Friday, May 20, 2005

peppermint hot chocolate

4 oz good quality dark chocolate, semi-sweet
2 cups whole milk
2/3 cup whipping cream
3 tbs peppermint syrup
1 tbs crushed candy cane for garnish
whipped cream for garnish

Chop chocolate using a serrated knife (or use chocolate chips). Set aside. In a medium, heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat, bring milk and cream to a bare simmer, stirring constantly. Add peppermint syrup and chocolate and stir until chocolate is completely melted.

Serve with whipped cream and a sprinkle of crushed candy cane.

If you have any left over, chill and add it to your coffee tomorrow for a decadent mocha.

Where to find it: I used the peppermint syrup available at Starbucks. But get it quick because it’s only available over the holidays and while supplies last.

3-cheese scallopped potatoes

1 ½ lbs potatoes, scrubbed, thinly sliced
1 small onion, finely diced
2 tbs flour
salt, pepper to taste
¼ cup parmesan cheese, finely grated
1 cup grated aged cheddar cheese
¼ cup crumbled blue cheese
1 cup whole milk

In a large bowl, using your hands to coat evenly, toss together potatoes and onion with flour, salt, pepper and parmesan cheese. Arrange half in a baking dish and sprinkle with half of each of the cheddar and blue cheese. Arrange remaining potatoes on top.

Bring milk to a simmer over med-high heat. Pour milk over potatoes. Cover baking dish and bake at 400 degrees for 35 minutes. Uncover and top with remaining cheese. Bake for another 20 minutes, until potatoes are cooked through and cheese is bubbly and browned. Remove from oven and let set for 5 minutes before serving.

mandarin cheesecake trifle

6 - 284ml cans whole mandarin orange segments, drained
(or you can remove the peels & skins from half a box of fresh fruit!)
2 pkgs cream cheese, room temperature
½ cup sugar
¼ cup plus 3 tbs orange juice or orange liqueur
3 cups whipping cream, whipped
1 pound cake, in ¼-inch slices

With an electric mixer, beat together cream cheese and sugar until very smooth. Add 3 tbs orange juice or orange liqueur. Fold in whipped cream.

In either a single large glass trifle bowl or 10-12 individual dessert dishes, assemble trifle beginning with ½ of the cake slices (adjust slices of cake for individual desserts). Drizzle cake with 2 tbs orange juice or liqueur, then top with 1/3 of the cream cheese mixture and ½ of the mandarin segments; make sure the mandarins are visible against the side of the bowl. Repeat, reserving a few mandarin segments. Top with remaining cream cheese mixture and garnish with reserved mandarin segments. Refrigerate 4 hours or overnight.

gingerbread house

(notes: you’ll need to bake at least a few days ahead of construction for the dough to dry completely. This is not a particularly good recipe for eating, but is marvellous for building with)
1 pound honey
½ cup water
1 ¼ cups sugar
juice of one lemon
2 eggs
4 ½ tsp ground ginger
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground cardamom
600g (approx 4 cups) whole wheat flour
600g (approx 4 cups) rye flour
1 ½ tbs baking soda
3 eggs yolks, beaten

In a saucepan, combine honey, water, sugar and lemon juice. Stir, over medium heat, until sugar is dissolved. Allow to cool to room temperature, then pour into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Add eggs and spices. Mix.

In a large bowl, whisk together wheat and rye flour. Remove about 1/3 of the combined flour and set aside in a smaller bowl. Add baking soda to the larger amount and whisk to combine. Fold, about 1/3 at a time, into honey mixture until a soft dough forms. Scrape onto a floured surface and knead in remaining 1/3 of flour. Divide into four parts and wrap each in plastic wrap; refrigerate for at least 6 hours.

Roll out dough, working with ¼ at a time, between sheets of parchment cut to the same size as baking sheets, to ¼-inch thick. Peel off top parchment, brush surface with beaten egg yolks, and transfer dough and bottom parchment to baking sheets and bake at 325-degrees for 10 to15 minutes. Cool, then cut out construction shapes using a template (you should have plenty of dough to cut doubles in case of breakage). Return shapes to pans and set where they can dry completely over several days.

To assemble, use royal icing to glue together pieces and to attach decorations. Gather an assortment of candies and other accoutrements to decorate with. Shreddies are particularly good roofing material, and gelatin sheets make excellent windows.

Where to find it:Create your own template, or enter keywords “gingerbread house templates” into your computer’s internet browser to find designs to work from.

tossed pasta for two

6 oz good quality pasta, cooked to al dente
2 tbs olive oil (not extra virgin)
2 tsp basil pesto
2 tsp sundried tomato pesto
1 tsp sambal olek
2 plum tomatoes, diced
2 sundried tomato halves, finely sliced
2 oz feta or goats’ cheese
1 tbs pine nuts

In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add pestos and sambal, then tomatoes and sundried tomatoes (note: sundried tomatoes will need to be reconstituted in hot water if not packed in oil). Toss a few times to combine, then add pasta and toss to heat and coat with ingredients. Crumble cheese over pasta and sprinkle with pine nuts. Toss a few more times and serve.

cinnamon-raisin toutons

(breadmaker version)

In the bowl of your bread maker, place ingredients in the following order and program machine for dough setting:
1 cup plus 3 tbs milk
5 tbs butter
3 tbs sugar
1 large egg
1tsp salt
4 ½ flour
2 ½ tsp yeast
2 tsp cinnamon

After the first kneading, add:
½ cup raisins

When machine has finished cycle, pinch off small balls of dough (about half the size you would for buns) and roll into balls. Place on a buttered griddle over med-low heat and flatten slightly. When golden brown on one side, turn over and continue cooking until centre is no longer doughy. Serve warm with butter and maple syrup.


2 cups plain yogurt (not low-fat or nonfat)
1 medium English cucumber, peeled, halved and seeded
3 tablespoons fresh dill, finely chopped
1-2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tbs fresh-squeezed lemon juice
salt, to taste

Line a large strainer with 3 layers of cheesecloth and place over a large bowl. Spoon yogurt into lined strainer and set aside at room temperature for 3 hours to drain (there should be room at the bottom for the liquid to collect). Discard liquid and transfer yogurt to medium bowl.

Meanwhile, coarsely grate cucumber. Place in a second strainer and let stand at room temperature to drain, about 3 hours. Discard liquid. Squeeze any excess moisture from cucumber.

Combine cucumber, dill, garlic, lemon juice and yogurt. Add salt to taste. Serve within one day.

Note: Here’s a little secret. If you don’t have cheesecloth, line the strainer with a triple layer of good quality paper towel. It will wick away the moisture and let it drain away without absorbing the yogurt itself.

ricotta with pine nuts and honey

1 cup ricotta cheese
3 tbs pine nuts
4 tsp honey

Place pine nuts in a small baking dish and toast in a 350-degree oven for about 4 minutes, until lightly golden. Divide ricotta between four dessert dishes. Sprinkle with pine nuts and drizzle with honey.

hubbard squash soup

3 lbs cubed hubbard (or other) squash
3 apples, peeled, cored, quartered
1 medium onion, peeled, quartered
2 tbs vegetable oil
1 tbs brown sugar
6 cups water
salt, pepper to taste

In a medium roasting pan, place squash, apples and onion. Drizzle with oil, sprinkle with brown sugar, salt and pepper and toss to coat. Roast at 375-degrees for 30 minutes; or until lightly coloured. Transfer to a large pot and cover with 6 cups water. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes. Purée using a hand-held blender and season to taste. Serve each bowl with a dollop of sour cream.

For Curried Squash Soup: Add 1 tbs (or to taste) of Pataks mild or medium curry paste to the soup while it simmers.

okanagan mushroom salad

¼ lb Chicken of the woods
¼ lb Morel
¼ lb Pine
¼ lb Lobster

You can substitute different varieties of mushrooms, in season, such as chanterelles, shitake or oyster mushrooms.

¼ lb Red pepper
2 oz Green onion
½ bottle Okanagan’s Finest Ginger Soy Vinaigrette
2 tbs Olive oil
salt & pepper to taste

In a large fry pan, sauté each variety of mushroom separately in olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Let cool. Slice green onions and red peppers and add them to the cooled mushroom mixture, add ginger soy dressing and season with salt & pepper. Let marinate 1 hour before serving.

Note: If you aren’t able to find four varieties of fresh wild mushrooms, substitute a one or two of them with dried. They reconstitute to almost fresh.

apple-fennel slaw

2 medium apples
1 medium bulb fresh fennel
¼ medium onion
½ cup white vinegar
¼ cup olive oil
¼ cup canola oil
¼ cup apple juice
2 tbs liquid honey
1 tbs apple cider vinegar
2 dashes Louisiana hot sauce
¼ tsp seasoning salt
salt to taste

Quarter and core fennel bulb, also removing stem end and stalks. Slice very finely into long shreds (like in coleslaw). Finely slice onion. Core apple and slice into very thin wedges. Toss together.

Whisk together remaining ingredients and toss into salad. Refrigerate for at least a few hours to let flavours develop and to let the salad absorb the dressing.

marinated artichoke and chicken salad

1 cup marinated artichoke hearts, diced
2 cups chicken breast, diced
2 tbs Golden Italian Dressing
salt/pepper to taste

Toss together artichoke hearts and chicken with dressing. Salt and pepper to taste. Refrigerate for half an hour to allow flavours to develop. Serve with slices of baguette or other artisan bread.

Where to find it: The best ever marinated artichokes are from Costco, I kid you not. Sure, the jar is huge. But put them on pizza, pasta, toast. Eat them with a fork or you fingers. Buy a jar with a friend. Whatever. Just buy them. It’s worth it, I tell you.

"After all the trouble you go to, you get about as much actual ‘food’ out of eating an artichoke as you would from licking 30 or 40 postage stamps." ~ Miss Piggy

nanaimo bars

(official nanaimo bar of namaimo, B.C. - reprinted with permission)

Bottom Layer
½ cup unsalted butter (European style cultured)
¼ cup sugar
5 tbsp. cocoa
1 egg beaten
1 ¼ cups graham wafer crumbs
½ c. finely chopped almonds
1 cup coconut

Melt first 3 ingredients in top of double boiler. Add egg and stir to cook and thicken. Remove from heat. Stir in crumbs, coconut, and nuts. Press firmly into an ungreased 8" x 8" pan.

