Archive for October, 2011

February 10, 2013: I have updated this post with additional instruction for the nokedli and a new photo.

It’s the eve of Halloween and we’re getting really excited about our fast approaching trip to Morocco. There are so many things still to do, like packing, for example!

Our House Decked out for Halloween

Pumpkin Lights in the Planters

Not withstanding, I promised a scary story, the final installment. So here it is… Sadly, my dear Dad was jaundiced from owning a home because the Russians had taken away his family home and he was afraid it would happen again, so we lived in a very nice newly built apartment in suburban Toronto. We had just visited Hungary the first time and both my brother and I were a little freaked out because we had seen museum after museum of archeological digs – mainly skulls (Hungary was the munitions centre of the Roman Empire and the country is littered with Roman Ruins). The skulls both fascinated us and freaked us out at the same time.
Upon our return to Canada we decided to share a room in our apartment, on his side the walls were decorated with Hot Wheels and on mine, Barbie wallpaper. Most nights were fine, but on occasion one of us would have a bad dream and crawl into Mom and Dad’s bed. On this night, it was my brother that ventured into Mom and Dad’s room for safety and my Dad came in and slept in my brother’s bed.
Waking up in the middle if the night is never fun when you’re little; everything is so dark and shadows seem alive! I should have felt safe because my Dad was in the room, but he was snoring away about 10 feet from me and unaware of the shadows. The head of my bed faced away from the window; we were on the second floor and plenty of street light poured in through the curtains — plenty to make evil shadows come alive, that is. I awoke with a start! There is a HUGE man in a cowboy hat standing at the foot of my bed; I see only the silhouette, there are no features, but he looks mean. I can’t speak, I can hardly breathe. I blink, oh my god, he’s still there. I blink even harder, damn, still there. I hide my head under the covers and count to ten. There is no man in the room and my Dad is right there not more than 10 feet from me. I know it’s in my head, but crap, it seems so real. I peak out one last time, and HE’S STILL THERE. Now, I really can’t breathe. I hide my head under the covers and I stay there; I imagine the lack of oxygen caused me to fall asleep, and when I woke up in the morning, with the sun pouring in, the shadow man was gone! Or the entire episode was a dream that seemed so real.

Year’s later, as an adult, I read about the Shadow People, and now wonder if it had been real!

Ready for the recipe? I have perfected this recipe over the years trying to make it healthier (Hungarians cook with a lot of lard and although it is flavourful, it is definitely not good for you).

Healthy Chicken Paprikas


  • 4 x 100g skinless boneless chicken breasts
  • 1 roughly chopped medium sweet onion (I used vidalia)
  • 1 cup cubed celery root
  • 3 ripe red peppers
  • 2 tbsp Hungarian Sweet Papkria
  • 1-2 cups low sodium chicken stock
  • 1 cup + 4 tbsp non fat Greek Yogurt or Sour Cream
  • 1 tsp flour
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil


  1. Roast the peppers in the oven until the skins are black. Set into a bowl with a plate covering it to allow the peppers to steam.
  2. Once peppers are cool enough to handle, peel the skins off.
  3. Purée the peppers using an immersion blender until smooth.
  4. In a large dutch oven, heat 1 tbsp oil and add the onions and cook until translucent. Add the Hungarian paprika, but be careful not to burn, this isn’t like Indian spices, paprika will burn quickly.
  5. To the onions, add the celery root and 1 cup chicken stock. Add the puréed roasted red peppers, and a little more chicken stock. Cook for 1/2 hour on medium heat, until the celery root is soft.
  6. Remove from the heat and purée until smooth. Pass through a fine seive.
  7. Before returning the sauce to the heat, add 1 tbsp oil to the dutch oven. Chop the chicken breasts into bite sized pieces and brown in the hot oil. Add the paprika sauce back into the pan with the chicken and cook for 1/2 hour on medium heat or until the chicken is cooked through. You can remove from the heat and freeze for future use, or use right away.
  8. Add 1 tsp flour to the yogurt and mix well (this will prevent the yogurt from separating when adding to the paprika sauce). Add the yogurt to the chicken paprikas and mix well.
  9. To serve, pour into a large decorative dish and drizzle with the remaining yogurt, garnish with flat leaf parsley.

Ingredients for the Nokedli (dumplings):

Hungarian Paprika and the Nokedli Szagato (dumpling tool)

General rule of thumb for this recipe is 1 cup flour and 1 egg per person. In my efforts to make this a healthier meal, I generally use 1 egg for the pot and 4 tbsp egg whites and 1/2 cup flour per person. The nokedli are lighter and not as yellow as using full eggs, but the flavour is still there. You make the nokedli by hand using a small cutting board and a knife and just cutting off small bits of the dough right into the boiling water (Hungarians call this Csipetke) or you can use a nokedli maker.

  • 2 cups flour (you can substitute whole wheat but it changes the texture a bit, so I would only recommend 1/4 cup ww and 1 3/4 white flour)
  • 1 egg
  • 12 tbsp egg whites
  • salt and pepper to taste
The dough should be loose enough to press through the Nokedli maker without much effort, but it should not be wet.

The dough should be loose enough to press through the Nokedli maker without much effort, but it should not be wet.


  1. Beat egg and egg white until slightly frothy. Add salt and pepper.
  2. Mix in the flour until it form a soft dough (I usually do this in the food processor). Add little bits of water if necessary to make a loose pasta-like dough (don’t worry if it’s too thick, you can add bits of the hot water to it as you are pressing it through the nokedli press.
  3. In a large soup pot, boil water with salt.
  4. Once the water is on a hard boil, start making the nokedli. You can make the entire batch in this one pot, they won’t stick together if you stir them once in a while. When you are done they should all float to the top. Pour into a colander and rinse with cold water.
  5. Add the nokedli to a bowl and drizzle with oil so they don’t stick together.
  6. When ready to serve, heat 3 tbsp butter in a large dutch oven. Add nokedli and reheat, crisping up the edges a bit (we like them crisped).
  7. Serve family style in a large serving vessel.

Egéségedre! (to your health!)


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When it rains, it pours! We’re so busy at work (not complaining!) and I’ve just gotten a huge freelance project that needs to be completed before we leave for Morocco, AND we’re hosting two dinner parties on the weekend on Saturday and Sunday evening! Call me crazy but I actually get invigorated when things are so hectic!

