.  Serve with lightly whipped cream or ice cream.

Friday, 2 November 2012

Cherry Almond Strudel

A really wonderful dessert with great flavour.  Really not that hard to make (but don't tell anyone that)!

From Food and Drink 2003

1 1/4 lb (;625g) sour cherries, pitted
1/2 cup ground almonds
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup fresh bread crumbs
1/4 tsp cinnamon

8 sheets phyllo dough
1/2 cup butter, melted
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup ground almonds

  1. Preheat oven to 375F.
  2. In a bowl, combine cherries, almonds, sugar, bread crumbs and cinnamon.  Reserve.
  3. Lay phyllo dough on counter and cover with a tea towel.  Remove first sheet, brush with butter.  Combine 1/4 cup sugar and 1/4 cup ground almonds and sprinkle about 1 tbsp over butter.  Top with a second sheet, butter and sprinkle with sugar almond mixture.  Repeat with remaining sheets.  Place cherry mixture about 2 inches from the long edge and 1 inch from the short edge.  Fold in short sides and roll phyllo into a strudel shape.  Brush with butter and cut 3 slits on top.
  4. Bake for 20 minutes or until top is browned and cherry mixture is cooked.
Serves 6 to 8 

Thursday, 1 November 2012

Pad Thai

This is a wonderful dish full of flavour.  It is easy to substitute your favourite veggies and meats in this recipe...experiment and enjoy.  The original from Food & Drink 2003

250g broad rice noodles
3 tbsp fish sauce
1/4 cup lime juice
1 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp oyster sauce
2 tsp chili sauce
1/4 cup chicken stock
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 tbsp chopped garlic
8 oz medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
8 oz boneless, chicken breast, diced
2 eggs, beaten
3 cups bean sprouts
6 green onions, slivered into 1 inch lengths
2 tbsp toasted chopped peanuts

Coriander sprigs
1 lime, cut into 8 wedges
1/2 cup bean sprouts
fresh chilies, optional

  1. Soak noodles in warm water for 20 minutes, drain and reserve.  Combine fish sauce, lime juice, sugar, oyster sauce, chili sauce and chicken stock.  Reserve.
  2. Heat a wok or large skillet on high heat and add oil.  Stir in garlic, cook 10 seconds then add shrimp and chicken.  Stir fry until all ingredients are cooked, about 3 to 4 minutes.  Add eggs and toss together until scrambled.
  3. Add noodles to the wok.  Mix well to combine all ingredients.  Pour in reserved sauce.  Cook, stirring constantly until noodles are soft and tender.  If they appear dry, add up to 1/4 cup water.
  4. Stir in bean sprouts, green onions, and peanuts and fry for 1 more minute.  Taste for seasoning, adding more lime or chili as needed.  Serve pad thai garnished with coriander, lime wedges, bean sprouts and chilies, if desired.
Serves 2 to 3

Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Mushroom Risotto

This is a wonderful dish on its own or with fish or chicken.  From Food and Drink 2003.

1 cup boiling water
1/2 cup dried porcini mushrooms
8 oz mixed fresh wild mushrooms
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp butter
1 tsp chopped garlic
Salt and freshly ground pepper
2 tbsp chopped parsley

5 cups chicken stock, approx.
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp butter
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
1 1/2 cups Carnaroli or arborio rice
1/2 cup white wine
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Salt and freshly ground pepper

  1. Pour boiling water over dried mushrooms in a bowl and let sit for 30 minutes.  Drain mushrooms and reserve liquid and mushrooms separately.
  2. Remove stems from fresh mushrooms and slice.  Heat oil and butter in skillet over medium high heat.  Add garlic and sliced mushrooms.  Saute until mushrooms exude their liquid.  Season with salt, pepper and chopped parsley.  Leave in skillet for reheating.
  3. To make risotto, bring stock to simmer on stove.  Heat oil and 1 tbsp butter in a heavy pot on medium heat.  Add onion and saute for 3 minutes or until softened.  Add rice and saute until rice is coated with oil.
  4. Pour in wine and simmer steadily until wine is absorbed.  Pour in mushroom soaking liquid and dried mushrooms and cook, stirring until most of liquid is absorbed.  Add 1 cup of stock, stirring until most is absorbed.  Continue to add stock in 1 cup quantities, stirring most of the time until rice is creamy with a slight bite in the centre, about 18 to 20 minutes.  Reheat mushrooms and stir into rice.
  5. Remove from heat, stir in remaining 1 tbsp butter and Parmesan cheese.  Season well with salt and pepper.  Serve immediately.
Serves 4

Monday, 29 October 2012

The Coffee Cooler

Continuing on the coffee cocktail theme!  This is from Food and Drink 2003

Fill a cocktail shaker with ice.  Add 1 oz vanilla vodka, 1/2 oz white creme de cacao, 2 oz cold, strong coffee, 2 oz chocolate milk and 2 oz milk or cream.  Shake sharply and strain into a glass.  Sprinkle with shaved chocolate....yum!

Thursday, 25 October 2012

The Cancun Drizzle

From Food and Drink 2003, I had my doubts about this one, but I was is wonderful!

To a heatproof mug, add 3/4 oz gold tequila.  Top with hot coffee and whipped cream.  Drizzle 3/4 oz Chambord Royale on top and garnish with a chocolate dipped raspberry.

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

The Lexington

Another Coffee Cocktail!

To a small coffee mug, add 1 oz Amarula Cream and 1/2 oz bourbon.  Top with a shot of hot espresso and whipped cream and garnish with a bourbon soaked marashino cherry!

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Coffee Eclairs

Who can resist eclairs anyway?  And Coffee Eclairs, talk about a double whammy.  If you don't want to pipe the pastry for an eclair, just drop by spoonfuls and call them cream puffs...that works well too!

1/4 cup water
1/4 cup milk
1/4 cup unsalted butter, cubed
1/2 tsp granulated sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup all purpose flour
2 eggs, beaten

  1. Preheat the oven to 400F
  2. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.  Place the water, milk, butter, sugar and salt in a saucepan.  Bring to boil over a medium low heat.  The butter must melt before the water boils.
  3. Remove from heat and add all the flour at once.  Stir with a wooden spoon then return to a low heat and continue to cook, stirring, until mixture forms a ball and comes away from the side of the pan, about 1 minute.  Turn into a bowl and slowly add the beaten eggs, a tablespoon at a time, beating the mixture until it comes together before adding more egg.  Add enough of the egg so that the mixture falls slowly from the lifted wooden spoon.
  4. Place in a piping bag with a plain 1/2 inch tip and proceed to pipe 3 to 4 inch strips at least 1 1/2 inches apart onto the parchment paper.  You will have about 10 pieces.  Add about 1 tsp of milk to any remaining egg mixture, mix, then using a pastry brush, brush the tops of the eclairs.  If you have no egg left, just use a little more milk.  Place eclairs in the oven and bake for 15 minutes.
  5. Lower the oven temperature to 375F and continue to bake for 10 minutes.  The pastry should be light and crispy and dark in colour.  Turn off the oven, then remove eclairs from oven.   With a small knife, pierce each end of each pastry, return to the oven to dry out for about 30 minutes.

1 cup homogenized milk
1 tbsp instant coffee granules
3 egg yolks
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 tbsp cornstarch
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
Pinch of salt
1/4 cup whipping cream

  1. In a saucepan, bring milk and coffee to a boil.  Remove from heat.  Whisk egg yolks with sugar until thick and light.  Whisk in the cornstarch, vanilla and salt, then gradually whisk in 1/3 of the coffee milk mixture.
  2. Return mixture to the saucepan, then place over medium heat and continue to cook, whisking continuously.  Mixture will thicken and come to a boil.  Cook another minute, whisking all the time.
  3. Pour into a bowl and cover the surface with plastic wrap, pressing the plastic onto the coffee cream.  Poke a few holes into the plastic with a knife and let cool.  Refrigerate.
  4. Whip the cream until stiff.  Whisk cold coffee filling, then fold in whipping cream.  Refrigerate until ready to use.
1/2 cup icing sugar, sifted
1 tbsp cold strong coffee

  1. Place icing sugar in a small bowl and add enough coffee to make a thick smooth icing.
  2. To assemble:  with a serrated knife, cut eclairs in half. Using a small knife, ice the top halves of the eclairs with coffee icing.  Spoon the chilled coffee cream into the bottom halves of the eclairs.  Top with the iced tops and serve.
Makes 8 to 10 eclairs.