Second Layer
½ cup unsalted butter
2 Tbsp. and 2 Tsp. cream
2 Tbsp. vanilla custard powder
2 cups icing sugar

Cream butter, cream, custard powder, and icing sugar together well. Beat until light. Spread over bottom layer.

Third Layer
4 squares semi-sweet chocolate (1 oz. each)
2 Tbsp. unsalted butter

Melt chocolate and butter over low heat. Cool. Once cool, but still liquid, pour over second layer and chill in refrigerator.

Recipe notes: When combining the ingredients for the bottom layer, I found it useful to use a pastry blender. Simply stirring didn’t seem particularly effective Also, just for fun, I used a small, round springform baking pan of similar size to the 8 by 8-inch square.

beef stroganov

1 tbs powdered mustard
1 ½ tsp sugar
4 tbs vegetable oil
2 medium onions, thinly sliced
1 lb mushrooms, thinly sliced
2 lb beef tenderloin (or other lean, tender cut)
2 tsp salt
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
2 cups sour cream
egg noodles

In a small bowl, combine mustard, sugar, a pinch of the salt and 1 tbs water to form a thick paste. Set aside to allow flavours to develop while preparing the remaining ingredients.

Heat half of the oil in a heavy skillet over high heat until hot but not smoking. Add onions and mushrooms, cover pan and reduce heat to low. Cook 20-30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are soft. Drain off liquid and return to skillet, covering to keep warm.

Cut beef into ¼-inch strips. Heat 2 tbs oil in a heavy skillet over high heat until hot but not smoking. Drop in half of the meat, tossing constantly for 2 minutes, until lightly browned. Using tongs, transfer meat to skillet with vegetables and repeat searing with remaining beef, transferring to vegetables when done.

To the combined vegetables and beef, add salt, pepper and mustard paste. Add sour cream, a few tbs at a time. Simmer over low heat for 2-3 minutes. Serve over warm egg noodles.

pecan pie

(for a 10-inch tart shell, or an 8-inch pie shell)

4 eggs
¾ cup brown sugar
½ cup corn syrup
½ tsp salt
½ tsp vanilla
2 tbs unsalted butter
3 cups pecan halves

Whisk eggs, for about one minute, to break them up. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, heat brown sugar, corn syrup, salt, vanilla and butter until the sugar is completely dissolved (not grainy). Add to beaten eggs.

Arrange pecans into a baked tart or pie shell and pour sugar mixture over top. Place on a Silpat lined baking sheet and bake at 325 degrees for 30-40 minutes, until filling is set. Cool completely before serving.

pea pilau

1 cup basmati rice
2 tbs butter or ghee
2 tsp fennel seeds
5 cloves
1 tsp dried red chilli flakes
1 bay leaf
1 med onion, finely sliced
½ tsp cinnamon
1 tsp cardamom
1 ½ tsp turmeric
1 ½ tsp salt
1 cup peas, fresh or frozen
2 cups water

Rinse rice with changes of cold water until water remains clear. Let soak for 15 minutes. Drain well.

In a large saucepan over medium heat, melt butter or ghee. Add fennel seeds and cook until seeds lightly brown. Stir in cloves, chilli flakes and bay leaf. Add onion and sauté until soft and lightly browned, stirring frequently. Stir in cinnamon, cardamom, turmeric and salt. Add rice, peas and water. Stir to combine and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat, cover and continue simmer for 12 minutes, until water is absorbed. Fluff pilau with a fork. Serve with your favourite Indian curry dish.

Note: Turmeric powder is also a powerful textile dye. Be careful to keep it from your clothing, as well as pale, porous surfaces such as some kitchen countertops. If surface staining occurs, use toothpaste and a soft brush to safely remove.

rhubarb shortcakes

for the filling:
2 pounds red rhubarb, trimmed, chopped into ¾-inch pieces
½ cup sugar
2 tbs fresh-squeezed orange juice

for the shortcakes:
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
1/3 cup sugar
1 tbs freshly-grated orange zest
¼ cup cold butter
1 cup buttermilk
½ cup sour cream

1 cup cold whipping cream
1 tbs sugar
½ tsp orange-flower water or vanilla extract
fresh mint leaves for garnish

filling: In a large saucepan over med-low heat, combine rhubarb, sugar and orange juice. Cook, stirring gently, until mixture simmers and rhubarb is tender and somewhat jammy. Cool, then chill thoroughly.

shortcakes: Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and soda and sugar and orange zest. Cut in the butter until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. In a small bowl, combine the buttermilk and sour cream. Add to the flour mixture and stir with a fork, just until combined. Scoop batter into 6 equal mounds on a Silpat or parchment paper lined baking sheet. Sprinkle with sugar and bake about 15 minutes, until golden. Transfer to a baking rack to cool.

To serve, whip cream together with sugar and orange-flower water or vanilla. Split shortcakes in half. Arrange bottom halves on plates. Spoon rhubarb filling over pastries. Garnish with whipped cream and mint leaves and replace tops of cobblers.

baba ghanouj

(makes about 1 cup)
1 lb eggplant
1 tsp salt
3 tbs olive oil
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 tbs tahini
3 tbs fresh-squeezed lemon juice
½ tsp cumin
salt/pepper to taste
flat-leaf parsley, to garnish
Greek Pita for serving

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Cut tops off eggplant(s) and slice lengthwise. Place, cut sides up, in a baking dish. Drizzle with 2 tbs of the olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Roast for 35-40 minutes, until flesh is soft and browned. Let cool until easy to handle. Scoop out flesh into the bowl of a food processor (discard skins). Add garlic, tahini, lemon juice, cumin and remaining oil. Process until smooth, adding salt and pepper to taste. Let rest for about an hour (overnight would be better) in fridge to let flavours mingle. Serve with lightly toasted or oven-warmed Greek pita points (that would be pita, cut into triangles).

chokecherry syrup

Place chokecherries in a stockpot large enough that it is only ¾ full. Cover with water. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes. With a fine sieve or a jelly bag, strain off liquid into a heat-safe bowl, saving the fruit. Place the chokecherries back in the stockpot and cover with water. Simmer for another 30 minutes, straining liquid into the previous yield. Repeat a third time to utilize the fruit to its full potential, but on the third time, the fruit should be thoroughly mashed in the liquid to derive all of its juices. Discard pulp and seeds.

For each 3 cups of chokecherry liquid, add 1 1/2 cups of sugar (or to taste) and bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer briskly for 15 minutes. Test consistency by drizzling a small amount of liquid onto a cold plate. Syrup should be thickened but flow freely when cool. (For jelly, continue to simmer until liquid drizzled on plate sets up. In my experience I haven‘t needed to use pectin for chokecherry jelly, although the riper the fruit, the less true this is.) Pour syrup or jelly into sterilized jars and seal according to manufacturer’s directions.

Easy pickings: Chokecherry enthusiasts recommend picking prior to 11a.m., then quickly cooling the fruit in order to preserve its colour, flavour and texture. If not being immediately processed (within a day or two), freeze cherries until ready to use.

Where to find it: Although chokecherries may be found all along B.C. highways, look to lesser used side or back roads or other accessible areas in order to keep out of traffic’s way. To be sure of a positive identification, visit for an excellent picture. Note: Like other members of its family, chokecherry pits are toxic. Do not ingest them.

summer sangria

2 peaches, pitted and sliced
1 apricot, pitted and sliced
1 cup fresh raspberries
½ cup currants
½ lime, sliced
½ lemon, sliced
¼ cup Triple Sec or Brandy
3 tbs granulated sugar
1 bottle Red Rooster Merlot or other dry red
2 cups freshly squeezed orange juice

In a medium bowl, macerate the fruit in liqueur and sugar for about an hour. In a large pitcher, combine the fruit and liqueur with the wine and orange juice. Mix well and serve in wine glasses with plenty of ice. Keep chilled.

Remix: Try sangria with the above, or any combination of fruits that pleases you. Kiwis, mangos, pears and apples, cherries, pomegranates, blood oranges, berries, cantaloupe, goose berries, plums, starfruit. Just a few suggestions.

moroccan-inspired vegetable couscous

2 tbs olive oil
1 large onion, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic
¼ tsp cumin
¾ tsp chilli powder
2 tsp ginger, freshly grated
cinnamon stick
1 med. parsnip, chopped
2 med. carrots, chopped
1 ½ cups vegetable (or chicken) stock
1 med. yam, chopped
2 cauliflower florets (about ¼ head), separated into small florets
1 zucchini, sliced
about 15 sugar snap peas
1- 13 ½ oz can chickpeas, drained
pinch of saffron threads, crumbled
2 tbs chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 ¼ cups instant couscous
1 cup boiling water
1 tbs butter

Heat olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes, until soft. Add cumin, chilli powder and ginger and continue cooking for another minute. Add the cinnamon stick, parsnip, carrots and vegetable stock. Cover and bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes, or until vegetables are about half way cooked. Add the yam, cauliflower, zucchini and peas and simmer for another 10 minutes, until vegetables are tender but not overcooked. Stir in the chickpeas, saffron and parsley and simmer, uncovered, for another 5 minutes. Discard cinnamon stick.

In a heatproof bowl, cover couscous with boiling water. Cover and set aside for 5 minutes. Add butter and fluff couscous with a fork. Serve with vegetables.


6 large egg whites, at room temperature
1 ½ cups sugar
1 tsp lemon juice
½ tsp pure vanilla extract
1 cup whipping cream, whipped with ½ tsp vanilla
assorted fresh fruit

Combine egg whites and sugar in the heatproof bowl (degreased on the inside with the tsp of lemon juice) of an electric mixer. Place over a medium saucepan, ¼ filled with water at a simmer. Whisk constantly until sugar is dissolved and whites are warmed, about 3 minutes.

