Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Healthy Split Pea Soup

1 lb dried split peas, rinsed and drained
6 cups homemade, salt-free chicken stock
1 large onion, chopped
2 large carrots, peeled and chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2-3 tbs grape seed oil
1 medium, lean smoked turkey leg
1/2 tsp chopped fresh rosemary
1 whole bay leaf
fresh ground pepper
salt-substitute, such as Mrs. Dash, to taste
In a large pot, heat grape seed oil over medium heat. Add onion, carrots and celery. Sauté until onion is translucent. Add garlic and cook for another minute. Add split peas, chicken stock, smoked turkey leg, rosemary and bay leaf. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and allow to simmer until peas are soft, about an hour.
Remove turkey leg and bay leaf. Using a hand-held blender, blend soup, leaving it somewhat chunky. Remove meat from turkey leg, chop and stir back into soup. Place back on heat and season to taste.

New Year's "Cookies" (Portzelky)

2 1/4 (or 1 pkg) active dry yeast
2 tsp sugar
1/2 cup warm water
2 large eggs
1 cup milk
1 tbs melted butter, cooled slightly
2 cups raisins, rinsed and tossed with 2 tbs flour
2 tbs sugar
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp baking powder
approx. 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
canola oil for frying
Proof yeast by combining first three ingredients. Set aside until frothy. Whisk yeast together with the eggs, milk and melted butter. Mix in floured raisins.
In a large bowl, whisk together sugar, salt, baking powder and flour. Add to yeast mixture and combine with a fork to form a very heavy batter. Cover with a clean tea towel and set aside in a warm place for about 1 1/2 hours, or until mixture is doubled in bulk.
Heat oil in a heavy pot to 370F (use a candy thermometer). Drop batter by tablespoonfuls and fry until golden brown. (Tip: To prevent batter from sticking to spoon, dip spoon in hot oil before scooping batter). Remove from oil and drain on a paper towel-lined baking sheet. Dust with powdered sugar, toss in granulated sugar or glaze with doughnut glaze. Makes about 40.

Eggnog Bread Pudding

4 large eggs
2 1/2 cups store-bought eggnog
1/4 cup brown sugar
2-4 tbs dark rum
1 lb day old cinnamon-raisin bread, about 12 slices
softened butter for bread and baking dish
Butter an 8-inch square baking dish. In a medium bowl, whisk together eggs, eggnog, brown sugar, and rum.
Moderately butter one side of each slice of cinnamon-raisin bread and cut into 1/2 cubes. Place bread in prepared dish and pour eggnog mixture over top. Let stand for five minutes. Gently push bread down into custard. Refrigerate for 2 hours, occasionally pushing bread down into custard.
Preheat oven to 375F. Place bread pudding dish into a larger baking dish. Add enough boiling water to bottom pan to come 1 inch up the side of the dish with the bread pudding. Bake until pudding is puffed up and golden brown, about 50 minutes. Remove dish from water bath and let cool slightly. Cut into squares. Serve pudding with warm eggnog.

Sweet Potato Kugel

2 tbs canola oil (olive, if you're being authentic), plus more for dish
1 large onion, chopped
1 large sweet potato, coarsely chopped
2 large carrots, peeled and coarsely grated
2 large baking potatoes, peeled and coarsely grated
3 large eggs
1 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper
1/3 cup fresh chopped parsley
1 tsp paprika
1/4 cup matzoh meal
Lightly oil a 7 cup baking dish. Heat oil in a heavy skillet over medium-low heat and add onions. Sauté until soft, about 10 minutes.
Using a strainer, squeeze excess water from potatoes, then place in a large bowl along with grated sweet potato, carrots and onions. Mix in eggs, salt, pepper, parsley, paprika and matzoh meal.
Heat baking dish in a preheated 350F oven for five minutes. Transfer kugel mixture into the dish and spread evenly. Bake for about 1 hour until set and lightly browned. Let rest for five minutes before serving.

Where to find it: Matzoh meal, the crumbs of the cracker-like unleavened bread for which it’s named, can be found in the ethnic section of your favourite supermarket. Use it in this recipe, and as a substitute for bread crumbs in other recipes.

Whipped Shortbread (makes 4 dozen)

1 pound butter, room temperature
1 cup icing sugar
1/2 cup cornstarch
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter until smooth. Sift together icing sugar, cornstarch and flour. Gradually add to creamed butter, in fourths or fifths, beating slowly until just combined. Add vanilla, then increase speed to high and whip for about 10-15 minutes, occasionally stopping to scrape down sides with a rubber spatula. Batter is finished when it is very fluffy and white.
Add batter to a large pastry bag fitted with a star tip. Pipe onto Silpat-lined baking sheets and bake at 350F for about 15 minutes. Do not allow to colour. Let cool completely on sheets.
To store in batches for Christmas, transfer cookies to airtight containers, lining each layer with paper towel or parchment paper. Freeze for up to a month.

Brown Sugar Waffle Rollups

(note: the more butter, the crunchier the waffles)
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tbs baking powder
2 tbs brown sugar
3 large eggs, well beaten
4-8 tbs butter, melted
1 1/2 cups milk
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and brown sugar until well combined.
In a small bowl, whisk together eggs, butter, milk and vanilla. Make a well in the centre of the dry mixture and pour in the wet ingredients. With a fork, gently bring ingredients together, just until combined. Mixture will be slightly stippled, like muffin batter.
Ladle 1/2 cup of batter at a time onto a heated Panini press. Spread out the batter with the back of the ladle and close the lid. Bake until the waffle rollup is golden. Continue with remaining batter, keeping rollups warm in a 200F oven.
To serve, fill each rollup with vanilla ice cream and cover with berries or your favourite syrup.

Crock Pot Beef Curry

2 1/2 to 3 lbs lean beef, cubed
2 tbs canola oil
2 large cooking onions, sliced
5 medium red skinned potatoes, scrubbed and cubed
3 tbs Patak’s (or other) brand mild curry paste
1 tbs Patak’s (or other) brand vindaloo paste
water to cover
1/2 cup white vinegar
kosher salt/fresh ground pepper
Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add beef and sear on all sides. Transfer beef, along with onions, potatoes and curry pastes to bowl of a large crock pot. Add water, just to cover ingredients. Turn heat to high and simmer for at least 4 hours, until beef is very tender. Add vinegar and season with salt and pepper. Continue simmering for another half hour. Adjust seasoning to taste.
Serve curry with cooked basmati rice and/or warm Indian flat bread such as naan or chapatties.