Here are some pics from past Halloweens – we try to do different pumpkins every year. This one will be a challenge for me as I have a slight tear in my right rotator cuff and I’m right handed! But JT said he would eviscerate my pumpkin for me (gosh, that sounds so ghoulish!)

Our pumpkins from 2006

Our 2007 Pumpkins

Here is another scary story: Several years ago JTs elderly Aunt and Uncle had to move from their home of 65 years to a retirement home. They had three children a boy and two girls; sadly the boy, Norman who was very close to JT, unexpectedly died at 18 at home. Because the remaining children were unable to help clean up the house (renamed the “stinky house”) for resale, JT stepped up. It took several weeks and several dump bins to empty the house (read horders) and because JT refused any money for the work he put in, the Aunt generously told him he could have anything he wanted from the house. We fell in love with a couple of things (that were from JTs grandparents) including a small enamel lamp that we put into the guest room upstairs.
As I’ve mentioned before, our home is a craftsman style home that was built in 1928. The front door was original at that time; it had a retrofitted key operated dead bolt but it also had one of those weird locks that operates with a little button on the side that we NEVER used. Here is a photo of a similar lock (our’s was not that ornate), you would push the little button above the dead bolt and it would bolt out. I am illustrating this to show how difficult it is to push the little button in, one would have to intentionally do it!

You see how difficult it might be to push that little button in? We had all but forgotten about that feature on the door lock.

The day we brought the stuff home we were UNABLE to unlock the front door! Fortunately, I had hidden a key to the back door so we were able to gain access to the house only to discover that somehow, someone had pushed that little button in. Hmmm.
About a week later I awoke in the middle of the night and was unable to sleep, so instead of waking JT I went into the guest room to read; I tried turning on the little enamel light…nothing. I checked the bulb, it was there and it was screwed in well. I had to turn on the overhead light to find that the light had been unplugged! I hadn’t done it, nor JT! I got really creeped out and decided to go back to our bedroom and force myself to sleep. These two coincidences freeked me out a bit (yes, I believe in ghosts!) so the very next morning I stood in the guest room and said out loud: Norman, you’re freaking me out, please stop it.” and nothing weird has happened since. Thanks Norman.
For our first dinner guests this weekend, I needed to keep things simple, so we’re serving the Provençal fish soup that I made last week and froze, and JT has generously offered to make that delicious Moroccan beef recipe. Dessert is an old fashion apple crisp — I’ve taken a few pointers from Chicago John’s from the Bartolini Kitchens so this standard recipe has been modified with his experience. Thanks John.

Apple Crisp


  • 3 Baking apples (we used Royal Gala), peeled and cut into small cubes
  • 3 Granny Smith Apples, peeled and cut into small cubes
  • splash of lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar (we are not sweet eaters, so you may wish to increase this)
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
  • 3 tbsp flour
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp nutmeg
  • pinch of salt
  • 1-2 tsp cognac for each serving (I made these up in ramekins)


  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup roughly ground walnuts (so they are about the size of the oats)
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • pinch of nutmeg
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup room temperature butter
  • pinch of salt


  1. Pre-heat oven to 350°F.
  2. Mix both types of apple cubes with the lemon juice in a bowl.
  3. Mix the spices, sugar, flour and walnuts in another bowl.
  4. Toss the apples with the spice mix to coat well.
  5. Lightly butter 6 ramekins (I used 4oz).
  6. Evenly distribute the apple mixture in the 6 ramekins.
  7. Blend the topping mixture with the exception of the butter. Mix well.
  8. Cut the butter into the dry mixture until mixture forms soft clumps.
  9. Evenly press this mixture over the apples in the ramekins.
  10. Place the ramekins onto a cookie sheet and bake for 30-40 minutes or until the topping is golden and the apples are soft.
  11. Serve with your very best vanilla ice cream.

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In honour of the upcoming festive holiday season, I thought I would present some past photos and share a couple of scary stories. Oh, did you think I was going to blog about Christmas? Hmm!
Halloween is such a fun time of year. JT and I usually have a pumpkin carving contest, we decorate the exterior of the house, even have a scary music loop on the night we hand out candy to the neighbourhood kiddies.

Some years it’s been so lovely and warm that we sit on our Muskoka Chairs on our front porch, sipping martinis as the little ghouls and goblins muster up the courage to step up to the porch and beg for candy; other years, like last, it’s been bitterly cold so we sipped martinis inside in front of the fire, being jolted up every few minutes with the doorbell and screams of “trick or treat!” I have a feeling that this year will be colder than ever, and possibly even snow. When it is cold I feel bad for the kiddies to have to wear their winter coats over their carefully designed costumes, yup I’ve been there!

Some of you will know that I am usually not a scary or ugly costume person at Halloween; even as a child, I was always ‘a pretty lady!’ Mom would make up my face, put fake nails and lashes on, and I would dress up with heels and hats! I’ve always left the scary, weird costumes to my younger brother (Flap Jack’s dad). A couple of years ago we were invited to a Halloween party at one of the photographers we know through my work, they really put on a wonderful first class bash in their studio. I just knew a ‘pretty lady’ wouldn’t cut it, plus JT and I wanted to go as a team. After incredible amount of research we finally landed on Bonnie and Clyde. We rented the old movie with Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway and decided right away that we would model our Bonnie and Clyde after the characters in that movie. We scoured the thrift stores for our costumes which we made from scratch (no packaged costumes for us). We put together a very convincing couple, down to the (fake) cigarettes they chain smoked. It was about a week before the party and I’m talking to my friend (boss) Kim about the party and just had to tell her what we had planned. She suggested we go as ‘dead’ Bonnie and Clyde just to get into the Halloween spirit. Hmmmm, dead doesn’t look pretty! But JT loved the idea, so we did it. Bullet holes, makeup, drippy blood. Yup, we were ‘dead’! Soooo cool! I loved it! I can’t believe I missed out on the gore all these years. No one even needed to ask who we were, everyone knew!


Do you have a scary story you would like to share?





OK, now the scary story:
At Univerisity I befriended the school photographer, Ken who was a few years older than I. A group of us hung out. Around our third year, Ken’s parents bought a cottage. Shortly after Ken and his bud Pete went up to the cottage for the weekend. Ken was also an artistic photographer, so he was always taking the artsy shots. Ken brought a silver manican up that weekend to photograph in the light of the moon. It was one of those solid manicans that couldn’t move or turn its head etc. He and Pete were in the forest, while Pete was throwing a white cloth up in the air above the silver manican, Ken was catching the cloth and the subject in a shot! All of a sudden, they both saw the manican turn its head! But it couldn’t! What? Did you see that? It happened a couple of times, enough that these two grown men decided they’d had enough! They bedded down in one if the guest rooms with bunk beds, but they couldn’t sleep. The thought of the manican turning its head kept coming up. For some reason, Ken decided they need to name this silver manican.
These are two very suburban boys, both of English decent; after much debate, they decided to name the silver manican Ghertie! A nice German name.
It wasn’t until about a week later, they were told the previous owner of the cottage was named Ghertie and she actually died that very night they were photographing the manican in the forest!!! This story still gives me the creeps!
I spotted this recipe on Angie’s Recipes blog and I knew I had to make it for Kim (friend, boss) who is throwing a Halloween party on Sunday for her 10 year old daughter. I won’t repeat the recipe, so click here for the link. I’m not sure if my altitude is different than Angie’s but I would add a bit more flour and bake at a slightly higher temperature next time.

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Weekends are always special for breakfast. We’re not rushing around to get out of the house as we do during the week, we have a bit more time to fancy it up. One of our favourites is Panettone French Toast. I usually buy a large dried fruit panettone whenever it’s on sale, and slice it up into 3-4cm thick slices and freeze them in individual baggies (in Toronto our Italians make the panetonne in about 20 cm rounds, so I generally cut the slices in half). In effort to cut back and be a little healthier, I find that cubing a 1/2 slice of panettone between the two of us, is plenty. This time I topped it with sliced oranges and prunes.

Panettone French Toast Cups


  • 1/2 slice of panettone cut into 2cm cubes (about a half a circle 20cm in diametre)
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup of egg whites
  • 1/2 cup of non fat yogurt
  • 1 orange, sectioned
  • 3 prunes cut into small pieces
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup with 1/2 tsp vanilla, warmed


  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Spray two ramekins (about 8cm in diametre and 10cm tall) with non-stick cooking spray.
  3. Place the panettone cubes into each ramekin (about the same number in each)
  4. Beat the egg, egg white and non fat yogurt in a small mixing bowl.
  5. Pour half the mixture into each ramekin and push the panettone down so that it soaks up the mixture well.
  6. Bake in a preheated oven for 30-40 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean. The egg mixture will rise like a beautiful souffle. Turn out of the ramekin and sit upright in the middle of the plate.
  7. Serve immediately with warm maple syrup and sliced oranges and prunes. You can even dollop some non-fat yogurt on top for a nice contract of cold and hot.

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A couple of months ago, fellow food blogger Charles blogged about a Bouillabaisse recipe and that inspired me to want to make one of my own. It’s finally getting chilly here in Toronto so it’s definitely soup weather!

In 2008 we were fortunate enough to travel with our dear friends Paul and T to Europe. We traveled for 15 days from Vienna to Budapest (I have family there) to Venice to Provence and finally to Paris. We ate, drank and lived like kings and queen’s and had an amazing time. In Marseille I ate the most wonderful fish soup and through Charles’ inspiration, I shall try to recreate my version of this famous Provençal Soup.

Paul, Eva and Theresa sitting on a ledge at Notre-Dame de la Garde

View from Notre-Dame de la Garde

On Charles’ blog post I mentioned that I have a secret ingredient. Are you ready? I keep a zip lock bag in my freezer. Wow! Crazy isn’t it? Every time I make shrimp and clean the shells/tails from them (raw), I drop them into this baggy instead of tossing them in the compost bin. Over the summer, I have accumulated quite a lot. Also, if we have lobster or crab which we did, I always save the shells and drop them into this baggy. This is going to be my flavour base.

The secret ingredient

Because I wanted to keep relatively true to the origin of the soup, I based my recipe on Epicurious because it read like the one I had in Marseille, although I have altered it to our taste. The recipe makes 8 servings, so I will cool and freeze 6 servings for future use. The fresh seafood will be for 2 servings and I will deal with it in the final cooking and assembly stage.

Everybody in the pot!


  • 250g or 2 medium leeks (white and pale green parts only), cleaned and chopped
  • 1 large fennel bulb, stalks discarded, reserving fronds for garnish, and bulb chopped
  • 200g or 1medium carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 500g or 1 celery root, peeled and cubed (I have used this instead of celery as I don’t want to thicken the soup with a roux, I’ll thicken it with vegetables instead).
  • 6 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp Herbes de Provence
  • 2 California or 4 Turkish bay leaves
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1/8 teaspoon crumbled saffron threads
  • 500g or 1 large ziplock bag of shrimp tails, lobster shells and such
  • 1 cup of raw shrimp
  • 2 cans chopped stewed tomatoes (about 4 cups)
  • 2 cups dry white wine
  • 4 (3- by 1-inch) strips fresh orange zest
  • 4L water
  • salt and pepper to taste


  1. In a large soup kettle, put two tables spoons of EVOO and heat gently. Add leeks, fennel, carrot, celery root, garlic, herbes de Provence, bay leaves, cayenne, saffron and 1/2 teaspoon pepper cooking over medium heat, stirring occasionally about 10 minutes.
  2. Add the water and the bag of shrimp tails, lobsters shells and such. Bring to a boil and then turn down to a simmer, stirring occasionally for 2-3 hours (the broth should have a lovely seafood flavour and aroma).
  3. Force this mixture (yes, even the shrimp tails and lobster shells) through a food mill. You will not believe the flavour you will get from the seafood dregs!
  4. Add the canned tomatoes, wine and orange zest and bring back up to a boil for a minute or two. Remove from heat and allow to cool for a bout 15 minutes. Now press this through a fine sieve to make it a creamy silken soup (although the authentic soup does have some bits and chunks in it)
  5. Salt and pepper to taste.
  6. Set aside to cool and portion into plastic containers for freezing.

Ingredients for serving for two:

  • 2 portions of the previously made soup
  • 6 raw large shrimp
  • 300g of sturdy white fish, such as Haddock, or Hallibut
  • any other seafood you wish to add


  1. On the day that you wish to serve this soup, defrost the portions you need, and reheat to a slow boil. Add the fish and shrimp and cook through.
  2. Serve immediately with crostini and saffron aioli.

Provençal Fish Soup

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Flap Jacks for Halloween

Well, the title of this post might be a bit misleading…I’m not posting a recipe for flap jacks (or commonly known as pancakes — or cakes of pan in my house!). I am, however, going to share detailed instructions for creating a flap jack costume as my nephew Jack (the fire-maker Thanksgiving Weekend) asked if I could sew him one. Sadly, I have committed to a freelance design project and won’t have the time before I leave, so I created detailed instructions on how to make the costume.

I immediately envisioned this costume in my head, so it was a matter of simply drawing and putting words to it. I tried to keep it as simple as possible, but I wanted a convincing costume so that Jack as Flap Jack would be pretty obvious. Click on the illustrations to see a full size version.

Illustration of Flap Jack Costume


    • 1 1/2”  Thick Foam – enough to make three full circles about 15” above the head to the knees.
    • Glue gun or spray glue (spray glue must be specific for foam)
    • Light beige long sleeve T-shirt, to match pancake.
    • Dark brown leggings and shoes.
    • ORDORLESS Spray paint for foam (Michaels will have this, ordinary spray paint will dissolve the foam):
    • Light beige for pancake,
    • Slightly darker brown for golden cooked parts of the flap jack,
    • Golden brown for syrup
    • Bright yellow for butter.


Cutting a giant circle

  1. To cut the rounds required: Measure about 12-15” above Jack’s head to about his knees.
  2. Divide circumference by 2, and cut a piece of string about 5” longer.
  3. Tie a pen or marker to the string on one side, and a safety pin to the other side. Safety pin it to the centre of the foam.
  4. Holding the string tight, draw a circle around the centre (like a giant compass).
  5. Cut THREE rounds like this. Save the corner pieces (this will be the butter).
  6. On ONE circle, cut an oval for the face about 12-15” from the top of the round.
  7. Place the face hole over Jack’s face and approximate where his arms would need to come out, and cut two smaller ovals for the arms.

Cutting a place for your face and arms

For the syrup:

  1. Place the cut (with face and arm holes) on TOP of one of the remaining circles  and trace where you put the face and arm holes.  Cut them out as close to the original size or SMALLER than the first one.
  2. Now cut the syrup in an amoeba-like shape so that it looks like it was poured and is oozing all over the flap jack.

Syrup Pattern

The butter:

  1. From the corners of the foam, cut a pat of butter in a rectangle form like shown. To make it more 3-D, cut 3 the same shape.
  2. The 4th and top layer of the butter, should be cut to be drippy on two sides, as illustrated.
  3. Assemble the butter layer over layer, so that they are glued together as tightly as possible to each edge, including the one that has the melty drips, allowing the melty drips to stick out (they will be glued to the flap jack on assembly).

Butter is cut from left-over foam. 4 layers gives you the height/thickness needed


  1. Paint the TWO OUTSIDES of the flap jack circles the light brown colour.
  2. Take the slightly darker paint and spray cooking marks on both sides, as illustrated (it doesn’t need to be perfect, cooking flap jacks is not perfect either!)
  3. Spray the syrup the golden darker brown on ONE SIDE.
  4. Paint the butter the bright yellow, even the edges.
  5. Allow all three pieces to dry completely (you may want to put outside so it doesn’t smell too bad).

Painting the pieces


  1. Glue the two main flap jack pieces together so that you ONLY glue 3/4 of the way around, starting from the left outside leg to the right outside leg (this allows Jack to slip into the costume from the bottom. ONLY GLUE THE EDGES.
  2. Glue the Syrup on top of the FRONT LAYER (the one with the holes for the face and arms) making sure you LINE UP the face and arms PERFECTLY).
  3. Glue the butter onto the Flap Jack making sure you don’t cover the face or arm holes, place where ever you want. Glue the melty bits so that it oozes down the side of the butter edges ONTO the flap jack.
  4. Make sure the glue has enough time to dry before you wear it.

Assembly is easier than you think


  1. An electric knife is perfect for cutting thick foam, MAKE SURE MOM OR DAD ASSIST.
  2. Try to get ODOR FREE spray paint and glue. It could be smelly.

Copyright Eva Taylor. You may copy this pattern for your own personal use or on your blog as long as you link back to my blog and give me credit for it.

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As you may know, we renovated our kitchen about four years ago, adding about 100 square feet to our modest little 10′ x10′ craftsman-style kitchen and basement. Most renovations don’t go exactly to plan, and our’s was no different. I had hoped to gain an olive oil and vinegar drawer beside the stove and a great spice pullout on the other side, but because we have some angles on our main wall with most of the cabinets, we were limited (it makes for an interesting layout, but awkward functionality). I did manage both of my wishes, but we had to be creative on where we put them.
For years I managed with my spices being in small labelled tins, but a tablespoon of this or that would deplete my tin, so I was constantly refilling. Last fall, we were visiting our good friends Paul and T in Yorkville Illinois and I noticed that she had some lovely little jars of spices she had picked up in Target (we Canadians say Tarjé, as in French!). Much to my surprise, she generously picked up an entire set for me! What a dear, dear friend.
They didn’t have some of the unique spices I like to have on hand (such as garam masala, meat masala or five Chinese spice) so I relabeled some duplicates, which worked out perfectly! Now my spice drawer is complete! I’m wondering what my next project should be?

Yes, I may have ‘type-A’ tendencies! The spices are organized alphabetically! It’s not crazy, just super organized! No, really!

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As you all may know by now, our trip to Morocco is fast approaching and are goal to cook Moroccan has somehow gotten lost in our busy lives. We still have so many of the flavours to sample. Our nephew, Brian is staying with us for one more week, and I’m sad to say that I will miss him. But we have decided to enjoy Sunday dinners together in the future (or until he finds something better to do)! This past Sunday, we made one of my favourites but we put a Moroccan twist on it: Beer Butt Chicken, Moroccan Inspired Cornbread and Quinoa Tabbouleh Moroccan Style. Today, I will share the cornbread recipe.

Moroccan Inspired Cornbread (original recipe from Fred’s Not Here, a southern-style restaurant in Toronto). We haven’t been in quite some time, it was getting a little run-down about 10 years ago, but their corn bread recipe still rocks!


  • 3/4 cup medium ground corn meal
  • 3/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 egg
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1/8 cup vegetable oil
  • 2-3 tbsp dried jalopeño flakes
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped green onions
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped dates
  • 3/4 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese


  1. Pre heat oven to 400°F. Pre heat oiled cast iron frying pan (8″ in diametre).
  2. Sift cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and spices in a bowl.
  3. Blend eggs, milk and oil in another bowl.
  4. Stir wet ingredients into dry.
  5. Fold in the shredded cheese, jalopeño, dates and green onion.
  6. Pour into the hot cast iron pan and bake for 25 minutes or until firm and golden.
  7. Cut into wedges and serve warm with butter.

Moroccan Inspired Cornbread with dried chili flakes and dates

Moroccan Inspired Corn Bread

Warm Corn Bread

Bon Appetit

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It’s raining cats and dogs as I type this. It’s been raining for two days and they are predicting more. Me. Not happy. This is the not so pretty part of autumn.

We’re having JTs “step brother’s” over for dinner tonight; Alan is from Vancouver and Peter is from Wasaga Beach. Our nephew Brian (the one we visited in Calgary in June, just moved back to Toronto and is staying with us for a couple of weeks) is also joining us. Wow, that’s me with four handsome men! I decided to make an all time favourite that really only works with a crowd, Paella.

But first our appetizer: the beautiful fall inspired butternut squash velouté. What’s a little different about this soup is that there is no Roux, or cream, just vegetables. And a Granny Smith apple (you see how I snuck that in?). I always oven roast my vegetables for the most flavour, and for this one, I also roasted an entire head of Ontario Garlic. The roasting happened a little quicker than expected because of all the moisture in the pan from the onions and the apple, I didn’t get the anticipated caramelization on the squash. Next time, I’ll roast the squash and potato separate to the apple and onion; it still made a mighty fine autumn soup. I have modified the instructions as such.

Going into the oven at 400°F

The recipe is really just to taste, if you love something, add more, hate something, omit it!


  • 1 large butternut squash, cut into cubes (save the seeds)
  • 1 medium Yukon Gold potato, peeled and cubed
  • 1 medium Vidalia, or Mayan onion, peeled and chopped into eighths
  • 1 head of garlic, remove some of the outer peel, leaving the cloves intact
  • 1 Granny Smith apple, washed and cut into similarly sized cubes as everything else
  • Chicken or vegetable stock (we used no salt stock, we’re getting back into home made chicken stock time soon).
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO)
  • Sea Salt and Pepper to taste

Squash Seeds:

  • 1/4 tsp paprika
  • 1/4 tsp all spice
  • sea salt to taste
  • 1 tsp EVOO


  1. Preheat oven to 400°F.
  2. Make sure your vegetables are cut to similar size so they cook similarly.
  3. Roast potatoes and squash drizzled with EVOO and salt in one pan; the onions and apple drizzled with EVOO in another for 30-45 minutes until soft.
  4. Put the trimmed garlic head in a ramekin that just fits it, drizzle with EVOO (about 2 Tbsp) and salt lightly. Cover with tin foil and bake until bulbs are soft, about 45 minutes.
  5. Combine everything in a large high sided bowl (the apple skins should just peel off, but don’t worry if the don’t) and purée with an immersion blender until smooth, adding stock to desired consistency.
  6. Press through a fine sieve or chinoise strainer, so it’s velvety smooth. Keep warm or refrigerate for later. Reheat before serving.
  7. Clean off the reserved squash seeds, drizzle with EVOO, sprinkle on the spices and bake until slightly toasted (or when they begin to pop).
  8. 8. Serve in soup cups with the squash seeds as garnish.

The soup, excuse me, velouté

Happy Friday Everyone, I hope you enjoy your weekend.

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The Liebster Blog Award is to recognize your favorite up-and-coming bloggers who have fewer than 200 subscribers, and my good friend, Charles from Five Euro Food was kind enough to give it to me! Thank you Charles! I am most touched particularly when you said “Anyone who made their own croissants from scratch deserves a nomination in my book!” — I like that a lot! But now I need to lay off making (and eating) the croissants, otherwise I will have to buy new clothes for our upcoming trip (hmmmmmmm….)

Rules are:

  1. Thank the giver and link back to the blogger who gave it to you. Check, see above.
  2. Reveal your top 5 bloggers and let them know by leaving a comment on their blog. Check, see below
  3. Copy and paste the award on your blog. Check, see above.

The five bloggers I nominate are:

Oishii – Michael does a lot of recipe testing, and is working on his photography.

The Big Fat Noodle looks for anything positive as inspiration. Has lived in far parts of the world, but now resides in Surrey UK.

Bunny. Eats. Design. A graphic designer living in Auckland, NZ. with her hubby and bunny.

Bits and Breadcrumbs, Betsey is another graphic designer who loves to cook (notice a trend?)

Rosemary and the Goat. I really liked the name of her blog.

My brother’s wife Wendy, just bought a lovely new fire-ring; it helps to contain the fire in the fire pit. My nephew Jack LOVES making fires. JT is very good at making fires since he practically grew up at the cottage, he helped Jack make this fire so we could cook lunch on it. Lunch on Sunday was hot dogs (I haven’t had a real hot dog in 20 years, I usually opt for the veggy dog!). We roasted the dogs over the fire, it was such fun. I’d forgotten how the skin gets all tense that it pops when you bite into it!

Jack stoking the fire

The New Firepit

Sunday morning I had made fried eggs in pepper rings (Flower Power Eggs from Donna’s Tasty Kitchen) so I had a lot of peppers left over. We needed an hors d’œuvre and I thought why not fire roasted peppers? We had an amazing fire, perfect embers; I roasted each pepper until the skins blackened and bubbled, took quite some time, but well worth the effort. The skin came off reasonably easily, and I sliced them into long strips.

Fire Roasted Peppers

A few crumbles of sheeps milk feta, a drizzle of olive oil, a minute or two under the broiler, and you have a gorgeous hors d’œuvre! It’s an iPhone photo, not the best, but you can see how beautiful the colours were. The smoke from the fire really came through, it was very tasty!

Here are a couple of great photos of the beautiful fall colours.

The morning sun shining through the trees down the road (right about where Martin Short's cottage is)

Gorgeous colours, even my iPhone 3Gs was able to capture the beauty!

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As you’ve read by now, I’m kind of on a croissant kick; I’m trying to master the art of croissant making and it’s going well. Sawsan over at Chef in Disguise originally inspired me to take on the lofty croissant!
This is attempt number three. I’m using
The Fresh Loaf recipe again, mainly because it was designed for a mixer (my shoulder is still bad, I have an xray and ultrasound booked!)

The cold, formed croissants, just before baking

What I’ve learned is this:

  • The dough and the butter must be cold all the time.
  • The dough should be a harder bread dough, and not soft, so that the butter doesn’t melt into it (you want the butter to define the layers).
  • I actually followed Sawsan’s folding after folding the butter into it (The Fresh Loaf doesn’t fold as much and I like a flaky croissant).
  • After each rolling and folding, return to the fridge to rise for a few hours or as I did, over night.
  • NEVER allow the dough to warm up (this melts the butter).
  • The two temperature baking is essential for a golden, flaky croissant. Super hot to begin, then lower to bake it through.

    The final product. Flaky, butter, yummy.

    I do hope you try baking croissants sometime. They really are not as difficult as you might think. Thanks Sawsan, again!

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  • It’s Thanksgiving in Canada, and we made our yearly treck to my brother’s cottage. It should only be a little over a two hour drive, but as the years move on it’s gotten worse and worse. Over three hours!
    We stopped to a world famous burger joint on Hwy 11, called Webers. I’ve never been. JT and I shared a burger and fries.

    Click here for photo source.
    To be honest, it’s not the best burger I’ve ever had! Which is surprising because there is a lot of hype around it. It was nice to stretch our legs and eat it at a picnic table outside. This a good segway to the incredible weather we’re having…26C! Two years ago it snowed!
    Here is a photo from 2009.

    We’ve been celebrating Thanksgiving with my brother since our Mom passed away six years ago; it’s always a little crazy (2 kids and a giant dog) and this year is no different!
    BTW, last night, we polished off most of the donkey ear cookies, cheese sticks and Tuppkaka!
    JT and I usually take care of one dinner and one breakfast! JT made his famous Boeuff Bourgignon, I made dumplings, and we had the Tuppkaka for dessert.

    This morning we are having Flower Power Eggs from Donna’s Tasty Kitchen and Croissants (tomorrow’s post).


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    First I want to say how sad I am that Steve Jobs has passed away; not withstanding that he was so very young, his future contributions will be sadly missed. I have been using his products almost exclusively for near 25 years (maybe longer). My first real job, was the beginning of the apple hype; we had just started getting Macs on every desk. I was in the Graphic Department of a professional services firm (think Accounting and Consulting), so we were one of the first. My very first Mac was Macintosh 128K, it didn’t have enough memory to hold graphic software — some being as large as two little 3.5 inch floppy disks! I remember coining the term “disk-drive aerobics”, standing by as the Mac accessed disk one, pop it out, I’d then have to pop in disk two, and repeat, over and over and over, every time I saved! One of the first projects I did was a detailed map of our rail system on Cricket Draw – it took days! I finally finished it and IT WOULD NOT PRINT! Good grief! All that work? Really? That was my rude awakening to Postscript! Fortunately, Cricket was able to convert the graphic to Postscript, so I bought a couple of books on it, read them from cover to cover and changed a comma to a period and lo and behold, IT PRINTED!!! Fortunately software has matured with the leaps and bounds of Mac technology. Lucky for me, I was born to use a Mac! My wonderful career in design and design management was launched and the rest is history. Thank you, Steve Jobs! May you Rest In Peace.

    Now to the task at hand, my good friend Ann, over at Cooking Healthy For Me tagged me in a game to list your three favourite posts, and then to name five bloggers to do the same. Well, I am happy to report, that I have new bloggers in my follow repertoire, so stay tuned!

    Listing my favourite dishes is not as easy as it sounds; I might like the photo, or the recipe, but not both! Decisions, decisions! Ok, here goes:

    All Butter French Croissants

    The all butter croissants. I really like the photo, but to have made actual, real life, French croissants? I must say, I am loving this post (thank you Sawsan, I wouldn’t have done it without your kind words of encouragement!).

    Harira, a traditional Moroccan Soup

    My second choice has to be Harira, a traditional Moroccan Soup. Not withstanding the wonderful flavours in this soup, I really like the photo (I know it’s a bit blown out in the front, but I like it. I’m finally getting the hang of my Canon Rebel. I’ve never used an SLR before this blog!

    Mini Paris Cupcakes

    My Final choice are the mini Paris Cupcakes, mainly because they are so bright and I smile every time I look at them. I would have loved to say a number of other from 2007, 8 and 9, but sadly the photos suck, so I won’t bring them up…but if your are curious, I really loved the following:

    Leak and Potato Capuccino with Gruyére Créme

    Retro Olive Nuggets

    Cottage Paella

    Cheddar and Onion Scones

    Flourless Molten Chocolate Cake

    OK, that’s it. Really. Thank you Ann, for a lovely trip down memory lane…it was a nice journey! I would like to mention that if I have missed you on this round, I am trying to expand the blog-o-sphere and bring on some new bloggers I’ve come across. I still ADORE reading all of the blogs I have grown so attached to. It’s like a cyber family!

    Now for my next nominations:

    1. Dulce Delight A Brazilian young woman living in NYC. I’m not sure if she reads my blog, but I read her’s and it is lovely. She very candidly presents cooking videos from her little apartment in New York. Plus I love her adorable little pocket dog.
    2. Jed at Sports-Glutton is a new reader, but I like his rawness, typical guy recipes. I don’t really read his sports entries, sorry Jed, but I am a girly girl, and have no interest. But I will savor your food posts with vigor!
    3. the Big Fat Noodle is new to my repetoire, but I’m TOTALLY lovin’ her latest halloween posts.
    4. Another new one for me is Cravings of a Lunatic. I find this lady interesting because her “about” claims she doesn’t eat many things, yet her blog is filled with interesting and diverse foods.
    5. And last but not least, Anna at Banana Wonder. She is a very tall Greek woman (see her about). She has tasty recipes and stories to go with them!

    This weekend is Canadian Thanksgiving (yay, long weekend!) I would like to wish everyone a very safe and happy Thanksgiving. I know I have a lot to give thanks for this year, including my new found friends. Happy Thanksgiving, all.


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    Szamárfül was a popular cookie during the second world war in Hungary; my  mom always said it was because it had no eggs, although it does have butter (I don’t really understand the rationale, were eggs harder to come by than butter?). And I am not entirely sure of where the recipe originally came from, it was handed down to me by my mother, she had entered it into her first computer using DOS in the early 80’s and had several printouts which I inherited (I can find no other reference to it on line).

    I posted this recipe quite a few years ago (December 2007), and I really don’t care for the photo anymore, so I decided to re-post with new photos! Tonight I am making the cookies for my nephew (Jack, 11) who adores them — we’re spending Canadian Thanksgiving with his family at their cottage this weekend. His Dad (my brother) is an amazing cook, but hasn’t mastered the art of baking, so every Thanksgiving, I bring about one hundred of these cookies (and believe it or not, they polish them off, lock, stock and barrel!).

    The recipe is really no fail, you just need a little patience. The cookie is a simple yeast dough, with a little butter. It is rolled to about 2mm thick, cut into circles, and a small dollop of jam is placed in the centre. You then take this round cookie and fold it in half, then you pinch the edges tight. The challenge in making these delicious cookies is to pinch them down so the jam doesn’t escape and ‘burn’ while baking. Of course, as children, we always LOVED this melted jam because it caramelized to a wonderful candy coating. The cookie’s sweetness comes from the European Jam (which is generally thicker and with less pectin than the North American jam) and the confectioners sugar coating once they are baked. They are not an overly sweet treat.

    My Kitchenaid set up with the pasta rolling attachment

    A few years ago, I discovered that the thickest roller on my Kitchenaid Mixer Pasta Roller attachment is really the best and only way to go — it gives you the most consistent thickness of dough, and it avoids over working it. The dough renders a beautiful, flaky cookie pastry.

    This year, JT offered to help, so I set up two stations on the island, and while I ‘rolled out’ the dough, he cut, filled and pinched. I did my share of cutting, filling and pinching too…but this dough is like the fishes and loaves, it is never ending…you keep taking the leftovers and re-rolling them…never ending! I am so lucky he helped tonight, otherwise it would have taken me a couple of hours to finish (we were done in 45 minutes). He even said he had fun doing this with me :-). His cookies stayed closed better than mine!

    Two workstations set up made the job go much faster
    You see how the jam has caramelized on the edges? That is the best part!

    Donkey Ear Cookies:

    (Szamárfül) makes about 100-130 cookies (we used a 5cm round cookie cutter this time and yielded 102)


    • 1 tbsp quick rising yeast
    • 1/2 cup warm water + 1 tsp sugar
    • 600 g flour (3-4 cups)
    • 240 g unsalted butter (1/2 lb)
    • 1/2 cup sour cream or yogurt
    • Thick European jam (we used cherry for this batch)
    • 1-2 cups confectioners sugar (for dusting)


    1. Dissolve yeast in warm water with sugar, proof for about 3-5 minutes.
    2. In an electric mixer with the scraper hook, mix butter and flour until crumbly. Change to dough hook.
    3. Add yeast and enough sour cream and knead with the mixer until a shiny dough forms.
    4. Cover and allow to rise in a warm place for 1/2 to 1 hr (you may also do this step in the fridge overnight if you won’t be making the cookies the same day. Allow the dough to get up to room temperature before you begin to work it).
    5. Preheat oven to 350°F.
    6. Roll out the dough into 1 mm thickness (or #1 of the Kitchenaid Pasta Machine) and cut with a 5-6 cm round cookie cutter.
    7. Fill each round in the centre with about 1/4 tsp of jam.
    8. Fold each circle in half and pinch edges really, really, really well (this dough has a tendency to pop open like a clam!).
    9. Bake at 350° F for 10-12 minutes (dough will be slightly golden), jam may have oozed out, it’s OK, really!
    10. Immediately put cookies into a large bowl with icing sugar and dust generously. Or dip each side into a small bowl filled with icing sugar.
    11. Remove to a wire rack and cool.
    12. Enjoy!


    • You may half the dough recipe, I’ve done it several times and you yield about 50 cookies!
    • Dipping your finger in lightly beaten egg whites and running along the outer edge of the rounds before pinching them closed will help keep them closed tight while baking.

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    Croissants. Sawsan over at Chef in Disguise inspired me to take on the lofty croissant. Usually I don’t feel intimidated by a recipe, but come on, these are like the French National Treasure! Could I possibly do them justice? Sawsan also posted a Julia Child video outlining each step. OK, I thought, I think I can do this! Well, I also thought, I don’t HAVE to blog about it if it failed (HA!)! So, I started the recipe on Thursday night, letting the dough rest in the fridge at each interval. I didn’t document the steps, there are too many more accomplished croissant makers out there, including Sawsan whom you can reference in the link above. I’ll just present the final photos.

    They didn’t actually turn out too bad. I think they could have been a bit flakier but all in all, 3.5/5.

    Needless to say, I’ve got another batch going for a second trial (don’t fret, they don’t go to waste!). I found this recipe at The Fresh Loaf where the author overhauls Julia Child’s recipe. I preferred the baking times a bit better than the first batch, the author recommends to Bake at 425°F for 10min, 375° for 15min. The recipe is also made for an electric mixer version, which I also prefer (I am having shoulder issues and the kneading really kills it!) We baked them off last night, but I made the mistake of proofing the last proofing on the kitchen counter and sadly the butter had started to melt within the croissants (we had been using both ovens for dinner and the kitchen was a little warm!). The overall texture is more flaky on this batch, but they looked awful (my tummy doesn’t care, though). We had them for breakfast this morning and they were really good :).

    I am going to try one more batch this week, and hopefully they will be good enough to take to my brother’s cottage for Thanksgiving Weekend (this weekend).

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    We had a great time Saturday night at Nuit Blanche, walking about 5+km, stopping to see the great exhibits along the way. We headed out around 7:15 and ended up at La Société at 10; we had a light supper of French Onion Soup at 10:30 at their wonderful bar. This evening is such a massive undertaking that the city completely closes down some of the major streets for the installations to happen — you really need to plan your evening, so you’re not back tracking and you’re seeing the most you can see within the time you’ve allowed (this is our fourth year seeing it, so we’ve learned a few things along the way). I’ll just highlight the installations we enjoyed the most — we saw about 20 installations all together.

    The first thing we saw was a memorial exhibit in the middle of Yonge Street the longest street in the world, called Memorias an exhibit which invites the audience to light a candle in commemoration of the lost lives of Ontario-based migrant workers (I didn’t even know we had migrant workers!).

    About 10 metres by 54 metres on Bay Street

    Sensational was the next thing we saw. This is a very large installation that occupied the park area between 4 major Bank Towers. What drew us to this (other than the planning) was that it was loud, and there were search lights beaming on the towers, and lasers. It was very compelling, in a happy kind of way — it actually made me smile. As I looked around, I noticed at the faces of the others, I noticed that they too were smiling.

    Tie Break ESPN called it “the most riveting episode in the sport’s history.” (from Nuit Blanche website) the 1980 Wimbledon Gentlemen’s Singles Finals between Björn Borg and John McEnroe. The guys actually LOOKED like them, talk about flashback to the 80’s!! Here is one of our photos

    Did guys really have hair like that? I know I did, but...

    Infra a light show projected on a large building, controlled by the audience. It was very cool, but difficult to photograph.

    A banquet of flavours for all of the senses

    Through the Gorilla Glass was on the roof top garden of New City Hall. It was quite cool, impossible to photo. It’s a series of mechanical arms that move in sequence when disturbed (interactive) the arms have gorilla glass at each end that change colour depending on how they are disturbed.

    Heart Machine is an installation we stumbled upon, but by far the coolest one we saw. Actual HUGE flames were initiated by audience interaction. We felt the heat while we were walking toward it about 50 metres away! It was a chilly night, so the heat was welcomed! We made a little movie of it, but I cannot figure out how to get it into a format for wordpress:-(

    Coevality. This was interesting to watch. A video projected on a wall depicting two generations of three artists (you only see the brushes) changing up an existing piece of art of Victorian buildings. The transformations were fun to watch.

    Slow Falls Rising. A video of Niagara Falls turned upside down. By this time we were a little tired, chilled and hungry, so the we didn’t hang around the exhibit long. It was interesting but not ‘wow’!

    Dinner. We finally arrived on Bloor Street to one of our favourite French Restaurants, La Société at 10 pm (their kitchen is open until 2am, so we figured we were safe at 10pm). It was PACKED! We didn’t have reservations but fortunately they were able to squeeze us in at the Bar. We weren’t starving but needed a glass of wine and something warm: French Onion Soup. I must say, I have had many FOS but this one, by far, ROCKED. The stock had the most amazing flavour and NOT TOO SALTY either. I will give this dish 5/5! Please see my previous review of La Société.

    We got home around midnight (this is when the Nuit Blanche is just starting to get crazy crowded, but I turn into a pumpkin at midnight, and with Thanksgiving next weekend, I was a little frightened someone might make a pie out of me! ;-).)

    Another year done, and October is upon us. Soon the leaves will begin to change colour and fall to the ground, and then the snow will cover them for another 6 months! I have only one thing to say: “I’M NOT READY YET!”

    PS. Sawsan, I’m on my second batch of croissants. The first turned out fine, but not leafy enough. I am going to persevere until I get it right!

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    October first was Nuit Blanche all over the world and we are very fortunate to participate every year in Toronto. It is a wonderful festival of all kinds of performance and installation arts all over the city. It starts at sundown (around 7pm-ish) and goes until the wee hours of the morning, should you choose. JT and I usually start our expedition in the south part of the city, near City Hall and walk a meandering path north exploring as many exhibits and installations along the way to Bloor Street. It was a chilly night in Toronto, around 7°C so we visit ed a few indoor exhibits along the way. We had a small snack before we started out, so we weren’t starving by the time we had dinner around 10pm. We always take the subway down so we don’t need to worry that we left the care a 45 minute walk away! I’ll took a few photos to blog about, but it’s usually very dark. Charles, I hope you had a chance to venture into Paris for this momentous event (it takes place in many major cities all over the world) — we’ve always found it such a blast in TO. Not sure if anyone reading lives in New York, but it’s happening there too! Toronto is expecting over a million people out in the streets tonight – it’s so cool walking around Toronto in the night with thousands of other people – it makes the city come alive with energy. Woo hoo! Let the festivities begin!

    If you know me, you will know that I never serve alcoholic beverages without some type of food. I inherited this from my dear Mother, and I love it. I am always looking out for small nibbles that are tasty, not too filling (don’t want to spoil dinner, do we?) and easy to serve, with a martini or two! This is a dip that is commonly served in Hungarian households, I have modified it to my taste (and health…my Mom used to put softened butter in it!).

    Korozot (Hungarian Fresh Cheese Dip)

    Hungarian Korozot Dip

    This is a modified recipe to suit my taste and to be a little healthier.


    • 4-6oz Goats Cheese (at room temperature) (the real recipe would use a soft unripened fresh cheese called Quark)
    • No fat yogurt (for desired consistency)
    • 2 tablespoons paprika puré (hot or sweet, your choice) (this is a Hungarian product that comes in a tube) OR tbsp paprika powder – try with smoked paprika for a totally different flavour
    • 1 Shallot, very finely chopped
    • 1 clove garlic (minced on a fine grater)
    • bunch of chives, finely chopped


    1. Blend the goats cheese, shallot and garlic in a food processor until well mixed, adding the yogurt a tablespoon at a time until desired consistency is achieved.
    2. Remove from processor and fold in chives.
    3. Serve at room temperature with crostinis. This is much better the next day when the flavours have had time to melt together.

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