Archive for December, 2009

Despite a minor set-back of catching a head cold, I am almost back on my feet. Having missed the last two days of work for the year (and feeling horrible for it), I spent the last two days holed up in bed, with our iTouch, the remote control and gallons of home-made chicken stock (thanks JT) and drugs, of course! I spent all of Tuesday hooked on a stupid show called Paranormal States which one main character goes from one forlorn to another searching paranormal occupations (be it in someone, or in someone’s house). After about 15 episodes, only one minor thing seemed like it was true, and even that could be dis-proven. So the moral of this story is TV is stupid. There I said it.

Today, I am feeling much better. I finally packaged up my baking and set out  JT to begin deliveries. To recap, I have baked the following:

  • Mexican Macaroons
  • Anzac Biscuits
  • Bargain Basement Barb’s Double Chocolate Chunk Cookies
  • Peanut Butter Cookies
  • Peanut Butter Rice Krispie Squares
  • Nanaimo Bars
  • Old Fashion Date Filled Aatmeal Cookies
  • Two Bite Brownies All the Goodies
  • Chocolate Krinkle Kisses

All the Goodies

Baking gIfts all bundled up

Merry Christmas to all of our friends and colleagues and we wish you health and happiness for the coming year.

Read Full Post »

I was introduced to these cookies about 28 year’s ago when I visited my BFF at her parent’s home in Owen Sound. Her mom bought these cookies from a local bakery and I literally ate them all, could not believe how good they were (carbs were not my enemy in those days). I have made them from time to time, and they always bring back fond memories of those university days. I found this particular recipe in my second favorite cookbook, The Fannie Farmer Cookbook, first published in 1896, my version in it’s 12th edition. I did not alter this recipe.

March 5, 2012 update: This recipe has been altered because there were some inconsistencies that were brought to my attention by a reader so I have clarified.

November 24, 2013 update: I clarified that oatmeal in the ingredient listing are rolled oats.

Makes about 24 cookies.

Date Filled Oatmeal Cookies

Old Fashioned Date Filled Cookies

Ingredients for the Date Paste:

  • 1 cup pitted dates
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup water

Ingredients for the Dough:

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/2 packed brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/4 cups rolled oats (I usually have quick oats at home and they work just fine). If you don’t like the texture of the oats in the dough, pulse a few times in a food processor to make it finer).


  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. In a small saucepan, put the dates, sugar and water and gently cook until thick and smooth. Set aside and allow to cool completely.
  3. Cream the butter and add the brown sugar, mix well.
  4. Sift flour, baking soda and salt and add to the butter sugar mixture.
  5. Add the oatmeal, mixing thoroughly and adding 2-4 tbsp water to make a dough that can be rolled.
  6. Refrigerate for 15 minutes.
  7. Roll to 1/8 inch thick (if the dough is difficult to handle, you may wish to roll between two pieces of parchment), and cut with a 2″ cookie cutter. Place a teaspoon of the date paste into the centre and fold the two half edges together to make a crescent. Repeat until all the dough is used.
  8. Bake at 350°F for 15 minutes. Allow to cool and enjoy!

A note about the pastry, updated January 2014: A-Boleyn, A long-time reader and dear friend made these cookies for Christmas 2013 and made adjustments to the pastry which made it look much easier to roll out (considering the issue I mentioned above), so please check out her recipe here.

Read Full Post »

Peanut Butter Cookies

This recipe is adapted from one of my old faithful cookbooks,  Five Roses Guide to Good Cooking, page 117. Published in it’s 25th edition in 1983!

Peanut Butter Cookies

  • 3cups all purpose flour (Five Roses, of course) (if using regular peanut butter, reduce to about 2 cups)
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 cup butter or margarine (room temperature)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 ggs
  • 1 cup crunchy peanut butter (I prefer Compliments Just Peanuts, crunchy – note that this pb is rather wet, so I’ve increased the flour for this recipe)
  1. Preheat oven to 375•F
  2. Sift dry ingredients together and set aside.
  3. Cream butter; add sugars beating well with each addition.
  4. Add eggs and beat well. Add peanut butter and mix well.
  5. Add dry ingredients and mix thoroughly.
  6. Shape into walnut-sized balls, flatten with the palm of your hand slightly and using the tines of a fork, press down.
  7. Bake for 10-15 minutes or until edges are golden. Allow to cool.
  8. Enjoy!
  9. Makes about 50 cookies, 2-3″ diametre

Read Full Post »

Saturday I took my 6 year old niece for the day. We had a full day planned of skating, playing, baking and reading and we did it all but the skating (Mom forgot to check to see if skates fit her!)

We played in the castle at High Park, we lunched in the park, we did our nails, read her new (bday present) Disney story book and baked and decorated cookies (from scratch). She fell asleep in the car on the way home. What a great day we had.

Decorating cookies

Auntie Eva and Annie

Annie the hammie

Read Full Post »

Christmas Tree

We bought the tree last Wednesday at Ikea ($20!) and had tasty meatballs for dinner. We decorated on Thursday. We’re ready for the season’s celebrations!

Read Full Post »

This is by far the best butter chicken recipe I have made so far. It is adapted from a Bombay Palace Cookbook recipe I found on line. Although this dish is wonderful eaten the day it is made, it is far better a day or two later.

Butter Chicken-Murgh Makhani

Serving Size : 4-6

  • 3 pounds chicken, skinned, boned, and cut into 8 pieces marinated in tandoori paste — or 3 pounds leftover tandoori chicken
  • 3 garlic cloves, mashed and 1 piece of fresh ginger, size of walnut, minced finely
  • juice of 1 lemon


  • 2 pounds tomatoes, peeled seeded and pulped
  • 1 medium onion, browned in olive oil
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 6 ounces carnation evaporated milk
  • 1 green chili, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons chopped coriander leaves for garnish
  • 2 tsp meat masala
  • 2 tsp garam masala
  1. If you have leftover tandoori chicken, bone and cut into small chunks, and go on to step 3. Otherwise begin from scratch. Prepare chicken pieces and rub with tandoori paste. Marinate at least 10 hours or overnight.
  2. Grill chicken on BBQ until done. Cut into bite-sized pieces when cooled. Set aside.
  3. In a skillet simmer the tomatoes and browned onions gently until their liquid evaporates, leaving a thick paste – this will take 15-20 minutes. Add the masalas, garlic, ginger and lemon juice and cook until fragrant.
  4. Add the butter, and season to taste.
  5. Add the evaporated milk and chili and simmer gently 5 minutes. Blend with an immersion blender until smooth. Press through a fine sieve to create a smooth gravy.
  6. Return to pan and add the chicken and simmer for 5 minutes until thoroughly heated through. Transfer to a warm serving dish and garnish with coriander leaves.
  7. Serve with basmati rice and naan.

Read Full Post »

I am starting my Christmas baking a bit late this year. Partly because I didn’t want sweets in the house and partly because I just couldn’t be bothered. That’s sad. But Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas if I didn’t share the sweets. JT just had one request, Nanaimo Bars, so it’s on the list again this year, but this time, I shall actually make them. I am also mixing it up a bit for variety.

  • Bargain Basement Barb’s Chocolate Chip Cookies
  • Peanut Butter Cookies
  • Mexican Macroons (chocolate spicey coconut macroons)
  • Chocolate Mint Hershey Kiss Cookies
  • Date filled Oatmeal Cookies
  • Namaimo Bars
  • Anzac Biscuits
  • Butterscotchy Almond Bars

Read Full Post »

We’re had Gordon and Angela over for dinner this past Saturday and of course, I am still on this Tapas kick so we’re doing Tapas Around the World Part III. Recently a dear friend’s mother reached out asking about tips and tricks to serve a successful tapas dinner (at least, in my own little mind, they have been successful!!), so this post will focus on my tips and tricks! Hope it helps, Noni!

  1. 4-6 (including yourselves) is an ideal grouping for tapas, more than 6 is a cocktail party!
  2. Mix it up – serve cold, room temperature and hot dishes so that you’re not standing in the kitchen the entire time.
  3. Mix up sharing portions and mini individual portions (this allows some who are hungrier to help themselves to a second helping).
  4. Prepare in advance and make notes on what’s next (there will always be distractions when you entertain, so I find the notes extremely helpful to make sure I don’t forget something!)
  5. KIS – keep it simple. Don’t plan to make something complicated that will take you away from your guests for more than 5-10 minutes at a time.
  6. Plan your plating. I generally take out all the dishes I am planning to use and have them ready in the order of the courses. This way you’re not scrambling to find something last minute (check out Tap Phong on Spadina in Toronto, the most amazing store for unique, inexpensive plates!).
  7. Plan to have things your spouse can do (such as grilling), that way you can share the cooking time and alternate being with your guests.
  8. Use prepared sauces adjusting to your specific taste; you don’t have to make everything from scratch!
  9. Multi purpose for example, two out of the three desserts will have Crème Anglais, one I will heat, the other will be served cold.
  10. Determine where courses will be eaten (we like to begin the kitchen on our soapstone island and end up in the living room in front of a roaring fire, but you can also move around, depending on what you are serving).
  11. Wrap necessary cutlery in a napkin per person and have it ready in the living room (or where ever you plan to eat your tapas).

I have had good success with four rounds of three (four stages, each with three small portions or sharing portions). I will often try to incorporate a portion of something that I have made in bulk and frozen sometime previously and just have to cook/bake – that takes off some pressure of creating everything from scratch just for that meal. You can also mix it up with store-bought items and some home-made to help with the work load.

This is the menu for last Saturday night, my notes for pre-preparation (to do the day or days in advance) are below and the order of preparation (during the dinner party) are below that. It’s a lot more prep work ahead of time, but it does give you a lot more time to enjoy your guests.

Round 1: Thai

  • Lemongrass soup (May be prepared 1-2 days in advance and refrigerated. Reheat in microwave when ready to serve). I left out the shrimp this time, due to an aversion to seafood.
  • Pork Saté and peanut sauce (Prepare morning of, soak wooden skewers, marinate pork and refrigerate until ready to grill; Prepare peanut sauce in advance or use store bought, refrigerate).
  • 10-ingredient slaw (Prepare the morning of, keeping the wetter ingredients separate from the drier ones (such as cucumbers are wet, cabbage is dry) so the slaw stays crunchy. Combine and dress just before serving).

Round 2: Spain

  • Chorizo and Tomato Sausage (Prepare raw ingredients and combine, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate, ready for a quick fry).
  • Onion and Orange Salad (Prepare in advance so the onions have time to mellow). Store covered in refrigerator, I store in serving dish to save time later.
  • Bacon wrapped dates (I generally make these in bulk, so all I have to do is pulled out the required quantity from the freezer and bake when ready to serve).

Round 3: India

  • Onion Bhaji with mango sauce (I prepared a bulk quantity of onion bhaja’s in advance and froze them – you can buy ready made bhaja’s to simplify. Now I have onion bhaja’s for another couple tapas dinners; Mango sauce was Sensations from Sobeys with a minor adjustment)
  • Mini Naan with Butter Chicken (I made butter chicken for dinner on Wednesday night and made too much on purpose; you can do this virtually with anything!)
  • Carrot Pickle (I made this a couple of days in advance, but you can buy ready made condiments just as easily).

Round 4: France

  • Madeleine’s with Crème Anglais (I generally make Madeleine’s in bulk and freeze, so I just pull out the number I need). I made Crème Anglais the night before for another dinner party, so I just made too much and refrigerated)
  • Crêpe Suzette (I made Crèpes for breakfast the day before, and as usual, I made too much batter so I decided to make the crèpes for the tapas in advance and refrigerate. Remember that these are small portions so the crèpes are only 5″ in diameter!).
  • Ile Flottante (Crème Anglais from night before; I made the Ile the morning of).

Below is an example of what my notes would be a few days prior to the event:

Prepare a couple of days in advance:

  1. Cook lemongrass soup, cool and refrigerate.
  2. Create onion bhajas and freeze (I ran out of my stash, so I had to make them again).
  3. Create Bacon wrapped dates and freeze (I ran out of my stash, so I had to make them again).
  4. Butter Chicken (I planned to make this for dinner during the week and reserve a small portion for Saturday night – about one to two chicken chunks per person).
  5. Prepare Carrot pickle (this needs to sit in the dressing a few days to allow it to pickle). Refrigerate.
  6. Make crèpes, cover and refrigerate.
  7. Make Crème Anglais, cool, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate.

Prepare the day of (this takes about 3 hours or so):

  1. Marinate pork with a store bought peanut marinate (I altered mine to my taste) and skewer on soaked wooden sticks, wrap in cello and refrigerate.
  2. Prepare the ingredients for the 10-ingredient slaw; keep wet ingredients such as mango and cucumber separate to the drier ones such as radish and cabbage. Do not dress until 10 minutes before serving (doing so will wilt the slaw and it will become too sloppy).
  3. Prepare the onion and orange salad (chop a few extra onions for the chorizo, this saves time). This salad needs to be dressed in advance so that the citrus can mellow the onion. Cover well and refrigerate (not covering will make your fridge smell like onions!)
  4. Crêpe Suzette: prepare the orange liquor sauce and reserve (no need to refrigerate).
  5. Prepare the Ile Flottante and allow to cool, refrigerate. (I put the ile into the individual dishes, covered and refrigerated so all I had to do was pour the Crème Anglais on top, and one of my three dessert courses was complete!).

The Main Event. My actual notes are not nearly as detailed, but since I am giving pointers, I thought I would add as much detail and thought behind my madness!

  1. Guests arrive and beverages are served in the kitchen. I asked JT to grill pork satays, so the men do that outdoors while the women chat in the kitchen. We continued to chat and eat pork satay with peanut sauce in the kitchen.
  2. JT had prepared a fire in the fireplace in advance, so all he had to do was light it. We moved to the living room and JT lit the fire. This gave me a moment to clean up the kitchen a bit and heat up the soup in the microwave. While the soup is heating, I assembled the slaw and dressed it. On a large tray, we served the individual soup cups, and small plates for the sharing portion of the slaw. The lovely thing about tapas is that you can pace yourselves, so if one coarse is heavier, take a few extra minutes before serving the next round!
  3. We cleared the dishes and JT cut the bread, and brought out plates for the Spanish tapas, which were all sharing portions. The onion and orange salad was prepared in advance so all I did was pour it into the previously chosen serving bowl. The bacon wrapped dates take about 10 minutes on 375•F and the chorizo and tomato takes about 6 minutes. I cooked the chorizo while the dates were baking. We served it all at once. Because this course was sharing, it took a bit longer to eat particularly with the great conversations we were having!
  4. Because the courses are getting heavier, I waited for the Spanish course to be 1/2 finished before I put the rice on for the butter chicken. It takes 20 minutes and I wanted about 10-15 minutes between courses.
  5. When we cleared the dishes from the Spanish course, I started heating the butter chicken in the microwave (sauce and chicken heating separately, to keep the chicken whole and not mushy). The onion bhaji’s go into the oven for about 10 minutes on 350•F to heat through (they are already cooked from deep frying previously, I just need to reheat). The sauce for the bhaji was prepared in advance and was ready waiting on the serving platter. The pickle was also prepared in advance and already in the serving dish.
  6. The Indian course was served at once.
  7. Dessert had a bit more time between. I had previously plated the Ile Flottante so I just had to pour the Crème Anglais over it. Then I heated the remainder Crème Anglais for the Madeleine’s. The mini crépes had been prepared in advance, as had the orange sauce for the Crépes Suzettes. I heated the sauce in a pan, added the crépes and heated them through. Once the crépes were done, I plated and added the finishing touches and served. In the meantime, JT made espressos and dessert was enjoyed by the fire.

Tapas seem like a lot of work, but it really is a well orchestrated symphony of courses. I’d love to hear your comments about your tapas dinner. Please let me know how it works out.

Read Full Post »

Onion Bhaji (adapted from Jamie Oliver’s Blog)


  • 1 large sweet onion
  • 1 fresh Green Chilli, chopped finely
  • 1 tsp Ginger (grated on microplane)
  • 1 tsp Garlic (grated on microplane)
  • 200g Gram flour (Chickpea Flour) (I used semolina flour for the November 2013 dinner party)
  • 100g Rice Flour (I used regular wheat flour for the November 2013 dinner party)
  • 1/2 tsp Baking Powder
  • 1/4 tsp Cayenne (or to taste)
  • 2 tsps Ground Cumin
  • 1 tsp Ground Coriander
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • Water


  1. Add onion, finely chopped green chilli, grated ginger and garlic into a food processor and process until onion is finely chopped.
  2. Sieve the Gram and Rice Flour into a large bowl and add the Cayenne, Ground Cumin, Coriander, Salt and Pepper. Now add the finely chopped Onion and Chilli and mix thoroughly.
  3. Slowly add water, while stirring the mixture, until you get a thick batter (should resemble pancake mix).
  4. Mix well, and leave to stand for 10-minutes.
  5. Heat a Deep Fat Fryer to 190°C – using a very small ice cream scoop (about the size of a melon baller, drop 3-4 balls of onion mix into the hot batter. Remove when crisp and brown.
  6. Serve with a ready made tamarind sauce or mango sauce. YUM!
  7. These freeze well. To reheat, preheat oven to 300°F and bake bhajis for about 12-15 minutes until heated through. May be reheated from frozen, in which case it will take a bit longer.

Read Full Post »

%d bloggers like this: