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Archive for April, 2013

Did I mention that I prepare my posts well in advance? Here’s proof!

I know I’m a (lot) late for St. Patrick’s Day, but perhaps you will bookmark it for next year or any time. The Friday before St. Patrick’s Day I saw a lovely post for Beef and Guinness Pie at my friend Karen’s Back Road Journal and even though I can’t tell you how tempting it was, I had to resist making it as we’d already had beef a few times that week and I usually like to keep it to once per week, maximum three times per month. So when she suggested we pop over to Colin Bofin’s blog, an actual Irish dude in Ireland, I was all over it! Colin prepares a Guinness Stew that has the most irresistible dumplings and I’m certain that his home has incredible aromas when he prepares this dish. Still having had too much beef that week, I started to wonder through Conor’s blog and I came across a lovely Irish Seafood Chowder and Scones. I couldn’t help but think that I had found my St. Patrick’s Day recipe. Thanks Conor, I’ll be stopping by your blog for inspiration again.

Colin made his own prawn stock from scratch (actually, they look more like our langoustines) but I remembered I had a bag of lobster carcass in my freezer and I knew I had the ingredients for my stock. At the time, we were still off eating fresh salmon because I wasn’t sure what the influenza implications were, so I used a tin of salmon instead. I also omitted the potato and cut down the carrot just because I’m still trying to reduce my carbs. The broth is a luxurious, creamy, velvety broth with much resemblance to the Provençal Fish Soup I made in October 2011; I cannot resist adding tomatoes and saffron to fish soup, it’s such a compelling flavour combination for my taste.

Irish Inspired Fish Chowder_4313

Don’t be fooled, there is an incredible amount of flavour in the carcass of a lobster, even if someone already ate all the good bits!

Irish Inspired Fish Chowder_4307

An incredible smooth, creamy fish velouté

Irish Inspired Fish Chowder_4308

A few chunks of seafood added to the centre spices up the soup and adds an incredible texture and flavour; the Shrimp was so sweet.

“Irish” Fish Chowder

Makes ~1.5 litres of stock

Ingredients:

  • ~542 g lobster carcass (or you can use the actual beast with the meat). Use only larger bits of shell (the smaller one’s may jam up your blender) or wrap the entire carcass in cheese cloth to contain
  • 260 g celeriac, chopped finely
  • 250 g onion, chopped finely
  • 160 g carrot, grated
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 4 cloves of garlic, smashed
  • 1 tomato
  • 200 g skinless, boneless canned salmon (or use fresh)
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 1 tsp saffron
  • 2 L water
  • sea salt to taste
  • 1-2 tbsp canola oil
  • 50 g per serving mixed seafood, such as shrimp, calamari, crab, whitefish, mussels and such

Directions:

  1. Soak the saffron in 1/2 cup of white wine. Set aside.
  2. Heat the canola oil in a large stock pot. Sauté the onions, garlic, carrot and celery root. Turn the heat down.
  3. Add the lobster carcass, bay leaves, salmon and saffron wine and stir well.
  4. Drain the oil or water off the salmon and add it to the pot.
  5. Cover with 2 L of fresh cold water and turn the heat up.
  6. Gently simmer for about 1 hour or until vegetables are soft and the broth is fragrant with the ingredients.
  7. Strain the liquid into a large bowl with high sides.
  8. Remove all the bits of shell from the strained vegetables. Return the vegetables to the broth and blend until smooth and creamy with a good heavy duty immersion blender. Strain through a fine sieve, reserving the pulp. Add cup of the strained soup to the pulp and blend again with the immersion blender, you will be surprised how much more of this pulp can be blended down fine enough to be pushed through the sieve. Press through the fine sieve again into the reserved strained soup. Return this liquid to the soup pot and begin to boil it down to reduce to about 1.5 L. What you want to end up with is a thick, flavourful chowder.
  9. When you have the consistency you want, add the mixed seafood (about 50 g per person) and cook through. Ladle the hot chowder into lovely rimmed bowls and pile 50 g of mixed seafood into the centre of each bowl, serve with warm oat scones and butter (pop over to Colin’s blog for the scone recipe).
Irish Oat Scones_4312

The oat scones were wonderful with a small pat of butter oozily melting into them.

