Peach Butter

peach, butter, jam,

My parents emigrated to Canada from Hungary in 1956 during the Hungarian Revolution; the citizens revolted against the Russian takeover. After about 12 days of Revolution, the Russian army mounted and squashed Hungary once and for all. At 20 years old, my Mom left just prior to the Russian’s ending the revolution to escort her sister to Vienna but ended up continuing her journey on to Canada; she celebrated her 21st birthday alone in Halifax. My Dad was relatively active against the Russians and decided to leave to protect himself (my uncle and aunt were expecting their first child so they were not able to leave). My Dad’s family lost everything to the Russians (the Puppet theatre(Báb Szinház) in the Liget, their family home…E V E R Y T H I N G). My Mom’s family had already lost everything to the Germans during the WWII (they had a small store that sold coffee, flour etc.). The Russian hostility toward Hungary surprised the world and both my parents were able to immigrate to Canada as Refugees of War.

My parents did not know one another in Hungary so they made their way to the New World on their own. My Mom (13 years younger than Dad) talked about her journey but Dad sadly did not. I only know that Dad came through Gibraltar and an Ocean Liner. Mom also arrived by boat but I can’t remember how or where from. You know the movies that show people trying to escape oppression, desperately crawling on their bellies across vast lands under the cloak of darkness? That was my Mom’s story. She and her sister came across the farmlands of Hungary, all the way to the Austrian border near Vienna. The Austrians were very sympathetic to the plight of the Hungarians and they helped make their way to a better life.

I’m not sure either of the parents had a “plan” as such but I know my Mom already had some relatives in Canada (an Aunt and her husband, children and their spouses). My Mom’s sister’s husband had already arrived in Toronto and was instrumental in making arrangements for my Aunt to meet him there, sadly Mom was not in that equation due to the economic circumstances of my Aunt and Uncle so she had to find her own way to Toronto. Did you ever read Angela’s Ashes? I remember reading the bit about Angela only having enough money for one egg and it resonated with me…there were many times my dear Mom only had enough money for one egg during the first months in Canada. It’s difficult to understand that this happened only 59 years ago. Mom landed in Halifax and stayed for a few months. All Canadian immigrants were given $5 (around $45 today) upon arrival and were told to have a good life. Mom found a sympathetic Swiss woman who owned a beauty shop and she worked various odd jobs at her shop and rented a room in the woman’s home. Neither of my parents spoke a word of English, so they learned from listening to the radio.

My Dad found his way to Toronto and worked in restaurants to make a living, at first waiting tables and then later as a Maî·tre d’hô·tel (Maître-D) at a very prestigious hotel near the airport. Mom’s sister introduced Mom and Dad  in 1957; they dated on and off and then lived together in 1958 (yes, that was very risqué back then!). My Mom was the hold-out, she didn’t want to marry a ‘pretty boy’ as she called him. It’s true, Dad was quite the looker and the ladies loved him. Dad taught Mom puppetry and they travelled together working on the Chrysler Canada Tour in the late 50’s. He finally wore her down and they married in 1960. They eventually settled in Toronto and began having a family.

I remember my dear Mom making most of our pantry items, just like her mother did and my Dad’s mother. Jam was always a treat and as I mentioned before, Mom’s strawberry jam was one of my favourites. I bought some peaches for a photoshoot and it turned out we didn’t need them so I decided to make peach butter out of it. Mom would bottle several mason jars of jam, but since it’s only JT and I, I only made a small amount. Now that we’ve already gone through the first jar, I wish I had made more.

Jam, peaches, preserves,

A delicious, smooth peach butter or jam made without pectin.

Peach Butter

A KitchenInspirations Original Recipe

Makes 400 mL


  • 650 g peaches, I had about 6  peaches (measure with peel and stone)
  • 100 mL water
  • 160 g white sugar
  • 30 mL lemon juice


  1. Peel peaches and remove stone (see notes for tip on peeling). Cut into eighths and set into a heavy bottom pan. Add water and set over medium heat and cook until peaches are softened.
  2. Add sugar and lemon juice and purée with an immersion blender or run through your food mill.
  3. Return peach purée to pan and cook for 30-40 minutes until thickened, testing often with the freezer method.
  4. Once the butter has thickened, pour into mason jars and follow canning best practice instructions.


  • An easy way to peel peaches is to score the skin into quarters, pour boiling hot water over them to cover and allow to sit for a minute. Take a sharp knife and begin by sliding the knife between the skin and flesh and peel away. Repeat for all of the peaches.
  • If you have a food mill, you need not peel the peaches (I have one but felt like peeling them anyway), the mill will capture all of the skin.


As usual, I’m a little late on the bandwagon for this post. The humble zucchini noodles have been around the web-o-sphere for some time now with the very fancy (and expensive) spiralizers. I wasn’t ready to commit to such a large piece of equipment for yet again, one task, until I saw Liz’s easy Zucchini Noodles with Parmesan using a hand-held spiralizer. Now that’s something I can definitely get my head around! So I bought a cheap and cheerful version ($3) thinking if I liked it, I would go ahead and splurge for the OXO version ($15) and take the cheap and cheerful version to the cottage!


Cheap and Cheerful version

We’ve actually been making zucchini noodles using a simple mandoline and the taste was fine but they really didn’t resemble noodles too well. So when I started seeing the curlier noodles made with this incredibly simple hand held version, I was smitten.

Did I love it? HELL YES! I’ve already made zucchini noodles a many, many times since purchasing the spiralizer and have been LOVING it. I loved it so much, I went out and purchased a good quality version as a hostess gift. I’m sure it’s much better quality and will likely last longer.


It really is one of the most delicious vegetable dishes EVER! AND low calorie (if you don’t use pesto)

Zucchini Noodles with Walnut Pesto

Serves 2


  • 2 small straight zucchinis
  • 2 tbsp walnut pesto (recipe below), or pesto of choice
  • 10 walnut halves
  • freshly grated Parmesan Cheese


  1. Wash and dry the zucchinis. Microwave whole vegetable on high for 40 seconds each; microwaving warms the zucchini and softens it a bit so the noodles cut smoother.
  2. Spiralize both zucchinis using the small blade, cutting the very long lengths into spaghetti lengths. Microwave the zucchini noodles on high for about one minute to heat.
  3. Toss gently with the pesto and garnish with parmesan cheese and walnut halves.

Wrapping the “noodles” on your fork is just as easy as regular pasta

Walnut Pesto

A Kitchen Inspirations Original Recipe.


  • 100 g walnut pieces
  • 1 large bunch of fresh basil, washed and stems removed
  • 1/4 cup EVOO, or more if desired
  • 100 g freshly grated Parmesan Cheese


  1. Lightly toast the walnut pieces and allow to cool.
  2. In the bowl of a large food processor, add the basil, olive oil and cheese.
  3. Pulse until a desired consistency is achieved.
  4. Freeze pesto in about 1 tbsp ice cube containers and once frozen, remove and put into a zip lock baggy and return to the freezer. Use as required.


  • I used to use the larger blade but honestly, the smaller blade results in linguine noodles.
  • You can peel the zucchini but I like the contrast in texture and colour of the dark green peel. I did not test peeled zucchini in the initial microwave so you’ll have to tread lightly — you want to soften the zucchini and not turn it to mush.
  • Use a combination of zucchini and summer squash (yellow zucchini) for more interest.
  • Microwave the “noodles” to heat, you really don’t want to cook them through. It’s noodle texture you want with a slight crunch (al dente)!
  • Pine nuts have been ridiculously expensive over the few years. The $15 bag I used to buy at Costco is now close to $30 at Costco. It comes from China. I have since refused to buy the Chinese product for a variety of reasons (this is the main one) so I am constantly on the lookout for good pesto nut/seed substitutions.
  • If you prefer a more runny pesto, add more olive oil.
  • ALWAYS clearly label nut products in the freezer so you don’t poison someone (unless you want to).

