Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for December, 2011

Today is New Years Eve and I’m likely busy doing the laundry, changing bed linens, towels and cleaning because I have this crazy idea that the start sets the tone for the whole year (not that I change the linens and towels once a year only ;-)!) I hope you all have a wonderful evening with just the right amount of revelling that you prefer.
Henry the VIII is another pub that just opened last month. It too is occupying a space that has had many restaurants over the years; it is located in the far west side of BWV. We now have 7 pubs in Bloor West Village. S E V E N ? The irony of this figure is that BWV was completely dry until the early 1990’s! That meant that alcohol was not permitted to be served in any restaurants. In 1873, John G. Howard made an agreement with the city of Toronto to bequeath his land, High Park, to the city as long as it remains free to the public, that no alcohol be served in the Village, and that a Catholic cannot be Mayor of Toronto. Yup, they actually said that, believe it or not! Not sure why the alcohol laws changed in the early 90’s, we’re just grateful that it did.

Fortunately for us, we moved in a few years after the ban on booze was lifted and we now have 7 bustling pubs in the area some great restaurants and a very handy LCBO at the top of our street. We may have a problem here 😉

As I mentioned previously, this pub has opened in a space that many a restaurants have failed. It’s a bit off the beat-and-track for BWV and on a cold day such as today, I likely would not have chosen it had we not had a car. The interior is decorated in a very English style, burgundy velvet banquets, dark wood paneling and wainscoting, there is very little advertising décor on the walls which is a nice change. The bar is at one side and is well stocked with the usual suspects; they have several beers on tap. For me, the décor is missing something, although I cannot put my finger on it. It’s almost like it was temporary — not sure why I think that, everything seems to be full size and permanent. The pub is empty when we arrived at 2:15 on a Tuesday. When we chatted with the bar tender he mentioned that today was their slowest day yet, they’ve been open 4 weeks. We chose a booth at the front by the large windows (they can open fully in the summer-time). It’s a bit chilly, these types of windows are not great for winter weather and today is a cold, wintery day. The table is clean, although my banquet had crumbs left over from a previous patron. We order a Guinness each and it arrives promptly, although there is always a little wait with the Guinness because of the way they pour.

YUM! Creamy Guiness!

The menu reminds me of a typical English pub menu, but it’s taken up a notch or two by some unusual twists to the same old (for example, Duck Confit Grilled Cheese, Chicken Curry Wrap). I had the roasted vegetable and quinoa salad; it is a warm salad of quinoa with roasted vegetables and marinated feta cheese served on a bed of organic baby spinach with a honey and balsamic olive oil dressing. It was a healthy serving and quite reasonably priced for $9.75 (same thing at dinner will set you back $15). It was delicious the dressing, the feta and the roasted vegetables (zucchini, yellow squash, artichoke and sun dried tomatoes) were fantastic together, and the nutty quinoa was a nice change to a typical pub salad. JT had the Pulled Chicken Tikka Marsala which was chicken stewed in a red curry sauce with sweet apple chutney, jalapeño havarti, cashews and saffron basmati in a warm flour tortilla for $9.95 — it came with either soup, salad or fries, JT took the salad (which was also quite lovely with curly grated beets as decoration). The chicken curry wrap was also delicious, although I had a hard time tasting the jalapeño havarti. We each commented that we would have the same thing again, in fact, JT mentioned he would also consider having my choice on another occasion. It is quite obvious that someone with knowledge is in the kitchen and it’s not a deep fried plethora. The execution and presentation are above average; this pub will give the other 6 pubs in our hood a run for their money! They change up the menu a bit for dinner, we will give it another go again.

Finally a good vegetarian option. Can I get some pork with this? 😉

Overall rating (in my opinion): Decor 2.0/5, service 3.5/5, food 3.75/5, Value 3.75/5, Noise: 5/5 (1 being very noisy, and 5 being very quiet). The restaurant was pretty much empty, I would imagine it gets pretty loud at night.

Disclaimer: We purchased our meal for full price and my opinions just that, my opinions.

Read Full Post »

Yesterday was a busy day; to keep up with all the eating out JT and I decided to work out at our local gym each morning. That’s 30 minutes on the elliptical and 20 with free weights! I’m hoping it’s enough :).
We checked out two new grocery stores in Toronto: Maple Leaf Garden Loblaws and the Longo’s Maple Leaf Square. Yes, we are obsessed with hockey (OK, not me, really).
Maple Leaf Gardens was Toronto’s hockey arena where our beloved Maple Leafs played from 1931 to 1999. It then sat purposeless until 2004 when Loblaws purchased it. (American’s will know Loblaws by it’s Private Label Brand, President’s Choice). They were going to convert it to a Real Canadian Superstore but were met with heaps of criticism that the retailer will diminish the buildings historical value (see history). So it sat again for a number of years without much work within it other than some structural testing. In 2009 Loblaws announced that they were in discussion with Ryerson University regarding a future joint venture. Construction for the newly purposed building began in 2010 to be converted into a multi-purpose building: Ryerson University (fitness centre, studios, high-performance courts, and an NHL sized ice hockey rink seating 2,796 guests*), Loblaws, LCBO and Joe Fresh. We checked out the retail spaces.

To call this place a grocery store would be an enormous understatement — it’s absolutely incredible! From prepared gourmet selections to the on site bakery, butcher, fish monger, fresh market (with fruits and vegetables I have never heard of!) and the list goes on — it’s a feast for the eyes. We had no intention to buy anything, but somehow we came out with a $100 bill for things I just couldn’t pass up! It’s a beautifully merchandised store, with something to look at in every corner. Sadly this store is about a 20 minute drive through the city for us, so it’s not likely a place we will shop every day, but it certainly will be a destination from time to time!

The Wall of Cheese

Longo’s Maple Leaf Square was a bit of a let down after the “wall of cheese” but I suppose it was expected. None-the-less there were new products to admire (and I bought my very first Give-Away to be held in the new year!).

The elevator doors from the parking level at Longo's Maple Leaf Square. Yes, we are a little hockey nuts!

We ate lunch at Cochina Lucero a small family owned Mexican Restaurant about a 5 minute drive from Maple Leaf Gardens. The restaurant itself is very quaintly decorated in the Mexican style; brightly coloured tiles, thick wooden tables and chairs that weighed about 50lbs! 😉 It was not packed, but then again we arrived around 2:30. The service was friendly and quick; we received complimentary tortilla chips and a lovely spicy tomato salsa. I ordered Sopa Azteca which was $7.00. It was a generous portion made with pasilla chili, tomato and chicken soup topped with
tortilla strips, feta cheese, avocados & sour cream. It hit my taste buds perfectly; just the right spiciness, and enough chicken to make it a meal. It was likely the best Mexican soup I’ve ever had. JT had the El Burro Chicken Tortilla for $9; it was a 12 inch tortilla crammed with beans, rice, pico de gallo, cheese, guacamole & sour cream; he said he has had better. I had a bit of a taste and would agree, it could have had a bit more flavour to it! All in all it was a great experience, and I would recommend this little hole-in-the-wall place.

iPhone photo! Hey, get your grubby fingers out of that dip

Overall rating (in my opinion): Decor 4/5, service 4/5, food 4/5, Value 4/5, Noise: 5/5 (1 being very noisy, and 5 being very quiet). The restaurant was not packed, I would imagine it gets pretty loud at night. Great lunch place.