Irish Oat Scones_4310

The oat scones had more texture than a regular scone and was perfect for dipping into the soup.

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Remember my friends Angela and Gordon? They are the super organized couple who put on incredible theme parties for 8 of their lucky friends (remember Titanic 100th Anniversary and The Truman Capote Black and White Ball?). Well, they did it again and a few weeks ago we were invited to their James Bond 60th Anniversary Party. We had a lot of fun with this theme. First I had to figure out who to be (yes, we were all encouraged to come in full costume!) So I googled it and found this really cool quiz. Now I already had an idea who I wanted to be, but the quiz absolutely nailed it and YES I would be Paris Carver that night! Paris was the wife of the evil Media Mogul in Tomorrow Never Dies. But she had also been Mr. Bond’s lover (but then who hadn’t?). JT decided to be Francisco Scaramanga from the Man with the Golden Gun and he did a great job in fashioning a rather authentic looking golden gun. It was a dinner party hosted by M and Mr. James Bond and thank you Donald “Red” Grant for the fabulous photography and Q for keeping the hors d’œuvres constantly coming. It was a very tasty evening.

The Menu:

Drunken Devils on Horseback (Nigella Lawson)
Minted Zucchini Soup (Jamie Oliver)
Arugula and Watercress Salad (inspired by a Williams Sonoma recipe)
Beefsteak and Mushroom Pie with Smashed Potatoes and Yorkshire Puddings
(stew modified version of a John Cordeaux/Royal York recip /puddings – Good Housekeeping circa 1980s)
Sticky Toffee Pudding (old recipe from a friend)
Libations:
  Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore 2012
  Thwaites Lancaster Bomber Ale (winner of the Best English Ale at the European Beer Star Awards)
  Chateau Timberlay Bordeau Superieur 2010
  Pere et Fils Chardonnay Laurent Miquel 2012
  Assorted Liqueurs/Port/Single Malt Scotch

The Cast:

James Bond M

Our generous hosts M and Mr. James Bond (complete with English accent)

Table
The table was beautifully set and we each had a “Classified Dossier” in front of our seats.
Donald Red Grant Q

Donald “Red” Grant and Q (who had a few tricks up his sleeve!)

TheDetails

It’s all in the details. Yes, those are bullets in the vase.

Dr.No HoneyRyder

Dr. Julius No & Honey Ryder
(they bought their costumes in Hong Kong on a recent trip to celebrate a benchmark birthday).

ErnestStavroBlofeld Jinx

Ernst Stavro Blofeld & Jinx.
Ernst was sufficiently creepy with his bunny (remember it was originally a creepy cat)

Auric Goldfinger and Pussy Galore

Auric Goldfinger and Pussy Galore

ScaramangaParisCarver

Francisco Scaramanga and Paris Carver
(Apparently Paris always had a champagne glass in hand, which I was perfectly happy to do!)

To give you an example of how much detail my friend M went into this is my Classified Bio, for your eyes only!

PARIS CARVER

Terri Hatcher Eva Taylor

Location: Hamburg, Germany.

Characteristics: Sophisticated, cosmopolitan, unhappy, pining for Bond.

Hobbies/Interests: James Bond. Sipping her husband’s (British media baron Elliot Carver) champagne. Prior to that drank straight shots of tequila. Lying to her husband about her relationship with Bond.

Associations: No known associations.

Scars/Notable Features: Possible scarring on hand from slapping Bond for abandoning her years earlier. Often carrying champagne flute.

Relationship with MI6: Described as “too close for comfort” by Bond. After spending a passionate evening together, Carver led Bond to her husband’s secret lab.

Status: Presumed assassinated by hitman Dr. Kaufman after her husband learned of her betrayal. Most recently spotted sipping champagne in Toronto, New York, Chicago, and Paris.

Dinner1
We were all quite taken back with the amount of detail in each of our dossiers.
Dinner2

There were detailed character descriptions in each folder.