Paella Bake


Cottage season is almost over and we’re heading right into the holidays: Canadian Thanksgiving, Halloween, American Thanksgiving and then Christmas! My how time flies. This “recipe” has become a “go to” recipe for brunches and lunches at the cottage where refrigerator space is at a premium and standard grocery items are difficult to find (to say the least). It’s the perfect recipe to reinvent ‘leftovers.” For the last couple of years, whenever I make a one pot rice dish like Paella, Jumbalaya, Risotto or even a pasta dish like JT’s Mediterranean Pasta, I ALWAYs make 2 extra servings. The trick is to set aside the two extra servings so that you’re not even tempted to finish off every last bite and lick the plate clean ;-p! The two extra servings combined with eggs and a little flavouring bake up into the most delicious dish, you will be tempted to make the recipe just to rebake it for brunch the following day! And the best part is that it freezes very well, so even if there is only two dining on leftovers, freeze the rest cut into single portions in a ziplock bag, ready for a quick lunch or a fancy brunch.


On some mornings the lake is so very still.


Bits of the seafood, chicken and chorizo dot the delicious egg bake.

Paella Bake

A KitchenInspirations Original Recipe

Serves 8



  1. Preheat the oven to 350° F (177° C). Prepare a square baking pan with perpendicular sides (some square cake pans have angled sides). Line with parchment so that it extends up two of the sides. Spray lightly with nonstick spray.
  2. Combine eggs and La Bomba and whisk well. Fold gently into the leftover paella being careful not to squish the rice into a mushy mess.
  3. Pour into the prepared pan and jiggle around making sure that the proteins are distributed evenly. Bake for 45-50 minutes or until cake tester comes out clean.
  4. Cool slightly and cut into 8 portions with a very sharp knife. Serve with lemon slices and a light salad.

Would you care for a slice?


Our Paellas are always full of flavour.


Red sky at night, sailors’ delight!


Cocktails inside the screen-in porch, so peaceful.


Limoncello First

A couple of years after JT and I tied the knot we went to Europe together, it was a combination business and pleasure trip. As the business part of our trip, we went to Modena, Italy to see a piece of equipment that JT’s soap-making family business purchased. As you may or may not know, Italy is well known for its soap making equipment. And a little known fact ;-) Modena is the epicentre of balsamic vinegar.

The Italians take their balsamics very seriously, think of the French and champagne. The special thing about the thick, rich vinegar is that it’s aged for several years in a variety of barrels; it is this very aging process that gives this unique condiment its sweet and piquant flavour, rich and luxurious colour and thick, viscous texture.

We drove up from Florence where we were staying a few days during the middle of our trip; it’s a scenic 2 hour drive through the lush Italian countryside. The Italians had been making soap equipment for hundreds of years and at that time, they were some of the best. JTs family already had several Italian pieces in their factory and although they had purchased some pieces from Italy before, this particular machine was a first-time purchase from this vendor, so a visit from ‘the customer’ was a big deal. We met with Mr. Borghi the English speaking Italian representative of the equipment maker. The machine itself was over six figures so you can imagine our surprise when we were taken to a humble rural garage where a few men were busy hand crafting the machine! A very tall, broad, heavily bearded gentleman approached us with visible excitement. He was wearing mechanics coveralls and his hands were covered in machine grease, he didn’t speak a word of English so Mr. Borghi had to translate for us. We had a short tour of the garage (really just one large room) and then we were invited to lunch.

We ate an enormous meal at a humble, family run local restaurant; each dish was prepared with love and respect to its origins. I don’t recall much of the meal (it was 27 years ago!) except that it was lively with conversation and it was my very first introduction to balsamic vinegar. When our host discovered that I had never had balsamic before, he insisted I order a steak that was garnished with 100 year old balsamic table side (and no, they did not leave the bottle), the waiter ceremoniously poured a few drops of the liquid gold onto my perfectly cooked steak. Everyone (yes, everyone in the packed little restaurant) stopped and watched as I carefully cut into the juicy steak and took my first bite. At the time I thought it was odd, after all it’s only vinegar with a dark, thick, chocolate syrup-like colour. But as soon as it hit my tongue I understood how truly special that moment was. The earthy, salty flavour of the rare cook steak against the thick, sweet, pungent and complexly flavoured vinegar was something I had never experienced before, I was in heaven! As my ‘audience’ waited with baited breath, I knew my face revealed the reaction they were hoping for: pure, unadulterated bliss – words were not needed. Then the restaurant resumed the animated conversation and clatter of cutlery against the plates. As an after lunch digestive, our gracious hosts poured some delicious, luciously thick and ice cold limoncello. What a treat that was.

