Friday, August 31, 2007

This Would Have Been "Plan A": Creamy Pumpkin Penne

There are days when you just crave comfort food. Today for me is one of those days, but unfortunately, I don't think my body will play with this plan for dinner. Not only did Andrew leave, but I have been quite ill today, feeling too nauseous to even eat an apple this morning. I had planned to make this for dinner, since it looked so good, but I will make it eventually - when I feel better.

Creamy Pumpkin Penne
4 Servings
1 onion, chopped fine
1 red bell pepper, chopped fine
1 zucchini, halved lengthwise and sliced into "half moons"
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup canned solid-pack pumpkin
2 cups vegetable broth
1 cup white wine (or water)
1/4 cup vegan (or regular) fat-free evaporated milk (not sweetened condensed)
1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1 tbsp nutritional yeast
black pepper + salt
16 oz dry whole-grain penne pasta or brown rice penne pasta
  1. In a large skillet cook the onion, bell pepper, zucchini and garlic over moderate heat, stirring, until the vegetables are softened.
  2. Stir in the pumpkin, broth, wine, "evaporated milk", nutmeg, nutritional yeast and salt and pepper to taste.
  3. Simmer the sauce, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes.
  4. While the sauce is simmering, in a kettle of boiling salted water, boil the penne until it is al dente (about 9 minutes).
  5. Reserve 1 cup of the cooking water and drain penne well.
  6. Add the penne to the sauce and cook the mixture over moderate heat, stirring and thinning with reserved water if needed until pasta is well coated.
  7. Crack pepper over top and serve.

By the way, I think Plan B is going to be mashed potatoes, or soup.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

ARF / 5-A-Day: Zen Fruit Pudding

I felt I should post a little something today, even though it's late, mainly because I knew that if I didn't do it today I wouldn't get this post for SweetNick's ARF / 5-A-Day event out at all. I have a few books that I'm currently reading with a full intent to review for Random House (will be posting links to them here as well) and I've been so busy trying to tie up the loose ends of my summer before Saturday that I haven't had a chance to do much!

I chose to post the recipe for my Zen Fruit Pudding because I'm feeling very out-of-balance right now (warning, sappy mopiness ahead). Andrew's leaving for college at 6:30AM tomorrow morning and I had to say goodbye to him tonight, much to my dismay. I knew this day was coming but it seemed like it just swooped onto us like a peregrine falcon (coincidentally, his favourite bird) on a poor mouse. So I'm achy-breaky-hearted right now, but I'm glad I did get to spend the past 2 afternoons with him plus trips to a baseball game, the CNE and my dad's trailer up in Prince Edward County. Three weeks, though, until my mom's wedding, and then he'll be back! On September 21, to be exact! Yes, I'm counting the days. Ah well, until he comes back and re-zens my life I will resore to the time-tested therapies of Acupuncture and Yoga along with (of course) cooking to ease the wait.

Zen Fruit Pudding
4 Servings
1 cup light coconut milk
3/4 cup skim milk
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons quick tapioca
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 medium papayas, halved and seeded
  1. Combine the coconut milk, milk, sugar, and tapioca in a medium-size saucepan, and bring to a boil over high heat.
  2. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, stirring frequently, about 5 minutes.
  3. Stir in the vanilla extract.
  4. Cover and refrigerate until it is well chilled, at least 1 hour. The mixture will continue to set as it cools.
  5. With a spoon, scoop out the papaya flesh and place it in a blender or food processor.
  6. Process the papaya to a puree.
  7. Cover and refrigerate until well chilled, at least 1 hour.
  8. To serve, spoon the tapioca pudding into 1 side of each soup bowl, then add the papaya puree on the other side, forming a yin-yang pattern.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Basic Recipes for Dairy-Free, Vegan Ingredients

Why would I bother with this post when clearly most of my selections for baking are nowhere near the realm of vegan or dairy free? Well, the truth is that many people are allergic to milk or milk products. Dairy allergies are different from lactose intolerance. A dairy allergy is an extreme sensitivity to the proteins in dairy products, while lactose intolerance is caused by a lack of lactase enzyme, which helps the body digest dairy products. Dairy allergies can range from mild indigestion to anaphylaxis, which is life threatening.

Personally, I'm fortunate enough to only have a mild milk allergy as part of my multiple intoleraces, which gives me a fair bit of nausea, gas and indigestion when I consume it. I stick to fortified, organic soymilk and cannot eat cheese or drink milk at all, and I can only take a tiny amount (about 100g or whatever the tiny pots of Source are) of yogurt before I start feeling the affects. I also take a calcium supplement every morning, as well as many other non-dairy sources of the minerals and nutrients found in milk.

So, in order to make my and other's lives a bit easier, I have recipes for evaporated and sweetened condensed "milks". They are painfully easy:

Sweetened Condensed Soy- or Rice-Milk
3 cups plain, unsweetened dairy free "milk"
1/2 cup sugar (or equivalent)
1 tsp vanilla
pinch salt

Put 'milk in a saucepan.
Add sugar.
Cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until volume is reduced to 1 cup.
Add vanilla and salt.
Cool. Store covered in fridge.

For Evaporated 'Milk:
Omit sugar and vanilla.
  1. Cook until volume is reduced to 1 & 1/2 cups.
  2. Store covered in fridge.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

A Going-Away Gift, and a Full Day's Work: Coq Au Vin & Bakery Stuff

Sadly, my Summer of bliss is way too short, and my darling Andrew will be leaving me for Algonquin College on Friday. He asked me to make Coq Au Vin, which was a dish he loved when we visited Sightlines Restaurant at the Skydome for his 19th birthday (Rogers Centre to those non-Torontonians) as a dish to take up with him. I understand why it's one of his favourite dishes... flavourful dark meat chicken, great, rich red wine, and a simple herb base combine to form a fall-off-the-bone tender stew perfect for a brisk Fall day. I just wish that it didn't have to mean the loss of him for 4 months!

Now, I did set the fire alarm off during the pancetta browning process, but that's because our is insanely sensitive and I don't think anyone's cooked bacon here before me. I didn't burn anything, I swear!!

Remember Me Coq Au Vin
About 6 servings
100g pancetta, diced
1 large Vidalia onion, sliced
3 lbs chicken parts (I prefer dark meat, but you can use anything as long as it's bone-in, skin-on)
6 garlic cloves, peeled
Black pepper
1 cup beef stock
3 cups (one 750mL bottle) "heavy" red wine (Andrew bought me a Jackson-Triggs Merlot for this!)
2 bay leaves
1 tbsp dried thyme
1 cup chopped fresh parsley
4 carrots, medium chop
4 celery stalks, medium chop
1/2 lb white mushrooms, rough chop
  1. Brown pancetta 10 minutes in a very large pot. Remove, keeping the fat in the pan, and set aside.
  2. Add onions and chicken, skin-side down. Brown on all sides, about 5 minutes.
  3. Add garlic and pepper and cook 5 minutes
  4. Spoon off excess fat.
  5. Add the stock, wine, thyme, parsley and vegetables.
  6. Add the pancetta back to the pot, stir well.
  7. Lower heat to a brisk simmer.
  8. Cover and cook 35 minutes or until chicken is tender and fully cooked.
  9. Remove chicken and set aside.
  10. Discard the bay leaves and garlic.
  11. Add mushrooms, stir and turn the heat to high.
  12. Boil quickly, uncovered, to reduce liquid by 3/4, about 35-40 minutes. Stir occasionally.
  13. Return chicken to the pot and stir to coat completely with sauce.
  14. Serve over rice or potatoes.