Francisco Scaramanga

We took a couple of photos at home before we left.

ParisCarver

Can you believe it, I picked up my dress from Value Village and made a few alterations. Damn thing left sparkles all over the house!

Thanks again to M and Mr. James Bond for making such a memorable evening.

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I know I’ve posted a chick pea and cauliflower curry recipe before, but this one has a bit of a twist, it’s Thai and I just couldn’t resist! The fresh flavours that Thai spice combinations brings to this dish is simply mouth watering, and it’s even better the next day (fortunately, I made enough for my lunch at work). You can blanket this beautiful curry over Jasmine rice, perhaps with a little coconut in it, but we just put it over a combo of Arugula and Spinach to manage the waist-line! I found the original recipe here but I made my own changes just because I felt it needed it when I tasted it mid-way.

Thai Chick Pea Cauliflower Curry_BLOG

I don’t know about you, but I am really getting tired of these night-time photos!

Chick Pea and Cauliflower Thai Curry

Serves 4,

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup finely chopped sweet onion (I used Vidalia)
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 1 tbsp freshly grated ginger
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 2+1/2 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp ground coriander
  • 2 tbsp fish sauce
  • 3-4 tbsp coconut milk powder in about 1/4 cup boiling water, dissolved
  • 1 cup vegetable stock
  • 4 kafir lime leaves
  • 12-14 oz can chickpeas
  • 1 generous head of cauliflower
  • 1/4 cup lime cordial
  • 1/2 cup cilantro, lightly chopped for garnish
  • 1 finely sliced scallion for garnish

Directions:

  1. Heat up a wok or frying pan over medium-high heat. Add 2 tbsp. oil plus the onion and garlic. Stir-fry 1 minute.
  2. Add all of the dry spices, plus fish sauce fry together briefly.
  3. Add the cauliflower, stock and dissolved coconut milk powder. Add the kafir lime leaves and cook the cauliflower until it is fork tender but not too soft. Add the chick peas and heat through.
  4. Remove from heat. Stir in the lime cordial and give it a good stir.
  5. Do a taste-test. Adjust the salt level by adding a little more soy or fish sauce if not salty enough. If too salty, add a squeeze of lime juice.
  6. Garnish with chopped coriander and finely sliced scallion and serve hot with either rice or greens.
  7. ENJOY!

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A very popular Mexican restaurant opened a second location just north of our hood in The Junction, Playa Cabana Cantina. We were elated because the original location is always so busy they regularly have one hour line ups outside, rain or shine. About a month ago a friend made reservations and they still had to wait an hour for their table! I don’t do lines (queues), period. If I can’t get a reservation and timely seating, I just can’t be bothered to go, no matter how delicious the food claims to be. There are too many really good restaurants in Toronto to waste time standing in line!

Cabana Cantina Junction_4254

The eclectic retro décor really suits the place.

When Playa Cabana Cantina opened in The Junction we were very happy to have a good Mexican restaurant so close to home. We’ve eaten there twice for lunch/brunch both times and I am very happy to report an excellent review BOTH times! We’ve tried going back for dinner but that’s another story.

Our first lunch we each ordered our own meal, and we knew that future visits would entail sharing, the portions are HUGE. JT had a Burrito with Guajillo-chipotle marinated free range chicken grilled over coals with fresh mango salsa which was wrapped with melted Oaxacan cheese, rice, and beans, they topped it with fresh guacamole, pico de gallo, crema, and it sat in two very colourful sauces: green tomatillo sauce and red tomato sauce $13. JT couldn’t say enough good things about it; I had a taste and it was a flavour explosion in my mouth. The red tomato sauce was delicious, the tomatillo was a bit tasteless, but I’ve not had tomatillo sauce before so maybe it is supposed to be mild. Again, there is enough food on the platter to share between two people and I guarantee you will not leave hungry. I ordered a smaller order of three Tacos de Chori-Queso; the tacos were homemade corn and water tacos filled with homemade Mexican Chorizo wrapped with Oaxacan cheese $14. Although my selection was delicious, it was a bad choice for me because the tacos were actually deep fried and the Chorizo was a bit greasy; not withstanding, it was still quite delicious, but I prefer healthier options, particularly when I’m not sharing.

On our second visit we smartened up and shared one of our favourite brunchy plates: Heuvos Rancheros and we were not disappointed. Made with three eggs, Spanish and Mexican Chorizo, rice with corn, black beans, flour tortilla, guacamole, sour cream and queso. The eggs could have been a bit more cooked (the whites were pretty runny) but the yolks were perfect. We divided the plate one third-two thirds (the larger one for JT) and it was perfect. The Chorizo was plentiful and very flavourful and it wasn’t greasy like my first taco experience; it also spiced up the plate with a bit of heat perfectly.

Service was good and both times the food came quickly, but the second time we had to ask for water fill ups. The noise level during Brunch is relatively quiet but another table (bit older than we are) asked them to reduce the volume for the music (we chose a table as far from the hanging speakers as possible). I suspect that it’s likely much more animated during the dinner hours.

Cabana Cantina Junction Huevos Rancheros_4230

Three eggs, chunks of chorizo, a flour tortilla, black beans, guacamole, sour cream, rice and corn.

Cabana Cantina Junction Huevos Rancheros_4254

We shared the Huevos Rancheros the second visit and boy were we glad we did, it was enough food for both of us.

One Thursday night, we decided to try Playa Cabana Cantina in our neighbourhood, but we knew we were playing with fire, so we called first. The gentleman said they were fully booked with reservations but there is ALWAYS seating at the bar; don’t worry, I’ll find you a seat, he said. We do bars! In fact, I love sitting at the bar because you can often get to know the bar tender and it’s always a pleasant conversation. Sadly this was not to happen that Thursday night. About 15 minutes after we called we arrived at the restaurant and guess what? No room, not one seat, not even at the bar. Needless to say we were rather annoyed and likely won’t be going back for a while (they shouldn’t have made promises they knew they couldn’t keep), not that they will miss our business because they seem to be booked every night even without us! Too bad, I liked their food.

Playa Cabana Cantina
2883 Dundas St. W, Toronto, ON
647-352-7767

Monday Closed
Tuesday 5pm – 12am
Wednesday 5pm – 12am
Thursday 5pm – 2am
Friday 5pm – 2am
Saturday 5pm – 2am
Sunday 5pm – 12am

Overall rating of The Junction Playa Cabana Cantina (in my opinion): Decor 4/5, service 3.5/5, food 4/5, Value 4/5, Noise: 4/5 (1 being very noisy, and 5 being very quiet).

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

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Chocolate Hazelnut Lapis_4266

I still have to work on getting my layers more even.

I knew when I made this cake before that I wanted to try it again with different flavours. I made this version for a dinner we had for our nephew Brian some weeks back. Hazelnut and chocolate are a great combo, think Nutella and I figured it would make a wonderful layer cake!

Chocolate Hazelnut Lapis_4264

I actually got 16 layers out of the batter because I used less per layer.

Hazelnut and Chocolate Spekkoek Lapis Legit with Chocolate Ganache Topping (Thousand-Layer Spice Cake)

Serves 4-6 depending on how thick you slice it

Ingredients:

  • 170 g (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 6 large eggs, separated
  • 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tbsp confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/4 cup hazelnut butter
  • 1 tsp hazelnut essence
  • 1/4 cup sifted unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/4 cup chocolate chips
  • 1/4 cup whipping cream
  • 1 tbsp hazelnut butter
  • 1/4 cup whipping cream

Directions:

  1. Preheat the broiler (I have this range with two ovens, this time I used the smaller oven and it still took 2 minutes per layer and did not burn).
  2. Butter the bottom and sides of a 4″ x 6.7″ loaf pan and line with buttered parchment paper. I left enough of the parchment to go past the top of the pan, so I could use it to lift the cake out when it was done.
  3. Weigh your empty bowl, write down the measurement. In this bowl, cream the softened butter, 1/4 cup of sugar, vanilla, and salt. Add the egg yolks one at a time and beat until smooth. Fold the flour into the batter with a rubber spatula.
  4. In a clean bowl with clean beaters, beat the egg whites with the remaining 1/4 cup of sugar until stiff and shiny but not dry. With about 1/3 of the beaten whites, loosen the batter by mixing it in with a wooden spoon. Fold the remaining whites into the loosened batter, being careful not to over-mix.
  5. Weigh your bowl with the cake batter. Subtract this new weight from the old weight so you know how much your batter weighs and divide this weight in half. Put a second bowl on a scale that can tare and zero it out. Pour half the batter into this bowl (you can see exactly when you reach half on the scale).
  6. Into one half of the batter, gently fold in the 1/4 cup hazelnut butter and the essence. Into the other batter, gently fold in the 1/4 cup sifted cocoa powder.
  7. Pre-heat the pan (this makes the batter easier to spread out). Pour 2 tablespoons of the hazelnut batter into the bottom of the pan and spread out evenly.
  8. Bake in a hot broiler for 2 minutes. Watch carefully. Mine is exactly two minutes.
  9. Pour 3 tablespoons of the chocolate batter, spreading it over the first layer to form a thin second layer. Place the pan under the preheated broiler for 2 minutes, or until the layer is firm. Continue until you have exhausted both batters. Emeril noted that the cake typically has between 12 and 15 layers — I ended up with 16, not bad for a second timer!
  10. Allow the cake cool on a wire rack, turn out onto a cutting board and even up the sides by cutting clean new edges.
  11. To make the ganache, heat 1/4 cup of whipping cream until it almost boils. Pour over the chocolate chips and stir until melted. Allow to almost cool and pour over the cooled cake (you can allow it to drip down the sides, I didn’t want to).
  12. To make the hazelnut whipped cream, beat 1/4 cup of whipping cream until stiff, add 1 tbsp hazelnut butter and whip until entirely incorporated and smooth.
  13. Slice thinly and serve at room temperature with a dollop of the hazelnut whipped cream.
Chocolate Hazelnut Lapis_4271

A nice delicate hazelnut flavour in the whipped cream balances the chocolate ganache on the cake.

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I find inspiration in your blogs, thank you! A few weeks ago, my Hungarian friend Zsuzsa prepared a very beautiful Leek and Potato soup that looked so gorgeous and creamy, I knew I wanted to make it for a dinner we had with my nephew Brian. But I was lazy because I didn’t feel like heading out to buy potatoes, so I used what I had which were parsnips (I had three left over from a chicken soup I made to help combat our persistent colds)! When ever I see leeks on sale, I buy a few bunches and slice them into thin slices and freeze on a cookie sheet and then transfer them to a plastic baggy, that way I have leeks when ever I need them, and I needed them for this!

I was surprised at how well the parsnips replaced the potato, adding just a touch of sweetness to the soup (by oven roasting them) and not compromising the creamy texture that potatoes generally add. Parsnips have slightly fewer carbohydrates than potatoes but they also contain fibre, and potatoes do not; they are also effectively lower on the glycemic index (for a similar weights, a potato can be 56-110 where the parsnip is a lowly 10!). I think I have found my new vegetable combo for this traditional soup!

Creamed Leek Parsnip Soup_4244

Crispy fried Chorizo and grated Parmesan add just the right amount of salt to this creamy soup.

Creamed Leek and Parsnip Soup

Makes around 1000 mL or 4 quarts, depending on how thick you want the soup.

Ingredients:

  • 200 g (about 1.5 cups) parsnips, peeled and cut into relatively equal chunks
  • 100 g (about 1 cup) onions, cut into large slices
  • 250 g (about 1 1/2 cups) leeks, finely sliced
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 2 tbsp EVOO
  • sea salt to taste
  • 4-6 cups low sodium chicken stock (or vegetable stock if you wish to make this vegetarian)
  • non-stick spray
  • 2-3 tbsp crispy fried chopped chorizo (omit for vegetarian version)
  • Parmesan cheese

Directions:

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 177°C or 350°F. Give a small pan a couple of squirts of non-stick spray and roast the parsnips and the onions until soft.
  2. In a small ramekin with 2 tbsp EVOO, add the unpeeled garlic and a good pinch of sea salt. Cover with aluminum foil and roast along side of the parsnips.
  3. Spray a couple of squirts of non-stick spray into a good size soup pot (one that will take at least 1000 mL or 4 quarts). Cook the leeks until softened.
  4. When the garlic is soft enough to easily push a fork through, remove and pop out of the peel (be careful, it’s really hot). The parsnips and onions are done when they are soft enough to push a fork through as well.
  5. Remove the leek pot from heat and add the roasted parsnips, onion and roasted garlic (including the oil) to the leek pot. To start, add 2 cups of stock and begin blending with an immersion blender and blend until smooth. You may need to add more stock until the desired thickness is achieved. Taste and salt as desired, keeping in mind that the chorizo and Parmesan will add a certain amount of saltiness to it.
  6. To ensure a super velvety texture, press the soup through a fine sieve. Take the bits left over in the sieve and put into the immersion blender container and add a cup or two of the strained soup. Blend again for a couple of minutes (you will be surprised at how much additional thick soup you can get out of this). Press through a fine sieve into the soup. The left over pulp can be a tasty treat if you don’t mind the texture!
  7. To crispy fry the Chorizo, chop into small pieces and in about 1 tsp of canola oil, fry the bits until crispy. Blot on paper towel to remove the oil.
  8. Warm the bowls in a low temperature oven and reheat the soup (I usually reheat in my Microwave); run the immersion blender through it one last time before serving (our chef in Lyon suggested this aerates the soup and makes it even lighter in the mouth!).
  9. Ladle the soup into each bowl and grate about 1 tsp of Parmesan cheese onto the centre, add about a tsp of crispy fried Chorizo. Serve while hot.
Leek Parsnip Soup_4245

There is no cream in this soup.

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You probably recall that I blogged about my lovely friend Zsuzsa’s cottage cheese dough here, and I knew I wanted to try it in the shape of a Danish. It makes a wonderfully flaky pastry and paired with the sweetened creamed leftover cottage cheese I thought I had another winner, but I will admit defeat when I have to; the dough, although very flaky is not a ‘light’ as I had hoped and even though these little pinwheel Danishes are not huge (about 10 cm or 4 inches in diametre) they were very filling, too filling. I loved the creamed cottage cheese filling but I think I’ll try the traditional flaky butter pastry next time. I made only two of these beauties making the remaining dough into the small rugelach the dough was intended for.

Not as light and flaky as I thought.

Not as light and flaky as I thought.

Cheese Danish with Cottage Cheese Dough

Please see Zsusza’s recipe here.

Makes 18 small Rugelach, and 2 cottage cheese Danishes

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup small-curd cottage cheese (I used fat free)
  • 1 cup unsifted flour
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/2 cup cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch pieces

Directions:

  1. Spoon the cottage cheese into a sieve over a bowl lined with a unbleached coffee filter; drain for at least 2 hours, or overnight
  2. Remove 1/2 cup of the cheese for the dough; reserve the rest for the creamed cottage cheese filling.
  3. Pulse the flour and salt just to combine in a food processor (this is why you need not sift it). Add the butter to the flour pulsing on and off until the butter seems to disappear into the mixture.
  4. Add the cottage cheese in bits to the mixture pulsing to combine until it becomes a relatively loose dough ball.
  5. Divide the dough into four equal portions and shape each into a flat disc and wrap each in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours.

Rugelach Ingredients:

  • 1 batch of cottage cheese dough
  • 1/4 cup strained apricot jam
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 1 cup finely chopped almonds
  • 1 egg yolk for glazing

Rugelach Directions:

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 350°F
  2. Once the dough is refrigerated and cooled, lightly flour your rolling area. Roll each portion into a circle about 25 cm or 8 inches in diameter. Cut into 6ths like a pie.
  3. Combine the chopped almonds with 2 tbsp sugar.
  4. Brush the dough with 1/4 of the apricot jam, sprinkle 1/4 of the almond sugar mixture on top. Starting with the wide end, roll each 6th into a little crescent, pinch the ends a bit and turn into each other. Brush with the whisked egg yolk.
  5. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper (you will thank me because the jam will melt out and make a darn mess on your baking sheet). Bake 20-25 minutes until golden. store in an air tight container. These freeze particularly well. Serve either warm or at room temperature.

Creamed Cottage Cheese Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup of the reserved cottage cheese
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1/2 tsp lemon zest
  • 1/2 tsp pure vanilla
  • 1 egg yolk

Danish Directions:

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 350°F
  2. In the container for the immersion blender, add the cottage cheese, vanilla and sugar and blend until smooth. Add the egg yolk and blend well. Fold in the lemon zest. Refrigerate.
  3. Once the dough is refrigerated and cooled, lightly flour your rolling area. Roll two small portions into a circle about 10 cm or 4 inches in diameter. Cut as per the illustration. Add half the creamed cottage cheese to the centre and fold up one corner from each cut to the centre and pinch to seal.

    You could do squares instead, I find it easier to roll a circle and there is no waste.

  4. Brush the dough with 1/4 of the apricot jam, sprinkle 1/4 of the almond sugar mixture on top. Starting with the wide end, roll each 6th into a little crescent, pinch the ends a bit and turn into each other. Brush with the whisked egg yolk.
  5. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper. Bake 20-25 minutes until golden. Store in an air tight container. These freeze particularly well. Serve either warm or at room temperature.
Cheese Danish_4250

They were very pretty though

Cheese Danish_4253

The creamed cottage cheese was delicately sweet.

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Last week I needed a dessert for my pie loving in-law family and I was lucky enough to find Charles‘ beautiful Appelkaka, a Swedish apple cake. I knew JTs family would like it because they are pie people and apple is one of their fav’s. We’re all trying to cut down our carbs, so when I saw this cake is made without the traditional pastry, I decided to make it. Of course, things don’t always go as planned, so when I started out to make the cake, I gathered all my ingredients. Apples: check. Sugar substitute: check (I had one diabetic and one hypo-glycemic in the house). Bread crumbs: wait…does that package say Parmesan Bread Crumbs? Oh my. Change of plans. Nix the bread crumbs and get out the food processor and pulse 120 g of Oats a few times, I wanted some texture, so it wasn’t pulsed to a smooth powder, but almost. And there we had it. When I changed up the bread crumbs to oats, I thought I’d change up the method as bit as well. I hope you don’t mind Charles, it turned out quite successful and the plates were licked clean. Thanks again for a lovely Swedish dessert.

Purple Crocus_4413

A quick taste of spring, and then it snowed.

Yellow Crocus_4412

I think they may have retreated back into the ground.

Appelkaka, A Swedish Apple Cake

Appelkaka_4414

A delicious combination of apples, almonds, oats and cinnamon

Serves 8-10, depending on the slice size

Ingredients:

  • 6 or 7 large Apples
  • 4-6 tsp Stevia (I had organic stevia powder at home, so I just used that. I think it was this brand – no weird aftertaste)
  • 120 g Oats, pulsed a few times in a food processor (not quite 100% powdery but close)
  • 50 g almond meal or roughly chopped almonds
  • 60 g unsalted butter
  • 1 tbsp cinnamon
  • Splash of lemon juice
  • Sliced almonds for garnish
  • 1 cup Greek yogurt
  • 1 tsp stevia
  • 2 tsp lemon zest
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla

Directions:

  1. Pre heat the oven to 395°F. Line a 10″ spring form pan with a little parchment (my pan didn’t have tall enough sides, so I had to make my sides out of parchment).
  2. Peel and coarsely grate the apples and splash a bit of lemon juice into it so it stops them from discolouring.
  3. Mix the pulsed oats, cinnamon, almonds and butter until it resembles a coarse meal.
  4. Take about 1/3 of the oat mix and press firmly into the bottom of the spring form pan. Add about 1/2 of the grated apples on top and sprinkle with another third of the oats. Finish with the remainder of the apples and press firmly down. Sprinkle the final third of the oat mix on top, just like a crumble.
  5. Bake for about 40 minutes or until the apples are soft.
  6. Garnish with sliced almonds and serve with Greek yogurt, flavoured with a tsp of stevia, lemon zest and a small splash of pure vanilla.
A very tasty appelkaka

A very tasty appelkaka

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Laura, Brady and Brian

Our Easter Lunch, complete with the wonderful Beef Tenderloin.

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Dan, Joan, Dad and JT

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Beef Tenderloin with a port sauce.

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Happy birthday to my brother!
and Happy April Fool’s Day to the rest of you!
This is a joke I played on my friend Kim a couple of years ago. A hundred parking tickets.

We had our nephew Brian and his GF over for dinner some time ago, and I cooked a roast pork tenderloin dish that I hadn’t made in a very long time (sadly, I didn’t take any photos and now I know better than to post a recipe without photos ;-), so I’ll have to make it again in the near future). The pork was dressed in a flavourful Apple Cider and Dijon Mustard gravy for which I had to buy fresh Apple Cider. In my area, fresh Apple Cider is sold in 500 mL or larger and because I only needed a couple of cups of the stuff, I bought the 500 mL. So now I had about 4 cups left over. Now we could have drank it, because it was fresh and delicious, but I prefer to eat my fruit rather than drink it so I was left with the dilemma of what to do with all the cider.

I searched high and low and came across some lovely options but not practical; we don’t eat that much cake so a coffee cake was out of the question, we don’t usually eat that many quick breads, so that was out of the question, and the muffin recipes I found had too much oil in them and therefore quite unhealthy. What to do?

It was in my trusty Jean Paré’s, Company’s Coming, Muffins & More cookbook I found the solution: Tea Biscuits! Now I modified the recipe to include the Apple Cider which I reduced by less than 1/4 of its original volume and these scones did not disappoint; they were soft, buttery and had a very distinct apple cider flavour. This would be a lovely scone to serve during Autumn while you watch the leaves gently fall from the trees with a warm fire burning in the hearth a cup of tea and a couple of scones. Soon enough!

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A little tangy from the concentrated flavour of the cider.

Apple Cider Tea Biscuits

Makes about 10 good size tea biscuits

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/8 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/2 cup unsalted cold butter, cut into small bits
  • 1/4 cup sultana raisins
  • 4 cups apple cider
  • 2-3 tbsp milk or yogurt for brushing the tops.

Directions:

  1. Reduce the apple cider to about 1 cup of concentrated liquid by slowly boiling it off (takes about 40-50 minutes).
  2. Pre-heat the oven to 450°F (232°C).
  3. In a food processor, pulse the flour, sugar, salt, baking powder, cream of tartar and spices until well mixed.
  4. Slowly drop in the cold butter while pulsing and blend until is it a coarse mix.
  5. Transfer this mix into another bowl, add the raisins and mix well to coat the raisins with the floury mixture.
  6. Add the cider all at once to the flour, and mix well with a wooden spoon mix until it is a soft ball of dough. (Note this is a slightly softer ball of dough than a tea biscuit usually is).
  7. Transfer to a floured board and knead a couple of times (not enough to melt the butter with the heat of your hands).
  8. Roll out the dough to about 2 cm (~3/4″) thick and cut with a triangular cookie cutter. Repeat until the dough is completely used.
  9. Place on a parchment lined cookie sheet and brush tops with the yogurt or milk (for a beautiful shine) and bake 10-12 minutes until golden. You’ll need to watch the bottoms because the natural colour of these biscuits are more golden and you will only be able to tell how far along they are by looking at the bottoms.
  10. Cool slightly on a wire rack and serve with unsalted butter and preserves.
  11. Enjoy.
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Please take one, or even two.
Would you care for tea or coffee with that?

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Melt in you mouth scones, served warm with unsalted butter.

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