Archive for December, 2008

We roasted a turkey for Christmas day and I had the liver left over – not much, but I thought…hmmm, wouldn’t it make a lovely amuse bouches? Just a tasty-taster…I adapted a recipe from Epicurious for chicken liver paté

Yield: Makes about 1/4 cup


  • 1 turkey liver
  • 1 tsp butter, room temperature
  • 2 tbsp minced onion
  • 1 tbsp mirin (Japanese cooking wine)
  • 1/4 tsp ground allspice
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp fresh ginger


  1. In 1 tsp butter, sweat the onins.
  2. Dice chicken livers and add to the onions and cook thoroughly.
  3. Add mirin and bring to boil. Remove from heat. Cool completely.
  4. Finely grind the chicken livers and onion mixture to form a smooth paste.
  5. Put into a small ramiken and refrigerate.
  6. Serve on a small cracker with a dallop of fig confit.

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Thank goodness they are predicting rain this evening, otherwise we wouldn’t know where to put any more snow!



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And there is MORE snow!

Just to get us all into the Christmas spirit…we are having another 10 cm of snow dumped on us tonight…that is 30 cm since Friday! Oh joy!

Here are the photos from Sunday morning:



Hopefully we’re at the end of this storm system…we really need Paul and T to arrive safely and on time!

Happy holidays!

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It’s Saturday morning and we just experienced the first of three storm systems coming through southern Ontario. It snowed non-stop since Friday at seven in the morning. We’ve shoveled 3 times to try to keep on top of it. It was brutal but it IS Canada and it IS December so what they heck were you expecting? Check out the news…over 100 flights canceled.
It would have been a great night to cuddle in front of the fire with a glass or ten of wine and just sit and talk…but nooooooo. We made plans to head up to Sheppard to meet friends at a restaurant. We haven’t seen these folks for a while, so we’re excited about seeing them.

We decided to be responsible Torontonians and get there via subway (I love that….NOT, but that’s a rant for a later entry) . The plus is that we didn’t need to worry about weather, the minus is that I wasn’t be able to wear my new pink BCBG stilettos! boo hoo hoo! Well, another minus was that our subway system SUCKS and we almost never got there!


It seems that these snowstorms are a new phenomenon to our transit folk! UGH. And do they ever shovel sidewalks north of Bloor…you have got to be kidding! Rant rant rant!

Leanne, Stefan and Pam had a bottle ready for us as soon as we arrived (I may have mumbled a few profanities, believe it or not!) We had a lovely time at Pourquois Pas , company was great, food was fine (not the best, nor the worst) and service was good too. Other than we were one of two groups of patrons that evening (but that could be because of the storm and everyone else was stuck on the subway!) Great time altogether. We went back to Leanne and Stefan’s for dessert and coffee!

Our good friend Pam gave us a lift home which was such a treat after our terrible experience with the subway (am I being too subtle about how I HATE the subway????)

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clockCountdown Clock

The Doran’s are coming, the Doran’s are coming! It won’t be for New Year’s but then again, it’s better than nothing! Our crazy world-travelling friends are travelling to the big smoke, whirl-wind style as usual, arriving Friday around lunch-time and leaving Sunday around 7pm! We’re really looking forward to our ‘Doran Fix’

The menu:

Friday Lunch:
Homemade Pizza – salami and goats cheese (low in lactose) on a Vidalia onion confit, field greens with a light dressing.

martini-glassFriday Cocktail: Martini’s and T’inspired Spanakopita

Friday Dinner:
Chicken Cacciatore on a bed of spinach and home made crusty bread (UPDATED)
Dessert: Peach cobbler with home-made Vanilla Ice Cream (UPDATED)

After dinner we will take a tour of Toronto’s Cavalcade of Lights…about 12 neighbourhoods have decorated main streets with lovely Christmas lights!

headache1Saturday Breakfast:
Home-baked Breads and Muffins, Coffee

We’ll take off to see McMichael Gallery in Kleinburg, Ontario and have lunch in the quaint town of Kleinburg at Chartreuse Restaurant, Pub!

martini-glassSaturday Cocktails: Martini’s and Bacon Wrapped Dates

Saturday Dinner (men’s night to cook):
JT’s famous Mediterranean Pasta (with whole wheat, hi fibre pasta, and sheep’s milk feta – low in lactose!)