Monday, 22 October 2012

Zucchini Bites

Yummy and easy, it is easy to change this up by switching the meat and cheeses.

2 large zucchini, halved and cored
500 g ground meat (I like sausage)
1 or 2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 tbsp fresh basil or oregano, chopped
3/4 cup Havarti with jalapeno or tomato and basil
3/4 cup feta
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

  1. Preheat oven to 400F
  2. Place zucchini on cookie sheet.
  3. Combine remaining ingredients and use to stuff zucchini.
  4. Bake 15 to 20 minutes or until meat is well cooked and zucchini is fork tender
  5. Serve immediately with rice or couscous

Sunday, 21 October 2012

Pumpkin Squares

Instead of Pumpkin Pie, try these squares for something a little different.  They are simple and delicious.  Dress up by drizzling with some cream cheese topping or leave plain.  From Food and Drink 2003

2 cups flour
1/2 cup icing sugar
1 cup unsalted butter, cubed
1 tsp salt
3 eggs, beaten
2 cups canned pureed pumpkin
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/3 corn syrup
1/2 cup whipping cream
2 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp allspice or nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp salt

2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp cream cheese
1/2 cup icing sugar
1/4 cup milk

  1. Preheat oven to 350F.
  2. Line a 9 x 13 inch baking pan with parchment paper.
  3. Mix flour and icing sugar together with butter and salt in a food processor or by hand until mixture just comes together.  Do not let it form a ball.  Pat into lined baking pan.  Bake for 15 minutes or until golden at the edges.
  4. In food processor or blender, combine eggs, pumpkin, sugar, corn syrup, whipping cream, lemon juice, vanilla, cinnamon, allspice, ginger and salt.  Process until well combined.  Scrape sides and process again.
  5. Pour over base and bake for 35 to 45 minutes or until centre springs back when touched.  Cool squares.
  6. Combine butter and cream cheese with a hand beater until soft and fluffy.  Beat in icing sugar and milk.  Pour into a plastic sandwich bag and cut a small hole in one corner.  Drizzle over squares.  Chill then cut into squares.
Makes 24 squares.

Friday, 19 October 2012

Baileys Bossa Nova

I don't know about you, but Baileys makes everything better for me!

In a glass coffee cup or mug add 1 oz Baileys and 1 oz Smirnoff Orange Twist.  Top with equal parts coffee and hot chocolate.  Garnish with whipped cream and orange zest.  Enjoy!

Thursday, 18 October 2012

The Real Irish Coffee

Delicious, especially this time of year.

2 oz Irish Whiskey
1 to 2 tsp sugar
Freshly brewed black coffee
1 to 2 oz heavy cream, warmed to room temperature

First heat the glass with hot water.  Discard the water and fill the glass to within an inch or so of the rim with coffee.  Add the whiskey and sugar and stir well.  Pouring over the back of a spoon, float the cream on the top of the coffee.  Serve without a spoon.   The idea is for the coffee to be sipped through a layer of cream, not for the cream to be stirred into the coffee.

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Grilled Steak with Bourbon Sauce

Nothing but yummy here! Use fresh herbs if you are able.  The flavour has no comparison to the dried. This recipe was in Food & Drink 2003

1/4 cup cold butter, cubed
1/4 cup chopped shallots
1 tsp chopped garlic
1 tbsp chopped fresh thyme or 1 tsp dried
1 tbsp chopped fresh tarragon or 1 tsp dried
1 tbsp chopped fresh rosemary or 1 tsp dried
1/2 cup bourbon
2 cups beef stock
2 tsp balsamic vinegar
Salt and freshly ground pepper

2 tbsp olive oil
one 1.5 kg T-bone steak, 2 inches thick (Go to your local butcher for a better cut, I find the steaks at Costco are very good)
Salt and freshly ground pepper