Transfer bowl to mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. Beat, beginning on low and gradually increasing to high, until stiff, glossy peaks form, about 10 minutes. Whisk in vanilla.

On each of two sheets of parchment paper, draw one 10-inch circle with a pencil. Place sheets, pencil-side down, on baking sheets. Spread or pipe meringue onto circles (the one for the bottom of the assembly should be somewhat concave to hold the fruit and cream. Bake at 300-degrees for about an hour, until crisp and dry on the outside and soft on the inside. Let cool.

To assemble, place bottom disk on a serving plate. Spread with the whipped cream and garnish with ½ of the fruit. Arrange second disk on top and top with remaining fruit. Note: assemble about an hour before serving. Pavlova does not keep well past the first day.

Sweet tart: Make use of both seasonal local produce, as well as tropical imports. Pavlova is as spectacular when monogamous to one theme (ie: raspberries) as it is when heaped with variety. Meringues, however, are inherently sweet. They are therefore well matched with something tart.


Chilli Garlic Rub for Chicken
4 large cloves garlic
2 tsp kosher salt
1 tbs pure mild red chilli powder
2 tsp ground cumin
3 tbs butter, softened

Mash garlic together with salt in a mortar and pestle. Add chilli powder, cumin and butter and combine into a paste. Rub under and on top of the skin of a whole chicken (also inside the cavity) and roast, (or rub on drums, thighs and breast pieces and grill).

Mediterranean Marinade
¼ cup fresh lemon juice
½ cup olive oil
1 tsp hot pepper flakes
½ tsp coarsely ground black pepper
½ tsp kosher salt
½ tsp lemon zest
4 cloves garlic, crushed
1 shallot, finely diced
¼ cup fresh parsley, finely chopped (or 2 tsp dried)
2 tbs each fresh basil and oregano, finely chopped (or 1 tsp dried of each)

Whisk together lemon juice, olive oil, pepper flakes, pepper and salt. Add lemon zest, garlic and herbs. Use to marinate meat, chicken, fish or vegetables, setting aside some for basting.

cherry sundaes

Summer Cherry Sundaes
2 pounds fresh cherries, pitted
1 ¼ cups water
¼ cup sugar
¼ cup brown sugar
3 tbs fresh lemon juice
½ tsp vanilla extract
dash black pepper (go ahead, live precariously!)
¾ cup slivered almonds

In a medium saucepan over med-high heat, bring to boil 1 pound cherries, water, sugar, brown sugar and lemon juice. Reduce heat to med-low and simmer for about 12 minutes, until cherries are tender. Remove cherries from sauce using a slotted spoon; set aside. Continue to simmer liquid until it thickens and coats the back of a spoon; 15-20 minutes. Add vanilla and dash of black pepper. Recombine with cherries. Cool completely, then chill.

Roughly chop remaining pound of cherries. Spoon cherry topping, chopped cherries and slivered almonds over scoops of vanilla and chocolate ice cream and serve.

"okanagan's finest" potato salad

8 medium red potatoes, peeled, cooked, diced
4 large eggs, hard cooked, peeled, diced
½ cup red pepper, finely diced
¾ cup baby dill pickles, finely diced
1/3 cup Okanagan’s Finest Dill Mustard Sauce
1/4 cup mayonnaise
¼ cup sour cream
3 tbs lemon juice
1 tsp hot sauce (optional)
salt/pepper to taste

In a large bowl, toss together diced, cooked potatoes, eggs, diced pepper and pickles. In a medium bowl whisk together Dill Mustard Sauce, mayonnaise, sour cream, lemon juice, hot sauce, salt and pepper. Pour dressing over salad mixture and toss gently to coat evenly. Cover and refrigerate for at least an hour (or overnight) to let flavours develop and to allow potatoes to absorb some of the dressing.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

anna friesen's cream cookies

makes 4 dozen

4 large eggs
2 cups heavy cream
3 cups granulated sugar
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
pinch salt
9 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda

In the bowl of an electric mixer, whisk together eggs, cream, sugar, vanilla and salt. In another large bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add dry ingredients to wet, one cup at a time , mixing to form a soft dough (do not over-mix). Divide dough into four equal parts. Wrap each in plastic wrap and refrigerate for a few hours, or overnight, until well chilled.

Preheat oven to 350-degrees. On a well-floured surface, roll out dough to ¾-inch thick. Cut out cookies using a medium round cutter. Place 1-inch apart on a baking sheet, lined with parchment paper or Silpat. Bake 12-14 minutes, watching carefully in last few minutes to be sure the cookies do not brown (they should remain white, but be set in the centre). Allow to cool completely.

For frosting: Cream together 2 cups confectioner’s sugar with 1 tbs cream, 2 tbs softened butter and ½ tsp vanilla. Add a few drops red food colouring for a soft pink. Spread over cooled cream cookies. Dip each in shredded coconut.

asparagus and baked brie pizza

pizza dough
½ cup sundried tomato pesto
20 asparagus tips, sliced in half lengthwise
½ lb brie or camembert, very cold for easy slicing
¼ cup pine nuts
olive oil, to brush crusts
cornmeal, for baking

Preheat oven to 375-degrees. If using a pizza stone, preheat in oven. Roll out dough on a lightly-floured surface. Sprinkle hot pizza stone with cornmeal (to prevent dough from sticking) and arrange dough on top. Brush edges with olive oil. Spread sundried tomato pesto over surface, reserving about a tablespoon for the top. Arrange asparagus tips and slices of brie. Sprinkle with pine nuts and dot with remaining pesto. Bake for 17 minutes, or until crust is golden and cheese is melted (cooking time without a pizza stone may take longer).

For pizza dough (bread machine recipe):
1 ½ cups water
1 ½ tsp salt
1 tbs sugar
2 tsp olive oil
4 ¼ cups flour
2 tsp active dry yeast
1 tbs chilli flakes (optional)
Prepare according to machine specifications. Use half the dough for the asparagus and brie pizza, and freeze the rest for next time.

honey-dipped doughnuts

makes 24
1 cups warm water
4 ½ tsp active dry yeast
4 ½ cups flour
10 tbs butter
2/3 cup sugar
3 large eggs
1 tbs vanilla
zest of 1 lemon
honey, for dipping
canola oil, for deep-frying

In a medium bowl, combine yeast and water. After five minutes, when yeast is dissolved, stir in 1 cup of the flour (set aside remaining 3 ½ cups). Cover and set aside in a warm place for 30 minutes, until bubbly and risen.

In the bowl of a heavy-duty mixer, fitted with paddle attachment, cream butter. Gradually add sugar, beating until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well between additions. Blend in vanilla and lemon zest. Add the remaining flour and the yeast mixture and mix until the flour is completely incorporated and the dough comes away from the sides of the bowl. Place dough in a well-buttered bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Set in a warm place to rise for 1 ½ hours. Punch down, cover, and let rise for another hour. (Dough will be soft and somewhat sticky, and not at all like bread dough.)

Turn dough onto a lightly floured surface. Pat dough down to ½-inch. Using a floured doughnut cutter (or a large and a small round cutter), cut out doughnuts and holes. Place on baking sheets lined with parchment or wax paper. Set in a warm place, uncovered, to rise for ½ hour. Deep-fry doughnuts and holes in 365-degree canola oil, until golden on both sides. Let drain on wire rack.

In a saucepan, pour honey to a depth of two inches. Carefully bring to a low boil. As doughnuts finish frying, place each in boiling honey for fifteen seconds on each side. Remove to a wire rack set over a baking sheet until honey has cooled and set.

broccoli salad

6 cups broccoli florets, in bite-sized pieces
½ cup red onion, finely chopped
¾ cup sweetened, dried cranberries
¼ cup sunflower seeds
¼ cup pumpkin seeds
3 tbs flax seeds, lightly toasted
1 tsp fresh thyme leaves
½ cup light mayonnaise
¼ cup light sour cream
¼ cup raspberry (or red wine) vinegar
1 tbs sugar
salt & pepper to taste

Toss together broccoli, red onion, cranberries, seeds and thyme leaves. Whisk mayonnaise, sour cream, vinegar, sugar, salt and pepper until smooth. Toss salad with dressing. Let chill at least 20 minutes to allow flavours to develop.


2 cups flour
½ cup butter
3 tbs sugar
2 tsp lemon zest
1 tbs dry active yeast
1 tsp sugar
½ cup lukewarm water
1/3 cup milk
1 egg
¼ cup butter, softened

Using a pastry blender, cut first four ingredients into crumbs. Set aside. Bring milk to boil; set aside to cool. When lukewarm, whisk in egg. Dissolve sugar in water, then add yeast and let proof for 10 minutes in a warm place. Add to milk and egg mixture. Pour over crumbs and, using a fork, mix together until just evenly moistened. Cover with plastic wrap and leave in fridge overnight, or for several hours (this will create a very tender dough).

Turn out onto a floured surface and knead to form a soft dough (about a dozen turns). Roll dough into a 16-inch circle. Spread surface all over with softened butter. Cut circle into 12 equal wedges. Roll up each wedge, beginning from wide end. Place on a baking sheet, lined with parchment paper, about 3-inches apart. Cover with a clean kitchen towel and leave in a warm place to rise for an hour, or until doubled in size. Bake at 350 degrees for 10-15 minutes, until just golden brown. Let cool and, using a piping bag, drizzle with cream cheese frosting.

Cream Cheese Frosting
4 oz cream cheese, at room temperature
4 tbs unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 ½ to 2 cups confectioner’s sugar

In a large bowl, with an electric mixer, beat together cream cheese, butter and vanilla on medium speed, about 2 minutes. Beat in confectioner’s sugar, ½ cup at a time, scraping sides of bowl as needed, to make a smooth, somewhat stiff frosting.

pan-seared veal medallions with sherried morel sauce

serves 4

½ oz pkg dried (or 2 oz fresh) morel mushrooms
1 lb linguini, cooked
4 portions veal loin (5 oz each)
coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
3 tbs olive oil
1 tbs butter
1 shallot, finely chopped
¼ cup sherry
1 ½ cups cream

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place dried morels in a bowl and cover with boiling water. Allow to reconstitute 15 minutes; drain.

Heat oil in a medium skillet over med-high heat. Season veal with salt and pepper. Place in skillet and sear on both sides. Place in oven and cook for about 4 minutes on each side. Place veal in a covered dish and set on the back of stove (over the oven vent) to keep warm. Reserve skillet with veal juices.

Slice morels lengthwise into quarters (check inside tips for any soil). Place skillet with veal juices over medium heat. Add butter, shallots and morels. Sauté, keeping the contents of the pan moving to keep shallots from browning. Add sherry and reduce heat to med-low. Add cream. Continue cooking until sauce is slightly thickened; about 2 minutes. Add any juices that have come out of the veal.

Heat cooked pasta in a saucepan (or microwave) with a little butter. Serve with the veal and sherried morel sauce. (Shown served with assorted sautéed vegetables: leeks, asparagus, orange bell peppers and seeded diced tomatoes).

grapefruit-glazed poundcake

1 cup unsalted butter, softened
2 cups cake flour, sifted
5 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 tbs grapefruit zest
1 ¼ cups sugar

For Glaze:
3 tbs freshly-squeezed grapefruit juice
1 cup confectioners’ sugar

Butter and flour an 8-cup loaf pan. Set aside. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter. In a large bowl, whisk together eggs and flavourings. Gradually whisk sugar into eggs. Add egg/sugar mixture to butter, 1 tbs at a time, beating until light and fluffy; 3 to 4 minutes.

Add flour in three parts, mixing on low and scraping down sides of bowl as necessary. Scrape batter into prepared loaf pan. Bake until cake pulls away from sides of pan; 50 to 55 minutes. Let cool 5 minutes, then turn out onto a cooling rack to cool completely before glazing.

Using an electric mixer, beat together grapefruit juice and confectioners’ sugar until smooth. Mixture should flow easily, but not be too runny (add more sugar if necessary). With cake on cooling rack, set over a baking tray to catch run-off, pour glaze over cake, letting it drizzle down the sides. Allow glaze to set.

nut-crusted rack of lamb

4 tbs olive oil
1 tbs chopped fresh rosemary
1 tbs chopped garlic
1 lamb rack (8 bones), trimmed, frenched
2 cups bread crumbs
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
¼ cup cashews
¼ cup toasted pumpkin seeds
1 large shallot
2 tbs Dijon mustard

Season lamb with salt and pepper. Combine 1 tbs oil, rosemary and garlic. Rub over lamb rack.

In a food processor, process bread crumbs, parsley, nuts and seeds and shallots until nuts are finely ground. Gradually add 2 tablespoons oil; process until crumbs begin to stick together. Transfer to bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Add 1 tablespoon oil; toss gently to coat.

Preheat oven to 400°F. Heat a large, heavy skillet over high heat. Add marinated lamb rack to skillet. Sear, about 4 minutes per side. Transfer to a roasting pan. Let cool 15 minutes. Spread with mustard, then firmly press breadcrumb mixture, over rounded side of rack.

Roast lamb until meat thermometer inserted into center of meat reads 135°F (medium-rare). Let lamb rest 15 minutes. Transfer lamb to cutting board. Slice lamb between bones into individual, four-bone, servings.

spring bennys

4 large, fresh, AA grade eggs
2 English muffins, split
8 asparagus spears, trimmed
¼ red pepper, finely diced
¼ yellow pepper, finely diced
1 tbs butter (for sautéing, plus more for muffins)

For traditional poached eggs, bring a large pot of water, with a capful of vinegar (to facilitate coagulation), to a bare simmer. Carefully crack in eggs, letting them cook gently until desired doneness. Remove eggs from poaching water with a slotted spoon, using a paper towel to blot away excess water from under the spoon. (Alternately, use a poaching pan with egg cups and poach according to pan directions).

In two small saucepans, separately sauté peppers and asparagus, each in half the butter.

Toast and butter English muffins. Place two asparagus spears and one poached egg on each half muffin. Top with hollandaise and diced, sautéed peppers and serve.

For hollandaise:
(This classic recipe is adapted for a blender, saving a marathon of whisking)
3 large egg yolks
2 tsp white wine vinegar
½ cup butter, melted and very warm to hot
pinch salt

Place egg yolks and vinegar in a blender or food processor. Process on high for 1 minute. With the machine running, very slowly drizzle in melted, hot butter in a constant stream (this should take about one minute). Sauce should be thickened and smooth. If not, process 10-20 seconds more. Season to taste. Serve immediately, or keep warm by submerging the bowl of the blender in warm water.

engadiner nusstortes

For the pastry:
1 ½ cups minus 1 tbs all-purpose flour, sifted
½ tsp salt
¼ cup sugar
pinch lemon zest
2 egg yolks
½ cup butter, chilled and cut into cubes

In the bowl of an electric food processor, place flour, salt, lemon zest and chilled butter. Blend for 15 seconds, until a fine, crumbly texture forms. Add egg yolks and blend for another 10 seconds, until dough forms into a compact ball. Wrap and place in refrigerator to chill while preparing the filling.

For the filling:
1 cup plus 2 tbs sugar
2 cups whole pistachios
2 ¾ cups heavy cream
1 tbs honey

In a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan over low heat, cook sugar, stirring until it turns a pale, golden caramel colour. Add nuts, stirring to coat them with the syrup. Add cream and combine well, then mix in honey. Set aside to cool.

Roll out 2/3 of the pastry to fit the bases of 12 to 15 tart moulds. Divide filling into tarts. Place on a baking sheet and bake at 350 degrees until edges of pastry are just coloured; about half an hour. Let set before unmoulding.

Meanwhile, roll out remaining dough and cut out tops using another tart mould as a cutter. On a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or Silpat, bake until just beginning to colour. Set aside to cool. Place tops on unmoulded tarts when ready to serve. Engadiner Nusstortes will keep well for up to a month or more, and are best if served after 3-4 days.

hot cross buns

¾ cup butter, melted, then cooled to lukewarm
1 cup milk
3 tsp active dry yeast
½ cup sugar
1 ¼ tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
¾ tsp nutmeg
4 large eggs, lightly beaten
5 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1 ½ cups currants
1 tsp lemon zest
1 egg (for egg wash)
1 1/3 cups confectioner’s sugar
2 tbs lemon juice
2 tbs milk

In a small saucepan over medium heat, heat milk to lukewarm. Pour into bowl of an electric mixer, fitted with dough hook. Turn mixer to low, then add yeast, sugar, salt, melted butter, spices and eggs. Add flour, 1 cup at a time, until a soft, somewhat sticky dough forms; about 3 minutes. Continue to knead, occasionally scraping down sides of bowl and hook, about another 4 minutes. Add currants and lemon zest and knead to combine.

Onto a well-floured surface, turn out dough knead by hand to incorporate currants; about 2 minutes. Shape dough into a ball and place in a large, buttered bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and a clean kitchen towel. Place in a warm place to rise, about 1 ½ hours (or overnight in the fridge for a richer dough), until doubled in size.

Line an 11 by 17-inch baking sheet with parchment paper, Silpat (or use butter). Set aside. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead briefly. Divide dough into 24 equal pieces (a little more than 2 oz each) and shape into tight rolls. Place ½ -inch apart on baking sheet. Cover and set aside to rise for another hour, until doubled in size (the rolls will be touching). Heat oven to 375 degrees.

Whisk egg with 1 tbs water and a pinch of salt. Lightly brush tops of buns with egg wash. With a buttered, very sharp knife (or clean razor), slice a cross into top of each bun. Bake until golden brown, about 25 minutes. Transfer pan to a wire rack to cool completely.

For glaze: In a medium bowl, whisk together confectioner’s sugar, lemon juice and milk. Pipe or drizzle glaze into crosses.

For bread pudding: Slice five hot cross buns into cubes. Toss with 3 tbs melted butter, then ¼ cup brown sugar. Place in baking dish. Whisk together 2 eggs, ¼ cup cream ½ cup milk. Pour over bread and leave to soak 15 minutes. Cover and bake at 350 degrees for about 20-25 minutes, or until set.

pasta puttanesca

1 pound spaghetti
3 tbs virgin olive oil
8 anchovies, crushed (optional)
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp red pepper flakes
28-oz can diced tomatoes
3 tbs capers, drained
½ cup pitted kalamata olives, coarsely chopped
3 tbs fresh flat leaf parsley, coarsely chopped
½ cup freshly grated parmesan cheese

Bring a large stock pot of well-salted water to a boil. Add spaghetti and cook to al dente. Drain. Meanwhile, over medium heat, heat oil, then add anchovies, garlic and pepper flakes. Cook, stirring with a wooden spoon, about 2 minutes. Add tomatoes (along with the juice), capers and olives to skillet. Simmer over med-low heat, stirring until a bit thickened, about 5 minutes. Add spaghetti and continue to cook until sauce is thick enough to coat the pasta, about 2 minutes. Stir in parsley. Serve immediately with freshly grated parmesan cheese.

kaffeeklatch coffeecake

2 ¼ cups flour
¾ cup sugar
¾ cup cold butter
½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
¾ cup plus 2 tbs buttermilk
1 large egg, lightly beaten
2 pounds frozen pitted apricots
1/3 cup brown sugar

Place apricots in a large saucepan over medium-low heat. Add a couple tablespoons water and close the lid. When thawed, add brown sugar and continue cooking until fruit is thoroughly heated and the juice bubbles and begins to thicken. Set aside. Butter and flour an 8-x11 ½x2-inch glass baking dish. Set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together flour and sugar. Using a pastry blender, cut in butter until mixture is coarse and crumbly. Set aside 1 cup of the crumbs for the topping.

Into remaining crumbs, blend in baking powder baking soda. Make a well in the centre and pour in buttermilk and beaten egg. Using a fork, pull crumbs into the liquid in the centre, mixing just to combine. Spread 2/3 of the batter over the bottom and half-way up sides of the prepared dish. Using a slotted spoon to leave behind some of the fruit juices, spoon fruit over the batter. By teaspoonfuls, drop remaining batter evenly over top of fruit. Cover with set aside crumbs and bake at 350-degrees for 40 minutes, or until a tester inserted in centre comes out clean. Let cool on a baking rack for 20 minutes before serving. Simmer the remaining juice over med-low heat, reducing it to a sauce to be drizzled over the coffeecake.

Alternates: Stewed apples, prune plums, blueberries, raspberries and rhubarb all substitute well as filling for this coffeecake, but require that you adjust the sugar accordingly.

roasted garlic mashed potatoes

1 large head of garlic
2 tsp olive oil
2 lbs Yukon gold potatoes
4 tbs butter
1/3 cup heavy cream
salt and pepper

Slice about ¼-inch off top of garlic. Place in a small, deep baking dish. Drizzle garlic with olive oil, and cover dish with foil. Place in a 400-degree oven and roast for 50 minutes, until garlic is soft and has turned a golden caramel colour. Remove from oven and let cool a bit. Squeeze cloves from head with gentle pressure.

Peel and quarter potatoes. In a large pot, cover potatoes with cold, well salted water and bring to boil over high heat. Cook until soft, about 12 minutes. Drain.

Pass cooked potatoes through a food mill or potato ricer (or use a potato masher) into a large mixing bowl. In a small saucepan over medium heat, warm butter and cream. Fold into mashed potatoes, seasoning with salt and pepper to taste. Gently fold in roasted garlic cloves and serve.

guinness stout bread

½ cup Guinness stout, flat & at room temp.
3 tbs maple syrup (not pancake syrup)
1 large egg
½ cup water
4 tbs powdered milk
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup rolled oats (quick cooking)
½ cup cornmeal
1 ½ tsp salt
1 tbs yeast

This recipe is intended for use in a bread-maker, following the manufacturer’s directions. However, for a better loaf, use the dough setting on your machine. When the cycle is complete, turn out dough onto a floured surface and knead a few times. Roll dough into a square the width of a loaf pan, then roll up into a loaf. Place loaf, seam-side down, into a buttered and floured loaf pan. With a sharp knife or razor blade, cut two diagonal slits in top of dough. Cover with a clean kitchen towel and place in a warm, draft-free place to rise for about 45 minutes.

In a 400-degree oven, bake bread for 50 minutes to an hour. (Reduce heat to 375-degrees if the bread seems to be browning too quickly.) Remove from pan and place loaf on a rack to cool. (Bread is done baking if it sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom.)

Cenosillicaphobia: The fear of an empty glass.

three cheese macaroni

½ cup butter
½ loaf white bread
5 cups milk
½ cup flour
1 ½ tsp salt
½ tsp pepper
¼ tsp cayenne pepper
3 ½ cups grated sharp cheddar
2 cups grated mozzarella
1 cup grated asiago
1 pound elbow macaroni, slightly undercooked

Preheat oven to 375-degrees and butter a 3 quart casserole dish; set aside. Remove crusts from bread and tear bread into ¼-inch crumbs (about 2 cups). Melt 2 tbs of the butter and toss together with bread crumbs in a medium bowl. Set aside.

In a medium saucepan over medium heat, heat milk to simmer. Meanwhile, in a large, deep skillet over medium heat, melt butter. Add flour and whisk for one minute. Gradually add hot milk while whisking vigorously until the mixture thickens and begins to boil. It should be very smooth. Remove from heat and add salt, pepper and cayenne pepper. Stir in 2/3 of each of the cheeses. Stir in cooked macaroni and scrape into prepared casserole. Sprinkle remaining cheese over top, then finish with bread crumbs. Bake 30 minutes, until golden on top. Let set on a wire rack for a few minutes before serving.

chocolate cheesecake swirl brownies

8 oz cream cheese, softened
1 1/3 cups sugar
3 eggs, at room temperature
2 egg yolks, at room temperature
1 tbs + 1 tsp vanilla extract
¾ cup butter
8 oz semisweet chocolate, chopped
2 tbs dark brown sugar
2 tbs cocoa powder
¾ cup all-purpose flour

Butter and flour a 9 by 9-inch square baking dish and line on the bottom with silicone baking paper.

In a deep mixing bowl with an electric mixer, beat together cream cheese and 1/3 cup of the sugar until smooth, about three minutes. Beat in 1 egg and 1 tsp vanilla until well combined. Set aside.

Bring a medium pot, filled 1/3 with water to a simmer. In a glass bowl that fits over the pot, place butter and chocolate. Stir until about ¾ of the chocolate is melted, then remove from heat and continue stirring until completely melted. Transfer to a large mixing bowl and let cool a few minutes.

Beat sugar and brown sugar into chocolate until smooth and glossy. Beat in remaining 2 eggs and 2 yolks and tbs vanilla. Sift in flour and cocoa and fold into chocolate mixture.

Spread ¾ of brownie mixture into prepared pan. Spread cream cheese mixture over top, being careful not to disturb the brownie batter. Dot on top with remaining brownie batter. With a sharp paring knife, draw blade through layers, creating a swirl pattern (don’t touch bottom of pan with knife or lift while swirling). Bake in a 350 degree oven for about 35 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted in center comes out clean. Cool on a rack for at least 30 minutes (an hour would be better). Cut into 2 ½-inch squares while still in pan and serve. These brownies are fudgy and unbelievably rich, and even improve after being refrigerated for a few hours.

ricotta and corn roulade

1 tbs butter
1 medium leek, washed, trimmed, finely sliced
1 clove garlic, crushed
2 tbs butter
1/3 cup flour
1 cup milk
4 eggs, separated
¼ cup grated Asiago cheese
For the filling:
1 ½ cups ricotta cheese, beaten until smooth
1 cup frozen corn kernels, lightly cooked

Butter a 10 by 12-inch jelly roll pan and line on the bottom with silicon baking paper. In a medium saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Add leek and garlic and sauté about 5 minutes, until translucent and soft.

In another medium saucepan, melt second amount of butter. Stir in flour and continue stirring over medium heat for about a minute. Remove from heat and slowly whisk in milk. Return to high heat and whisk until mixture boils and thickens. Whisk in egg yolks and leek mixture. Transfer mixture to a large bowl.

In a medium bowl, beat egg whites with an electric mixer until soft peaks are formed. Fold carefully into leek mixture. Spread into prepared pan and bake in a 350-degree oven for about 12 minutes, or until puffed and lightly golden.

Spread open a clean kitchen towel and sprinkle grated Asiago cheese over the surface. Turn roulade onto towel and carefully peel away the baking paper. Combine filling ingredients and spread evenly over roulade. Then, holding one long side of the towel with both hands, gently lift and let the roulade begin to roll. Transfer to a serving dish and serve immediately.

Note: After trimming, slice leeks lengthwise and rinse thoroughly between each of the layers. Leeks tend to collect deposits of garden soil during growing.

Callebaut fondue for two

4 oz semisweet Callebaut, or other quality chocolate
5 tbs whipping cream
1 tbs Grand Marnier

With a sharp serrated knife, finely chop chocolate. In a small saucepan, gently heat cream over med-low heat until it reaches a bare simmer; whisking constantly. Add chocolate and Grand Marnier and stir until chocolate is melted and thoroughly combined with the cream. The mixture should be luxuriously thick and glossy.

Transfer to a small fondue pot and place over candle or burner (you can use a warm bowl if serving immediately). Serve with bite-sized pieces of fruit, dried fruit and angel food or pound cake.

Serving suggestions: Banana, kiwi, peeled fresh or canned mandarin, hulled and quartered strawberries, dried figs, dried apricots, apple, pear, pineapple, grapes and whatever else is in season, as well as cubes of cake and other sweets.

Like water for chocolate: When preparing watery fruits such as citrus to dip into a fondue, it‘s important to carefully peel each segment, rather than slice. Otherwise, the water-laden juice may cause the chocolate to seize into a gritty, grainy mess.

knepfla with potatoes and cream

2 cups flour
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 tsp salt
pinch nutmeg (optional)
water to make a stiff, yet pliable dough
2 large russet potatoes, cooked and cubed
1 medium onion
vegetable oil, for frying

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour and salt (and nutmeg if you choose). Make a well in the centre and pour in eggs. With a fork, incorporate the eggs and flour together until loosely combined, adding a bit of water as needed to make a stiff dough. Form into a ball and turn out onto a floured surface. Knead until dough is smooth. Place in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Set aside to rest for about 30 minutes.

Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. With a clean, sturdy pair of kitchen scissors, snip small pieces of knepfla dough into water and boil for 10 minutes (you’ll have to do this in 2-3 batches). Drain.

In a large, heavy skillet over medium heat, sauté onion in oil until soft and lightly coloured. Add knepfla and diced potatoes and fry, turning over with a spatula or wooden spoon, until thoroughly heated and lightly browned. Serve with cream gravy or sour cream.

Cream Gravy
2-3 tbs butter
1 cup cream
flour for thickening

In a small saucepan or skillet over medium heat, melt butter. Add the cream and carefully bring to a boil. Add flour, a sprinkling at a time, whisking constantly until gravy thickens. Continue to whisk over heat for another minute or two to be sure the flour is cooked.

toasted tomato brochettes

1 French baguette
3 small vine ripened tomatoes, sliced
2 balls of bocconcini cheese (or mozzarella), sliced
4 tbs extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup whole basil leaves
3 cloves garlic, peeled, cut in half
kosher or sea salt and coarse ground pepper

Slice baguette diagonally into ½-inch slices. Brush on both sides with olive oil and toast in oven under broiler until golden, turning to toast evenly. Rub bread on top side only with halved garlic cloves. Arrange with slices of tomatoes, boconccini and whole basil leaves. Return to oven and toast until cheese melts. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and serve immediately.

chicken and corn chowder

2 tbs butter
1 large onion, chopped
1 small red bell pepper, chopped
1 small yellow bell pepper, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbs flour
5 cups chicken stock
2 cups butternut squash (peeled, seeded, diced)
2 cups russet potatoes (peeled, diced)
1 tbs chopped fresh thyme leaves
2 cups frozen corn kernels
½ cup cream
2 ½ cups shredded roast chicken (skinned)
salt and pepper

In a large pot, melt butter over medium-high heat. Add onions, peppers and garlic; sauté until onions are soft and translucent. Sprinkle flour over cooked onions and peppers and stir, cooking for about 2 minutes. Add in the chicken stock and stir to incorporate the flour. Add squash, potatoes and thyme; bringing to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until potatoes are cooked and tender. Add corn and cream and simmer for another 10 minutes. Add chicken and, simmer for 5 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Garnish with a drizzle of cream.