My day was not just about French stew-making, however. I had bakery orders to fill, and lots of them. Today I baked off:

And I'm still not done! I have to make a Cinnamon-Raisin loaf either tomorrow or Thursday, and then I think I'm done. For now. But I love this!!! It's nice to be tired after working a full day, and the house smells amazing. I'm so thrilled for the popularity that my little enterprise has seemed to gather, it really gives me something to strive towards after I finish my course at George Brown College. If any of you live in the Durham area (or know someone who does) and are interested in anything from my bakery you can place an order through my site or right here! Yes, I know, shameless self-promotion. Blogs are great, no?

Monday, August 27, 2007

Graham-Almond Cherry Pie

This recipe is definitive proof that I have way too much time on my hands. Even though I have cookbooks to review for Random House and bakery orders to fill (not to mention finishing the last chapter of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows!) my mind never ceases creating uses for different ingredients and flavour combinations. I have yet to try out this creation, though I will be sure to do so ASAP (as soon as I find some willing taste testers!). If you get a chance to try it before I do, please leave a comment or e-mail me to let me know how it went! That goes for all my recipe posts, suggestions, criticisms and praises are always welcome!

Graham-Almond Cherry Pie
Serves 8
1 ½ c graham cracker crumbs (GF Option here)
½ c almond meal (flour)
¼ cup melted butter or margarine
2 tbsp apple juice
2 tbsp brown sugar
2 cups halved pitted fresh cherries
1/2 cup water
¼ cup granulated sugar
2 tbsp almond meal (flour)
2 tbsp graham cracker crumbs

  1. Preheat oven to 400° F.
  2. Combine graham cracker crumbs, almond meal, butter, apple juice and sugar.
  3. Press over bottom and up sides of 9-inch pie plate.
  4. Bake for 10 minutes. Cool completely.
  5. In a saucepan, cook cherries in water for 10 minutes.
  6. Mix together the sugar and almond meal; add to cherries.
  7. Cook cherry mixture until thickened. Cool slightly.
  8. Pour into prepared crust, top with 2 tbsp graham cracker crumbs.
  9. Chill completely before serving.

As well, I finally have my nominees chosen for the Droolworthy Blogger award (created by Valli of More Than Burnt Toast):

Jennifer from The Domestic Goddess
The Clumsy Cook
Nicole from Baking Bites
SusanV from Fat-Free Vegan Kitchen
Jen from The Canadian Baker

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Classic Canadian Shortcakes

As the last of Summer lights fade away, I'm with the group of people who clutch at the last remaining glimmers of heat that we wait so long for during the winter months. It seems that the sunburns, the cold outdoor pools and the crowded beaches we lamented are now somehow the best things we ever experienced, and we crave them one last time. When I think of summers past, I remember voyages on Georgian Bay as my dad captained our sailboat, I think of the Stouffville Strawberry Festival that brought to the table pies and amazing home-made Strawberry Wine, and of my first experience with the classic: Strawberry Shortcake.

These are the "biscuit" style of shortcake, which I prefer over the "sponge" style. They are a hearty base for a dollop of sweetened whipped cream and slightly macerated strawberries. To make it A la Canadienne, use maple syrup to sweeten the cream. It adds a wonderful, yet subtle, touch.

Classic Canadian Shortcakes
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup whole-wheat flour
1 tbsp granulated sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp each baking soda and salt
1/4 cup cold butter, cubed
1 egg
1 cup sour cream
1 tbsp buttermilk
  1. Preheat oven to 450 F.
  2. In large bowl, whisk together flours, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
  3. Cut in butter until crumbly.
  4. In separate bowl, whisk together egg and sour cream.
  5. Add to dry ingredients and mix until mixture forms a shaggy dough.
  6. Turn out onto lightly floured surface, and knead to form a smooth dough.
  7. Make a circle about 1” thick. Using floured cutter (or glass), cut out biscuits, re-rolling scraps.
  8. Transfer to a lined baking sheet. Brush tops with buttermilk.
  9. Bake 12 minutes.
  10. Transfer to rack and let cool.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

WHB (but not from my garden...): Saffron!

I wanted to get this WHB post written and sent off to Scott from Real Epicurean before I left for my dad's trailer this morning, so I won't wax poetic on the details of this amazing, decadent, freakin' expensive spice. However, I can't let this go without a quick piece of trivia from GourmetSleuth:

Saffron are the stigmas from the crocus sativus flower (see image below). There are only 3 stigmas (referred to as saffron threads) per flower. Saffron is hand harvested so you can understand why it is so prized and so expensive. It takes about 13,125 threads to weigh one ounce.

I personally love the flowers regardless of their priceless treasures, though this dish is a great foil for the slightly bitter and rich flavour of the crumbled threads. Given that potatoes are naturally bland, they soak up the cooking liquid and turn a colour more golden than egg yolks! The taste will make you feel like you're sitting in a Spanish tapas bar, you'll be asking for the Sangria before you know it! (P.S. take a look on GroupRecipes for a few great Sangria recipes from some equally great foodies!)

Saffron Potatoes
Serves 7 as a side dish
1/8 tsp saffron
1 1/4 cups boiling water
7 medium white waxy potatoes
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
  1. Crumble saffron into water and stir. Set aside.
  2. Wash and cut potatoes horizontally into about 3/4" slices. Pat dry.
  3. Heat a drizzle of olive oil in a large high-sided skillet or pot.
  4. Brown potatoes 4 minutes per side, keep as one layer in pan.
  5. Add saffron water, salt and pepper and rapidly simmer 7 minutes.
  6. Reduce heat and simmer until potatoes are tender and water is mostly evaporated, about 15-20 minutes.
Amount Per Serving
Calories: 164
Fat: 0.2g
Cholesterol: 0mg
Sodium: 13mg
Total Carbs.: 37.2 g
Dietary Fiber: 4.7 g
Sugars: 1.7 g
Protein: 4.3 g

Friday, August 24, 2007

Healthy Honey-Cherry Crunch Cereal (With Vegan Variations!)

Mmm, breakfast. The most important meal of the day, and sadly, one of the most often overlooked. Too often, people grab a muffin or a doughnut and run, but a little advance planning can take a quick breakfast from health Hell to health Heaven in the blink of an eye.

This breakfast is a quick and easy meal (or snack, for that matter) to throw together in the blink of an eye, provided that you make the cereal ahead of time. It's full of vitamins, calcium, protein and fibre, and is like granola without the detriments of the oil most is cooked in. It's easy enough to make vegan (though you'd have to change the name, LOL), but any way you slice (or crumble) it, it is darn tasty!

Healthy Honey-Cherry Crunch Cereal
Serves One
1 tablespoon honey (or brown rice syrup to make it vegan)
1 teaspoon cherry juice
1 teaspoon fat-free soy milk (or skim milk)
1 teaspoon light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup Grape-Nuts cereal
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Coat a small baking pan with non-stick cooking spray.
  3. Mix honey, juice, milk, brown sugar and vanilla in a small bowl until blended.
  4. With a fork, stir in Grape-Nuts until well coated.
  5. Spread in a thin layer in the prepared baking pan.
  6. Bake, stirring once or twice, for 5-10 minutes, or until the cereal has darkened and bubbling has subsided.
  7. Spread on a plate and let cool completely.
  8. Serve over vanilla yogurt, if desired.

Amount Per Serving
Calories: 192.6
Total Fat: 0.6 g
Cholesterol: 0.1 mg
Sodium: 183.4 mg
Total Carbs: 47.0 g
Dietary Fiber: 2.6 g
Protein: 3.4 g

To add to this delectable breakfast, Valli over at More than Burnt Toast has nominated me as a Droolworthy Blogger!!! I'm so touched to think that people actually read my mindless ramblings! Thank you!! My nominees will be up tomorrow for this award.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

ARF / 5-A-Day Entry: Lighter Veggie Cannelloni

Well, I'm a little late with today's post, but with yoga in the A.M. and waiting over an hour in my M.D.'s office this afternoon, I didn't get much chance to sit on my butt today! Howeeeeever, I do have a great recipe to submit to SweetNick's ARF/5-A-Day event, and it's for a hearty pasta dish that gets LOADED with all the greatness that our gardens are producing at an alarming rate. Let's see what's in here... onions, garlic, carrots, zucchini, beets, mushrooms and the motherlode of our garden - tomatoes!

The tomato is a plant in the Solanaceae or nightshade family, as are tobacco, chili peppers, potato, and eggplant. Technically, the tomato is neither a fruit nor a vegetable, but a berry (or scientifically ovary). Actually, I saw on WikiPedia (so who knows, really) that the term "vegetable" is not a scientific one at all, and is purely culinary. Go figure!

Here's some more in-depth information on the superb anti-oxidant powers of this plant, courtesy of

Several recent studies have shown that a diet rich in tomatoes and tomato
products is strongly linked to a reduced risk of certain cancers. In a six year
study of 48,000 male professionals, Dr Edward Giovannucci and colleagues at
Harvard Medical School found that consuming tomatoes and tomato based products
between five to seven serving a week was associated with a reduced risk of
prostate cancer of 21% to 34%.

Another study published in the International Journal of Cancer said that
lycopene appears to protect against cancer of the mouth, pharynx, esophagus,
stomach, colon and rectum. Researchers at the University of Illinois report that
women with the highest lycopene levels had a five fold lower risk of developing
precancerous signs of cervical cancer than women with lowest lycopene

As an interesting little piece of trivia (consider it an appetizer for the main attraction), it has also been said that the tomato became popular during the French Revolution, because the revolutionaries' iconic color was red. Leaders suggested that the revolutionaries should eat red food as a show of loyalty.

Lighter Veggie Cannelloni
Serves 6
1/2 cup finely chopped onions
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup grated carrots
1 cup grated zucchini
1/2 cup grated beets
1 cup chopped mushrooms
1-1/2 tsp dried basil
2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp black pepper
4 oz fat-free cream cheese, cut into cubes
1 small package (10 oz) frozen spinach, thawed and drained
1 cup skim ricotta cheese
12 cannelloni tubes, uncooked
3 cups tomato sauce
1/4 cup shredded, part-skim mozzarella cheese (2 ounces)
  1. Heat a large nonstick pan over medium heat. Add onions.
    Cook and stir until softened.
  2. Add garlic, carrots, zucchini, beets, mushrooms, basil, oregano, and pepper. Cook for about 3 more minutes.
  3. Add cream cheese and spinach and stir until melted and spinach is broken apart.
  4. Remove from heat. Stir in ricotta cheese.
  5. Transfer filling to a large bowl and refrigerate for 20 minutes.
  6. Cook pasta 6-7 minutes. It should still be very firm.
  7. Using a teaspoon, stuff tubes.
  8. Spread a thin layer of pasta sauce over bottom of 2 baking dishes.
  9. Arrange 6 stuffed tubes in each dish.
  10. Pour remaining sauce over pasta and sprinkle with mozzarella.
  11. Cover with foil and bake at 350 degrees F. for 40 minutes.

You can freeze one tray for later in the week if required!

With all the goodness that's stuffed into this simple meal, it's a vegetarian haven in the kitchen this week! Hope you enjoy the bounty of your gardens everywhere!

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Remembering an Eastern Vacation: Louisburg's Soldier Bread

Back when I was a wee thing (about 11 I think), my parents, my sister and I went on a camping excursion to Canada's East coast. We drove our loaded up station wagon all the way out to P.E.I. and back, touring through both Canada and part of the US Eastern Seaboard. I will never forget that trip, for the memories of everything from the red sand of P.E.I.'s beaches to my sister attacking jellyfish on the beach to the fabulous ice cream at Cows will stick in my mind for eternity. We ate very well on that trip too, I seem to remember at least 5 different lobster meals over the 2 week trip and they weren't that pricey either!

One of the tourist attractions that I had the most fun at was at the Fortress of Louisburg National Park in Nova Scotia. It's a great living museum, set in the 18th century and filled with things to do. Of course, even at a young age I was a total foodie and I fell in love with the King's Bakery and their bread. A scouring of their website lead me to this info about the delicious treat they sold:
The King's Bakery was built in 1732. The purpose of the bakery was to supply bread to the garrison. It employed four bakers who doled out six pound loaves of bread every four days to the troops. This loaf of bread was the staple of the soldier's ration, which also consisted of dried vegetables and salt pork.

All I can tell you is that the bread in question is amazing. Lucky for me they had a recipe available! It does make a heckofa lot of bread though, but it does freeze well! Of course, if you have to feed an army (or a couple of teenage boys), this may just be the recipe for you!

Louisburg Soldier’s Bread
Makes 4 Loaves
6 cups warm water
1 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp dry active yeast
4 cups rye flour
12 cups whole wheat flour
2 tbsp salt

  1. In a large bowl mix together water, sugar, yeast and rye flour and 3 cups whole wheat flour. Beat 100 strokes.
  2. Cover and let sit for 1 hour.
  3. Stir down and mix in the salt.
  4. Add remaining flour 1 cup at a time until dough comes away from sides of bowl.
  5. Turn out and knead 15 minutes.
  6. Place dough in greased bowl and turn to coat.
  7. Cover and let rise until double, about 1 hour.
  8. Punch down, turn out and knead 5 minutes more.
  9. Divide into 4 equal portions, shape in slightly flattened rounds and place on greased cookie sheets, 4 inches apart.
  10. Allow to rise 45 minutes.
  11. Preheat oven to 400F.
  12. Bake the loaves for 20 minutes, reduce heat to 350F and bake a further 45 minutes.
They made great sandwiches with this bread when I was there, with thick smoked ham slices, grainy mustard, sharp cheddar (instead of the usual Swiss) and lettuce and tomato. we took a loaf back with us and it was so awesome for the many snacks and breakfasts to come!

The Fortress of Louisbourg National Historic Site of Canada is located at 259 Park Service Road, Louisbourg, Nova Scotia B1C 2L2. Their telephone number is 902-733-2280 for more information!

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

SHF # 34: Goin' Local with Bobcaygeon Chelsea Buns!

Well, OK... I know that the original Chelsea Buns as we know them originated in England. And I know I'm very much Canadian (and darn proud of it!). But hear me out, there's a story, I promise.

This month's edition of Sugar-High Friday (created by fellow Canuck The Domestic Goddess) is being hosted by Johanna of The Passionate Cook with the theme of Going Local.
The first local desserts I thought of were, I confess, quite boring for my tastes because they were so stereotypically Canadian. Although, I guess that kind of was the point of this excersise, but really, how many versions of nanaimo bars and butter tarts do we need out there? I (and Andrew especially) do love those desserts, but there is one that trumps them both in my book, and it is the Chelsea Bun from a little place known as Grany's Bakery in Bobcaygeon, ON. By the way, this is the same Bobcaygeon that the Tragically Hip sing about on their album Phantom Power. But I digress. Every time I go up to Bobcaygeon (about a 2 hour or so drive from here) I make it a point to stop in at the bakery and pick up a box. They are simply to die for!

Alan Davidson, in the Oxford Companion to Food, says that

"The Chelsea bun was first created in the eighteenth century at the Bun House in Chelsea, an establishment favoured by Hanoverian royalty and demolished in 1839. The bun is made of a rich yeast dough flavoured with lemon peel, cinnamon or a
sweet spice mixture. Prior to being rolled into a square spiral shape the dough is spread with a mixture of currants, brown sugar and butter. A sweet glaze covering is added before the rolled-up dough is sliced into individual buns and baked".
I just say they're darn tasty, and better than the usually over-iced goo-filled American Cinnamon Roll.
The recipe I'm using is also very local, as it is an adaptation of one from the Ontario 4-H Club. I figure you can't go wrong with something from the people who bring you what you eat!

Chelsea Buns
Makes 16
½ cup flour + ¼ cup flour
½ cup whole-wheat flour
½ cup granulated sugar
1 tsp salt
2 pkg quick rise yeast
1 cup water
½ cup skim milk
2 tbsp vegetable oil
2 eggs
2 cups brown sugar
1 tbsp cinnamon
1 tbsp butter, softened
2 tbsp + 2 tsp water
1 ½ cups raisins
  1. Combine ¼ cup flour, sugar, salt and yeast in a large bowl.
  2. Heat water, milk and oil until very warm but not boiling.
  3. Stir hot liquids into dry ingredients with a wooden spoon, beating well.
  4. Beat eggs until frothy and mix into batter.
  5. Mix in enough of the combined, reserved flour to make a soft dough that does not stick to the sides of the bowl.
  6. Turn out onto lightly floured counter. Knead about 10 minutes, until elastic. DO NOT UNDER-KNEAD.
  7. Cover and let rest 10 minutes.
  8. Grease two 9” round spring-form pans.
  9. Mix brown sugar, cinnamon and butter in small bowl.
  10. Add water and blend to liquidy paste.
  11. Pour one quarter of this mixture into the bottom of each pan and spread to cover.
  12. Cut dough in half, and roll each half into a rectangle about 35 x 22 cm.
  13. Spread each rectangle with the remaining butter, sugar, cinnamon and water mixture, sprinkle each rectangle with ¾ cup raisins.
  14. Roll rectangles very tightly in jelly-roll fashion, beginning at short side. Pinch edges to seal.
  15. Cut each roll in half, then cut each half into 2 equal pieces. Cut each piece in half again. You will have 16 pieces total when finished.
  16. Put pieces, cut side up, on top of butter, sugar, cinnamon mixture in pans.
  17. Cover with greased wax paper and tea towel and set in a warm place to rise. Let proof until doubled, 50 minutes.
  18. Heat oven to 350 degrees F.
  19. Bake rolls for 30-35 minutes, until golden and fragrant.
  20. Immediately flip pans upside down onto wire racks with tin foil underneath and let syrup run over buns.
  21. Remove pans after 5 minutes.
  22. These are best served warm but can be kept refrigerated up to a week. Reheat in microwave or low oven before serving.
For those of you who will be in the Bobcaygeon area, Grany's is located at 9 King St. E., P.O. Box 953, Bobcaygeon K0M 1A0705-738-3377. Gloria & John Trelford are the wonderful owners and are always willing to talk to you about their products, the town, or anything you want!

P.S. Andrew has since told me that this wonderful bakery was closed when he last visited. Hope it's not for good!
P.P.S. The Healthy Summer Dessert round up for Blog or Bust #2 at the Clumsy Cook is up, right HERE!!

Monday, August 20, 2007

A Different Type of Risotto!

Let's go to The Ex... da da da *hums away merrily to herself*... unfortunately, that means Summer's almost over! *sob*.

I know, I know, I'm as bad as the stores! Here it is still part of what has been a sunny, hot, humid, beat-yourself-to-death-with-a-hose summer and I'm posting FALL FOOD!!! Though, today I'm within every right to post warming food, because, let's face it, it's chilly out this morning!!
But really, Fall? What will it be next, Thanksgiving recipes? Hallowe'en? Oh my Goodness... CHRISTMAS?? I promise I'll try to lapse back a little bit so that I'm not progressing through the year as fast as the local retail chains!

I proceed to show you what I think of as a fancy fruit rice pudding. This is a splendidly flavoured dessert risotto flavoured with truly Canadian maple, apples and cranberries. Perfect for warming up after a walk in the chilly Fall air. A bit of work, but well worth it!

Sweet Canadian Fall Risotto
Serves 4
1/2 cup dried Craisins (or dried cherries)
3 1/2 cups skim milk
2 tsp cinnamon
Pinch of salt
2 tsp canola oil
1-1/2 cups Golden Delicious or Crispin apple, peeled, cored and finely diced
1/2 cup arborio rice
1 1/2 cups apple cider
2 tablespoons packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tsp maple extract
  1. In a small bowl, cover dried cranberries with boiling water. Set aside.
  2. Warm milk, cinnamon and salt to just under boiling point. Cover and set aside, keep warm.
  3. In a heavy, deep sauté pan warm oil over medium heat.
  4. Add apple and cook, stirring frequently, 1 to 2 minutes.
  5. Add rice and cook, stirring constantly, 30 seconds.
  6. Add 3/4 cup apple cider and cook, stirring, until most of the liquid has evaporated, 1 to 2 minutes.
  7. Add the remaining 3/4 cup of the apple cider and cook, stirring, until most of the liquid has evaporated.
  8. Add sugar and mix well.
  9. Add 1/2 cup of the milk to the rice mixture and cook, stirring frequently, until almost all of it has been absorbed.
  10. Continue cooking and stirring, adding remaining milk, 1/2 cup at a time, until the rice is tender and creamy.
  11. Remove from the heat.
  12. Drain cranberries and stir into risotto, along with vanilla and maple extracts.
  13. Serve warm with maple syrup, if desired.

This is definitely a special dessert, and one perfect to end (or begin!) a romantic night with your sweetie. I do wonder whether Andrew would like this, I could make it for him, Martha and my dad one night after we walk their puppies (that's my lab Brandy Boo at Daycare in the pic). This is a bit on the caloric side, though, at around 400 calories and 6 g fat per serving, so if you do go for that walk with your idyllic mate (or puppy), make it a brisk one!

PS: The WHB round up is posted here at kochtopf!

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Bleeding Beans Salad to go With a Side of Cirque!

Whee! Today is the day I get to go with my dad, Martha, my sis and Andrew to go see the latest Cirque du Soleil show in Toronto, Kooza! Tomorrow's another busy run (CNE, baby!!! But I wouldn't miss that for the world, it's a tradition with Andrew and I). But I digress. Yummy things are on the way! Here's a quickie I adapted from Cooking Light, in an attempt to use up some of the beets that have been ripening quite niceley in our garden. It's great because it's vegan, chock-full of protein and essentially fat-free... perfect for a late summer lunch or dinner side.

Bleeding Beans Salad
Yield: 8 Servings
7 cups chopped, peeled beets (about 2 1/2 pounds)
1/3 cup seasoned rice-wine vinegar
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons sugar
2 teaspoons grated lemon rind
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 cups cooked black-eyed peas
  1. Steam the beets, covered, for 25 minutes or until done.
  2. Combine vinegar through salt in a small bowl; stir well with a whisk to blend.
  3. Fold together the beets and peas, drizzle dressing overtop. Let sit in fridge 2 hours before serving.

Amount Per Serving
Calories: 132.2
Total Fat: 0.6 g
Cholesterol: 0.0 mg
Sodium: 344.4 mg
Total Carbs: 28.5 g
Dietary Fiber: 6.3 g
Protein: 3.8 g

Have a great Sunday, everyone!

Saturday, August 18, 2007

WHB: Tropical Fruit Compote with Stevia

With the magical days of summer slowly drawing to a close, it seems only right that we celebrate the warmth and joy that it has brought us over the months. Here in Toronto at least, that's meant droughts and brown grass, but still, I'm not complaining!!! So for this weeks WHB roundup, this time being hosted by Zorra at Kochtopf, I'm playing with what the heat's given us. Here's to a healthy sweet treat featuring something I do grow in my own little garden, Stevia.

Stevia is used in recipes around the world, reports indicate that stevia has been used as a natural sweetener in Japan since the 1970's, and American stevia products are on Canadian health food store shelves, promoted as a sweetener. But following the guidelines of the Canadian government, we do not promote stevia as a sweetener, only as a dietary or food supplement that happens to be 300 times sweeter than sugar and has been safely used as such for centuries.

Tropical Fruit Compote
(Adapted From
Makes 8 1-cup servings

3/4 cup water
2 leaves stevia, minced
2 tbsp brown sugar
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1 piece lemon peel
1/2 teaspoon rum or vanilla extract (optional)
1 pineapple, cored and peeled, cut into 8 slices
2 mangos, peeled and pitted, cut into 8 pieces
3 bananas peeled, cut into 8 diagonal pieces

  1. In a saucepan combine 3/4 cup of water with the stevia, sugar, lemon juice, lemon peel and vanilla extract.
  2. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and add the fruit.
  3. Cook at a very low heat for 5 minutes.
  4. Pour the syrup in a cup. Remove the lemon rind and cool the cooked fruit for 2 hours.
  5. To serve the compote, arrange the fruit in a serving dish and pour a few teaspoons of syrup over the fruit.
Need more recipes for this herb? There's even a Stevia cookbook!

The benefits of this herb are long and varied, including:
  • It has been reported that it can help minimize hunger sensations
  • Minimizes cravings for sweets or fatty foods
  • Aides in digestion
  • Decreases hypertension without effecting normal blood pressure
  • Stabilizes blood glucose levels
  • Shortens recovery time from cold and flu
  • Aides in overcoming addictions to tobacco and alcohol.
  • When used in toothpaste or mouthwash, cavities and gum disease is reduced due to its antibacterial properties.

Cool, eh? Who says life without sugar is sour?

Friday, August 17, 2007

ARF / 5-A-Day Entry: Heart Healthy Grilled Chicken and Green Chili Sauce

Ah, today is just one of those days where I laugh at myself for posting an ARF recipe for the round-up at Sweetnicks. I've just finished baking off 60 chocolate chip cookies (from scratch, thank you very much!) for Andrew and my Grandparents, I have 12 more to make for the stepbrother, along with 12 peanut butter cookies for the grandparents and 2 loaves of banana bread to make as well (plus a loaf of Italian bread, but that's fairly healthy)! And that is just for Bumblebee Bakery's side of it! Heck, I'm not complaining though, if people want to buy what I'm selling, I'm all for it!

Update 4:30 PM - The banana breads and PB cookies are done, and so am I! For today, at least.

This weekend my mom's hosting a huge family BBQ (and I mean huge, if anyone reading this is from or knows an Italian (or Greek) family, they will understand). So in addition to the sausages, hot dogs, hamburgers and skewers, we're making potato salad, fruit platters, and 2 sheet cakes! Yes, I said 2. All this made for a party my mother wanted, who is trying to lose weight for her wedding! Sheesh! Well, maybe she'll appreciate this chicken dish afterwards for some healthy and still flavourful indulgence!

Heart Healthy Grilled Chicken and Green Chili Sauce
Serves 4
4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts
2 tbsp olive oil
4 tbsp chicken broth
juice of 2 limes
1/4 teaspoon oregano
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 cup water
10 to 12 tomatillos, husks removed and cut in half
1/2 medium onion, quartered
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 serrano or jalapeño peppers
2 tablespoons cilantro, chopped
1/4 teaspoon salt
  1. Combine the oil, broth, juice from one lime, oregano, and black pepper in a shallow glass baking dish.
  2. Place the chicken breasts in the baking dish and turn to coat each side. Cover the dish and refrigerate overnight.
  3. Put water, tomatillos, and onion into a saucepan.
  4. Bring to a gentle boil and cook uncovered for 10 minutes or until the tomatillos are tender.
  5. In a blender, place the cooked onion, tomatillos, and any remaining water.
  6. Add the garlic, peppers, cilantro, salt, and the remaining lime juice and blend until smooth.
  7. Place the sauce in a bowl and refrigerate.
  8. Place the chicken breasts on a hot grill and cook until done (about 6 min / side).
  9. Pour the sauce over the hot chicken and serve.

Tomatillos are small fruits (used as a vegetable) enclosed in a husk. The fruit resembles a small unripe tomato and is usually green or yellow. The flesh is slightly acidic with a hint of lemon. Tomatillos belong to the same family as tomatoes.

Make Tomatillos Part of Your 5 A Day Plan (from, as is the photo)
- Slice tomatillos into salsa to add color and flavor.
- Add diced tomatillo to guacamole for an extra crunch.
- Top tacos with sliced tomatillos for a change.
- Liven up your soup with some chopped tomatillos.

Per 1 medium (34g)
Calories 10
Calories from Fat 5
Total Fat 0g - 0%
Saturated Fat 0g - 0%
Cholesterol 0mg - 0%
Sodium 0mg - 0%
Total Carbohydrate 2g - 1%
Dietary Fiber 1g - 4%
Sugars 0g
Protein 0g
Vitamin A 0%
Vitamin C 6%
Calcium 0%
Iron 2%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Sugar-Shock Bars

Wow, you gotta hand it to her. Jennifer from the Domestic Goddess really does live up to her blog's title! I was so nervous to try out her recipe for White Chocolate and Pecan Nanaimo Bars this past Christmas season, but my honey saw the recipe and gave me the pretty-please, for me? eyes and I caved. Well, that and my own curiosities. I had never made any Nanaimo Bar recipe before, and Andrew does love them like me and chocolate, so I took a deep breath and plunged in to the first DG SHF entry of all time!

Of course, I had to make it my own (never can stop fiddling...). This is my version of her recipe, using peanuts, lower sugar and whole wheat flour, but hon said they were still pretty darn sweet! Thanks so much to Jennifer for posting the original recipe (and the pics I'm borrowing!), hope you're feeling better soon!

Sugar-Shock Bars (adapted from theDomesticGoddess)
Yield: 16 Bars
1/3 cup unsalted butter, chunked
5 oz premium white chocolate, chopped
2 eggs
2/3 cup sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
2/3 cup all purpose flour
1/3 cup whole wheat pastry flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
1/3 cup peanut pieces
peanut butter icing (below)
melted white chocolate topping (below)
melted unsweetened chocolate topping (below)
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  2. Grease and flour a 9-inch square baking pan with parchment.
  3. Melt butter in a bowl above simmering water.
  4. Add white chocolate and stir until melted.
  5. Allow this to cool to room temperature.
  6. Whip eggs until creamy.
  7. Add sugar and vanilla and continue to whip until pale and thick.
  8. Reduce speed to medium and add cooled, melted white chocolate.
  9. In a separate bowl, sift together flour, baking powder and salt.
  10. Stir into egg mixture by hand.
  11. Stir in nuts, spoon into prepared pan.
  12. Bake 45 minutes.
  13. Make peanut butter icing: put 1 tablespoon soft butter, ½ teaspoon vanilla, ¼ cup peanut butter and 1/8 cup milk in mixing bowl and cream together.
  14. Add 3/4 cup icing sugar and mix until thick and creamy.
  15. Ice brownie layer and chill.
  16. Make Chocolate Toppings: Seperately, melt 150g white chocolate with 1 tablespoon butter and 100 g unsweetened chocolate with 1 teaspoon butter.
  17. Cover chilled peanut butter icing with layer of white chocolate and chill, then swirl in the melted unsweetened chocolate.
  18. Chill. Cut and serve when top layer of chocolate has hardened.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Just for You, Dad: Rich French Vanilla Pudding

My dad loves French Vanilla. Whenever we used to go for ice cream at Baskin Robbins it would usually be the same thing: Chocolate for my sister, Maui Brownie Madness for me, something cappuccino-y for my mom and French Vanilla for my dad. It's the classic flavour, simple but anything but muted (although I never appreciated it at the time, when I had the chance). My last vanilla ice-cream experience was the truly decadent (and perfect in pretty much every way) was the Honey Vanilla flavour from Cafe Demetre. If you are ever ever in the areas of the cafes, you have to try it!

The term French vanilla is not a type of vanilla, but is often used to designate preparations that have a strong vanilla aroma, and contain vanilla grains. The name originates from the French style of making ice cream custard base with vanilla pods, cream, and egg yolks. That said, this pudding as I've written it isn't truly a French vanilla, but it does form a strong base for a French-style custard! I cannot wait to make this to try a pudding from scratch, just have to figure out a reason to!

Rich French Vanilla Pudding
4 Servings
3 egg yolks
2 cups whole (homogenized) milk
2 tbsp corn starch
pinch salt
2 tbsp unsalted butter (no substitutes)
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla (clear if you have it)
2 drops yellow food colour (optional)
  1. Whisk egg yolks with 1/4-cup of the milk to help them strain through a fine-mesh strainer to get any bits of egg white protein.
  2. Mix this strained egg mixture into the remaining milk in a sauce pan.
  3. Add the sugar, cornstarch and salt.
  4. Cook, whisking constantly, over medium heat until it comes to a simmer.
  5. Whisk in the butter, vanilla and food colour just until the butter is completely incorporated.
  6. Immediately pour into four dessert cups.
  7. Cover with plastic wrap so that it’s touching the surface of the pudding.
  8. Cool in a refrigerator until well chilled.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Black Pepper Spice Cake

Sometimes, you just crave the unusual. I came across this beauty of a cake in my mom's old 1974 version of Classic Canadian Cooking a few years ago and made it for my parents at Christmastime. Not being a fan of spice cakes at the time (chocolate was more my speed) I didn't really like it. The last time I had a slice (at some other get together) I loved it! I'm a total spice freak, I add cayenne to brownies, cloves to hot chocolate, and pumpkin pie spice to my eggs! The black pepper in this otherwise simple, homey cake gives it just the right amount of "pep", so to speak! Feel free to serve it with some sort of other topping than caramel if you'd like (spiced pears or peaches would be good), but I serve it as is, even without caramel, for snacking with a cup of tea.

Black Pepper Spice Cake
Adapted from Elizabeth Baird’s Classic Canadian Cooking (1974)
Serves 12

½ c shortening
¼ c apple butter
¾ c packed dark brown sugar
¾ c white sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 ¼ c cake flour
1 c whole-wheat flour
1 tsp baking powder
¾ tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ground cloves
½ tsp nutmeg
¼ tsp black pepper
1 cup buttermilk

Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease and flour three 9” round pans.
Cream shortening, apple butter, and sugars.
Add eggs, one at a time. Beat in vanilla and mix very well.
Mix all the dry ingredients in a separate bowl.
Add alternately with buttermilk to creamed mixture.
Pour into pans, spreading out to create a slight depression in the middle of each.
Bang pans sharply on countertop.
Bake 25-30 minutes or until tests done.
Cool in tins 10 minutes, invert onto racks and cool completely.
Fill between layers with apple butter, or plum, raspberry or cherry jam, drizzle top with your favourite caramel sauce, or serve plain.

*The links I posted for the fillings are to the Stonewall Kitchen products that I personally love, they aren't paying me for the mention (though that would be awesome, lol. Just kidding!)

Monday, August 13, 2007

A Longing for Steak from Days Gone By

Even though I now do not eat meat (or most fish or seafood, only tuna, scallops and calamari), I used to be a pure-blooded carnivore. I would polish off a Teriyaki Sirloin without ever batting an eye! This probably explains why I gained the weight I did, and turned to Weight Watchers to help me shed over 100 lbs. Thankfully the program still allowed me to enjoy those things I loved so much, and I learned that it wasn't necessarily what, but more how much of something you ate that mattered in the battle of the bulge. My mom and I picked up the New Complete Cookbook at one of our first weigh-ins, and it became a source of staple recipes from then on. Even now, it remains a welcome resource in our home whenever we feel that we haven't hit the gym quite as hard as we should have been!