  1. Preheat oven to 450F (I prefer the BBQ)
  2. Heat 1 tbsp of the butter on medium heat in pot, reserving remaining butter.  Stir in shallots, garlic, thyme, tarragon and rosemary.  Saute for 1 to 2 minutes or until shallots soften.  Add bourbon and bring to boil.  Reduce to 2 tbsp about 3 to 5 minutes.  Add stock and bring to boil.  Simmer 15 to 20 minutes or until reduced to 1/2 cup.  Swirl in 1 tsp balsamic vinegar, reserving the rest.  Season with salt and pepper and reserve.
  3. Heat oil in large ovenproof skillet on medium-high heat.  Season steak with salt and pepper.  Add steaks and cook for about 2 minutes per side.  Place in oven and bake for 7 to 10 minutes for medium rare.  (I used the BBQ instead) Test steak with instant thermometer if you are unsure.  It should read 125F.  Place steak on carving board and let rest for 5 minutes.
  4. Reheat bourbon sauce and whisk in remaining butter and reserved balsamic vinegar.  Season well.
  5. Slice steak down to 1/2 inch and serve with sauce.

Sunday, 14 October 2012

Irish Roasted Salmon

Salmon marinated in Irish Whiskey and honey!  From Food and Drink Autumn 2003

2 tbsp honey
1/4 cup cider vinegar
1/4 cup Irish whiskey
2 tsp chopped fresh thyme
1 1/2 tsp grated lemon zest
2 tbsp vegetable oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper
4 salmon fillets

  1. Mix together honey, vinegar, whiskey, thyme, lemon zest, oil, salt and pepper.  Pour over salmon and marinate 1 hour on the counter or 4 hours refrigerated.
  2. Preheat oven to 450F.
  3. Remove salmon from marinade and place on a rack over a roasting pan.  Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, basting once with the marinade or until golden and white juices are just beginning to appear.  Place on 4 serving plates.

Saturday, 13 October 2012

Yellow Pepper Sauce for Grilled Scallops or Fish

This sauce has a beautiful vibrant colour and a great flavour that makes it delicious with grilled scallops or fish.  Change it up with different coloured peppers if you wish.  From Food and Drink 2003

3 tbsp olive oil
1 small onion, diced
2 yellow peppers, seeded and sliced
1 clove garlic, smashed
1 sprig of fresh thyme
1 cup vegetable stock
1/4 cup whipping cream (or use milk for a thinner sauce)
1 tsp granulated sugar
Salt and Freshly ground pepper
20 fresh large sea scallops

  1. Heat 2 tbsp of oil in a saucepan,  add the onion and cook gently until soft, about 5 minutes.  Add the peppers, garlic and thyme, cook for another 5 minutes.
  2. Add the stock and bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer 20 minutes or until the peppers are very soft.
  3. Remove the thyme and puree the pepper mixture.  Return to a clean pan adding the cream and sugar.  Bring to a boil, check the seasoning, then simmer t minutes.
  4. Season the scallops.  Add the remaining oil to a very hot frying pan and sear the scallops 2 minutes on the first side.  Turn and cook another minute or until just opaque in the centre.  Divide the sauce between 4 warmed plates and top with the scallops.

Friday, 12 October 2012

Roasted Pepper Salad

Try this with sausage (your choice) or without.  I roast my peppers on the bbq for best flavour.

3 roasted peppers (I like red)
2 tbsp capers, rinsed and chopped
2 tbsp juice from peppers
1/4 cup olive oil
1 clove of garlic minced
1 tbsp Balsamic vinegar
Freshly ground pepper
2 tbsp chopped fresh oregano
2 grilled Italian sausages

  1. Peel the peppers over a bowl to catch their juice.  Remove all the seeds.  Cut the peppers into 1 inch pieces and place them on a platter.  Scatter with the capers
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together the pepper juice, olive oil, garlic and vinegar.  Season with the pepper; the capers should provide enough salt.  Stir in the chopped oregano.
  3. Slice the sausages into 1/2 inch diagonal slices and then toss with the peppers.  Pour over the dressing and serve.