Taking stock: Making chicken stock may take time, but involves very little effort. In a stockpot, place the bones and any leftover bits of meat, excluding visible fat and skin, from a whole chicken. Cover with cold water and bring to a boil over med-high heat. Reduce heat and simmer slowly, skimming off impurities as they appear, about 30 minutes. Add 1 coarsely chopped onion, 1 peeled and coarsely chopped carrot, 1 coarsely chopped stalk of celery and a bouquet garni (tie together a small bunch parsley, 8 sprigs thyme, 1 bay leaf). Simmer, uncovered, for 3 hours, adding more water as needed to keep contents covered. Strain, allow to cool, then refrigerate. Remove the fat (which will rise to the surface and congeal) before using.

hazelnut fig biscotti

makes 3 dozen
¾ tsp whole fennel seeds
½ cup butter
¾ cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp anise extract
2 tsp orange zest
2 ¼ cups flour
1 ½ tsp baking powder
¾ cup coarsely chopped hazelnuts
½ cup coarsely chopped dried figs (about 10 figs)

Toast fennel seeds by swirling in a small pan for a few minutes over medium-low heat. Set aside. In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar using an electric mixer. Add eggs, vanilla, anise extract and orange zest. Whip until light and smooth.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour and baking powder. Add to butter mixture and mix to combine and form a sticky dough. Fold in fennel seeds, hazelnuts and figs. Divide dough into thirds, wrapping each in plastic wrap and shaping into elongated mounds, about 8x2-inches. Chill dough for about an hour.

Place chilled mounds of dough on a large baking sheet, leaving a few inches of space between each. Bake at 350 degrees for about 25 minutes, until just lightly browned. Let cool for about 15 minutes, until set, then, using a serrated knife, slice diagonally into ½-inch-thick biscotti. Arrange on cookie sheet and return to oven at 275 degrees. Bake for 30 minutes, turn biscotti over, and continue baking for another 30 minutes.

Tuscan tradition: Although biscotti are most often associated with Italian coffees such as espresso or cappuccino, don’t hesitate to pair them with your favourite red wine.

spiced viennese cappuccino

(single serving)
3 oz water
1 tbs espresso, ground (try Lavazza Grand Espresso)
½ tsp cinnamon
½ tsp nutmeg or allspice
3 whole cloves, crushed
6 oz cold milk

Fill water reservoir of a Bialetti Moka Express with 3 oz water (do not fill past safety valve). In the coffee basket, place ground espresso and spices. Assemble Bialetti to form a tight seal and place on stove element over high heat. The pressure created when the water comes to boil will force steam up through the coffee and into the top chamber through a funnel. Remove from heat as soon as espresso has stopped welling up.

Pour cold milk into a narrow, deep metal frothing pitcher, fitted with a clip-on cappuccino thermometer.

Fill water reservoir of a Graziella for Cappuccino milk frother. Screw top assembly on tightly to form a seal. Place unit on stove element over high heat until steam begins to escape through top safety valve. Turn steam knob to release any condensed water. With knob closed, submerge tip of steam wand just below milk’s surface. Release steam into milk, incorporating air to create a thick head of froth, stopping when milk reaches between 66-77 degrees Celcius. (Note: Producing froth with the Graziella takes practice. Don’t be disappointed if your first attempts do little more than heat the milk (or if, until you develop a knack, the process produces noise that sounds like an irate Tasmanian devil.) In a 16 oz cup, begin by pouring espresso, then milk, holding back foam with a spoon. Top with foam. Beneissimo!

Cappuccino, a la Niles Crane: “Double cappuccino, half-caf, nonfat milk, with enough foam to be aesthetically pleasing, but not so much that it would leave a mustache.”

maple gravlax with potato latkes

appetizers for 36

For the gravlax: (make 3 days ahead of serving)
1 pound side of salmon, deboned, skin on
1 cup kosher or sea salt
1 tsp peppercorns, cracked
½ bunch fresh dill, roughly chopped
¾ cup maple syrup
3 tbs Brandy
2 tbs fresh lemon juice
1 tbs extra-virgin olive oil

Prepare dry cure by combining salt, peppercorns and dill in a medium bowl. In a small bowl, combine maple syrup, brandy, lemon juice and olive oil.

Place salmon, skin side down, on a sheet of parchment paper (baking paper). Over the surface of the salmon, spread liquid mixture, then pack evenly with dry cure. Double wrap tightly with plastic wrap. Place in a baking dish and weigh down, first with a flat weight such as a cutting board, then a brick or a couple of cans of soup. Refrigerate for 24 hours.

After 24 hours, drain and rewrap salmon with fresh plastic wrap. Replace weights and refrigerate again for 24 hours. Rewrap once more and refrigerate. At the end of the third day, unwrap and scrape away and discard dry cure. With a very sharp knife, slice salmon as thin as possible along the bias. The gravlax will keep in the fridge, wrapped, for up to another three days.

For the latkes:
1 small onion, finely chopped
3 medium white or yellow potatoes, grated
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp fresh ground black pepper
1 large egg
vegetable oil, for cooking

In a medium bowl, combine onion, grated potatoes, salt, pepper and egg. In a large skillet, heat vegetable oil over medium heat. Drop potato mixture by tablespoons into skillet, gently flattening each into pancakes. Cook until golden underneath. Turn over and continue cooking until both sides are cooked. Remove and place on a tray lined with paper towel. Serve with thin slices of gravlax and garnish with fresh sprigs of parsley or chives and sour cream.

Monday, May 16, 2005

christmas pudding

1 cup beef suet (or butter), softened
2 cups sugar
6 large eggs
2 cups flour
1 tsp ground cloves
1 tsp ground nutmeg
1 tsp ground cinnamon
2 cups grated raw carrots
3 cups grated raw potatoes
1 tsp baking soda
1 cup raisins
1 cup chopped pistachios
1 cup mixed citrus peel (3 oranges, 2 lemons, 2 limes)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cream together suet or butter and sugar. Add eggs, one at a time. Fold in flour and spices, then carrots and ½ of the potatoes, raisins, pistachios and citrus peel. Toss remaining potatoes in baking soda and fold into batter. Scrape into a buttered bundt pan, cover with foil and set into a deep roasting pan. Place in oven and fill roasting pan with 2-inches of boiling water. Bake for 2 hours or until pudding is set and a cake tester comes out clean. Remove from oven and let set for ½ an hour before turning out onto a cake dish. Serve warm with custard sauce.

Custard Sauce: Into a medium saucepan, measure 3 tbs “Bird’s” custard powder and 3 tbs sugar. Over medium heat, gradually whisk in 2 ½ cups milk. Whisk constantly until custard comes to a full boil. Cool slightly.

Notes: If you’re feeling so intrepid, suet is occasionally available at better butcher's shops. And also, don’t waste time trying to zest a whole cup of citrus peel using a cheese grater. Get instead a hand-held citrus zester that adeptly shears away thin curls of pretty peel, while leaving behind the bitter white pith.

second breakfast muffins

2 cups flour
1 ½ cups oat bran
1 ½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
2 eggs
¾ cup brown sugar
1 cup buttermilk
1 cup pureed pumpkin
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
½ cup butter, melted
1/3 cup chopped pecans
¾ cup chopped dates

In a large bowl, whisk together flour, oat bran, baking powder and baking soda. In another large bowl, whisk together eggs, brown sugar, buttermilk, pumpkin, cinnamon, nutmeg and butter. Add the flour mixture and combine with a few light strokes. Fold in the chopped nuts and dates. Divide between 12 muffin cups, greased or lined with paper. Bake 20-22 minutes, until a toothpick inserted comes out clean and muffins are set.

ras malai (east indian sweet)

2 - 500g containers ricotta cheese
1 cup sugar

4 cups whole milk
1 - 385ml can evaporated milk
1 - 300ml can condensed milk

Crushed pistachios and ground cardamom for garnish

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. With a wooden spoon, blend ricotta cheese together with sugar. Scrape into a buttered 8”x11.5”x 2” glass baking dish. Bake, covered with foil, for 30 minutes. Remove foil and continue baking a further 30 minutes. Do not allow to brown.

In a large saucepan, combine the three kinds of milk. Whisking continuously, bring to a simmer over medium heat. Reduce heat to low and continue whisking very frequently until volume is reduced by a little more than ½ (about 90 minutes).

To serve, cut baked ricotta into 12-16 squares. Place on individual dishes and drizzle generously with sauce. Garnish with pistachios and a dusting of cardamom and, for a truly celebratory flair, add a few small flakes of gold leaf.

galatoboureko (greek custard pie)

serves 12

3 cups milk
½ cup sugar
¾ cup semolina
1 tbs finely grated orange rind
1 cinnamon stick
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
¼ cup butter, cubed
4 large eggs, lightly beaten
12 sheets phyllo pastry
¼ cup butter, melted

3 tbs sugar
3 tbs honey
½ tsp ground cinnamon
1 tbs orange juice
2 inch strip orange rind

In a medium saucepan, bring gently to a boil the milk sugar, semolina, orange rind, cinnamon stick and vanilla, stirring constantly. Reduce heat to low and simmer, still stirring, for 2 minutes, until the mixture thickens. Remove from heat and mix in the butter. Set aside to cool for 10 minutes, then remove and discard cinnamon stick and gradually mix in the beaten egg.