Chunky Organic Peanut Butter Cookies

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
3/4 cup butter, softened
2/3 cup chunky organic peanut butter
1 cup brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 cup roasted, salted peanuts, coarsely chopped
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda and cinnamon.
In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream together butter and peanut butter until combined and pale in colour; about 2 minutes. Add brown and granulated sugar and mix until combined. Mix in eggs and vanilla, then gradually add in flour mixture, mixing until just combined. Fold in chopped peanuts. Chill for 15 minutes.
Drop batter from a 1 ounce scoop onto Silpat-lined baking sheets. Flatted each cookie slightly with a fork. Bake at 350F for about 10-13 minutes, until lightly golden. Let sit for 5 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack to cool completely. Store in airtight containers for up to three days.
Note: dough freezes well and can be stored, frozen. Shape into rolls and wrap tightly in plastic wrap. Place wrapped dough in freezer bags. Thaw rolls slightly and slice into cookie-sized rounds. Place on baking sheets and bake.

Versunkener Apfelkuchen (German "Sunken Apple" Cake)

3 medium cooking Golden Delicious, or other cooking, apples
juice from one lemon
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
2/3 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3 large eggs
1/4 cup light cream
2 tsp vanilla extract
zest from one lemon

Peel, core and thinly slice apples. Place in a medium bowl and sprinkle immediately with lemon juice to prevent discolouration. Toss carefully with brown sugar. Set aside.
Butter and flour an 8"x11.5"x2.5" glass baking pan. Whisk together flour and baking powder. Set aside.
In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream together butter and granulated sugar. Add eggs, one at a time. Add cream, vanilla and lemon zest. Add flour mixture in quarters, beating until just smooth. Batter should be the consistency of pound cake batter.
Spread batter evenly into prepared pan. Press apple slices into batter in rows. Drizzle with liquid in the bottom of the bowl. Bake for about 40 minutes at 350F, until a tester comes out clean. Cool completely before serving.

Bequia Pumpkin Soup

(recipe by Susan Toy of Bequia)
1/4 lb chorizo sausage, casing removed, crumbled
1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 stalk celery, coarsely chopped
1 quart chicken stock
2 1/2 (6 cups) lbs peeled, seeded Hubbard or banana squash,
chopped into 1/2 inch dice
1 yellow potato, peeled and diced
2 large carrots, peeled and coarsely chopped
1-2 tbs habanero hot sauce
1/3 cup cream
kosher salt/fresh ground pepper/white pepper
In a heavy, large pot, sauté chorizo for 1-2 minutes. Add onion, garlic and celery and cook until onions are translucent. Add stock, squash, potato and carrots. Bring to a simmer and cover. When squash and potatoes are tender, remove from heat. Cool slightly, then puree using an immersion blender. Return to heat and return to serving temperature. Add hot sauce and cream. Season to taste.

Lightly Spiced Lamb Skewers

1 1/2 lbs trimmed leg of lamb
2 stalks fresh rosemary, stripped, coarsely chopped
3 cloves garlic, peeled, coarsely chopped
2 tsp chilli powder
1/8 tsp fresh ground pepper
Cut lamb into 1 inch cubes. In a medium bowl, combine herbs and spices. Toss lamb to coat on all sides. Cover and refrigerated for a few hours or overnight. Thread lamb onto 6 bamboo skewers.
Cook on an outdoor grill, or sear meat in a hot skillet, turning to cook on all sides until medium rare, or to desired doneness. Serve with roasted butternut squash, garlic smashed potatoes and other favourite vegetables or side dishes.
Note: Try the same rub on different meats, including beef and chicken, and even salmon.

Sandra Giesbrecht’s “Hotty Prize Winning Chilli” (serves 6-8)

2 lbs stewing beef, diced
1 large, yellow onion, chopped
6 cloves garlic, finely minced
2 tbs vegetable oil
1/3 cup mild chilli powder
1 1/2 tsp dried oregano leaves
1 1/2 tsp dried basil leaves
1 1/2 tsp cumin powder
2-3 tsp red pepper flakes (optional)
1 bay leaf
2 (14.5 oz) cans diced tomatoes (un-drained)
15 oz can tomato sauce
7 oz can diced green chillies
2 tbs packed brown sugar
2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 tbs Tabasco
1 tbs white vinegar
1 bottle/can beer
In a small bowl, combine first 5 dried spices. In a large pot over med-high heat, brown beef; drain off fat. Add onion and garlic; cook until softened. Push beef/onion mixture to one side. Heat oil on empty side, then add spice mixture and cook for 30 seconds, stirring constantly. Combine with beef. Add tomatoes, tomato sauce, green chillies, brown sugar, salt, pepper, vinegar, Tabasco, beer and bay leaf. Bring to a boil, cover and reduce heat. Simmer 3-4 hours, removing lid for last 30 minutes. Discard bay leaf. Serve with warm cornbread.

Sour Cream Raisin Pie with Brown Sugar Meringue

1 prepared, blind-baked, deep dish pie shell
1 cup golden raisins
2 large eggs, separated
1 cup sour cream (not light)
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 tbs flour
1 tbs rum
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
pinch salt
In a large bowl, whisk together yolks and sour cream. Whisk in 1/2 cup of the brown sugar, flour, rum and spices. Fold in raisins. Pour mixture into prepared pie shell and place in a 400F oven. Bake for 10 minutes, then reduce temperature to 350F and bake another 30 minutes, until filling is set. Cool to room temperature.
In a large bowl, beat egg whiles until they hold soft peaks. Gradually add remaining brown sugar, beating until meringue holds stiff peaks. Spread over surface of pie, sealing it to the edges of the crust. Bake until meringue is golden, about ten minutes.

Thanksgiving Casserole

2 medium onions, chopped
3 tbs butter
1/3 lb mushrooms, sliced
2 1/2 cups diced, cooked turkey
2 Farmer's sausages (about 2/3 lb), diced
2 cups bread stuffing
2 tbs chopped parsley
pinch thyme
kosher salt/fresh ground pepper to taste
2 tbs curry paste
1 cup rice
2 cups hot turkey or chicken stock
In a large skillet, melt 2 tbs of the butter over medium heat. Add onions and sauté until tender. Add mushrooms and sauté about another 2 minutes. Transfer to a large baking dish and combine with turkey, sausage, stuffing and seasonings.
In the same skillet, melt the remaining tbs butter. Lightly sauté the rice. Combine with other ingredients in casserole. Pour in hot stock. Cover tightly and bake at 375F until liquid is absorbed and rice is tender. Add more hot stock if necessary.