Disclaimer: We purchased our meal for full price and my opinions just that, my opinions.

*Historical data is from Wikipedia

Read Full Post »

This Christmas holiday we were unable to book a quick get-away at a reasonable price so we decided to stay in the city and check out a bunch of restaurants we’ve been hoping to get to. Our first installment in this series is Wvrst (like wurst) on King West. Now Wvrst is in a location that has seen many restaurants and it surprises me somewhat when another replaces the last one, but this time, I do believe they have the right ingredients for the area. It’s what they call a “Sausage Hall”; but wait, there is beer too! 🙂

Is is weird that they put my age on the table? 😉

The menu consists of a variety of home designed sausages (they outsource the actual making to somewhere in Montréal), even vegetarian! There are fries too, and beer; over 15 on tap. The beers were carefully chosen to pair well with the sausages. The restaurant is family style with long wooden communal tables; it is well but not too brightly lit with those cool bulbs I mentioned in the Kennedy Public House Post, hundreds of them! We had lunch on Boxing Day, so it was a little quiet. You go to the sausage bar to order and pay for your food, but the servers bring it to you, reasonably quickly.

We decided to share an Elk and Porchini sausage with sauerkraut and sautéed jalopeño peppers $9 and small Belgian-style fries (regular fries) $3.5 with Wvrst’s own spicey mayo $1. It was plenty of food for us. The sausage was DELICIOUS with my Dead Guy Ale just a slight nuttiness paired perfectly with the rich sausage. JT had the Dieu du Ciel which I found too bitter, but he liked it. The sausage casing had that perfect POP as you bit into each delicious bite! My only comment would be that the Porchini was a bit of a waste as neither of us could taste it in the sausage. The fries were gloriously crispy and fresh tasting; the dipping mayo was indeed spicy, but we both loved it, although it was a bit thick. We could have ordered the fries fried in duck fat, but thought better of it.

The manager was friendly and helpful (we had a bit of an issue which I won’t mention but he took care of it immediately and we were happy with the result). The experience was a bit quick but it was very nice and the food was great and not expensive.

Overall rating (in my opinion): Decor 4/5, service 3.5/5, food 3.5/5, Value 4/5, Noise: 5/5 (1 being very noisy, and 5 being very quiet). The restaurant was not packed, I would imagine it gets pretty loud at night. Great lunch place.

Disclaimer: We purchased our meal for full price and my opinions just that, my opinions.

Read Full Post »

A couple of days ago I posted some photos and a link to my friend Ann’s blog, Cooking Healthy for Me because I made her little cheese snacks. When I read her post I was dumb-founded — she made four, 4, read F O U R, DOUBLE batches. Now that’s a lot of cheese, and I hate to admit, I was thinking, WTF? Well, after carefully extracting my foot from my mouth, I hesitantly admit that I am now on batch 3, THREE of these golden cheesy nuggets (single batches!). Thanks Ann. No really. This recipe will definitely be making the rounds during the holidays.

YUM!

Last night I made batch two and three and although batch three is identical to Ann’s cheese sensations, batch two was shaken up a tad (you know me ;-)!). I’ve updated with metric measures in case anyone across the pond might wish to try it.

Little bundles of cheesy goodness

Eva’s Take on Cheez-itz

from Ann who borrowed the recipe from Katrina’s Kitchen

Ingredients:

  • a combination of 8 oz (227 g) Jarlsberg, Parmesan and Mozzarella, or sharp cheddar, grated
  • 3 tbsp (45 g) unsalted butter, room temp
  • 1 tbsp (14 g) vegetable shortening
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 cup (134 g) flour
  • 2 Tablespoons ice water
  • Coarse salt for sprinkling (I omitted this as I found the cheese salty enough)
  • 1 tsp horseradish (not creamed)*

Directions:

  1. Combine all of the cheese with the softened butter, shortening and salt in a the bowl. Fit your mixer with the paddle attachment. Mix until it is crumbly (mine was rather creamy with this type of cheese).
  2. Slowly add the flour and mix until crumbly; then add the ice-water. At first it looks like you might need more water, patience grasshopper, patience, the dough will come together in a moment.
  3. Cut in half and pat the dough down into a disc, cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
  4. Preheat oven to 375° F.
  5. Place disc on parchment paper and put the plastic wrap on top and roll each disc to 2mm or 1/8 inch thickness (this is the perfect thickness).
  6. Using a cookie cutter of your choice, cut into shapes. I found that my 2.5cm square cut the perfect size (the one’s pictured are a touch too big).
  7. Transfer to a baking sheet (I line mine with parchment).
  8. Bake for 10-15 minutes until golden brown and crispy! Be careful – there’s a fine line with these between golden brown and over done – and it only takes seconds to burn!
  9. Remove to cooling rack.

Oh no! Not him again!?!?!?!?

*I made these again to take to our friend’s place on New Years Day and I added the horseradish because there is a local dairy in Southern Ontario who pairs their cheddar with it and it’s outstanding!

Read Full Post »

Yesterday was Boxing Day, a tradition we’ve inherited from the UK. Although the history is quite different to what it has become today, it’s still a national holiday in Canada where many businesses are still closed and people get a day off. Except for retail stores! It’s a kind of Black Friday; sale madness and shopping frenzy! We’re heading down town to see if any bargains were meant for us, and we’ll be sampling our first new restaurant for lunch. In the meantime I have the final installment of the Christmas Baking Frenzy 2011 to share with you.
I have to admit that I have not made our Yule Log in years (since 2007, to be exact!). Charles at Five Euro Foods has inspired me to dust off my Mom’s ancient Hungarian Cookbook, drag out my Hungarian English Dictionary and bake my Mom’s traditional Yule Log. Our log is a marriage of the Hungarian Piskota (pronounced Pishkoata) and the traditional Canadian Yule Log with butter cream and a little of my Mom’s creative addition, whipped cream. But this year I forgot to buy the whipping cream and I had a logistic issue with transporting the cake so, like Charles I had to stick with a butter cream for the log. And some cute little snowflake decorations.

As I commented on Charles’ post that my Mom always decorated her Yule Log with little meringue mushrooms. When I was old enough, it was my job to pipe the mushroom shapes onto the parchment-lined cookie sheet and then when dried and cooled I would assemble them with the melted chocolate! What fond memories Charles’ blog brought back, thank you! Sadly, this year I tried three times to make my mushroom meringues and three times the meringue failed, so no mushroom meringues this year! Insert Sad face here.

Oh well, it seems that it’s usually me that eats them anyway, and I just don’t need it this year!

Gather 'round the table, y'all. It's time for dessert!

The Family Yule Log

Ingredients:

  • 4 large eggs
  • 120 g sugar
  • 120 g all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp grated lemon zest
  • 2 tbsp granulated sugar.

Directions:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 350°F. Line a 9″ x 13″ cake pan or jelly roll pan with parchment paper, carefully folding the corners. Spray with non-stick cooking spray.
  2. Separate the eggs into two medium bowls. Beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form, but not dry. Set aside.
  3. Beat the egg yolks with the sugar until pale and creamy and falls in a thick ribbon.
  4. Fold in 1/3 of the egg whites into the pale egg yolk mixture.
  5. Sift about 1/3 of the flour into the egg yolk mixture, then alternate folding in with the egg whites being careful not to deflate the batter.
  6. Once all of the egg whites and flour have been folded in, the mixture will be thick. Pour carefully onto your prepared baking pan and spread out evenly. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until your cake tester comes out clean.
  7. Lift the cake out of the pan using the parchment edges and lay onto a clean white cheesecloth sprinkled with the 2 tbsp sugar. Taking the short end, begin to roll the cake up tightly. Twist the cheesecloth ends tightly and allow to cool completely.

Rich Chocolate Butter Cream

Ingredients:

  • 1/3 cup butter
  • 2 cups sifted icing sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 squares unsweetened chocolate melted and cooled.
  • 1/2 cup seedless raspberry jam

Directions:

  1. Cream the butter until light and fluffy. Slowly add the icing sugar and beat until entirely incorporated and fluffy.
  2. Slowly drizzle in the melted chocolate and beat well.

Cake Assembly:

Directions:

  1. Carefully unroll the cooled cake.
  2. Brush the inside of the roll with the raspberry jam (if it is too thick, you may want to heat it up a bit but if you do, make sure it is cooled before you add the Butter Cream).
  3. Spread about 1/3 of the butter cream on the inside of the roll. Carefully roll up the cake tightly.
  4. Place the roll onto your serving platter, roll side down.
  5. Spread the remaining butter cream evenly over the cake, covering both ends.
  6. Decorate with meringue mushrooms and silly plastic decorations (sadly, I forgot where I put ours :-()

I wish to thank you all for joining me while I baked for the last couple of weeks.

Read Full Post »

This is the second last installment of the Christmas Baking Frenzy of 2011. The cookies I am posting today are a Christmas tradition that I started for my father-in-law and my husband’s brother-in-law, neither of whom should eat sugar; I present to you the Peanut Butter Cookie. Coincidentally, these are also gluten free.

The cookies are a little dry, so you'll need a cup of tea or coffee with them.

I was having a little fun with Photoshop

Sugar Free and Gluten Free Peanut Butter Cookies

Original Recipe by Paula Deen, Food Network
21 cookies

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup peanut butter, creamy or crunchy
  • 1 cup baking sugar replacement (recommended: Splenda)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350° F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. In a mixing bowl, combine the peanut butter, 1 cup sugar replacement, the egg, and vanilla, and beat until entirely combined. Roll the dough into balls (I used a 1.25″ melon baller).
  3. Place the balls on the prepared baking sheet. Press down each cookie with the palm of your hand. With a fork press once in the typical PB Cookie method
  4. Bake for 14 minutes remove from the oven and cool.

On another note I wanted to share with you something absolutely AWESOME! For many years now, our neighbour to the north of us has brought Christmas to his house during the years our weather was not cooperative. This year was no different and although we have had a few light sprinklings of snow there was not enough to ‘stick’ and subsequently we have yet another ‘green Christmas’! Not to be outdone by nature, neighbour John goes out to the local skating arena and scoops up their leftover snow (what the Zamboni clears off the ice) and shovels it onto his front lawn in time for Christmas morning. The kids are teenagers now, but still LOVE this tradition and neighbour John is more than happy to oblige. Enjoy the snow.

The only lawn in Toronto that has snow!

Just in case you didn't believe me, that's our house next door!

Read Full Post »

20111224-145908.jpg

Merry Christmas to all my blogging friends!
I wish you all the best, health and happiness. Thanks for joining me on this ride!
With love,
Eva

Read Full Post »

My dear Mom used to make a cold soup for Christmas dinner. I really don’t know why because traditionally it’s more of a summer-time supper (Hungarians used to eat their main meal at lunch and supper was just something light). My brother’s wife, Wendy fell in love with this soup the first time she ever had it and every year she asked my Mom to make it. Since my Mom’s passing I’ve made it from time to time, whenever Wendy asks but not as regularly (maybe mine is not a good ;-)!) This year I decided to make it without being prompted because I know the kids love it too! The tip about sorting through the cherries for seeds is from me. My brother used to always get the lot of seeds if there were any to be found in the soup!

I had a professor over for dinner when I was at University and I made this as a first course; he was ecstatic that we were having dessert FIRST!

Hungarian Sour Cherry Soup

Ingredients:

  • 1 bottle sour pitted cherries in light syrup 540 mL/19 oz
  • 3 cups water
  • 40-50g granulated sugar (depending on how sour the cherries actually are)
  • 5-10 cm lemon peel
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 2-4 whole cloves (I use a tea infuser so I don’t have to sort through the soup to fish them out)
  • 1 cup non-fat Greek yogurt (the Hungarians use sour cream)
  • 3 tbsp all purpose flour

Directions:

  1. Strain the liquid from the cherries and put it into a medium sauce pan. Sort through the cherries making sure they really don’t have pits in them (I pulled out 5 out of my bottle) set aside.
  2. Heat the cherry liquid, sugar and the water with the lemon peel, cinnamon stick and cloves until softly boiling.
  3. Mix the flour with the yogurt well. Add about a cup of the hot liquid to temper the yogurt, then pour the entire yogurt into the softly boiling liquid. Stir well until it slightly thickens. Remove from heat and remove the cinnamon stick, cloves and lemon peel. Add the cherries and allow to cool. Refrigerate until ready to serve. It actually thickens as it cools.
  4. Serve with a dollop of yogurt, if desired (we always forget!).

It

As you may have gleaned from the title of this post, I have again been bestowed with the honour of The Versatile Blogger award by my new friend Sharyn at Kale Chronicles. I’ve been intrigued with Sharyn’s blog as she doesn’t photograph her food, but paints a lovely little water colour about it or the inspiration she has garnered from the experience around it. Check out her blog, her recipes are off the beaten track and a nice change!

Thank you Sharyn for this honour!

The conditions of this lovely award are as below.

  1. Thank the award-giver and link back to them in your post – check, see above.
  2. Share 7 things about yourself – seeing as I really like talking about myself…just kidding, since I’ve done this before and many of my readers are from places far away, I’m going to tell you 7 things about Canada that you may not know 😉 ). You can read the first set here.
  3. Pass this award along to 15 blogs you enjoy reading – I shall do my best to find bloggers who have not been given this honour previously, and I’ve come up with 7!
  4. Contact your chosen bloggers to let them know about the award. – check

Seven Things about Canada you may not know:

  1. Canada’s Prime Ministers do not have a fixed maximum term length, like the US Presidents. Our Prime Ministers can literally go on forever, or at least feel like they do 😉
  2. Our legal driving age is 16, but we now have graduated licensing. Way back when I got my license, I was able to get in the car and drive when and where ever I wanted, but that was a billion years ago! Ironically, our legal drinking age is 19! (Alberta, Manitoba and Quebec is 18).
  3. Canada’s population is about 1/10th of the US and the majority of our residents live within 100 miles of the US boarder.
  4. Although Canada’s Constitution was repatriated by Prime Minister Pierre Elliot Trudeau, we are still connected to the Queen of England through our Governor General. David Johnston is the 28th Governor General of Canada.
  5. We spell words just like the British: colour, not color; neighbour, not neighbor; flavour, not flavor; favourite, not favorite — you get where I am going with this…my comments do not contain typo’s, we just spell that way!
  6. In the 1970’s Canada began her conversion from the Imperial system of measures to Metric; by the late 1970’s all our roadsigns were converted and schools were teaching both. Although legally Metric is our form of measure, you will always find food sold in Pounds and Kilos, and fabric sold by the Yard or Metre (that’s another Canadian spelling, really).
  7. We call electricity Hydro in Ontario, I suspect mainly because some of our power comes from Niagara Falls!