Thursday, 11 October 2012

Cabernet Chicken

The sauce developed with this recipe is wonderful!  I used seedless grapes.  From Food and Drink 2003

3 lb (1.5 kg) chicken
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 tbsp butter
1 cup sliced leeks
1/2 cup chopped carrots
1/4 cup chopped celery
1 tbsp fresh chopped tarragon or oregano
1 cup Cabernet Franc
1/2 cup red grapes, halved
1/2 cup red grapes, whole

  1. Preheat oven to 400F
  2. Season chicken with salt and pepper.  Truss chicken to help it keep shape.  Heat butter in ovenproof casserole on medium heat.  Brown chicken, breast-side down, until golden, about 3 minutes.  Turn on its side and brown another 3 minutes.  Brown remaining sides.  Remove chicken and drain off all but 1 tbsp fat.
  3. Add leeks, carrots and celery into casserole and saute 2 minutes or until softened.  Add tarragon and wine.  Bring to boil and reduce by half, about 5 minutes.  Stir in halved grapes.  Return chicken to pan breast side up.  Cover and bake for 55 minutes, basting occasionally.
  4. Remove chicken from pan to carving board and cover with tea towel to keep warm.  Skim fat from casserole.  Strain sauce into a skillet, pressing down on the solids.  Add whole grapes, bring to boil and simmer 1 minute or until flavours are combined.  Season with salt and pepper.  Carve chicken and serve with sauce.  

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Chocolate Cupcakes and Icing

I wasn't sure about the rolled oats in these, but they really work to keep the cupcakes moist.  You don't even notice them.  Make them with or without the icing.

1 cup boiling water
1/2 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup vegetable oil
4 tbsp cocoa
1 cup brown sugar
2 eggs, well beaten
1 cup all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 350F.  Pour water over oats in a mixing bowl.  Add oil and cocoa and blend.  Stir in sugar and eggs.  Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.  Stir into batter  with vanilla.  Fill paper lined muffin tins 2/3 full and bake until a tester inserted into cakes centre comes out clean, about 20 minutes.  Remove from muffin tins, cool on a wire rack then top with icing.  Store in a tightly covered container or wrap and freeze.  Makes 16 cupcakes.

This is decadent!  I have never used a raw egg before in icing.  If you have concerns about salmonella, you could replace with about 2 tbsp greek yogurt.

1 1/2 cups sifted icing sugar
2 tbsp sifted cocoa
Pinch salt
1 egg well beaten
1/3 cup soft butter
1 tsp vanilla

Combine icing sugar, cocoa and salt in a mixing bowl.  Add egg, butter and vanilla and beat, until fluffy with electric beater.  Makes 1 1/2 cups.

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Hazelnut Chocolate Crisps

These are great with coffee!

1 1/4 cups hazelnuts
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup each of granulated and brown sugar
1 egg
1 tsp pure vanilla
2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp cream of tartar
1/2 tsp each of baking soda and baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 oz bittersweet chocolate, finely grated

  1. Chop nuts so that small pieces are still visible.  Set aside 1/2 cup.  In a large bowl, stir butter until creamy then stir in oil and sugars.  Stir in egg and vanilla.
  2. In a separate bowl, stir flour with cream of tartar, baking soda, baking powder and salt.  Gradually stir into butter mixture.  Stir in 3/4 cup nuts and grated chocolate.
  3. Turn dough out in a log about 14 inches long and 1 3/4 inches thick onto a large sheet of waxed paper.  Use waxed paper to help shape into a smooth log.  Pat outside of roll with reserved 1/2 cup nuts, again using waxed paper to help turn log.  Roll log up in waxed paper; tuck ends and place roll in a tray in the freezer.  When hard, cut into 4 pieces each about 3 1/2 inches long.  Leaving waxed paper intact, over wrap each with foil and place in an airtight plastic freezer bag. Return to freezer.
  4. To bake cookies, preheat oven to 375F.  For each dozen cookies, remove one segment of roll from freezer.  Remove foil and waxed paper.  Using a heavy chef's knife, cut into slices about 1/4 inch thick.  Place 1 inch apart on baking sheet lined with parchment or foil lightly coated with cooking spray.  Bake 9 to 12 minutes or until edges are browned.  Cool on a rack.

Almond Blondies
Use blanched slivered almonds instead of hazelnuts.  Use all white sugar by replacing brown sugar with 1/2 cup granulated sugar and substitute vanilla with 1/4 tsp almond extract.