Dessert: Apple Crisp and home made vanilla ice cream (if there is some left!) (UDATED)

headache1Sunday Breakfast (assuming it will be relatively late!):
Dr. G’s

Depending on how everyone feels, we may want to shop, or go downtown to the Hockey Hall of Fame! Of course, all this could change due to weather.

Sunday Lunch: TBD.

We’re dropping them at the airport later that day…I wonder where we’ll meet again!

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These little gems make a lovely hors d’oeuvres on their own, or stuffed…from The Classics LCBO special edition. We’re taking them as a hostess gift tonight! Makes about 40 little bite_sized puffs!

Cheese Puffs, easy and deeeelicious


  • 1 cup water
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup grated Gruyere Cheese
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan Cheese


  1. Preheat oven to 400F.
  2. Place water, butter and salt in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat.
  3. Remove from heat and add flour, and stir until combined.
  4. Return to heat and stir cooking the flour mixture until it comes away from the sides of the pan and is a shiny ball.
  5. Place in a food processor with plastic blades and process for 15 seconds (give or take).
  6. Add eggs and process for 40 seconds (err on the longer side of give or take).
  7. Add both cheeses and process for another 5-10 seconds until smooth.
  8. Using a wet spoon, place thumbnail-sized spoonfuls on a parchment lined cookie sheet about 1 1/2″ apart.
  9. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until golden brown.
  10. Serve warm or room temperature.

Check it out on Foodista!

They puff up about 12 minutes into baking and are ideal for stuffing with a pipping funnel (I bought a really cheap one from a dollar store and it works very well). Stuff with goats cheese, or your own recipe. Unstuffed, they freeze very well.

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I have now baked about 11 items, and am officially announcing that I am tired of baking!

  • Bargain Basement Barb’s Chocolate Chip Cookie
  • Peanut Butter Bars (new)
  • Lauren’s Spice Cookies (new)
  • Donkey Ears
  • Chocolate Mint Hershey Kiss Cookies
  • Peppermint Bark
  • 2-Bite Chewy Chocolate Brownies (new)
  • 2-Bite Butterscotch Blondies (new)
  • Namaimo Bars (new) – I may not make this
  • Anzac Biscuits
  • Butterscotchy Almond Bars (new)

I will be assembling my baked gifts next week, as our Christmas celebrations continue!

Last night we were out with my work gang for our Christmas Pool Game and then later to Le Select for dinner (my favorite French restaurant in Toronto). We had 8:30 reservations, but were not seated until almost 9:30…dinner was around 10 (maybe even later). It was fun and delicious! Tonight we’re off to see the lights downtown!

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From the Five Roses Flour cookbook (Yield: 16-5 cm (2″) squares or about 30 mini muffin blondies). These are chewy and tasty, although not low in calories, but then again, it IS Christmas!



  • ¾ cup(s) Five Roses All Purpose Flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ¼ tsp alt
  • ¼ cup butter or margarine
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 egg, slightly beaten
  • ½ cup chopped nuts (optional)
  • 1 tsp vanilla


  1. Preheat oven to 150ºC (300ºF).
  2. Sift together flour, baking powder and salt together. Set aside.
  3. Melt butter and brown sugar over low heat. Remove from heat.
  4. Add slightly beaten egg, be careful not to cook the egg, make sure the mixture is not too hot.
  5. Blend in dry ingredients.
  6. Add vanilla and nuts; stir well.
  7. Spread mixture into a prepared 20 cm (8″) square pan or mini muffin cups. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes. Cut into squares while still warm and cool completely in pan before serving. Cool mini muffins in pan completely before turning out.

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Not one to give up too easily, I am trying another bread, not abandoning my wild yeast starter, but putting it on hold. I am looking for a chewy, sourdoughy texture and I came across the recipe below (in fact, what started me on this wild journey in the first place was Jim Lahey’s no knead sourdough bread!). The recipe below is an adaptation – I am making it from primarily whole wheat flour – yes, I am stubborn and simply cannot use a recipe verbatim, and therefore I will have many more failures than most!)

No-Knead Bread (originally Jim Lahey’s No Knead Bread Recipe from Sullivan Street Bakery in the Big Apple)
Yields one 1 1/2 pound loaf

  • 1 cup all-purpose or bread flour, more for dusting
  • 2 cups whole wheat flour
  • ¼ teaspoon instant yeast
  • 1¼ teaspoons salt
  • Cornmeal or wheat bran as needed.
  1. In a large bowl (not metal) combine flour, yeast and salt. Add 1 5/8 cups water, and stir until blended; dough will be shaggy and sticky. Cover bowl with plastic wrap. Let dough rest at least 12 hours, preferably about 18, at warm room temperature, about 70 degrees.
  2. Dough is ready when its surface is dotted with bubbles. Lightly flour a work surface and place dough on it; sprinkle it with a little more flour and fold it over on itself once or twice. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rest about 15 minutes.
  3. Using just enough flour to keep dough from sticking to work surface or to your fingers, gently and quickly shape dough into a ball. Generously coat a cotton towel (not terry cloth) with flour, wheat bran or cornmeal; put dough seam side down on towel and dust with more flour, bran or cornmeal. Cover with another cotton towel and let rise for about 2 hours. When it is ready, dough will be more than double in size and will not readily spring back when poked with a finger.
  4. At least a half-hour before dough is ready, heat oven to 450 degrees. Put a 6- to 8-quart heavy covered pot (cast iron, enamel, Pyrex or ceramic) in oven as it heats. When dough is ready, carefully remove pot from oven.
  5. Dust the entire ball of dough gently with cornmeal or wheat bran, including the bottom, this will prevent the dough from sticking to the pan.
  6. Slide your hand under towel and turn dough over into pot, seam side up; it may look like a mess, but that is O.K. Shake pan once or twice if dough is unevenly distributed; it will straighten out as it bakes. Cover with lid and bake 30 minutes, then remove lid and bake another 15 to 30 minutes, until loaf is beautifully browned. Cool on a rack. So far, this is really the best one!

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This recipe dates back to the mid-nineties from the Toronto Star. My mom found it, tried it and loved it back then, and I have been making them ever since! They are relatively low in fat, but high in sugar (well, they ARE brownies, what did you think?) I believe the article states they are from the Sunnybrook Health Science Centre’s Heart and Soul Cuisine


Chewy Chocolate Brownies

Makes about 3 dozen two bite mini muffin brownies – about 70 calories each!

  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 cup icing sugar
  • 4 1/2 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 1/2 oz (45g) semisweet chocolate chips
  • 3 tbsp butter or margarine
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp light corn syrup
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 egg whites


  1. Sift flour, icing sugar, cocoa powder and baking powder.
  2. Melt butter or margarine with the chocolate chips, brown sugar, add vanilla, corn syrup and water.
  3. Beat in the egg whites.
  4. Add dry ingredients and stir well.
  5. Pour into a prepared 9″ x 9″ pan, or mini muffin cups (I generally just use Pam). Bake for 12-15 minutes until firm.


*Note that all nutritionl facts may not be accurate and are a guideline ONLY.

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Home Made Sourdough Bread

Recently I caught an episode of “The Secret Life of Bread” on FoodTV.ca and was inspired to make my own Sourdough Bread. I am doing it with a ‘wild yeast starter’ which I am making on my own, with the expertise of several web articles. Below are some photos of my journey of wild yeast and sourdough! You ca tell it’s alive by all the bubbles…yeast is alive and it’s so cool. You have to try this!

So much for low carb, but if you are going to go carb, go big or go home! This recipe took some finagling but on the second round it turned out (I’d give myself a 65% so I still have a ways to go!). The texture was great (hard but chewy crust, and chewy inside – but it lacked the light airy texture of sourdough). And, there was little ‘sourdough’ taste…I’m guessing my starter hadn’t soured enough – I will try again as soon as this loaf is gone (2 days max.!)

Wild Yeast Starter

  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 cup water
  1. In a sterilized mason jar, add flour and water and mix well (using a plastic spoon, metal may react with the yeast).
  2. Set aside in a warm area (70°F-80°F) and wait 24 hours.
  3. Stir well (several sites reco to discard 1/2, but I did not). I just added 1/2 cup flour and 1/2 water and stir well – make sure your jar is tall enough so the starter doesn’t ‘boil’ over.
  4. Repeat steps two and three for 3 days. My home obviously has a lot of wild yeast free floating around because my starter started to bubble within one day! When the starter develops a bubbly froth on the top, it’s done! A starter will smell sour or beer-like, this is normal. The longer you feed your starter the more ‘sour’ it will be and it will make your bread more flavourful!
  5. Refrigerate the starter with a loose lid (make sure it can breathe). Apparently the starter can develop a darkish liquid called “hooch” on the surface when refrigerated, this is not bad. Hooch will smell like beer but apparently it is not drinkable. If your starter is on the dry side, stir the hooch in, if wet, then pour it off. You will need to feed your starter once a week – by feeding, add 1/2 cup flour and 1/2 cup water.


Proofing the Sponge


Two days before you plan to make your bread, you will need to take the starter out of the fridge.

  1. Pour the entire starter into a clean glass or ceramic bowl. Clean the starter container.
  2. Add a cup of warm water and 1 cup of flour and stir well. Set this sponge aside in a warm dry place.
  3. The sponge will be finished when it is bubbly and has a whitish froth on top and smells sour – the longer you leave this the more flavourful it becomes.
  4. Your sponge is now ready for the bread.

Note: Proofing-time will vary; some starters can proof up to frothiness in an hour or two and some will take 6-8 hours, or even longer. Proofing overnight is a great time saver, particularly if you plan on baking the bread the following day!

Making the bread


  • 1 cup Sourdough starter (pour the remaining starter back into a clean mason jar, remember to feed the starter 1/2 cup water, 1/2 cup flour, stir well and allow to sit at room temperature for 24 hours and then return to the fridge covered).
  • 1 cup warm water
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 tbsp yeast
  • 1 tsp sugar
  1. Soften the yeast in the water with sugar.
  2. Mix the remaining ingredients well in a glass bowl and let rise covered in a warm place overnight 12-18 hours.
  3. Preheat your oven 450°F. Put your enamel dutch oven including the lid into the oven to heat for about 1/2 an hour.
  4. On a lightly floured surface, gently gently fold in all four sides to create a small loaf (this is where you can get create and make a design – I am concentrating on perfecting the dough first!). The dough will be stickier than regular bread dough. Gently move dough into the hot dutch oven (careful…it’s really really hot!).
  5. Bake covered for 20 minutes, then remove the lid and bake an additional 20 minutes until golden brown.
  6. Gently turn out the bread and allow to cool.
  7. Enjoy with sweet butter or like we did with mussels!




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From Epicurious.com Gourmet | February 1990
by Lauren J. Diamond: Mt. Vernon, New York

These are lovely chewy cookies truly reminiscent of pumpkin pie.



  • 3/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup dark molasses
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons ground ginger
  • 2 tablespoons ground cloves
  • 1 teaspoon ground mace


  1. In a large bowl with an electric mixer beat together the oil, the molasses, 1 cup of the sugar, and the eggs until the mixture is smooth.
  2. In another bowl sift together the flour, the baking soda, the cinnamon, the ginger, the cloves, and the mace and then add the mixture to the molasses mixture.
  3. Beat the mixture until it is combined well and chill the dough, covered, overnight.
  4. Form the dough into 1 1/2-inch balls and roll the balls in the remaining 1/4 cup sugar to coat them well.
  5. Bake the balls 3 inches apart on buttered baking sheets in the middle of a preheated 350°F. oven for 10 to 12 minutes, or until the tops crack. Transfer the cookies to racks and let them cool.

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These are delicious, simple as that. And they are easy to make. Recipe from Dairy Farmers of Ontario.

Makes 1 pan



1 1/2 cups (375 mL) all purpose flour
2 tsp (10 mL) baking powder
1/2 cup (125 mL) butter
2 cups (500 mL) packed brown sugar
2 eggs
1 1/2 tsp (7 mL) vanilla
1 square semi-sweet chocolate

Nutty Topping

  • 1/4 cup (50 mL) butter
  • 1/3 cup (75 mL) sugar
  • 1/3 cup (75 mL) corn syrup
  • 2 tbsp (30 mL) water 1/4 tsp (1 mL) salt
  • 1 1/2 cups (375 mL) sliced almonds


  1. Combine flour and baking powder; set aside.
  2. Melt butter in large saucepan. Remove from heat; blend in sugar. Beat in eggs and vanilla. Stir in flour mixture. Spread batter in a greased 13 x 9 x 2 inch (3.5 L) cake pan.
  3. Bake in 350ºF (180ºC) oven 20 minutes. Spread Nutty Topping evenly over surface. Bake 15 minutes longer.
  4. Cool. Melt chocolate; drizzle over pan. Cut into bars.

Nutty Topping:

  1. Melt butter in small saucepan. Add and mix in sugar, corn syrup, water and salt.
  2. Bring mixture to boil; boil 4 minutes, stirring constantly. Stir in sliced almonds.

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