Turn oven on to 350 degrees. Unwrap phyllo and cover with a damp kitchen towel. One sheet at a time, brush on one side with melted butter and fit, buttered-side-down in a 12x8x2-inch baking dish (the pastry will overlap the edges). Repeat layering with five more buttered sheets, brushing the top layer with more butter. Pour the custard over the phyllo, spreading it evenly into the dish. Layer over top with remaining sheets of phyllo, brushing each with butter. Brush the top with butter. With a sharp paring knife, trim the excess pastry around the edges. Bake for 40-45 minutes, until the custard has set and the pastry is golden. Remove from oven and set aside to cool.

In a saucepan, combine syrup ingredients together with 5 tbs water. Slowly bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes for the syrup to thicken. Remove from heat and cool for another 10 minutes. Discard orange rind.

If phyllo has risen above the edges of the baking dish, flatten the top layer with your hand to prevent the syrup spilling over (the syrup will be extremely hot; use caution). Pour syrup over top of the galatoboureko. Allow to cool before serving.

Where to find it: Look for Orange-blossom water (Acqua Fior d‘Arancio) at Mediterranean import stores.

dijon-style grainy mustard

makes 1 ½ cups

1 ¼ cups dark beer (I used Sleeman Original)
½ cup yellow mustard seeds
¼ cup black mustard seeds
1 ¾ cup apple cider vinegar
1 small sweet onion, chopped
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 shallot, chopped
2 tbs cold water
2 oz mustard powder
2 tsp salt
1 tbs brown sugar
½ tsp allspice, ground

Place mustard seeds in a medium glass bowl and cover with beer; allow to sit overnight (or for several hours). In a medium saucepan, simmer together vinegar, onion, garlic and shallot until liquid is reduced by 1/3 (about ½ hour). Strain, discarding solids. Chill the liquid.

Combine mustard powder and water to make a paste. In a food processor, pulse paste together with the chilled vinegar infusion, along with salt, sugar and allspice. Add to the soaked mustard seeds and stir to combine.

In a saucepan over low heat, simmer mustard to thicken, about 15 minutes. Cool, place into a glass jar and allow mustard to age at least two weeks in a cool, dark place.

Hot but not bothered: Mustard’s heat comes from a volatile oil released when mixed with water. With very hot mustards, the heat wafts into the nose and makes the eyes water. Unlike heat from peppers, however, (which is cumulative and concentrates on the tongue) the sensation dissipates quickly and is considered a pleasurable part of the taste.

pan bagnat

serves 4

French baguette (1 large or 2 small)
clove garlic
¼ cup olive oil
1 tbs red wine vinegar
fresh lettuce, spinach or basil leaves
2 eggs, hard-boiled
2 tomatoes, sliced
½ yellow or red bell pepper, sliced
¼ red onion, thinly sliced
7 oz thinly sliced roasted turkey breast
8 slices turkey bacon, browned
4 slices Swiss emmenthaler cheese

Slice large baguette into four equal lengths, then slice each horizontally. Remove about 1/3 of the soft insides from the tops, following the shape of the crust. Cut clove of garlic in half and rub the cut sides over the inside of the bread, then sprinkle with olive oil and vinegar.

Arrange the filling ingredients on the bottom sides of the baguettes, then cover with tops. Place a baking tray on top of sandwiches and weigh down with light weights, such as a brick or bottles of oil and vinegar. Let set in a cool place for an hour before serving; allowing dressing to soak into the bread and the flavours to come together.

Note: While there are many variations on this theme, the original Pan Bagnat (which means “wet bread”) calls for tinned tuna and anchovies instead of the sliced turkey and bacon. A French boule may be used in place of the baguette.

chocolate mud pie with worms

9 inch Oreo (or chocolate Graham) crumb base
250 g pkg cream cheese, softened
4 tbs butter, softened
2 pkgs (4 serving size) chocolate instant pudding mix
2 1/3 cup cold milk
4 cups Cool Whip topping, thawed
250 g pkg. Oreo cookies, crushed
3 cups mini marshmallows
gummy worms for decoration

In a 9 inch spring form cake pan, lined bottom and sides with parchment paper, prepare the Oreo (or chocolate Graham) crumb base according to package directions.

In a large bowl, whisk together pudding with milk until smooth. In a separate bowl, using an electric mixer, cream together cream cheese and butter. Add prepared pudding and combine using mixer.

Fold in whipped topping. Stir in 2/3 of the crushed cookies and all of the marshmallows. Spoon over prepared crust. Sprinkle top with remaining crushed cookies. Decorate with gummy worms. Freeze until firm, about four hours. Remove from freezer 10 minutes before serving for easy slicing.

chipotle chili con carne con chocolada

2 tbs oil
1 lb lean ground lamb or beef
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 tsp cumin
4 tsp paprika
28 oz can plum tomatoes plus ½ can water
3 tbs tomato paste
19 oz can kidney beans
1 small green Bell pepper, diced
1 small yellow Bell pepper, diced
1 large carrot, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
2 medium chipotle chillies (from canned), finely chopped
1 tbs adobo sauce (from the canned chipotles)
3 oz semi-sweet chocolate (3 squares of Baker’s chocolate)
2 tsp dried oregano
¼-½ cup red wine (optional)
3 tsp brown sugar
2 tbs lemon juice
salt and pepper to taste

In a medium skillet over medium-high heat, brown meat in oil. Add onion, garlic, celery and carrot. Add cumin and paprika. Transfer to a large saucepan and add tomatoes and water (breaking them up with a wooden spoon), tomato paste, kidney beans, bell peppers and chipotle with adobo sauce.

Break up chocolate using a chocolate fork or serrated knife. Add to saucepan and stir in to melt. Add oregano and stir in red wine, brown sugar and lemon juice and simmer uncovered over medium-low heat for about 1 hour, stirring periodically, until thickened and rich and deep in colour. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve over rice or with a wedge of fresh corn bread.

cinnamon pecan rolls

¼ cup sugar
¾ cup water
¾ cup milk
1 tbs active dry yeast
¼ cup butter, melted
large egg, lightly beaten
4 ½ cups all-purpose flour
½ tsp salt

In a medium bowl, combine first four ingredients. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside in warm place for 10 minutes. Stir to dissolve yeast, then add butter and egg and stir.

Into a large bowl, sift flour and salt. Add yeast mixture and mix until a soft dough forms (add more flour if needed). Turn dough out onto a floured surface; knead 5 to 10 minutes until elastic and smooth. Place in a lightly buttered large bowl, turning dough over once to butter surface. Cover with a clean tea towel and set aside in a warm place to rise for about 1 ½ hours, until doubled in size. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and roll into a 12 by 17-inch rectangle.

Cinnamon Filling:
¼ cup butter, at room temperature
2/3 cup brown sugar, packed
1 ½ tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp nutmeg
½ cup chopped pecans

Spread butter over entire surface of rolled out dough. Combine brown sugar and spices in a small bowl and sprinkle evenly over buttered dough. Sprinkle with chopped pecans. Roll up from the longer side of the rectangle. Using a sharp knife or a length of floss, cut roll into slices 1 ½-inches thick. Arrange in a lightly buttered 9 by 13-inch baking dish, with the rolls just touching. Cover with tea towel and let rise in a warm place for 45 minutes, until doubled in size.

3 tbs butter, softened
3 plus 1 tbs brown sugar, packed
¼ cup chopped pecans

Cream together butter and 3 tbs brown sugar. Brush over tops of risen rolls. Sprinkle with remaining brown sugar and pecans. Bake at 375 degrees for 20-25 minutes, until golden.

Note: the dough for this recipe turns out very well in a bread maker. Place sugar, water, milk, butter, egg and salt in bowl of machine, followed by flour and yeast. Set machine on dough setting, then follow the rest of the recipe as written for the filling and baking.

mixed grain oka pilaf

(serves 10)

¾ cup short grain brown rice - 25 min
¼ cup wild rice - 45 min (until tender and split)
¼ cup wheat (Kamut or other) - 25 min
¼ cup oat groats - 25 min
¼ cup buckwheat groats - 18 min
¼ cup millet, hulled - 8 min
¼ cup amaranth - 7 min
¼ cup quinoa - 5 min
pumpkin, sunflower and flax seed to garnish
2 tbs butter
½ medium onion, chopped
3-4 oz (100 g) Oka cheese, grated
2 cups chicken stock
small sprig sage, finely chopped
salt and pepper to taste

Place grains in small, separate saucepans of cold water. Bring to boil, then reduce heat to medium and simmer until done (refer to suggested cooking times, but check to be sure). Grains should no longer be starchy or crunchy but should not be overcooked. Rinse and set aside.

In a large skillet, melt butter. Add onion and sauté until tender. Add in grains and sage and stir to combine and heat. Add chicken stock. Using a rubber spatula or wooden spoon, stir frequently until stock is absorbed and pilaf is moist. Stir in grated Oka. Salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with pumpkin, sunflower and flax seeds and a sprig of fresh sage.

Notes: you may choose to use fewer or other grains, but use at least four different kinds and don’t omit the brown or wild rice (the wheat and quinoa are also particularly nice). Be sure to increase the volume accordingly to compensate for any omitted grains.

Where to find it: Bulk Foods stores carry all the grains and seeds for the pilaf, while delis are an excellent source for specialty cheeses. If you don’t have home-made chicken stock, use Campbell’s in the tetra pak, to be had in the soup isle of grocery stores.

fresh fries with mayo dip

4 large, floury potatoes
canola oil, for deep frying
Kosher or coarse sea salt

Scrub potatoes, rinse and then pat dry with a kitchen, or paper, towel. Cut each into ½-inch by 2 to 3-inch strips.

Fill deep fryer with oil to about half-full. Heat oil to 300 F. Fry potatoes in small batches for 5-8 minutes (they will still be pale). Lift out of oil and drain on baking sheet lined with paper towels. Increase the temperature of the oil to 400 F. Fry potatoes a second time for 2-3 minutes, or until they’re crispy and golden. Drain on paper towels. Pile fries onto a heated serving platter and sprinkle generously with salt. Serve immediately.

Floury potatoes are high in starch, contain little water and are the best choice for this application (think good old bakers). White or orange-fleshed sweet potatoes also make fabulous fries and can be made using exactly the same method.
Fries can be partially prepared a few hours ahead of time. Just save the final frying until you’re ready to serve.

Flavoured Mayos
Combine ¼ cup mayonnaise (store-bought or home-made) with the one of the following flavours:
2 tsp prepared pesto
2 tsp sambal oelek (chilli paste)
1 tbs salsa,1 tbs sour cream, 1 tsp hot sauce (optional) and 1 tsp chopped fresh cilantro
1 tsp Patak’s Indian curry paste (mild or hot)

warm pear and chevre salad

serves 4

2 medium ripe pears
vegetable spray
pinch each of Kosher salt, sugar and coarse pepper
4 oz Chevre (goat cheese)
1 ½ tbs finely chopped fresh parsley
1 ½ tbs finely chopped hazelnuts
mixed organic greens
¼ cup Port
2 tbs sugar
vinaigrette, such as Okanagan’s Finest Chilli Lime Oil

In a small saucepan, carefully heat Port and sugar to a slow simmer, reducing it to a syrupy consistency, about ½ its original volume. Set aside.

Slice pears on either side of their stems, so that you have 4 to 6 slender slices from each pear. Sprinkle pears with Kosher salt, sugar and coarse pepper, then spray lightly with vegetable spray. In a medium skillet over medium-high heat, sear pears until they just begin to colour; about 30 seconds on each side. Remove from heat.

Mix together chopped fresh parsley and hazelnuts. Roll Chevre into mixture to coat. With a length of strong cotton thread (or floss), slice Chevre by sliding the thread under the cheese and pulling the ends together.

For each serving, portion a handful of greens, followed by sliced sautéed pears and Chevre. Drizzle with Port reduction and vinaigrette.

pistachio-studded avacado ice cream

4 ripe avocados, peeled, pitted, chopped
(about 2 cups)
1 cup whipping cream
¾ cup sugar
¼ cup fresh-squeezed lime juice
¼ cup crushed, unsalted pistachios

In a blender, puree first 4 ingredients until smooth. Transfer into the bowl of an ice cream maker, add crushed pistachios and follow manufacturer’s directions for freezing. Serve within a few days of making for best freshness.

For a smashing flavour combination, try pairing scoops of avocado with chocolate ice cream.

Avocado Appeal: Peeling avocadoes need not be a messy mash. First, slice the avocado in half through the stem end. With a sharp chef’s knife (and it must be sharp), whack the blade into the pit and give it a quarter twist. Then, slide a soup spoon under the skin of each half to easily remove the flesh.

mixed tomato tart

For the crust:
¾ cup flour
½ cup butter (cold)
½ cup cream cheese (cold)
1 tsp paprika
¼ cup grated parmesan
salt and pepper to taste

For the filling:
1 pound (or about a pint) mixed cherry tomatoes
2 tbs flour
2 tbs butter
½ medium onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
¼ cup chopped fresh basil
salt and pepper to taste

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour and paprika. Using a pastry blender, cut butter, cream cheese and parmesan into the flour mixture until it resembles coarse crumbs. Gather dough into a ball, wrap in plastic wrap and place in the fridge to chill for about 10-20 minutes while making the filling.

Sautee onions and garlic in butter until softened. In a large bowl, toss whole cherry tomatoes in flour. Add onions and garlic, along with basil, salt and pepper and toss.

Roll out the chilled pastry dough into a 12-inch circle. Place on a baking sheet with deep edges (to contain the juices). Into the centre of the pastry, scrape the tomato mixture so that it covers only about half of the entire area. Fold the border of the dough towards the filling, forming a pleated cover that leaves the centre of the tomatoes showing. Bake in a 375 degree oven for about 40 minutes, or until pastry is golden and filling is hot and bubbling. Remove from oven and let set for a few minutes before slicing.

pasta salad

1 pound tri-colour Fusilli
19 oz can chick peas, drained and rinsed
19 oz can red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 crown broccoli, broken into small florets
2 medium carrots, diced
½ each red, yellow and green bell peppers
½ small red onion
2 cans chunk light or white tuna, drained
½ cup garlic-infused olive oil
Louisiana Hot Sauce, to taste
salt and pepper to taste
pita pockets (optional)

Cook pasta to al dente in boiling salted water. Drain and rinse with cold water. Transfer to a large bowl and toss together with legumes, vegetables and tuna. Toss with olive oil and hot sauce, then salt and pepper to taste. Serve as is or stuffed into pita pockets.

ashoura breakfast cereal

Soak 1 ½ cups of Kamut wheat in water for 4 to 6 hours or overnight. Drain. Transfer soaked wheat to a medium saucepan and cover with 5 cups of hot water and ½ tsp salt. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce to medium. Simmer about 15 minutes, or until wheat is softened, but still firm and chewy in texture. Drain and rinse thoroughly with cold water. Serve with plain yogurt and a selection of assorted fruits and nuts. Add a sprinkling of brown sugar for sweetness.

Serving Suggestions for Ashoura: mango, banana, kiwi, berries, peach, cantaloupe, apple, orange, figs, dates, toasted chopped pecans, toasted coconut, sunflower and pumpkin seeds, trail mix or any combination of tropical or in-season favourites.

Where to Find it: Look for Kamut, along with other varieties of whole wheat, in bulk food stores.

tortilla torte

2 bell peppers, red and yellow
1 medium zucchini
3 medium carrots
½ medium red onion
1 tbs. canola oil
¼ cup Okanagan’s Finest Chilli Lime Oil
salt and pepper to taste
1 package of flour tortillas (sundried tomato or other flavour)
3 cups grated cheese; Monterey Jack, Cheddar and Mozzarella

Slice vegetables into broad, thin pieces. Toss with canola oil, place into a shallow baking dish and roast in a 450 degree oven for about 10 minutes. Remove from heat; toss with Chilli Lime Oil, salt and pepper and let marinate until mostly cooled.

Line bottom and sides of a 9-inch springform pan with parchment paper. Place first tortilla in bottom of pan, easing to fit partially up sides. Layer with a small amount of the mixed cheese, then a layer of vegetables and another layer of cheese. Repeat with another tortilla, pressing down lightly to slightly compress the layers. Continue layering to the top of the pan, finishing with a layer of cheese (you may have leftover tortillas).

Place torte on a baking sheet and bake at 350 degrees for about 50 minutes. Insert a cake tester into centre of torte to ensure it is thoroughly hot. Remove from oven and allow to set for at least 20 minutes before releasing sides of pan.

Slice torte with a long, sharp serrated knife. Serve with a bed of mixed greens, dressed with Chilli Lime Oil.

maple oatmeal scones

2 cups flour
½ cup oatmeal
1 tbs. baking powder
½ cup cold butter
1 tbs. brown sugar
¼ cup buttermilk
1/3 cup maple syrup
1 large egg
cream for brushing tops of scones

In a large bowl, whisk together dry ingredients. With a pastry blender, cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. In a separate bowl, whisk together sugar, buttermilk, maple syrup and egg.

Make a well in the centre of the crumbs and pour in wet mixture. Mix with a fork, just enough to combine, then gather dough into a ball and turn out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead gently 8 to 10 times; pat into a circle, about 1 inch thick. Cut out scones using a 3-inch round cutter; place on baking sheet. Brush tops with cream and sprinkle with oats. Bake at 400 degrees for about 15 minutes. Remove scones to a wire rack to cool. Makes 8 medium scones.

To serve, split scones open and smear with spoonfuls of Devonshire Cream and a drizzle of maple syrup.

fiddhead soup

½ lb. fresh fiddleheads, rinsed and trimmed
2 tbs. butter
1 small onion, minced
2 ½ cups chicken stock
1 cup milk
1 cup light cream
Salt and pepper to taste

In a large pot of boiling, salted water, cook fiddleheads until they are almost tender, 5 to 8 minutes. Drain and rinse with cold water. Set aside a few whole fiddleheads for garnish. Coarsely chop remaining fiddleheads and set aside.

Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and sauté, stirring occasionally, until they become translucent. Add chopped fiddleheads and chicken stock. Increase heat to medium-high and stir. Bring to a gentle boil, cover and cook about 5 minutes, until fiddleheads are tender. Add milk and light cream and reduce heat to medium; heat until just before boiling. Remove from heat and blend using a hand-held blender, until soup has an even consistency. Season with salt and pepper.

For the foam garnish, in a steep-sided 2 cup glass measuring cup, heat ½ - ¾ cup of low-fat milk in microwave. Following manufacturer’s directions, froth milk using a latte whisk, until at least doubled in volume.

Serve hot soup in ceramic latte bowls, and garnish with foam and whole fiddleheads. Serve immediately.

chocolate cherry croissant pudding

Serves 8

4 Medium croissants
1 cup Milk (do not use non-fat)
1 cup Whipping cream
5 oz Semi-sweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
3 Large eggs
½ cup Granulated sugar
1 ½ tsp Vanilla
½ cup Dried cherries

Soak dried cherries in water, or liqueur such as Port or Kirsch, until plump. Drain and set aside. Preheat oven to 325 F. Slice croissants into 2 inch cubes. In a heavy medium saucepan over medium heat, whisk together milk, cream and sugar. Stir until sugar is dissolved and mixture comes to a boil. Remove from heat. Add chocolate; stir until melted and smooth. Beat eggs and vanilla together in large bowl. Gradually whisk in chocolate mixture. Gently add cherries and croissant cubes, letting them absorb some of the custard, about 10 minutes. Transfer soaked croissants and remaining liquid into a non-stick or greased 8x8 inch square baking dish, being careful not to crush the croissants.

Place into a larger baking dish and set on oven rack. Fill outer dish with boiling water, to about half way up the sides of that containing the pudding. Bake about 1 hour, or until pudding is set. Remove from water bath and allow to rest on a baking rack before serving. Serve warm or cold.

Shallow Suggestion: The water bath method of baking creates slow, even heat that results in a custard-like pudding. For the best results, using a shallow baking dish that’s about 2 inches deep will ensure the pudding sets in the centre.

(copyright Darcie Hossack 2003)