After lunch our lovely translator, Mr. Borghi insisted that he buy me a bottle of balsamic to remember the experience, so in the parking lot after a long and deliciously filling meal, a plan was hatched. We would follow Mr. Borghi a short distance to a reputable shop where he would pop in, buy the vinegar, say our farewells and we would continue our drive to Florence. The “short drive” turned into 45 minutes and was in the complete opposite direction to Florence which meant our two hour trip was now three and a half. Poor JT.  But I had a prized possession: my very first four leaf balsamic vinegar!

I suspect that Italians feel the same way about Limincello and that the process to make it is as revered as the final product itself. Limincello was, of course, invented in Sorrento, Italy some 600 km south of Modena. And although this recipe claims to be originally Italian, this particular version is not. However, I was truly intrigued by the process and it had to be made. Sadly I was not able to source Meyer Lemons (see notes) as the recipe suggests but I did go the extra mile to purchase organic lemons for the main reason suggested in the article: the alcohol evaporates in the enclosed glass, macerating the lemon skin and then falling back to the bottom of the jar as flavoured liquid so you don’t want pesticides contaminating your Limoncello.


Suspended Organic Lemons ready to do their job.


I wondered what the macerated lemons would look and taste like: they were quite pale and had a very strong vodka lemon flavour that was surprisingly unpleasant. I chucked them.


After 4 weeks, the vodka took on a slightly yellowish colour. The gorgeous bottle is from our lovely neighbours.

Limoncello Recipe

Please click here for the “best limoncello recipe you’ve ever tasted”

I followed the recipe with the exception of the organic Meyer lemons, I used ordinary organic lemons.

I also made a simple syrup using the same weight of raw sugar as water and dissolved it by simply stirring for a few minutes and not boiling. Next time I’ll use ordinary sugar but I’ll do the same process, I wasn’t pleased with the amber colour of the simple syrup and its negative effect on the colour of the limoncello, although when poured into a small glass, it was pretty yellow.

I must admit I was pretty pleased with the outcome. Except for the cost. In Ontario, a 750 mL of Skyy vodka is $38.75, the organic lemons were $3.00 and the raw sugar was $4.00. A bottle of commercial limoncello is $18.35.


I served the ice cold limoncello in antique glasses on my dear Mom’s needlepoint tray that she made in school.



  • I did buy as lovely Meyer Lemon tree that presently has about 15 little lemons growing on it!

Cherry Jam


I read David Lebovitz’s recipe for No-Recipe Cherry Jam and loved it from the start because it was just ratios! Usually I have to take down recipes to suit the volume or quantity of ingredients I have on hand and David’s recipe made it super easy, plus I liked his first direction: “1. Wear something red.”

David suggests to cook the cherries and measure the volume and then add 3/4 of it in sugar (apparently the sugar is required so that it doesn’t spoil, otherwise I would have reduced it).

Delicious goodness of homemade jam.

Delicious goodness of homemade jam.

Cherry Jam

Makes 300 mL jam.

Original recipe, please click here.


  • 350 g fresh Ontario cherries (you can use any old cherries, but I thought I’d give our Province a plug!)
  • 400 mL cherry juice (I had some left over from cherry squares I made a few weeks ago)
  • 375 mL sugar
  • zest and juice of 1 fresh lemon


  1. “Put on something red.”*
  2. Pit all of the cherries and chop about 2/3 of the cherries into smaller pieces and the remainder into halves.
  3. Cook the cherries and cherry juice in a non-reactive pot. David suggests a slightly larger pot because the juices bubble up. Put a plate in the freezer (this will help you determine when the jam is done).
  4. Add the lemon juice and zest (I used a peeler to peel large slices of lemon so that I could remove them after). Continue to cook until the cherries are soft (about 20 minutes).
  5. Once cooked, measure the volume you have, including the juice. I netted 500 mL so 3/4 of that is 375 mL sugar. Stir in the sugar and continue to cook on higher heat until the bubbling diminishes and the jam congeals when a drop is put on the super cold plate and returned to the freezer for a moment. Be careful not to overcook the jam it will caramelize the sugar and it will taste terrible! It’s best to test often (David suggests it’s better to test often than to overcook the jam). My volume took 20-25 minutes to the perfect viscosity. Remove from heat.
  6. David suggest to add a bit of kirschwasser, but I was all out so I added a tiny drop of almond extract as he advised. Stir well.
  7. Cool to room temperature and bottle as you would normally. He suggests this jam will keep in the fridge for several months.

*From David Lebovitz


Growing up, one of our family favourites was Rétes (Hungarian Strudel) and my dear Mom made Hungarian delicacies like Káposztás Rétes (Savoury Cabbage Strudel) and Túrós Rétes (sweet Cottage Cheese Strudel) and even sometimes but not often, Almás Rétes (Apple Strudel). Mom’s favourite was Káposztás Rétes (Cabbage Strudel) and although as kids we couldn’t stand it, I often find myself craving the savoury flavours of this treat.

My dear Mom always told stories as she was cooking or baking, stories about food, of course! The one story that has resonated with me all these years is that Grandma (Nagymama) made her own Rétes dough! The story goes that Nagymama laid a clean, white sheet on the dining room table, dusted it with flour and stretched and stretched and stretched her homemade dough until you could read newsprint through it. I always imagined an enormous dough (like this) on the table! Mom never made strudel dough that I recall, by the time she was a homemaker, ready made, frozen dough was already available and so much easier than making it yourself. I have used ready made Phyllo more times than I can count on all my fingers and toes, but I’d never made it myself. So you can well imagine why homemade phyllo dough is on my bucket list.

Recently, we invited dear friends to the cottage and I thought homemade Baklava would be a lovely dessert over the weekend and a great excuse to make homemade phyllo dough. I chose Baklava because if the Phyllo didn’t work out as well, the syrup would ‘hide’ its flaws, unlike Rétes. The recipe I followed is here (why reinvent the wheel?) but I can tell you right now that using the pasta maker is not nearly as satisfying as rolling by hand. A marble rolling pin (or something really heavy) would be helpful…I had a rolling pin made by one of my dear Mom’s friends many years ago and I paid the price by bruising my palms and fingers!

Bucket List

Homemade Phyllo Dough

This recipe makes 25 sheets approx. 25 cm x  41 cm (10″ x 16″)

I allowed the dough to rest overnight.

The recipe instructions indicate to take the dough to #9 on the pasta maker (mine is a KitchenAid Stand Mixer with attachments) but I recommend to take it to #8 and do the rest by hand. I also tried rolling it entirely by hand (see photos below – only took about 12 minutes each) and it wasn’t as difficult as I had anticipated but it did bruise my hands badly). Between each number of stretching the dough by pasta machine, keep rubbing a little flour to both sides of the flattened dough, this is how the correct texture is achieved. Believe me, you will know when you feel it.

I also found that rolling the dough through each pass on the pasta maker a couple of times instead of just once results in a finer dough.



  • 17 (4-sheet) baklavas
  • 11 (2-sheet) baklavas
  • 4 left over sheets (freeze for later).


  • 21 sheets of phyllo dough
  • 120 g hazelnuts
  • 200 g almonds
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 tbsp cinnamon
  • 1/8 ground cloves
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted


  1. Roast both nuts on 163° C (325° F) for 18 minutes or until most of the skins have separated from the hazelnuts (almonds may or may not separate).
  2. Using a clean tea towel, rub the hot nuts until most of the skins come off. Separate skins from nuts.
  3. Chop both hazelnuts and almonds roughly and combine with sugar, cinnamon and cloves. Set aside.