This was the most succulent beef I have EVER had in my entire life (before I stopped eating meat). I still miss it occasionally, especially since she continues to make it for the family and it smells incredible. There is something about the savoury and yet sweet pulls from the marinade, the melt-in-your-mouth tender texture and the kick from the ginger and crushed chili flakes that takes this from "an everyday dinner" to "THE dinner". It was a wonderful event each time my mom brought out the broiler tray from the oven, and boy was I excited when I saw the bag of marinating meat in the fridge! It is perfect for easy entertaining as well, and equally good for tossing into a steak salad. This recipe is 5 POINTS per serving for current Weight Watchers, and good luck on your journeys!

Asian Flank Steak
Makes 4 servings
1/4 c low-sodium soy sauce
2 tsp liquid honey
1 tsp ground ginger
2 tsp lemon zest
2 minced cloves garlic
1 tbsp red-wine vinegar
pinch crushed chili flakes
1 lb beef flank steak
  1. Mix all ingredients in a Ziploc baggie.
  2. Add steak and turn to coat.
  3. Refrigerate 24 hours.
  4. Bring out meat from fridge, let stand 30 minutes.
  5. Pat steak dry, place under broiler or on hot grill 4 minutes a side.
  6. Remove from heat, let stand 5 minutes before cutting and serving

Amount Per Serving
Calories: 196.5
Total Fat: 8.5 g
Cholesterol: 56.7 mg
Sodium: 981.6 mg
Total Carbs: 4.8 g
Dietary Fiber: 0.2 g
Protein: 24.1 g

Sunday, August 12, 2007

ARF / 5-A-Day: A Maple Pie for the Masses

I cannot believe we are already well into August! It seems like just yesterday that my birthday (in April) was arriving, then Andrew's and my amazing trip downtown on our anniversary! But in fact, as of today it's been a whole 5 months since my little sister's birthday (a week later)! Although I shudder to think of it because of the impending chill, Fall will soon be here. However, that brings on baking season once again!! For me it's pretty much Fall year-round, but now I have excuses to go out and pick Northern Spy apples with my mom at Nature's Bounty Orchard, bake apple pies, crisps and squares (all by her recipes), and help make Thanksgiving turkey. Stay tuned for all of that fun stuff coming up as Fall begins!

This September will mark an important occasion in our family's life: my mom's wedding. I am sure she will be absolutely gorgeous (as all brides are on their wedding day) and to be able to see her happy again after two years of worry about my health and our blending households will touch me more than any other occasion in our house. The reception will be at a local Italian restaurant and their honeymoon is a grand tour of The Boot (her fiance is ridiculously Italian, can you tell?).

Back here in Canada, though, you can be sure I'll be baking away as usual, trying to force my tiny struggling bakery to survive. I'm going to test out this pie recipe on my future husband, and see if it can fly out in the world. It's a wonderful treat for both your heart and your tastebuds. A rich and flavourful sweet pie filling made creamy with the addition of navy bean puree. Your victims... er... I mean friends and family... will never know, since the texture and taste is simply rich and smooth, and the beans themselves have no real flavour. Also, if you use the vegan pie crust (included) the whole dessert is vegan, as well as gluten-free and whole-grain! This was originally from the Ontario White Bean Producers, but modified to varying degrees by me.

Creamy Maple Pie
Serves 10

1 1/2 c. buckwheat flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 c. all-vegetable shortening
3 tbsp. water
1 cup well cooked (almost to mush) navy beans
1/2 cup B grade (extra dark) maple syrup
2 tsp maple extract
2 egg replacer "eggs", prepared
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup melted Earth Balance (or other vegan) margarine
1/2 cup raisins

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Stir flour and salt together.
  3. Cut in shortening until mixture resembles coarse mealy crumbs.
  4. Add water and gently combine to form a dough. Add more water by tablespoons if necessary. Do not overwork!
  5. Roll out and press into a 9" pie tin.
  6. Puree beans in food processor or blender with maple syrup and maple extract until smooth.
  7. Add egg replacers, sugar and margarine and mix until well blended.
  8. Sprinkle raisins in bottom of pie crust. Pour filling on top and smooth.
  9. Bake pie for 35 to 40 minutes.

So, what qualifies this for ARF / 5-A-Day at Sweetnicks?? Well, for starters:

  • Navy beans are a very good source of manganese and a good source of copper, trace minerals that are essential cofactors of a key oxidative enzyme called superoxide dismutase. Superoxide dismutase disarms free radicals produced within the mitochondria (the energy production factories within our cells).
  • One ounce of maple syrup supplies 22.0% of the daily value for manganese.
  • Maple syrup is a good sweetener to use if you are trying to protect the health of your heart. The zinc supplied by maple syrup, in addition to acting as an antioxidant, has other functions that can decrease the progression of atherosclerosis. Zinc is needed for the proper function of endothelial cells and helps to prevent the endothelial damage caused by oxidized LDL cholesterol and other oxidized fats.
  • Diets that contain buckwheat have been linked to lowered risk of developing high cholesterol and high blood pressure.
  • Studies at Cornell University have shown that populations eating diets high in fiber-rich whole grains consistently have lower risk for colon cancer.
Yum! So sit back, relax, and prepare to welcome Fall in a healthy way!
All trivia courtesy of the World's Healthiest Foods.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

A Belated Welcome Back to Dad

Monday morning, my wonderful, hard-working and fun-loving Dad got back from a well-deserved trip to Cuba! His girlfriend Martha won the trip though a charity raffle, and just 3 weeks later they jetted off on an all-inclusive resort vacation. The lucky bums got to tour the locale (where neither of them had been before), and even took a side trip to Havana! I can't wait to see the pictures, plus a little birdy told me there were some shiny things in store! I knew he would get my sister and I souveniers, but it isn't something I expected him to do, since before he left he gave me two Cuisine de France Santoku knives!

In honour of his return I've found a few Cuban recipes for inspiration, including today's from Taste of Cuba. One of the main components of Cuban cooking is sofrito. Sofrito is a Spanish word for a well cooked and fragrant sauce. In Caribbean and Latin American cuisine, it is a sauce of tomatoes, roasted peppers, garlic, onions and herbs.

Sofrito Cubano
Serves 20
25 cherry tomatoes, chopped
2 green peppers, chopped
2 large onions, chopped
10 garlic cloves, chopped
1 bay leaf
1 tsp of ground cumin
1 tsp of dried oregano
3/4 cup sherry
4 Tbsp olive oil
  1. Chop all the ingredients (except bay leaf, sherry and olive oil) in a blender.
  2. Sautee chopped mixture with bay leaf in oil until all vegetables are limp.
  3. Add sherry and let simmer 15 minutes.
  4. Store, covered, in fridge.

Amount Per Serving
Calories: 45.9
Total Fat: 2.8 g
Cholesterol: 0.0 mg
Sodium: 3.3 mg
Total Carbs: 4.0 g
Dietary Fiber: 0.7 g
Protein: 0.6 g

Friday, August 10, 2007

Gettin' a Jump on WHB: Dill Poached Salmon

Whew! I actually prepared myself for this WHB, instead of racing to the finish line like I usually do! Melissa from The Cooking Diva is hosting this week, and if you need details on the blog event you can check out Kalyn's Kitchen.

So, this weekend I picked one of my favourite herbs to go with one of my favourite fish: Dill! This herb originated in central Asia. The earliest archeological evidence for its cultivation and use as a culinary tool comes from late Neolithic lake shore settlements in Switzerland. Traces have even been found in Roman ruins in Great Britain! Through the ages, the uses of this green varied. In the Middle Ages, for example, dill was thought to protect against the ever-feared witchcraft, and Dill was used as a treatment for colic, gas, and indigestion. Even the name for this plant came from the Norse word 'dylle' meaning to soothe or lull, implying the medicinal values. Here is some advice on growing this herb (from
  • Dill, like most herbs, loves to bask in the sun, but will tolerate afternoon shade.
  • Dill grows up to 3 feet tall, so plant it in the back of your garden.
  • Sow seeds close together. This will allow the plants to support each other.
  • Cover the seeds lightly, and allow a week or two for them to germinate.
  • For a continuous crop, sow repeatedly from mid spring to early summer.
  • Don't plant near caraway, fennel or angelica.
  • Caterpillars are fond of dill, and can be handpicked if they become a nuisance.
  • If not kept cut, your dill will go to seed, so cut often until you are ready to switch to seed production.
  • To dry dill, spread in a single layer on a paper towel and microwave on high for 3 minutes.

The recipe for this WHB submission is ridiculously simple, and yet one of the most flavourful and versatile items in my cooking repetoire. It comes from the 1974 edition of Elizabeth Baird's Classic Canadian Cooking, a copy of which my mom has autographed on her shelf. It can be served hot with rice and vegetables for dinner, or chilled and eaten over salad for a refreshing lunch. I actually prefer it chilled a day after it's made! Don't let the long list of ingredients put you off though, the result is well worth it (especially if you follow the directions to let it chill and have the flavours blend).

Dill-Poached Salmon
1 large onion, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
1 celery stalk, chopped
8 sprigs curly parsley
1 bunch fresh dill
1 bay leaf
2 whole cloves
1 tbsp coarse sea salt
1 tsp whole peppercorns
1/3 cup lemon juice
1 cup white wine (a big Chardonnay or Riesling is best)
6 lbs salmon piece, whole (wild or farmed)

  1. In a saucepan large enough for the fish to rest comfortably, add all ingredients except salmon.
  2. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer 30 minutes.
  3. Add salmon to the liquid, bring back to a boil.
  4. If serving hot, allow about to cook 6 minutes for every pound of fish. Remove immediately from the liquid when the fish is cooked.
  5. If chilling, boil 2 minutes. Remove from heat and cover tightly.
  6. Let sit to cool completely, this may take up to 5 hours.
  7. Drain fish and place on serving plate. Remove skin.
  8. Cover with Saran wrap and chill completely (preferably overnight) before serving.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Canadian Childhood Memories (and another Breakfast!) with Fred

Most Canadians who are at least 14 years old will know who I'm talking about when I mention the name Fred Penner. For those of you who don't know this wonderful icon from my childhood, Fred Penner is a children's entertainer who is known for performing on his Canadian children's television show Fred Penner's Place. He has made 12 Children’s Music Albums and performs countless energetically packed live shows. I myself have been to two of his performances and own ALL his albums, mostly on tape (remember those days? You know, the ones without CDs where you had to flip the tape over and God help you if it got tangled?). My favourite song is called The Gooey Duck Song and is in fact about digging for the giant clams (spelled Geoduck), although I didn't know it at the time. My sister was even named after one of his songs: Teagan's Lullaby. One of my best friends, Heather, will tell you that Fred Penner is "the guy who crawled magically out of that hollow log on TV" for 12 seasons. To see what I'm talking about, take a look here.

The reason I bring up this iconic figure from my childhood is that one week's TV Guide featured a recipe by him that became one of my family's favourite weekend breakfasts. It was our first introduction to French cuisine as kids and a great way for my parents to get some sort of fruit into us (by way of the filling). It's an easy recipe and process, and every time I think crepes, I think of him and the Gooey Duck Song.

Fred Penner's Crepes
Makes 16
1 cup flour
1 1/2 cups skim milk
2 eggs
1 tbsp oil
pinch salt
  1. Combine all ingredients until completely blended and slightly thin.
  2. Heat a crepe pan (or very small frypan) over medium, spray with non-stick spray.
  3. Spoon about 3 tbsp of batter into the pan, swirl pan to cover as large an area as possible.
  4. Cook until the surface turns bubbly and dull.
  5. Remove to a warm plate, repeat with remaining batter.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Time for Breakfast: Whole-Grain Maple Pumpkin Pancakes

This is one of my all-time favourite breakfasts (and snacks!) I often eat these mid afternoon, or whenever I feel to. I actually think this was the recipe that turned me onto pumpkin. I still hate pumpkin pie, but the spicyness and nuttiness of these pancakes is unbeatable to me.

The creation of this recipe is attributed to one cold Saturday morning in Andrew's and my tiny apartment kitchen, where he had added some leftover canned pumpkin to his box-mix pancake batter. I watched him play with the spices, fry one up and taste it before adding sugar and different spice. I took the basics of what he had done, and applied it to a vegan pancake recipe I had found somewhere on the 'net. A few batches of pancakes (and full bellies) later I had it, and now it's so ingrained that I never need the recipe card for reference.

Feel free to top with anything you like, from maple syrup to cranberry sauce, honey or even powdered sugar! I personally use E.D. Smith's Sugar-free pancake syrup to avoid the oh-so-fun blood sugar spikes I seem to get. For Weight Watchers out there, this whole recipe is 2 POINTS, and it makes an entire plateful!

Whole-Grain Maple Pumpkin Pancakes
Serves one
1/3 c whole-wheat or buckwheat flour
2 tsp dark brown sugar
2 tablespoons Splenda Granular
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tbsp pumpkin pie spice
pinch salt
1/3 cup canned pure pumpkin (not pie filling)
2 tsp maple extract
1 tsp vanilla extract
Boiling water, as needed
  1. Heat a non-stick pan over moderate.
  2. Combine dry ingredients in a medium bowl.
  3. Add pumpkin and extracts, followed by enough boiling water to achieve a batter consistency.
  4. Spoon about 2 tbsp batter per pancake onto hot pan, brown on both sides.
  5. Serve hot.

Amount Per Serving
Calories: 183.3
Total Fat: 0.7 g
Cholesterol: 0.0 mg
Sodium: 179.6 mg
Total Carbs: 42.3 g
Dietary Fiber: 5.2 g
Protein: 5.5 g

By the way, this morning I went out to water the huge vegetable garden we have, and wound up picking 3 cucumbers, 1 Chioggia beet, 1 Purple Dragon carrot, 22 hot banana peppers and 3 lbs 11 oz of Roma II beans! The cucumbers and the beans are still growing, as are the butternut squash, tomatoes and zucchini, so you may very well be seeing some interesting posting regarding these veggies in the future! The fall will bring us the Brussels sprouts, cabbage and grapes from our mini-vinyard too!