Blogs I humbly nominate for said award:

  1. Profiteroles and Ponytales: I’ve known Barb for about 20 years; she is now a Wife and a Mummy and a “Big Wig” in a fancy firm downtown Toronto. I am happy that she is finally enjoying the benefits of blogging. Hope you pop by her blog and drop her a note.
  2. Flavour Fiesta: I recently met Divya and am amazed and slightly jealous of her determination, dedication and perseverance with the launch of her extensive magazine. We’ve done magazines before at work and I know what an enormous project it is. She is also a fellow Torontonian! (and she spells like I do ;-))
  3. Grazing in the City: Bill is a southern transplant to Chicago and I really enjoy reading about discovering Chicago, one of my favourite cities of all time!
  4. Bits and Breadcrumbs: Betsy is a fellow designer and she blogs about cooking and traveling (Canadian spelling!) and her lovely artsy-fartsy friends (sorry, that’s what we call ourselves up here ;-)!)
  5. Back Road Journal: I just met Karen today and love her kitchen. I am looking forward to peaking into her life in the future.
  6. A_Boleyn: Maria doesn’t have a blog, but she does document her food on live journal. She’s a substitute teacher, so watch your spelling and grammar 😉
  7. Eat Tori: I just met Tori and love the way she writes. She gets to go places I can only dream of.

Read Full Post »

We’re winding down at work, but just getting started for the holidays. Our plans to spend a few days away in New York fell through; but we’ve decided to do something we’ve not done before, we will be sampling a different restaurant every day, and I’ll be blogging about it. We will alternate with Lunch and Dinner each day — I’m actually very excited about it. Plus one day I’m going to treck out to Gilda’s a huge kitchen store in Mississauga (like a kid in a candy store).

My blogging buddy Ann at Cooking Healthy for me posted this recipe the other day and as soon as I read it, I knew it was for me! I could not resist the cheesiness that she expounded. It was like cheese on steroids, super cheese, super duper cheese…well, you get the gist!

Since I wasn’t familiar with the brand that I’m sure she was duplicating, I decided to make my crackers out of scalloped rounds and squares. They shrunk quite a bit but it didn’t bother me because they sure are cheesy (started out about 1.25″ and ended about the size of a gold fish, yes that other cheesy goodness). Although they have no egg or any kind of leavening, they puff up quite a bit, and they don’t fall back down! Other than making sure you don’t overbake them, you really need not worry about them … well, with the exception of  “evaporation” (you know, the same “evaporation” that affected my block chocolate?)

I can only say, THANK YOU Ann. I am definitely adding this recipe to my appetizer/snack repertoire. They are sure to be a family favourite for years to come. Cheez-itz Recipe.

Crispy and cheesy

If you get a chance, check out Katherine’s recipe at Rufus’ Food and Spirit, she whipped up an amazing peppercorn martini that would be divine with these little bites.

OMG! Who invited him? Not me that's for sure.

Read Full Post »

I know I’ve posted this fine recipe before, but this time I changed it up a tiny bit and had to re-post. Being right smack in the throws of the big entertaining season, these are great because you can easily freeze them, and then pop them in the oven at the sign of a visitor and heat at 325°F for 10-12 minutes or until lightly golden. They are also amazing stuffed with Stilton and honey, goats cheese, cream cheese, escargots, etc. I hope you try these because they are just too easy and look so ‘fancy’.

Tasty Cheese Puffs, would you like a martini or glass of wine with that?

Re heat so that the outside is a bit crispy and the inside warm and yummy

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup water
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan Cheese (in this recipe I reversed the quantity of the cheeses because that’s what I had!)
  • 1/4 cup Jarlsberg

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400°F.
  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. I find the heat of the pan is enough, I generally don’t put the flame back on.
  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 3-5 cm apart. I find lightly splashing the pan with cold water helps the puffs puff up.
  9. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until golden brown.
  10. Serve warm or room temperature.

They puff up about 12 minutes into baking but be patient, they need to bake on the inside too. They are ideal for stuffing with a pipping funnel (I bought a really cheap one from a dollar store and it works very well).

Warning: you WILL WANT one of these. Gentlemen and children, you may wish to shield your eyes. Don’t say I didn’t warn you!
Air Swimmer. If you haven’t seen them, check out this video, they are SO COOL! Thanks to Katherine and Greg for the help on how to embed a Youtube…I was so blind I completely missed how incredibly easy it is. Hope you don’t think I’m an idiot! 😉

Because we are going to my brother’s place for Christmas Eve celebrations, I wanted this totally cool present ready to excite and enjoy (OK, truth be told, we wanted to play with it!) so we put it together yesterday and LOVE it. We have the shark! It does take a bit of practice to fly it, so if you do get one, you may want to play practice some! That’s my story and I’m sticking to it!
So, dear reader, can you resist the Air Swimmer?

Read Full Post »

Hello everyone! Christmas Baking is over for the time being and I am quite happy with the results; there is a lovely variety of old and new favourites and I am excited about putting my gift boxes together for our friends and family. I still have a dessert to bake for Christmas Eve which we usually enjoy at my brother’s house (it will likely be a bûche de noël because that is what my family has done for years, and I just saw Charles’ at Five Euro Food which made me very excited to make it again!).

Here is a little synopsis of my Christmas baking over the years (not that I only started in 2007, but that is when I started to blog!).

In 2007 we had our Renovation party so I didn’t specifically do the cookie gift boxes because we hosted about 50 friends and family at our renovation unveiling party and I catered the entire event (I had serving help which was great!).

I designed these invitations for our Renovation Unveiling Party in 2007

In 2008 I made 11 items but I didn’t take a photo of them 😦

In 2009 I made only 9 items but I bought lovely ceramic casserole dishes to package the cookies in as gifts.

In 2010 JT had a health setback and I just didn’t do much baking at all (he’s ALL GOOD now).

And here we are in 2011 and my list of cookies with links are:

I was able to find these really cute cookie boxes at the dollar store! I line them with parchment paper.

Holy Bat Man, that's a lot of cookies!

I package each cookie box in a zip-lock bag and freeze it until we see the people that I prepared it for!

Your cookie box is ready, when can you come over to pick them up?

I wanted to mention some of my blogging friends cookie recipes which I am certain are equally, if not better tasting then my own.

Katherine at Rufus’ Food and Spirits Guide has mastered the perfect Macaroon. And check out Ann’s Cooking Healthy for Me Coconut Macaroons that she baked from her well loved Better Home New Cook Book. And then of course, there is Barb’s Coconut Pyramids at Profiteroles and Ponytails which are just so darn adorable. And pop by Jessica’s site Kitchenbelleicious for a truly lovely Espresso Crinkle Cookie that just looks like it would melt in your mouth. And then there is fellow Torontonian Divya at Flavour Fiesta’s healthier Choc Coco Truffles with Cherries. There are so many great cookie recipes out there and so little time to try them all — that’s why I love reading all the wonderful blogs, I can try ALL of your cookies in a virtual sense and not gain an ounce! The beauty of technology.

How many cookies did you bake this year, and did you bake any special needs cookies?