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins

1 pkg (8oz) cream cheese, at room temperature
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat cream cheese sugar and egg together until smooth. Refrigerate.
3 1/3 cups all purpose flour
2 cups packed brown sugar
2 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground ginger
3/4 cup vegetable oil
4 large eggs
2/3 cup water
2 1/2 cups fresh (or canned) pumpkin puree
1 cup chopped pecans (optional)
or 2/3 cup butterscotch chips (optional)
In a large bowl, whisk dry ingredients together. In a separate bowl, beat together oil, eggs, water and pumpkin. Add to dry mixture and, using a wooden spoon, mix together with a few strokes, just to combine. Fold in pecans or butterscotch chips.
Line or prepare 24 regular-sized muffin tins and evenly divide batter. Make a small well in the centre of each muffin and drop in about a tablespoon of the cream cheese mixture. Bake at 350F for 20 minutes, or until a tester inserted in the centre of the muffins comes out clean. Cool in muffin tins for 10 minutes, then remove and place on a pastry rack to cool completely.

Simply Tomato Soup with Roasted Tomato Garnish

(generously serves 4)
2 lbs ripe field-ripened Roma (or other meaty) tomatoes, seeded
1 medium white onion
2 tbs butter
1 cup chopped fresh basil
approximately 1-2 tbs sugar
kosher salt/fresh ground pepper
Roughly chop onions. Melt butter in a large pot over medium heat. Add onions and cook until softened. Core and coarsely chop tomatoes. Add to onions. Heat until the juices from the tomatoes begin to simmer. Reduce heat to low. After about 15 minutes, add basil. Using an immersion blender, blend until smooth. Add sugar, adjusting amount depending on tomatoes’ sweetness. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
For roasted tomato garnish: Halve several (about 3 per serving) red and yellow grape tomatoes. Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil, sprinkle with kosher salt and fresh ground pepper. Roast tomatoes in oven, at 350F, until soft. Place a few of the roasted grape tomatoes on top of bowls of soup. Drizzle soup with olive oil.
Serving suggestions: Serve tomato soup with slices of crusty bread topped with Port Salut, or other favourite, cheese. Sprinkle with kosher salt and fresh ground pepper, then toast in the oven until cheese is hot and bubbly.

Raspberry-Peach Breakfast Smoothies

(makes 2 meal-sized smoothies)
2 fresh peaches (or equivalent frozen), pitted, peeled, sliced
2 cups fresh or frozen raspberries
2 cups 2% Balkan-style plain yogurt
1 cup 1% or skim milk
4 tbs ground flax seeds
2 tbs honey (or sweeten to taste)
2 tsp matcha powder
Combine all ingredients in a blender. Blend until smooth.
Where to find it: Matcha--a very fine Japanese tea powder--is available in specialty tea shops, including Blenz locations.

Healthy additions:
The berries and matcha tea in this smoothie pack antioxidants, and the flax seeds are a source of omega-3s. For extra benefits, consider a few more healthy add ins. (As always, consult your doctor or nutritionist regarding daily amounts and any concerns).
add unsweetened protein powder, but not until the end of blending, to avoid over-frothing the mixture.
blend in a daily amount of multivitamin powder to fill in any missing dietary gaps throughout the day.
for non-dairy, substitute silken tofu for the yogurt and orange juice in place of the milk.
lecithin can increase the body's ability to fight memory loss.
add vitamin E for healthy skin.
according to the experts at Jugo Juice, just one ounce of wheat grass has all the nutritional benefits of more than a kilogram of leafy greens.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Back to School Wraps

Tuna Salad Filling for Wraps
2 cans flaked light tuna, drained
2 tbs finely chopped red onion
1/2 roasted red pepper, chopped
1 tbs capers
1/2 cup stuffed green Manzanilla olives, sliced
3 banana pepper rings, chopped
3 tbs chopped sun dried tomatoes (reconstituted or in oil, drained)
1/4 cup shredded parmesan
4 tbs extra virgin olive oil
kosher salt/fresh ground pepper
butter lettuce
Toss together tuna with red onion, red pepper, capers, olives, hot peppers, sun dried tomatoes and parmesan. Drizzle with olive oil and toss to combine. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Line wraps with butter lettuce. Spread a generous amount of filling into the centre and roll up, folding the ends inside. Wrap wraps in parchment paper and pack in totes with freezer packs to keep cold until lunchtime.

Roasted Vegetable Filling for Wraps
1 large stalk broccoli
3 or 4 florets cauliflower
1/2 red pepper
1/4 red onion
3 medium carrots
3 portabella mushrooms
olive oil for drizzling
1 tbs balsamic vinegar
1 cup light mayo
kosher salt/fresh ground pepper
Boursin cheese for spreading
butter lettuce
Roughly chop vegetables. Drizzle with olive oil to coat. Place on a baking sheet and roast at 400F for about ten minutes, until vegetables are softened. Transfer to a mixing bowl. Drizzle with balsamic vinegar and additional olive oil. Season. Cool completely. Chop vegetables more finely. Fold in mayo.
Spread each wrap with 2 tsp Boursin cheese. Follow directions as above.

BBQ’d Chipotle and Lime Chicken

1 whole “9 cut butchered” chicken
(or equivalent breasts and thighs)
juice from 1/2 lime
2 shallots, coarsely chopped
1 tbs coarsely chopped fresh herbs, such as rosemary, tarragon and sage
2 oz tequila
2 chipotle peppers (canned in adobo sauce), coarsely chopped
2 tbs vegetable oil
fresh ground pepper
Toss chicken in marinade ingredients to coat. Place chicken, along with lime husk, in an airtight container, or deep-sided baking dish, covering tightly with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight to allow flavours to develop.
When ready to cook, preheat grill. Discard lime husk, chipotles and shallot pieces. Place chicken on cooking surface, sprinkle with kosher salt, and grill until done.

Herbed French Beans with Pea Shoots & Pancetta

1 lb French beans
1 oz (2 tbs) butter
2 tbs flour
1 cup vegetable stock
1 1/2 oz dry white wine
3 tbs cream
1 tbs chopped mixed herbs
1/2 cup pea shoots, leaves and fine stems only
1 oz pancetta, crumbled
1 tbs fresh squeezed lemon juice
zest of 1/2 lemon
kosher salt/fresh ground pepper
Cook beans in boiling, salted water until just tender. Drain. Meanwhile, place a medium pot over medium heat and melt butter. Whisk in flour and cook for 1 minute, whisking constantly. Remove from heat and gradually whisk in vegetable stock and white wine. Return to heat and simmer for 2 minutes, whisking, until mixture is a little thicker than the consistency of heavy cream. Remove from heat once again, then add cream, mixed herbs, pea shoots, pancetta, lemon juice and lemon zest. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Gently toss beans together with sauce, garnish with more pea shoots and pancetta. Serve immediately with a favourite fish entrée.

Hot & Sour Soup

1/2 oz dried mixed wild mushrooms
7 oz roasted chicken breast, shredded
2 tsp cornstarch
9 cups home made chicken stock
3 large slices ginger
1 package (350g) firm tofu, 1 cm dice
1 cup julienned carrots
1/2 cup rice wine vinegar
3 tbs soy sauce
1 tbs chilli sauce
1/4 cup cornstarch, mixed into a small amount of water
2 egg whites
pea shoots and scallions to garnish
Soak mushrooms in water for 15-20 minutes, until softened. Slice thinly. Toss shredded chicken with cornstarch. Set aside. Meanwhile, bring chicken stock to boil. Add mushrooms and ginger. Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove ginger.
Add chicken, tofu and carrots. Simmer for 2 minutes, then add rice wine vinegar, soy sauce and chilli sauce. Simmer for another 5 minutes. Stir cornstarch into soup to thicken. Turn off heat and add egg whites, stirring gently.
Place pea shoots and scallions in serving bowls and ladle hot soup over top.

Raspberry Cream Cheese Tarts

1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup icing sugar
1 cup all-purpose flour
8 oz cream cheese, softened
5 tbs sugar
1 tbs fresh-squeezed lemon juice
1 tsp lemon zest
12 oz fresh, ripe raspberries
Butter tart pans. Preheat oven to 350F. With an electric mixer, cream together butter and icing sugar. Add flour and mix until just combined. Press into, and up the sides of, two 6-inch fluted tart pans (or equivalent other pans). Prick all over with a fork. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes to prevent crust from shrinking in the oven. Bake 15-20 minutes, until lightly golden. Cool completely.
For the filling, cream together cream cheese and sugar. Beat in lemon juice and zest. Spread into cooled pastry using an offset spatula. Top with spirals of fresh raspberries. Dust tops with more icing sugar and garnish with mint sprigs. Serves 8.

Peach Ice Cream

4 large, locally sourced, ripe peaches, peeled and pitted
2 tbs fresh squeezed lime juice
6 farm fresh egg yolks
2/3 cup granulated sugar
2 cups table (18%) cream, from local dairy
1 cup milk, from local dairy
1 tbs pure vanilla extract
In a food processor, puree three of the peaches together with the lime juice. When smooth, push through a sieve to remove any remaining peach skin. Coarsely chop remaining peach. Set aside.
In a small bowl, whisk egg yolks together with sugar until pale yellow and thickened.
In a medium pot over medium-low heat, bring cream and milk to a simmer. Remove from heat and gradually whisk in egg yolk mixture. Return to low heat and cook, whisking constantly, until mixture is thickened enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon. Strain and set aside to cool to room temperature.
Stir peach puree, chopped peaches and vanilla into ice cream mixture. Cover and chill until cold. Transfer mixture to an ice cream maker and freeze according to the manufacturer's directions.

Casarecce Pasta Salad with Turkey and Dijon

1 lb dry pasta such as casarecce or fusilli
2 small zucchini
1/2 medium red onion
1/2 medium red pepper
oil for coating veg
1 cup halved grape tomatoes
5 oz cooked, seasoned turkey breast
4 slices smoked, cooked bacon
1 cup light mayonnaise
1/2 cup whole grainy Dijon mustard
1/4 cup honey
2 tbs white vinegar
kosher salt/fresh ground pepper
Cook pasta to al dente. Drain and rinse under cold water. Set aside. Meanwhile, coat zucchini, onion and pepper with vegetable oil and season with salt and pepper. Place on a preheated outdoor grill and cook until soft. Chop into small pieces.
In a small bowl, combine light mayonnaise, Dijon, honey and vinegar. Season to taste with salt and pepper. In a large bowl, toss pasta with dressing. Toss in roasted vegetables, turkey and bacon, followed by grape tomatoes. Adjust seasoning. Refrigerate for an hour before serving to allow flavours to develop. Serve with slices of crusty bread and wedges of smoked gouda.

Crispy Falafel

(makes one dozen falafel balls)
2 1/2 cups canned, rinsed & drained chickpeas
1/2 small onion, chopped
1/4 cup peeled & grated zucchini
1 clove garlic, chopped
2 tbs fresh squeezed lemon juice
1 tbs water
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup finely chopped fresh herbs
(equal amounts parsley, mint & basil)
kosher salt/fresh ground pepper to taste
In the bowl of a food processor, combine half the chickpeas, onion, zucchini, garlic, lemon juice, water, spices and baking soda. Puree. Transfer to a large bowl. Pulse remaining chickpeas just until still chunky. Stir into first mixture, also adding herbs, salt and pepper.
With your hands, form into 12 two-inch patties. Place on a parchment paper lined baking sheet, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
To cook, add a small amount of vegetable oil to a well-seasoned skillet over medium heat. Add falafels, a few at a time, and cook until golden, 3 or more minutes on each side.
Serve in split pitas stuffed with butter lettuce, tomatoes, red onions, feta and hummus, tzatziki and/or baba ganouj.
Note: Falafels also make excellent filling for lettuce wraps.

Apricot Jam

(makes about 4 cups)
3 pounds apricots
3 1/4 cups granulated sugar
1/3 cup water
zest and juice from one lemon
Halve apricots and remove pits, discarding all but 5. Place pits inside a folded kitchen towel and break open with a flat meat tenderizer or hammer. Save inner seeds and discard shells.
Coarsely chop apricots. In a large, heavy bottomed pot, combine apricots, seeds, sugar, lemon zest and water. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Continue cooking for about 15 minutes, stirring frequently, until thickened. Skim off foam as it rises to the surface. Stir in lemon juice. Discard seeds. If preserving for storage, ladle jam into sterilized jars. Close with snap lids and rings and process filled jars according to jar manufacturer's directions. When finished, let stand until cooled. Jars are sealed when sealer lids snap down.
Jam can also be left unprocessed and stored in the refrigerator for up to a month. Simply ladle hot jam into jars and let cool completely before closing with lids.

Note: Apricot seeds add a subtle almond flavour to the jam, but are toxic when uncooked. Be sure to cook jam thoroughly. Alternatively, add five whole almonds to the cooking process.

Everyday White Loaves

3 tsp active dry yeast
12 fl. oz warm water
4 fl. oz whole milk or half & half at room temperature
1 tbs unsalted butter, melted
2 tsp sugar
2 tsp sea salt
3 3/4 to 4 cups unbleached bread flour
Proof yeast in water until frothy, about 10 minutes. In a large bowl, whisk together sugar, salt and bread flour. Add yeast mixture, milk and melted butter. Bring together with a fork. Turn out onto a lightly-floured surface. Knead 10 minutes, incorporating a little extra flour only if necessary, to form a soft, elastic dough.
Place in a lightly-oiled bowl. Cover with a lint-free tea towel and set in a warm place to rise for 1 hour, or until nearly doubled. Turn out onto work surface, divide and form into two loaves and place into two lightly buttered 1 lb bread pans. Cover and allow to rise until nearly doubled. Place in a 425F oven. Mist inside of oven with water just before closing. Bakes loaves for 20-25 minutes, until crust is golden. Remove loaves from pans and let cool.

Plum Streusel Cupcakes

2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup butter
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 cup buttermilk
1 large egg
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 pound frozen plums
2 tbs brown sugar
In a small pot, stew plums with brown sugar until softened. Remove fruit with a slotted spoon and continue simmering liquid to a syrupy consistency. Add back to fruit.
In a large bowl, whisk together flour and sugar. Thoroughly cut in butter using a pastry blender, until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Set aside 2/3 cup of crumbs. Into the remaining crumbs, combine baking powder and soda. Make a well in the centre.
In a small bowl, whisk egg and vanilla into buttermilk. Add to dry mixture and bring together with a fork until just moistened (muffin consistency).
Prepare or line a 12 muffin tray. Fill each cup half way with batter. Divide fruit evenly between cups, then top with remaining batter. Mound with streusel. Bake in a 350F oven for 25 minutes, until a tester inserted in the centre of the cupcakes comes out clean. Place tray on a rack to cool at least 5 minutes before un-cupping to serve warm. If not serving warm, remove cupcakes from tin and cool completely.

Lunch Salad with Stuffed, Grilled Chicken Breast

(serves 4 for lunch, 2 for dinner)
1-boneless double chicken breast, skin on
1 slice bacon, cut in half
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 sprig rosemary, stripped, chopped
kosher salt/fresh ground pepper
Loosen skin. Mix together garlic, rosemary, salt and pepper. Stuff each side of chicken breast with bacon and herb mixture. Season outside with salt and pepper. Grill. Slice and serve with:
4 servings herb salad mix
1/2 medium, ripe avocado, sliced
1/2 medium mango, diced
1 on-the-vine tomato, wedged
1 yellow bell pepper, rubbed with olive oil, seasoned & grilled
24 sugar pea pods, rubbed with olive oil, seasoned & grilled
8 slender stalks broccolini, blanched in salted water
1 large radish, very thinly sliced
Serve drizzled with favourite vinaigrette (such as caramelized onion and chevre) and sprinkled with coarse salt and fresh ground pepper.

Tabbouleh with Feta (serves 10)

1 cups bulgur (cracked wheat)
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
zest and juice of 1 large lemon
1 cups finely chopped green onions (green parts only)
2 cups chopped fresh parsley leaves
1/2 cup chopped fresh mint leaves
3 medium tomatoes, seeded and finely diced
1 English cucumbers, seeded and finely diced
3/4 cup finely crumbled feta
kosher salt/fresh ground pepper
In a large bowl, cover bulgur with warm water. Set aside for at least one hour. Drain thoroughly. Whisk together olive oil and lemon juice. Toss together bulgur, onions and herbs, tomatoes, cucumbers, feta and lemon zest. Add dressing and toss. Adjust seasoning to taste. Cover and refrigerate for at least one hour to allow flavours to develop. Tabbouleh may be served on its own as a salad or side dish, or stuffed in pita pockets for fresh and easy picnic fare.

Gingered Carrot Cake

2 1/2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
1 tbs ground cinnamon
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup grape seed oil
1/4 cup buttermilk
4 large eggs
2 tsp vanilla
1 cup unsalted pistachios, finely chopped
1/2 cup chopped crystallized ginger
2 cups (packed) finely-grated carrots
1-14 oz can crushed pineapple, drained
1 cup flaked coconut
Butter the inside of a bundt pan and preheat oven to 350F.
Whisk together first 5 ingredients. In another bowl, using an electric mixer, beat together sugars, grape seed oil and buttermilk. Beat in eggs, one at a time, then vanilla. Beat in flour mixture, followed by nuts, ginger, carrots, pineapple and coconut.
Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake until tester inserted in centre comes out clean, about 55 minutes. Cool on a rack for 1 hour. Gently loosen cake from pan and turn out onto rack to cool completely.
8-oz package cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cups powdered sugar
1/4 cup canned sweetened cream of coconut
1/2 tsp vanilla
pistachios and chopped ginger to decorate
Beat together cream cheese and butter until smooth. Beat in powdered sugar, then cream of coconut and vanilla. Chill 30 minutes.
Place cake on platter. Spread a thin coating of frosting over entire cake. Chill cake and remaining frosting 30 minutes before spreading second coating. Decorate and chill for 1 hour before serving.

Kahr Saiko Kroeung (Cambodian Sweet Beef)

2 pounds top sirloin, cubed
1-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled, thinly sliced
2 (or more) large dried chillies
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/4 cup finely chopped red onion
1/2 cup water
5 tbs olive oil
3 tbs sugar
1 tbs soy sauce
kosher salt/fresh ground pepper
1 cup homemade chicken stock
1 cup coconut milk
2 tbs tamarind concentrate
brown basmati rice
Combine beef with ginger and marinate for an hour or more. Discard ginger.
Puree chillies, garlic and onion together with water. Heat oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add chilli puree and cook for 2 minutes. Stir in beef, sugar, soy sauce, salt (or, if you prefer, fish sauce) & pepper and chicken stock. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, for 40 minutes. Add coconut milk and tamarind concentrate and simmer a further 20 minutes, until sauce is thickened. Adjust seasoning to taste. Serve over brown basmati rice and garnish with cilantro.

Beef Vindaloo

4 lbs lean beef, cubed
6 or more small fresh red chillies (remove seeds to diminish heat)
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled, minced
3/4 cup vinegar
1 tsp whole cumin seeds
1 tsp whole coriander seeds
1/2 tsp whole cardamom seeds
1 tsp whole fenugreek seeds
1 tsp ground turmeric
1 tbs brown sugar
1 1/2 tbs ghee (clarified butter)
Place beef in a large glass bowl. In a food processor, process chillies, garlic, ginger, vinegar, spices and brown sugar into a paste. Pour over beef and toss to coat. Chill for several hours, or overnight, occasionally tossing mixture.
Heat ghee in an over-sized skillet over medium-high heat. Add beef, reserving marinating liquid. Cook until beef is browned, then add reserved marinade and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer, covered, for about 30 minutes, or until beef is tender and cooked. Serve over basmati rice.

(traditionally served for its cooling effect on the palate)
1 large English cucumber
kosher salt
1 tsp ground cumin
2 shallots, very finely chopped
1 1/2 cups plain, whole milk yogurt
1 tsp lemon juice
Peel cucumbers. Cut in half lengthwise and remove seeds with a spoon. Finely slice, then place in a strainer and sprinkle with salt and let stand for 15 minutes. Rinse under cold, running water and drain well. Combine with remaining ingredients. Serve chilled.

Orange & Fennel Biscotti

3 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 cup butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
4 large eggs
2 tbs Triple Sec
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 tbs fennel seeds, lightly toasted
fine zest from one large orange
2 tbs "coffee sugar" (large granule, unrefined sugar)
Sift together flour and baking powder into a bowl. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add three eggs, one at a time. Add Triple Sec and vanilla. Gradually mix in flour mixture until combined. Mix in fennel seeds and orange zest.
Turn out onto a lightly-floured surface. Divide in half. Roll halves into 12-inch logs. Flatten slightly and transfer to a Silpat-lined baking sheet. Beat remaining egg and brush over surface of dough. Sprinkle with coffee sugar. Bake 35 minutes at 325F. Transfer to a wire rack to cool for 20 minutes. Reduce oven to 300F.
Slice logs on the diagonal into about 16 pieces each. Transfer to baking sheets and bake for 8 minutes. Turn over and bake another 8 minutes. Cool completely.

apple butters

Rosemary Apple Butter
(makes 1 cup)
2 1/2 lbs organic Gala apples, cored, peeled, sliced
2 cups unsweetened apple juice
3 whole rosemary sprigs
2 whole cinnamon sticks
8 whole cloves
In a large pot over medium heat, cook apples together with apple juice, rosemary, cinnamon and cloves for 30 minutes, until thoroughly soft. Drain juice and discard spices. Purée apples, then pass through a fine sieve using the back of a ladle, until nothing remains but a somewhat dry pulp. (This step takes a bit of effort, but is worth the results). Discard pulp. Transfer apple butter to a smaller pot and place back over heat until thickened to the consistency of baby food.
An ideal accompaniment for meats such as duck, pork loin or roast chicken. Also makes an ideal preserve (follow standard guidelines for preserving). Double or triple recipe and use the smallest size jelly jars to save for special occasions or give as gifts.

Cinnamon Apple Butter
(makes 1 cup)
21/2 lbs apples, cored, peeled, sliced
2 cups unsweetened apple juice
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
2 tsp fresh lemon juice
Follow above method.
Spread on toasted brioche or homemade pancakes

Playoff Nachos

1 325g package Fresh Is Best nachos
6 oz Colby Jack cheese
6 oz jalapeno mozzarella
1/4 small red onion, small dice
1 large, ripe tomato, small dice
1/4 red pepper, small dice
1/4 orange pepper, small dice
1/4 yellow pepper, small dice
1 or more fresh jalapenos, thinly sliced
For the meat toppings:
1/2 lb extra-lean ground beef
2 chorizo sausages, cut out of casings and crumbled
1/4 white onion, small dice
1 small red pepper, small dice
(or an equal amount of red, yellow and orange)
1 tbs vegetable oil
2 tbs Cajun spice
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp cumin
kosher salt/fresh ground pepper
In a medium skillet, heat oil. Add onion and red pepper and sauté until softened. Add ground beef and sauté until cooked. Season with Cajun spice, garlic powder, cumin, salt and pepper. Cook chorizo in a separate, small skillet.
On a large platter, layer nachos with the various toppings, finishing with cheeses. Bake at 425F until cheese is melted and bubbly. Serve with salsa, guacamole and sour cream.

Not Your Bottled Ketchup

(shown served with 1 oz "Sliders")
2 pounds fresh, ripe tomatoes
1 small white onion
6 peppercorns
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tbs brown sugar
1 tbs white vinegar
1 tbs extra-virgin olive oil
kosher salt/fresh ground pepper
Coarsely chop tomatoes and onion. In a medium pot over low heat, cook tomatoes and onion together with peppercorns and thyme. Stew until thoroughly softened. Using the back of a soup ladle, push mixture through a sturdy sieve. Discard solid matter. Return liquid to pot and place over medium-low heat. Add brown sugar and vinegar. Simmer for 45 minutes or longer, until mixture thickens to desired consistency (will be somewhat thinner than bottled brands). Add olive oil. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Double Chocolate Pecan Cookies

1 cup butter, room temperature
1 cup brown sugar, packed
2 large eggs
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
2 cups rolled oats
1 cup shredded coconut
4 oz white chocolate chunks
4 oz dark chocolate chunks
6 oz pecans, coarsely chopped

In the bowl of a large electric mixer, cream together butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, followed by vanilla.
In a separate bowl, sift together flour, baking soda and baking powder. Add to butter mixture in thirds, until incorporated. Mix in oats, coconut, chocolate chunks and chopped pecans. These final additions may have to be done by hand, using a stiff wooden spoon, if your mixer isn't powerful enough to cope with the dense mixture.
Drop cookie dough by heaping tablespoons onto Silpat-lined cookie sheets and bake at 350F for about 12 minutes, until just beginning to turn golden. Let cookies cool on baking sheet for a couple of minutes before transferring to a cooling rack. Repeat with remaining dough. Makes approximately 3 dozen cookies.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

coffee recipes

Black Forest Mocha
2 shots (1 1/2 oz each) espresso
4 oz steamed milk
1 oz chocolate syrup
1 oz kirsch
1/2 oz triple sec
chocolate whipped cream
chocolate shavings
maraschino cherry
Drizzle chocolate syrup into cups. Add kirsch and triple sec, freshly-pulled shots of espresso, followed by steamed milk. Top with whipped cream, chocolate shavings and cherry.
Cafe Miel
2 shots (1 1/2 oz each) espresso
8 oz steamed milk, generously foamed
1 tbs honey, plus more for drizzle
Drizzle honey into cup. Add freshly-pulled shots of espresso, followed by steamed milk and foam. Drizzle with additional ribbons of honey.
Indonesian Espresso
1 shot espresso
1 rounded tsp condensed milk
Spoon condensed milk into demitasse cup. Pull shot of espresso over top. Do not stir.
Treacled Dark Coffee with Cream
6 oz strong, dark coffee such as French or Espresso roast
1 tsp molasses
light cream to taste
Drizzle molasses into cups. Add hot coffee and cream.
(The molasses can dominate the flavour of the coffee, so err on the side of less rather than more).

vanilla shortcakes with last year's compote

(note: a correction has been made to this recipe. In the original publications, the butter was accidentally omitted.)

2 cups all purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 cup cold butter
3/4 cup milk
1/4 cup cream
1 large egg
1/2 tsp vanilla
2 tsp vanilla sugar for sprinkling
1 1/2 lbs frozen fruit, stewed with 1/2 cup brown sugar
In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar and baking powder. Cut in butter. Measure milk and cream in a glass measuring cup. Whisk in egg and vanilla. Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients. Add milk/egg mixture and bring together with a fork in a few quick strokes. Mixture should be sticky. Drop batter by spoonfuls onto a Silpat-lined baking sheet and bake at 325F for about 17 minutes. Let cool on a wire rack for 5 minutes. Makes eight shortcakes.
To serve as shown, gently stew 1 lb frozen apricots with 1/4 cup brown sugar. Thicken juices with a little cornstarch dissolved in cold water, then added to the fruit. Repeat same with 1/2 lb frozen raspberries.
Split each vanilla shortcake horizontally and place the bottoms in dessert dishes. Spoon warm stewed fruit over, then top with second halves of shortcakes. If desired, serve with whipped cream or ice cream.

play dough

2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup salt
2 1/2 tsp cream of tartar
1 tbs vegetable oil
In a medium pot, whisk together dry ingredients. Stir in water and oil. Place over medium heat and stir with a heavy wooden spoon, scraping the bottom and sides. Cook about five minutes, until dough comes together and is thick and stiff.
Transfer to an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook and knead until smooth and workably cool. Divide into four equal parts. Add 6 or more drops of food colouring to each portion. Wearing disposable gloves and working on a non-staining surface such as a Silpat mat, knead colour into each ball of dough. Store in airtight containers.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Chocolate Hot Cross Buns

approx 4 cups white bread flour
2 1/2 tsp active dry yeast
5 tbs cocoa
1/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 cup whole milk
2 large eggs, plus one for glazing
1/4 cup butter, melted then cooled
1 tsp vanilla
3/4 cup chocolate chips
white chocolate for piping
Heat milk to body temperature. Proof yeast in milk until foamy (about 10 minutes). Whisk in eggs, butter and vanilla. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa sugar and salt. Add milk mixture and bring ingredients together with a fork. Turn out onto a lightly-floured surface and knead 5-7 minutes to form a soft, elastic dough. When finished, incorporate chopped chocolate. Return dough to bowl, cover and allow to rise in a warm place for about 1 3/4 hours, until doubled.
Turn out dough. Divide and shape into 16 buns and place on a large Silpat-lined baking sheet. Cover and allow to rise until doubled. Cut crosses into the top of each bun. Brush tops with an egg beaten together with a little water. Bake in a 375F oven for about 18 minutes.
When buns are completely cool, pipe melted white chocolate into the marks made before baking.

Spicy Peanut Ginger Beef

1 lb thinly sliced beef
1 Serrano chilli, finely diced
1/2 cup ginger, sliced and chopped
6 cloves garlic, chopped
3 tbs Sambal
1 tbs soy sauce
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
vegetable oil for deep frying
Combine all ingredients except the beef into a marinade. Toss beef in marinade. Refrigerate 2 hours. Toss beef in a light batter of:
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup cornstarch
2 tbs vegetable oil
2 tbs chilli oil
2/3 cup water
Deep fry in 360F oil, separating slices as they’re dropped into the hot oil, until just cooked. Drain on paper towels. Heat oil to 400F and deep fry a second time, until crispy but still tender. Drain. Serve with peanut sauce.
for the sauce:
1 400ml can coconut milk
1 cup peanut butter
1/4 cup sweet chilli sauce
1 tsp Thai red curry paste
1 Serrano chilli, finely dices
3 tbs Sambal
2 tbs Mirin
2 tbs soy sauce
1 tbs finely diced ginger root
Combine in a medium pot over low heat until warm and melted together.

Where to find it: Mirin is a sweet, liquid, Asian cooking seasoning available, along with the Sambal and sweet chilli sauce, in Oriental markets or where Asian products are found.

Curried Potato and Cauliflower Soup with Dumplings

1/4 cup butter
1 large white onion, chopped
4 cups peeled and diced baker potatoes
3 cups chopped cauliflower florets
8 cups chicken stock or water
2 tbs curry powder
kosher salt/fresh ground pepper
1/4 cup sour cream
Melt butter in a stock pot over medium-low heat. Add onions and cook until translucent. Add curry powder and cook 1 minute. Add remaining ingredients, reserving 1 cup of the cauliflower, and bring to a simmer. Cook until vegetables are tender. Puree with a handheld blender. Season to taste. Add remaining cauliflower and return to heat.
For the dumplings:
In a small pot, bring 1 cup water, 2 tbs butter and 1 tsp salt to a boil. Remove from heat. Thoroughly stir in 1 1/3 cups flour. Let cool. Transfer mixture to a large bowl. Stir in two eggs, 1/2 cups chopped parsley or cilantro, 1 tsp ground coriander and 1 tsp pepper.
Drop dumpling batter by teaspoonfuls into simmering soup. Close lid tightly (no peeking!) and cook for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in sour cream.

Cajun Mac & Cheese Cakes

(adapted from a recipe by Colleen Hossack)
1 lb macaroni or other pasta, cooked
3 cups béchamel, freshly prepared
2 tbs butter
1/4 red onion, finely diced
1 small white onion, finely diced
1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen corn niblets
1 cup grated old cheddar
1 cup grated smoked gouda
2 tbs Cajun spice blend
kosher salt/fresh ground pepper to taste
2 eggs, beaten with 1 tbs water
2 cups bread crumbs
vegetable oil for pan-frying
Melt butter in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add onions and corn. Sautee until onions are translucent and corn is tender.
Stir cheeses and Cajun spice into warm béchamel. Season to taste, then fold in pasta, onions and corn. Adjust seasoning. Transfer pasta mixture into a large baking dish and refrigerate several hours until firm. Turn out of dish and cut into cubes. Dredge each in egg, then bread crumbs. Pan-fry, turning to cook until golden on each side.

Santa Fe Ranch Dip

1/2 cup light mayonnaise
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup buttermilk
2 tbs chopped fresh chives
2 tbs salsa (optional)
1 chopped, seeded jalapeno (optional)
1 tbs Cajun powder
1/2 tsp granulated garlic
kosher salt/fresh ground pepper to taste
In a small bowl, whisk together first three ingredients. Stir in herbs and seasonings. Cover and refrigerate for two hours to let flavours develop. Serve with assorted fresh vegetables.

Seeded Wheat Bread

(makes one large, or two smaller, loaves)
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1 1/3 cups unbleached bread flour
1 cup multigrain flakes and seeds
1 1/2 tsp active dry yeast
2 tsp sea salt
approx 1 1/2 cups warm water
butter for greasing bread pan
Dissolve yeast in warm water and set aside to proof for ten minutes. Meanwhile, whisk dry ingredients together in a large bowl. Then, using a pastry scraper, slowly add water to flours, incorporating until dough comes together. Turn out onto a floured surface and knead for ten minutes to form an elastic dough.
Return dough to bowl and cover with a lint-free kitchen towel. Set aside in a warm place to rise for 1 1/2 hours, or until about doubled in bulk. When risen, remove dough from bowl using pastry scraper. Place on a lightly-floured surface and knead a few times. Form into a loaf and place in a large, buttered loaf pan. Cover with towel and let rise another 1 1/2 hours, until about doubled.
Place a pizza stone in the oven and preheat to 450F. Just before adding bread, mist oven with water. Bake for about 20 minutes, until crust is browned and sounds hollow when tapped. Turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Dark Chocolate Cream Pie

For the Crust:
1 3/4 cup chocolate graham crumbs
3/4 cup finely chopped pecans
5 tbs butter
Melt butter. In a small bowl, combine crumbs, pecans and butter. Press into a pie plate and bake at 350F for 8 minutes. Set aside to cool completely.
For the Filling:
2/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
2 tbs unsweetened cocoa powder
pinch salt
6 large eggs
2 cups milk (skim, 1% or 2%)
1/2 cup whipping cream
7 oz semisweet chocolate, chopped
2 tbs dark rum
1 tsp vanilla extract
In a heavy-bottomed, medium pot, whisk together sugar, cornstarch, cocoa and salt. Whisk in eggs to form a thick paste. In a separate pot, scald milk and cream. Gradually add hot milk to egg mixture, whisking over medium-high heat until mixture thickens. Let boil, whisking, for 1 minute. Add chopped chocolate and whisk until chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth. Remove from heat and add rum and vanilla. Whisk constantly while mixture cools for 5 minutes. Transfer to crust. Chill at least 2 hours or overnight, until cold. Top with whipped cream and chocolate shavings.

Golden Raisin Ricotta Cheesecake

5oz graham crumbs
5 tbs butter, melted
1 1/2 cups golden raisins
1/3 cup Demerara rum
3/4 cup water
4 large eggs, separated
1/2 cup plus 2 tbs sugar
1 kg ricotta
1/2 cup sour cream
5 tbs flour
zest of 1 orange
zest of 1 lemon
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
Line bottom of a 9-inch springform pan with parchment paper. In Combine melted butter and graham crumbs. Press into springform. Bake at 350F for 8 minutes.
Bring raisins, rum and water to a boil. Reduce heat, then simmer until liquid evaporates. Arrange over crust.
In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, whisk together egg yolks and 1/2 cup of the sugar until pale in colour; 2 minutes. Beat in ricotta, sour cream, flour, citrus zests and vanilla.
In a separate large bowl, beat egg whites until soft peaks form. Add remaining sugar, beating until glossy. Fold into batter in two additions. Spread batter over top of raisins. Bake 50 minutes or longer, until a tester inserted in centre comes out clean. Let cool on a wire rack for 15 minutes, then run a sharp knife around the edge to prevent cracking. Refrigerate at least 6 hours or overnight before slicing with a hot, dry knife.

Yukon Potato Lyonnaise Pizza

1 tbs butter
5 oz par-cooked new Yukon Gold potatoes, sliced
1 large shallot, chopped and caramelized
1/2 pound prepared pizza dough, rolled to a 10-inch circle
1 tsp yellow cornmeal.
2-3 tsp garlic-infused olive oil
1/4 cup béchamel sauce
1 oz bacon, cooked and crumbled
2 1/2 oz mozzarella, grated
3 oz brie or camembert, sliced
Preheat a 12-inch pizza stone in a 375F oven. Melt butter in a large skillet over med-high heat. Add potatoes and cook until lightly golden. Sprinkle cornmeal on hot stone and arrange dough on top. Brush with garlic oil, then spread with béchamel sauce. Evenly sprinkle half of the mozzarella, followed by the potatoes. Top with remaining mozzarella, slices of brie, crumbled bacon and caramelized shallots. Bake for 17 minutes, until cheese is hot and bubbly in the centre and crust is golden around the edges.

Where to find it: Béchamel is a classic white sauce made by whisking scalded milk into a roux of flour and butter, cooking until smooth and thickened. For complete directions, turn to a comprehensive cookbook such as The Joy of Cooking, or online at

Griddled Maple Pecan Bread Pudding

1 cup maple syrup
approx. 13 oz dense white artisan bread such as
a sour dough baguette
2 tbs butter
4 large eggs
2 1/2 cups milk
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 cup whole pecan halves
Line a large loaf pan with parchment paper and set aside. In a small pot, heat maple syrup over medium heat. Bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to low and continue to simmer until reduced by half. Place pot in a cold water bath to cool thickened syrup somewhat (to prevent it curdling the eggs).
Slice bread and butter one side of each slice. Place slices in a large bowl and set aside. Then, in a medium bowl, whisk together eggs, milk and brown sugar. Pour egg mixture over bread and let soak for five minutes. Layer 1/2 of the bread slices in the bottom of a large loaf pan. Top with 1/2 of the pecans and drizzle with 1/2 of the maple reduction. Repeat with remaining bread, pecans and syrup.
Place bread pan in baking dish and fill second dish with hot tap water, half way up the side of the bread pan. Place in a 300F oven and bake for about an hour and a half. Remove from oven and leave in the water bath another half hour. Refrigerate for several hours or overnight. Turn out pudding and slice. Place slices on a hot, lightly buttered griddle, and cook each side until lightly golden.

Spice-Rubbed Rack of Lamb

1 lamb rack, Frenched
2 tbs ground black pepper
2 tsp brown sugar
1 tsp kosher salt
1 clove garlic, minced
¼ tsp allspice
½ tsp chilli flakes
1 tbs Worcestershire sauce
In a small bowl, blend together spices. Using your fingers, pack mixture onto meaty side of lamb rack. Drizzle with Worchester sauce and rub spices into meat until a paste forms. Place rack in a small casserole dish and set aside for an hour. May be refrigerated overnight.
After an hour, place onto the grilling surface of a preheated BBQ. Turn off one side of the grill and move lamb rack to that side to cook, turning every five minutes, until meat is medium rare. Remove to a cutting board and allow meat to rest for five minutes before slicing. To serve, slice rack between bones with a sharp knife. Serve, two or three per person, with roasted or grilled root vegetables and soft or grilled polenta, or other favourites.

Spiced Chai Hot Toddy

for each serving:
6 oz hot water
1 oz Brandy
1 tsp honey
1 Tazo Chai teabag
1 slice lemon
Steep tea in hot water for two minutes. Stir in Brandy and honey. Squeeze juice from lemon slice into toddy. Serve to cold or flu sufferer.

Rum & Butter Tart Muffins

Adapted from a recipe by The Bean, a coffee shop in Huntsville, ON
¾ cup brown sugar
½ cup butter
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
½ cup milk
2 tbs rum
1 tbs vanilla
2 cups raisins
1 ½ cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
In a medium, heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat, melt butter and sugar together, stirring constantly. Add eggs and milk and whisk constantly until mixture is slightly thickened and beginning to bubble. Remove from heat and add rum and vanilla. Strain into a clean bowl to remove any bits of cooked egg. Stir in raisins and place in refrigerator to cool for 10 minutes.
In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and baking soda. Add cooled raisin mixture and bring together with a fork until just combined. Divide into 12 lightly-greased muffin cups and bake at 350F for 14-15 minutes, until a tester comes out clean.
Optional: brush tops of muffins with maple syrup when they come out of the oven.