Syrup Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 2/3 cup water
  • 1 cup honey
  • 4 tbsp fresh lemon juice


  1. Combine  first three ingredients in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Boil for 2 minutes, remove from heat and add lemon juice. Stir well, set aside.

Baklava assembly:

  1. Preheat the oven to 163° C (325° F).
  2. Divide the dough into 40 g dough portions.
  3. Lightly flour a large, clean surface and roll out to approximately 25 cm x 41 cm or 10″ x 16″ sheets. Continue to roll all of the dough like this until you have rolled it all out. Cover with a lightly damp cloth and a jelly roll pan to protect it from drying out.
  4. Take one sheet of phyllo and lay it length-wise in front of you. Brush generously with the melted butter. Sprinkle 3/4 cup of the nut mixture per sheet. Continue for 2-3 sheets.
  5. Taking the long end, begin to roll the phyllo tightly. Brush the finished roll with melted butter.
  6. Cut into 5 cm or 2.5″ lengths (or smaller equal lengths). Place cut side up into a lightly buttered pan, it doesn’t matter if they touch. Continue until all the dough and nut mixture is exhausted.
  7. Bake for approximately 45-50 minutes.
  8. Allow to cool completely and then pour the syrup over The rolls and allow to rest for a few hours.

I found that 40 g made the perfect sheet size.


A relatively damp and somewhat elastic dough (not nearly as elastic as pizza dough)


You can roll to 9 in your pasta maker, but honestly I did not find rolling by hand difficult.


OK. By saying “I did not find the rolling difficult”, what I meant was “not difficult as I was rolling” but the next day, my palms were bruised from the shear pressure I had to put onto the rolling pin. You may wish to roll with a marble rolling pin.


For some reason, my Nagymama (grandma) always said the dough has to be thin enough to read a newspaper through it, I figured a nut panel would suffice!


This is one of the rolls of Baklava.


Cut rolls into 16-17 equal lengths and place into a greased pan. It’s OK if they touch because the dough has been greased sufficiently so they won’t stick.


The finished product, with a little extra honey drizzled on. PS, that silver tray comes from my Dad’s side of the family, it’s probably over 100 years old!



This is quite a damp dough and it’s a bit sticky but don’t worry, you’ll be stretching and rolling additional flour into it to give it the correct wet/dry ratio.

The dough only becomes difficult to work with (breaking, cracking) when it dries out; make sure you have a lightly damp tea towel to cover any rolls or sheets. I also used a 10″ x 16″ jelly roll pan to cover it.

In hindsight, I should have used only 2 or 3 (not 4) sheets per roll. Next time I think I’ll sprinkle the nut mixture on each sheet and not just the end — I have adjusted the recipe above.

I was 100% sure I would not be making this recipe again because it’s so inexpensive to buy ready made, but in reviewing the ingredient list I may have to resort to making it myself as there is one or two ingredients that gross me out.

Crispy Sage


I hesitate to call this a recipe because it really is just one ingredient and it’s so easy, I almost didn’t put it on the blog. But then I thought it’s a lovely garnish that is quite underrated. And it’s NOT FRIED!

As you are aware, we’re going through the Tosca Reno Eat-Clean Vegetarian Cookbook and I made Roasted Spaghetti Squash with Hazelnuts and Crispy Sage (page 192) and was fully intending on frying the sage leaves (in 1 tbsp olive oil) when it dawned on me that I could nuke them, the way I nuked thinly sliced potatoes to make potato chips. Yes, indeed.

It was a success! They literally melt in your mouth; although they are rather tasty, they do lose a bit of their perfume which is not a bad thing as I sometimes find sage a little overpowering.

The time spent in the microwave will depend on your machine, each one is different. I found 2 minutes with the amount in the photo was just perfect.

Wash sage leaves and dry well. arrange on a folded paper towel so that they do not overlap. Microwave for 1-2 minutes or until crispy. I found that the little ones crisped up a lot faster than the larger, thicker ones but they were all lovely and crispy.


It’s a beautiful garnish and it’s not fried!


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