Read Full Post »

Confession time: I made this cookie recipe about a week ago, but I completely forgot to add the brown sugar and I didn’t watch my syrup and it boiled up (sadly, I can’t blame it on drinking); the taste turned out OK while they were still warm, but the next day the cookies hardened so much that I was afraid I would crack a tooth on it. I don’t usually mess up a recipe quite so badly — into the composting bin they were tossed!

So I tried my hand at the recipe again. The success of this traditional cookie is melting the sugar, butter and syrups gently and not to over bake because then the cookies become way too hard. I used Moroccan Ginger which has a rather strong flavour making this cookie a bit spicier than most other recipes but then again, I like spicy!

Would you care for tea or coffee with your Ginger Snaps?

Ginger Snap Cookies

Makes about 36-46 Cookies depending on how big your melon baller is.

Ingredients:

  • 1/3 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup light corn syrup
  • 1/4 cup black molasses
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp ground all spice

Directions:

  1. Pre heat the oven to 350°F.
  2. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper, sprayed with non-stick cooking spray.
  3. In a small saucepan gently melt the butter, brown sugar and both syrups (do not boil unless you want to end up with jaw breakers!). Cool slightly.
  4. Sift dry ingredients together into a medium-sized bowl.
    Make a well in the centre and pour in the syrup mixture. Mix well to make a soft dough.
  5. Using a large melon baller shape into small balls (about the size of a walnut). Place each ball about two inches apart; press down to form even rounds abut 1/4 inch thick.
  6. Bake 10-12 minutes or until very very lightly browned. Cool on cookie sheet for a minute and then remove to fully cool on a wire rack.
  7. Store in an airtight container or freeze. If they get too hard, add a slice of bread or a moist brown sugar disk for a few hours.

Or perhaps some Sherry? It's a little early though, isn't it?

So tell me lovely reader, have you ever messed up a recipe and were you able to save it or had to toss it?

Read Full Post »

Our little village consists of 3 subway stops along Bloor Street; we have so many pubs, Thai and Japanese restaurants that the last thing you would think we needed was another pub. And then Kennedy Public House revently opened. It’s actually a reinvention of Sharky’s which was more of a club-like restaurant that occupied the same space for several years. Kennedy Public house sits on the corner of Kennedy and Bloor and the Kennedy side has a great patio (for warmer days, of course).

I personally think that this has the loveliest décor of all the pubs in our village — rustic industrial. All the tables are thick, reclaimed wood and the bar stools are flat stainless steel. The lights are a contemporary rendition of old-fashioned rusty forged metal chandeliers and the hanging caged blubs at the bar are the old fashioned filament bulbs (which I think are so darn cool and are so in style right now!). There are long communal tables and there are private booths; there are dark wood floors. They have some super cool sepia toned old photos of the area covering a couple of walls. It’s a very inviting and comfortable atmosphere. The only thing I would change is I would remove the long row of televisions over the bar along one wall other than that, it’s really quite wonderful.

On a Friday, without reservations, we tried to get in for dinner around 7:30 — there was a 20 minute wait (I don’t wait for restaurants!) so we went next door to an old favourite. After a morning of successful Christmas shopping I met JT there for lunch on a Saturday. We were seated right away and they brought our beers (Guinness). Unfortunately, there was a large group (more than 20) who had placed their orders just before we did and so our lunch took a lot longer than it should have. We shared the PBP Pizza (Pear, blue cheese, pecans, asiago, fresh thyme, caramelized onion, pickled onion) for $14. The combo should have been a home run, but the crust didn’t do it for me; I prefer a wafer thin, crispy crust and this one was more like naan, thicker and chewier. The pear was a little crispy, and there was not much blue cheese flavour for my taste. I also found the pickled onions were a bit odd. We won’t discount the place on this single experience, we will surely be back for more but I won’t be having the pizza. The service was good.

First visit overall rating (in my opinion): Decor 4/5, service 3.5/5, food 2/5, Value 3.5/5, Noise: 3/5 (1 being very noisy, and 5 being very quiet). The restaurant was not packed, even though there was one large group, I would imagine it gets pretty loud at night. We’ll go back a few more times to get an accurate rating.

Disclaimer: We purchased our meal for full price and my opinions just that, my opinions.

December 15: we were able to get into Kennedy Public House on Thursday night around 7:30; the atmosphere was lively with an eclectic group of people, diverse ages and ethnicity (think LES in Manhattan). We were seated right away near the back (most of the tables were taken). Almost as soon as we sat down someone turned on the hand dryer in the washroom (guessing it was about 15-20 meters from where we were sitting) and it was like a jet engine had started up beside us. We asked to be moved and were reseated within minutes! Our new table was a high bar table, but quite comfortable. We recognized our waitress from Sharky’s days and chatted about the new place. Apparently we were not the only one’s to complain about the hand dryer noise; she said she thought that they would soon be replaced!
We each ordered our wine which came out incredibly fast. For dinner we only had appetizer portions: JT ordered the pulled pork sliders (3 for $11) DELICIOUS! The soft egg buns are made by Cobbs Bread, a local bakery. The pulled pork was in a bit of a sauce but it wasn’t too sweet, it came with a cole slaw that was nothing special. I ordered the Goats Cheese Niçoisse ($12) which was a lemon scented goats cheese roll wrapped in phyllo and baked. It was beautifully presented on a bed of arugula and spinach greens, fingerling white and purple potatoes, steamed green and yellow beans, tomatoes, black olives and a quartered hard boiled egg. It was dressed with an olive oil lemon vinaigrette. DELICIOUS! My only complaint would be that the greens were dressed a little heavily, but that’s a personal preference. I would definitely have both again!
Although the place was packed, service was very good.
Second visit overall rating (in my opinion): Decor 4/5, service 3.5/5, food 4/5, Value 4/5, Noise: 2/5 (j1 being very noisy, and 5 being very quiet). The evening crowd was very loud!

Read Full Post »

I still have one more cookie to bake, but I had to take a break. I did cut down and made only made 7 things this year. We’ll see how it pans out.

The sale of alcohol is controlled by the Government in Ontario. The LCBO (Liquor Control Board of Ontario) is the single largest alcohol buyer in the world! Crazy, but true. Recently, the Auditor General conducted a study (see article in the Toronto Star) that found Ontarian’s pay too way much for booze since the LCBO is the single largest purchaser in the world! We’ll see what happens with that! The LCBO has an enormous marketing budget and they produce some very classy promotional material. One such promo is their Food & Drink magazine. This magazine promotes booze, of course, but it also contains a huge number of recipes that are exceptionally beautifully photographed.

Entertaining season is in full swing and I always like to have a quick something that I can easily serve in case friends drop by; the recipe below is a delicious dip of sharp cheddar, caramelized onion and goats cheese. I noticed our local grocer had old cheddar bricks on sale, so I stocked up (I usually grate the cheese and freeze in a zip-lock baggy — it’s great for baking and cooking). Click here for the original recipe.

Freezing the dips in the shape of the ramekin for later use

Caramelized Onion and Cheddar Dip

Makes about 3 3.5 oz ramekins or one really big one!

Ingredients:

  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp (25 mL) cider vinegar or beer
  • 1 tsp (5 mL) butter
  • ¼ tsp (1 mL) freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 oz (125 g) goats cheese, softened
  • 1 1/2 cup (250 mL) shredded aged cheddar cheese
  • ½ tsp (2 mL) dry mustard or Dijon
  • 1 tbsp low fat mayo
  • 1 tsp (5 mL) chopped fresh thyme, or ¼ tsp (1 mL) dried
  • Thick pretzels or crackers, for dipping

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 450ºF (230ºC) or barbecue to medium-high.
  2. Combine onion, vinegar, butter and pepper in a shallow baking pan (for oven) or in a foil pan (for barbecue). Roast, stirring twice, for 15 to 20 minutes or until soft, translucent and starting to brown. Let cool slightly.
  3. Mash softened cream cheese with the mayo, mustard and thyme in a bowl. Add onion mixture and cheddar cheese stirring until well blended. Pack into an ovenproof ramekin or serving dish or a foil pan. Cover and refrigerate. To freeze, line your individual ramekins with plastic wrap and freeze. Once frozen, remove the little package from the ramekin and store in a zip lock bag. The dip freezes in the shape of the ramekin and all I need to do is remove the plastic wrap and tuck back into the ramekin and it’s ready for baking. (Make sure you try to remove the folds in the plastic wrap, otherwise you may not be able to get it all off).
  4. To serve, preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C) or barbecue to medium-high.
  5. Heat dip, uncovered, in oven or on grill, for about 15 minutes or until hot and bubbling around edges. Stir and serve with thick pretzels or crackers for dipping.

Of course, we had to have a wee taster. YUM!

Read Full Post »

In the late 70’s my 10 year old brother (20 months my junior) gave me a cook book of cookies, candies and desserts for Christmas; he inscribed it with this sentiment: “This is really for me, in the long run!” And it was! The bad photography of that time didn’t stop me from making so many things from it, and one of the family favourites were Chewy Peanut Butter Bars. Being of European decent and first generation Canadians, peanut butter was not a standard staple in our household (you’d more than likely find Nutella in our pantry — a chocolate hazelnut spread). But we were somehow, now long forgotten introduced to the nutty, buttery spread. My brother loved it on toast, I just liked baking with it. We tried all the commercial varieties; Skippy was just too salty, and what up with that lonely peanut on top? Kraft had even less peanut taste, and too sweet! We ended up with a store brand of Just Peanuts without preservatives; now we grind our own in our local health food store. Just peanuts and nothing else. I’m a little skeptical of products that need not be refrigerated, like Kraft PB! How come it doesn’t go rancid, with all that fat in it?
Sadly, during our 2007 Reno I must have really purged because I can no longer find this beloved cook book (it might be at the cottage) so I’ve had to go by memory on the recipe and find a recipe that seems to be similar (my memory ain’t what it used to be). They were chewy, like brownies, but with PB and not chocolate, and they had a white chocolate and dark chocolate drizzle on top. Yum! I found this recipe at Cooks.com and it seems to fit the bill.

Chewy and peanut buttery goodness; you know you want one!

Chewy Peanut Butter Bars

Makes 3 dozen (1 1/2 to 2 inch) bars

Ingredients:

  • 1 c. all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 c. peanut butter, smooth or chunky
  • 1/2 c. butter
  • 1 1/2 c. firmly packed brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tbsp. vanilla
  • 2/3 cup milk chocolate chips melted with about 2 tbsp butter
  • 1 cup icing sugar with enough drops of cold water to make a liquidy icing (but one that will set well)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Grease and flour 13 x 9 x 2 baking pan.
  3. Combine flour, baking powder and salt; set aside.
  4. Heat peanut butter and butter together until melted.
  5. Stir in sugar, eggs and vanilla until well blended.
  6. Add flour mixture and stir just until combined.
  7. Spread batter into prepared pan. Bake 25 to 30 minutes.
  8. Cool on wire rack.
  9. When cool, spread the melted milk chocolate so that it coats the entire top. Working quickly, drizzle swirls of the white icing in a crazy pattern. Cut into 1-2″ square inch squares.

Read Full Post »

As I mentioned before, I met Barb at KPMG in the early nineties; after a year or so, Barb decided to move to Vancouver. JT and I had just bought our home in the upper beach in Toronto and had a vacant basement apartment. We had never had a tenant before so we thought it might be nice to see if we liked it — so, to help Barb save money for her trip, we offered the apartment as a short term rental at a very low rent rate. Barb loved the idea and we became room-mates of sorts for a few months. During Barb’s last Christmas party at KPMG, one of the much loved partners (Evelyn) discovered that Barb lived in our basement, and she blurted out in her adorable Irish accent: “Bargain Basement Barb!” The entire table howled with laughter and to this day she is known as Bargain Basement Barb (I can hardly wait to mention this story to her children — but I want to do it when they are old enough to remember! No need to thank me Barbie!). In fact, this naming convention carried forward to our two other tenants (another friend and then a relative) there was Lower Level Leanne and Also Atilla (pronounce “ulshow” it means beneath in Hungarian!).

Barb has long since moved back to Toronto and is happily married with two young active girls. I am not sure if this recipe came about while Barb was living in our basement (there were many cookies left at the top of the stairs while she lived with us), but she did include them in our welcome package in our hotel room at her wedding in Niagara-on-the-Lake. They have remained a favourite throughout the years. There is no argument that the chunks of chocolate are an extravagent addition but I am often out of my slab chocolate (it seems to evaporate, not sure how!!! ;-)) so I substitute chips. Still yummy!

Holy Batman, that’s a lot of chocolate

Bargain Basement Barb’s Ultimate Chocolate Chunk (or Chip) Cookies

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup butter
  • 1 cup tightly packed brown sugar
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1-1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 3 cups plus 2 tbsp all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 8 oz semi-sweet chocolate, chopped into chunks (chocolate chips work too)
  • 8 oz milk chocolate, chopped into chunks (chocolate chips work too)
  • 1 cup of dried, unsweetened cranberries or cherries (option)

Directions:

  1. Prehaeat the oven to 350°F.
  2. Line two heavy baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
  3. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or by hand), cream the butter and both sugars until light and fluffy.
  4. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well and scraping down the sides of the bowl after each addition.
  5. Beat in the vanilla.
  6. Sift the flour, baking soda and salt together into a small bowl.
  7. Add the dry ingredients to the butter-sugar mixture, mixing until just combined.
  8. Fold in the chocolate chunks or chips.
  9. Using your hands, shape knobs of dough about the size of a large walnut into balls and place them 2 inches apart on the baking sheets (I prefer to use a 1″ dual handle ice cream scooper). Stagger the rows of cookies to ensure even baking.
  10. Bake 12 to 15 minutes for smaller cookies, 14 to 17 minutes for larger cookies, or until the tops are light golden brown. If the cookies are neither firm nor dark when they are removed from the oven, they will cool chewy and soft. Cool the cookies on the sheets for 5 minutes, then transfer to wire racks to cool completely. Can be stored in air-tight container for 1 week or freeze in a zip lock bag and defrost as required!

A yummy addition to our Christmas Cookie Baking Frenzy

Read Full Post »

I made these cookies about 15 years ago, my mom copied down the recipe from a Martha Stewart show highlighting things about Australia. According to Wikipedia Anzac Day marks the anniversary of the first major military action fought by Australian and New Zealand forces during the First World War. The acronym ANZAC stands for Australian and New Zealand Army Corps, whose soldiers were known as Anzacs. Anzac Day remains one of the most important national occasions of both Australia and New Zealand,a rare instance of two sovereign countries not only sharing the same remembrance day, but making reference to both countries in its name. When war broke out in 1914, Australia and New Zealand had been dominions of the British Empire for thirteen and seven years respectively.

We were immediately drawn to the cookies simplicity (no beating, slapping, pinching etc, just mixing) and once they were shaped and baked, the taste and texture was what kept us making it over and over again. You can Christmas this up by adding candied green and red cherry bits, but I like them as is.

Although the recipe has a lot of sugar in it, the cookie doesn’t taste sickly sweet. It’s got a great chewy texture and with the addition of oatmeal, we can pretend it’s somewhat healthy. We have remained true to the recipe, with the exception that this year, I made only half the recipe and made the cookies much smaller (don’t worry, you can eat more of them this way!) Hope you enjoy them.

Anzac Biscuits

Chewy and not as sweet as you would think

Ingredients:

Makes about 3 dozen (I used the smallest ice cream scoop, about 1″ in diametre).

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup desiccated coconut
  • 1/2 cup (1 sticks) unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoons Lyles Golden Syrup
  • 1/4 teaspoon plus a bit baking soda
  • 1/8 cup boiling water

Directions:

  1. Pre heat the oven to 350°F.
  2. Line baking sheets with parchment paper, and set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, combine flour, oats, sugar, and coconut and stir well with a wire whisk. Set aside.
  4. In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt butter with syrup. (I do this in the microwave on 30% so the butter does boil over and make a mess)
  5. Dissolve baking soda in boiling water, and add to butter mixture. Stir to combine. (Be careful; if the butter is hot, it will bubble up considerably.)\
  6. Add butter mixture to dry ingredients, and stir to well combine. This will be a very crumbly mixture.
  7. Using a 1 inch ice-cream scoop, drop onto prepared baking sheets, about 2 inches apart (be sure to pack the scoop tightly so the mixture doesn’t crumble).
  8. Flatten cookies slightly with the heel of your hand. The cookies will spread a little so leave about 2 inches between each.
  9. Bake until bottom and sides golden brown and firm but not hard, about 11 minutes (larger cookies will take longer).
  10. Transfer to wire racks to cool.

Read Full Post »

This is a recipe I picked up about 20 years ago on one of those little recipe cards the Dairy Farmers of Ontario put out. It’s a very attractive butterscotch Blondy with a caramel almond topping and chocolate drizzle, really pretty! Follow the directions verbatim for the nutty topping otherwise you may end up with a hard caramel toping that is impossible to eat without a tooth breaking. Thank you Leanne for the gorgeous plates!

A Delicious Caramel and Almond Topping

Butterscotchy Almond Bars

Yum!

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 2 cups packed brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 2/3 cup of dark chocolate chips, melted

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Combine flour and baking powder, set aside.
  3. Melt butter in a medium pan and blend in sugar.
  4. Remove from heat and beat in eggs (be careful so you don’t get scrambled eggs).
  5. Add vanilla and fold in flour mixture until entirely combined.
  6. Spread evenly in a 13″ x 9″ x 2″ pan that has been well greased.
  7. Bake for 20 minutes.

Nutty topping:

  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup corn syrup (or maple syrup or Lyles Golden Syrup)
  • 2 tbsp water
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 cups sliced almonds

Directions:

  1. Melt butter, sugar and corn syrup in a saucepan; add water and salt and boil for 4 minutes.
  2. Stir in the almonds and immediately spread over the cooked batter. Bake for an additional 15 minutes.
  3. Allow the slab to cool completely and cut off the edges (makes for great snacks or a crust or crumble) and drizzle the chocolate on top. Allow the chocolate to set completely before you cut into square or bars.

Read Full Post »

Chocolate Crinkle Kisses

My friend Anna made these cookies one year as a hostess gift when she and her hubby André came for dinner. Barb of Profiteroles and Ponytails introduced us to André about 20 years ago (André is a commercial photographer whom I employed a lot in my corporate days). I LOVED the candy cane flavour with the chocolate and I begged her for the recipe; she was happy to oblige and it’s been on my Christmas cookie list ever since. Hope you love it too! Check out Jessica’s blog kitchenbelleicious, she has a great candy cookie recipe with white chocolate and actual candy canes!

We can get these every year at Walmart

Anna’s Chocolate Krinkle Kisses

SEE UPDATE: Makes about 3 dozen or more cookies- depending on the size you like. My cookies start out about the size of a walnut.

Chocolate Krinkle Kisses

Update December 2015:

Make each ball 20 g and you will yield 44 cookies. The new bags of Hershey’s Candy Cane Kisses (88 g) contain 20 pieces so instead of buying 3 bags and having a bunch left over, I simple cut 4 in half top to bottom and lay them into the cookie.

Ingredients:

  • ½ cup icing sugar
  • 3/4 cup melted butter
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsps vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 6 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 bag of Hershey candy cane kisses

Directions:

  1. Sift icing sugar into a small bowl, set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, mix the melted butter with the cocoa powder and granulated sugar.
  3. Using an electric mixer, beat the eggs and vanilla Into the chocolate mixture.
  4. Slowly mix in all the Dry ingredients until combined. Stir in the chocolate Chips.
  5. Cover and refrigerate about 2 hours.
  6. Preheat oven to 350°F. Roll dough into a small ball about the size of a walnut; roll balls in the icing sugar.
  7. Place on parchment covered baking sheet, leaving about 2 inches between the cookies. Bake 6-7 minutes. Remove from oven and insert 1 unwrapped Kiss on each cookie in the centre, pressing down firmly without the kiss touching the cookie sheet on the underside.
  8. Return to oven for 2 minutes more of baking.
  9. Let the cookies cool on the sheet; transfer to racks to cool completely before storing (the kisses take a few hours to reset, you don’t want to store them before they reset, otherwise they will not maintain their cute little shape.

Read Full Post »

The oven is on, baking supplies are stock piled and I’m ready for my marathon baking for Christmas. I make little packages for all our friends and neighbours; each of two if you’re a couple, or four if you’re a team! I generally bake 10-15 things. This year I’m going to try to downsize, but it’s impossible to decide what to cut! Plus, what about all the goodies I’ve bookmarked from my blogging buddies recipes? …this can’t end well! I have a sweet feeling in my belly… 🙂
I’m starting the bake-off with the Mexican Chocolate Macaroons. These are coconut balls, flavoured with chocolate, Moroccan Cinnamon (I’m talking’ the real deal!) and a pinch of cayenne. They are baked until slightly crispy on the outside and chewy in the centre. Everything you dreamed a macaroon would be! And I can use up the egg whites I stock piled from the Crème Brûlée!

Mexican Chocolate Macaroons

Mexican Spiced Macaroons

Makes at least 44, but it depends on how big you make them! I use a very small guage ice cream scooper, it’s about 1 1/4″ in diametre. They do get a smidgen larger as they are baked.
Don’t be afraid of the cayenne in these macaroons, it adds just a little heat and it pairs perfectly with the chocolate. These cookies are moist, rich and chewy, with just a hint of warmth.

Ingredients

  • 14-ounce package sweetened coconut flakes
  • ¾ cup sugar, divided
  • ¼ cup all-purpose flour or almond flour if making gluten free
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon, divided
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne
  • 6 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 4 egg whites

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. In a large bowl, mix together the coconut, ½ cup of the sugar, the flour, salt, ½ teaspoon of the cinnamon and the cayenne.
  3. Place the chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave on high in 15-second bursts, stirring between, until the chocolate is melted and smooth. Set aside to cool.
  4. In a small bowl, mix together the remaining ¼ cup of sugar and ½ teaspoon cinnamon. Set aside.
  5. Add the vanilla and egg whites to the coconut mixture. Use your hands to mix together until all the coconut mixture is moistened. Add the melted chocolate and mix thoroughly.
  6. Drop by the tablespoonful onto the prepared baking sheet. A small cookie or ice cream scoop works well if you want very round balls. Alternatively, you can shape them with your fingers. Sprinkle the cookies with the cinnamon-sugar blend.
  7. Bake for 15 to 18 minutes, or until the edges start to toast and the cookies feel somewhat firm. Allow to cool for 10 minutes on the baking sheet, then transfer to wire cooling racks to cool completely. Store in an airtight container.

Read Full Post »

We decorated our lovely little Christmas tree tonight. Below is a photo of our finished tree, I put about 500 lights on the tree and it takes about 1.5 hours to do so (so I am told!). The tree is decorated in silver, gold and crystal…it sparkles like diamonds! I just love it! We chose a much smaller tree this year so that it doesn’t crowd the room too much and I think it’s perfect.

It's a small tree, about 5' tall and not very fat, but I put about 700 lights on it! JT thinks I'm nuts!

We wanted a simple dinner with not much fuss, so we’re making Kristy and Mike’s Portuguese Baked Cod; instead of Cod we’re using Tilapia because I had some at home.  I was immediately drawn to this recipe because of the flavours and that it was super easy to make. I made a few very minor alterations, Kristy, I added paprika, about a teaspoon, and JT wanted some carbs, so we added Israeli Couscous – it was bang on! Really great flavours and textures. Thanks Kristy, we loved it!

Kristy and Mike's Portugese Fish

I do hope you make it; thanks Kristy and Mike, I knew the minute I read the recipe I would love it! Both JT and I gave it a raving 4 Spoons!

Read Full Post »

Sunday we drove down to Niagara to chop down our Christmas tree. We started this tradition last year for something new to do; we found this family tree farm close to two restaurants we love and decided to make a day of it — tree chopping and lunch! We decided to go to Treadwells in Port Dalhousie, a lovely restaurant where the Dad is the Chef and the son is the Sommelier. We’ve been several times and we’re never disappointed; I had the French Onion Soup which I would highly recommend, JT had the lobster club — very decadent with the duck fat fried bread! My good fried Barb recommended the restaurant about 4-5 years ago — which is a perfect segway to the Crock Pot Chili we just made because it’s Barb’s recipe!

Our New Christmas Tree

Barb  just started blogging and her latest blog post was of the Crock Pot Chili; what a perfect meal  — the wonderful aroma wafting through the house, welcoming us upon our return with our tree! Please check out Barb’s blog Profiteroles and Ponytails. I’ve know barb for almost 20 years now, we met at my very first job, KPMG in their National Marketing department. Barb was a writer and I was the Senior Manager in the Design Department. We’ve not worked for KPMG for many years now, but we’ve been good friends ever since. Barb has always loved cooking and this blog is the perfect succession to her passion. Please do pay her a visit, she knows all about my blogging ‘friends’ and is excited to hopefully meet you!

The chili is pretty much to Barb’s recipe, with a few minor alterations as I didn’t have some of the ingredients on hand. I only had 300g of ground beef and turkey, so I added chopped Chorizo so that we could get 4-6 meals out of it (I’ll freeze it in batches of single servings so we can have a quick lunch on the weekends we’re too busy to cook). I also didn’t have canned beans, so I used 1 cup of dried Navy Beans; and because they had to reconstitute while cooking, I added 2 additional cups of stock to the pot. I also used home made tomato sauce, made with the tomatoes from our generous neighbours to the north. I added some mushrooms because I had them and they needed to be used up. The chili turned out quite delicious, richly flavoured with all spice, cocoa and chili powder. We served them in our little single serve Le Creuset casserole pans, topped with the delicious cornbread topping. I dolloped some non-fat Greek Yogurt with the chopped green onions on top. YUM! Thanks Barbie!

Barb's delicoius Crock Pot Chili

Read Full Post »

Happy Saturday, dear readers! This is a full weekend of chores…some more fun than others, but you shall have to wait for tomorrow to find out. Plus, tomorrow I am going to introduce you to a dear friend who has just started blogging, we’re going to make one of her first blog-recipes tomorrow! I am very excited about it.

Today is my blogging friend, Charles of Five Euro Food, birthday, so I’d like to take this moment and wish him a very happy birthday. Charles has been a loyal commenter since I have discovered the pleasure of reciprocal commenting (OK, it only took me 4+ years!). You have certainly enriched my blogging experience beyond my expectations. Happy Birthday Charles, and many many more!

If you have made any of the Moroccan Salad recipes, you will by now understand the mass quantity of salad you are left with. We have been eating Morrocan salads all week; dallop on this, mixed into that, etc, etc, etc. You can well imagine that we are now a little tired of the same thing :-(!

This week we decided to reinvent our Quinoa Tabouleh recipe; we used RED and regular Quinoa which added colour to an already beautiful salad. And we added the left overs of the Carrot and Courgette (zucchini) Moroccan Salads. We grilled our shrimp and then I made a very simple green sauce with lemon juice, parsley, cilantro and garlic (a tip of the hat to Chimichurri Sauce). It was DELICIOUS. I loved the added flavours that the Moroccan carrot and zucchini brought in and I loved the colour of the red quinoa. If you haven’t already tried tabouleh, you MUST. And making it with quinoa just adds the extra healthiness that we need (and it’s gluten free!).

Reinventing Quinoa Tabouleh

Some other Quinoa recipes I’m sure you will love (sorry if I missed your recipe, some of you didn’t have ‘search’ built into your home page!):

Read Full Post »

I’ve got Christmas music playing in my head; you know that ever so irritating, stupid song about the shoes (there I said it!)…make it stop! Sorry if I offended you, I just really hate that song.
We’ve just finished a marathon Christmas project that spanned over the last two weeks and someone thought it would be a good idea to listen to Christmas music while we worked! Who’s idea was it anyway?
The project just winding down and I feel like I can breathe again since we’ve returned from Morocco. I love being busy and these little spurts of business keeps things exciting.

It snowed heavily yesterday for about an hour; fortunately it was too warm outside to stick! One of the photographers I follow on Twitter (Edward Pond) tweeted: “Nice try snow. Don’t let the door bump your ass on the way out.” I like it to snow on December 23, a light dusting of new snow on the evening of the 24rth (my family celebrates Christmas Eve and JT’s family does Christmas Day) and a little fresh snow on the 25th. It should all melt on Boxing Day (Dec 26).

Roasted Beets, Arugula, Goats Cheese and Pine Nuts

And to the recipe. We were finally able to find golden beets, we have such a hard time finding them in Toronto. So we took advantage of the gorgeous golden and red beets, we roasted and made a salad of them. It’s so simple, yet so delicious too! You really don’t need a recipe: oven roasted beets, toasted pine nuts, crispy prosciutto (vegetarians, pls omit the prosciutto), goats cheese on a bed of arugula. We dressed it with a little balsamic reduction and olive oil (truth be known, it was left overs from the shrimp birouat dip we made on the weekend). Such bright colours made me happy on such a dreary wintery day.

Have a great weekend.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »

%d bloggers like this: