Sunday, September 30, 2007

WHB with the Last Pieces of the Garden (Product Review included)

Okay, thanks everyone for bearing with me as I know I haven't posted yet this weekend... I've been kind of ill, almost like having the flu and mono while being kicked by an alien in my stomach. I'm (hopefully) on my way to recovery once again, but I still feel quite weak and probably won't be posting much talk until I'm fully better. But hey, I know you guys come here for the random foodie projects I concoct anyways, right? Pay no attention to the girl behind the laptop....*flickering lights*

So, WHB is up again, sponsored by Kalyn's Kitchen and this weekend being hosted by Ulrike from Kuchenlatein. For this week's submission I actually didn't plan on anything, instead I was settling into inventing a recipe for my (included) Spice Depot's Always Grind Fresh spice grinders. Since I used pretty much everything in the dish from my garden (haha) to wind up with one of the tastiest things I've made for my family (according to my dad, "it's really good" and Martha "this is a keeper!"), I figured that sending it in to the WHB round up would be okay too.

First thing's first: the spices. Let me tell you, I know I use a TON of different spices in my cooking, and I'm never afraid of flavour. When this company first contacted me with the offer to review some of their new products, I immediately jumped at the chance. There are 12 different grinders in the line, all vegan-friendly and natural (no preservatives!) and they are different from any other spice product I've tried! The flavours are as follows: BBQ Burger Seasoning, Black Peppercorns, Garlic Pepper, Hot & Spicy Seasoning, JoJo Potato™ Seasoning, New York Steak™ Spice, Salad Seasoning, Seafood Seasoning, Sea Salt, Smokey Rib Seasoning, Spicy Chicken Seasoning, and Spicy Sea Salt. They currently have an online list of distributors, but they are sorrowfully mostly Pacific-based so far. Hopefully they will be able to expand to the rest of Canada and the US, or at least set up something online, as for now I won't be able to buy from them again (I'm out near Toronto).

When they arrived, the first thing I noted was the glass bottle's colourful labelling and creative names (like Jo-Jo Potato), plus the fact that you could SEE the product inside the container. Also, the caps can unscrew (which I found out the hard way when trying to unwrap one of the bottles and it exploded onto me, but I'm a klutz) which means they can be refilled, so you don't have to clog up your landfill. When I began using them in the recipe below, the aroma of the spices was so much stronger and flavourful than when I use my regular bottled spices. I think it must be the fact that they remain whole in the bottle until you grind them out onto your food. Think of a coarse-grind pepper mill, but with way more than just pepper. As stated, the grind is nice and coarse, allowing you to see and feel the texture as well as the flavour of the product without having to drown your food in powder.

Some of these pack a serious kick, and I love it! All the grinders would be a wonderful addition to the BBQ lover's apothecary of seasonings, and yet they aren't limited to steaks, ribs or burgers at all. In fact, the full recipe I came up with (using the Jo-Jo Potato and Smokey Rib) is made on the stove-top and in the oven, and is completely vegan! I've also used their Garlic Pepper on fresh tomato slices and in mashed potatoes, with a high success rate according to my tongue! I'm planning on using their Hot & Spicy grinder today with my seafood stir-fry, and will be playing with ideas for a Hot & Spicy apple and pork roast with it as well. None of the grinders are overwhelming in one flavour or another, the ones I have used have a very good sense of balance in their ingredients and can be used in a wide range of applications.

In total, I highly reccommend these grinders to those of you lucky enough to find them in your stores. They live up to their claim of being "All Natural... and All Delicious", and though I cannot personally know if they are the "World's Best" as they claim (seeing as I have not tasted every spice in the world), I know that they are in the upper ranks of my seasoning cabinet. To the company I say thank you, and suggest that they look into wider distribution for those of us not near the West Coast.

As for the recipe for WHB #102, it is a southwestern version of shepherd's pie, made with TVP, chickpeas, sweet and Yukon Gold potatoes as well as a myriad of vegetables and red wine. As I said before, it was a hit at dinner, and it is very filling. It also freezes very well, and the colour of this dish (not to mention the awesome flavour) will brighten up even the drearist of winter days or afternoons stuck lunching in your office! It is extremely healthy too, loaded with fibre, vitamins and minerals as well as just a touch of healthy fats from the olive oil used in the potato mash. Though it does take time to prepare and bake (plan on a good 1-1/2 hours start to finish) it will be a great go-to freezer meal when you're in a mid-week dinner pinch. Now without further ado, I present...

Sweet N Spicy Gardener’s Pie
Serves 8
7 Yukon Gold potatoes, chopped
2 large sweet potatoes, chopped
1 cup chopped, peeled carrots
1 tsp olive oil
20 grinds SpiceDepot’s Grind Fresh Jo-Jo Potato Seasoning
1 cup Textured Vegetable Protein, dry
1 cup vegan beef-flavoured broth, hot
1 tsp olive oil
½ white onion, chopped
1 jalapeño pepper, chopped and seeded
2 red bell peppers, chopped and seeded
1 zucchini, chopped
5 plum tomatoes, chopped
30 grinds SpiceDepot’s Grind Fresh Smoky Rib Seasoning
¾ cup red wine
1 19 oz can chickpeas, drained
1 10 oz can mushrooms, drained
2 tsp flour
  1. Preheat oven to 375F. Lightly grease a 9” x 13” glass pan.
  2. Bring a large pot of water to a boil.
  3. Add potatoes, sweet potatoes and carrots. Boil 30-40 minutes or until everything is very soft.
  4. Drain and mash with 1 tsp olive oil and Jo-Jo Potato seasoning until smooth. Set aside.
  5. Pour hot broth over TVP crumbles, set aside for at least 10 minutes.
  6. Heat remaining oil in a saucepan. Add onions and cook over medium heat, stirring, until golden (about 10-15 minutes).
  7. Add jalapeno, red peppers and zucchini and continue cooking 7-8 minutes.
  8. Stir in tomatoes and rehydrated TVP.
  9. Grind in Smoky Rib Seasoning and stir.
  10. Add wine, chickpeas and mushrooms, stir and bring heat to high, cover and allow to cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  11. Sprinkle in flour, stir, and cook uncovered until liquid is thickened, about 5-10 minutes.
  12. Spread a thin layer of the potato mixture on the bottom of the glass dish.
  13. Bake 10 minutes.
  14. Top evenly with thickened filling mixture, followed by an even layer of the remaining mashed potatoes.
  15. Return pan to oven and bake 20 minutes longer.
  16. Pie can be frozen and reheated in a 375 oven successfully.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

I can hear the bells...

Wow, my first opportunity to wax poetic about my weekend was tonight! After work (one of my life's joys, and I'm serious!), visiting with my aunt and uncle, taking part in a zillion blog events (which I also love!) and cleaning up after the lovebirds took off to the boot-shaped country of delights (both culinary and fashion), not to mention today's wonderful lunch with the ladies of my mom's work, this really was the only time I had to settle down and gab about the beautiful event I was lucky enough to take part in last Saturday.

There are so many people I want to thank, that I have to do this in chronological order... everyone was so integral to making my mom's day so special for her and a joy for me to be in, and in particular took the physical stress off of me and the emotional stress off of those around me. In case any of the people mentioned happen to read this entry, I want to say first and foremost that you will never be forgotten when I think about the wedding.
Firstly, a huge thank you to Andrew for coming all the way from Ottawa by the (sometimes uncomfortable) train to be with me for the day, only to have to go back a day later. You are so special to me and I can't wait until that same feeling of the magical matrimonial bond is shared between us.
My aunt Janice, uncle Mike, and my grandparents have to be the second mentions in this recap. From flying out here (in the case of the aunt/uncle) to toting assorted luggages and dresses, and helping to pick them out (grandparents) as well as just being part of the day, it was a total delight to be able to spend time with the whole family as one.
Early the day of the wedding the group of us girls headed to Valentino's Grande Salon for our hairdos, and even with the glitches of my sister's and my mom's stylists disappearing, everybody looked absolutely fabulous! A big big big thank you to Christina (far right in the photo), who has been doing my hair for years, for making me look as glamourous as I did!
The whole staff at Parkwood Estates was essential in helping out with making the day run smoothly. Unfortunately I can't remember the planner's name, but she was a great comfort to Mom as she ran around the property for all the little details!
The bride was almost giddy as we waited in the Italian Garden, and I think I was almost as nervous, given that I was wearing 3 inch wedge heels that I had worn only once before, and was expected to walk down a flight of stone steps! To ease the tension my sister and I started to hum this song, which I warn you is very very catchy and will get stuck in your head! Of course, that made us grin randomly during the whole ceremony (which was thankfully short), but in most of the photos (I hope) we merely look happy and not drugged out. That look apparently continued through the after-ceremony photos but we are still looking like the "princesses" my mom said we were!
A quick rest for me followed, before Andrew, my sister and I headed to a little Italian restaurant called Fazios in Oshawa's downtown core for the reception. This was the part of the day I had been dreading most, because my special dietary needs meant that my meal would be drastically different from the 6-course set menu everyone else would be recieving. I have to say, the owner, chef Martin and staff went far above and beyond their calls of duty! I never felt out of place or unsure of the contents of my meal, and I was easily as satisfied at the end as everyone else. A special thank you has to go out to Chef Martin, for helping us create my personal menu and assuring me everything would be alright. An extra special thank you as well has to go out to the head server and exceptional entertainer Lima (I hope I spelled that right, he's the one in the photo), for not only his full and prompt attention, but for his knowledge of absolutely every element of the meal (both mine and the rest of the group), including the origin of the herbal tea I ordered at the end of the meal! My menu consisted of a huge plate of perfectly al dente steamed vegetables, a bowl of pasta topped with perfectly-cooked shrimp and scallops, and the herbal tea to accompany a slice of my Chocolate Beet Cake that I had brought along while the others took part in a creation that was partially from Cakes By Suzanne, and added to by the creativity of the Fazio's kitchen staff.
In all, the whole event was amazing, beautiful, and emotional, and even though I hope they won't have to go through it again I am so happy that my Mom and Cel were able to have the day they had been looking forward to for a year, and both were able to seal their happiness in the official sense.
Photos of the gorgeous event (that I haven't posted in this entry) can be found here. If I've left anything out, you'll no doubt hear about it later!
As always, the bakery work continues, this time with pies! Yes, for the Fall season I expanded to add apple pie to my bakery's repetoire, and the first order came from my very own dad! Hopefully he enjoys it... ah, what am I thinking, I KNOW he will, because it's from ME! (heehee)
Here's a recipe similar to the one I use for the bakery orders (can't be giving away any secrets, now...) but I know for one thing it smells amazing, cooling on my counter! Do use a mix of "soft" and "firm" apples for this pie, since they do cook down a bit and the texture will be like a chunky apple butter. The maple syrup and fresh ginger with the traditional cinnamon in the pie give it a sweetness with the right amount of spice, and a flavour that is out of this world. Sometimes I add a pinch of dried, ground ginger to the crust too, for an extra "hint" of that something special.
Maple-Ginger Apple Pie
Serves 12 (one large 9" pie)
1 1/2 level cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup brown rice flour
1 level teaspoon salt
3/4 all-vegetable shortening
4 tablespoons cold water mixed with 1 tablespoon white vinegar
3 cups peeled and roughly chopped "soft" apples (such as PaulaRed, MacIntosh or Red or Golden Delicious)
3 cups peeled and roughly chopped "firm" apples (such as Granny Smith, Northern Spy, Pink Lady, or Gravenstein)
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
1 tbsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tbsp fresh grated ginger
  1. Preheat oven to 450F.
  2. Place flours and salt into a mixing bowl.
  3. Cut in shortening until mixture resembles coarsemeal.
  4. Slowly add acidulated water by the spoonful, mixing until a flaky dough forms.
  5. Divide dough in half and roll out one half, then line a lightly sprayed 9" pie tin with the dough.
  6. Combine apples, maple syrup, cinnamon and ginger in a large bowl, stirring well to coat everything.
  7. Pour apples into the pie crust. It will look like a freaking ton, but trust me it's worth it!
  8. Roll out other pastry half and top the apples, sealing the edges well.
  9. Dock crust with a fork 3-4 times for ventilation (you don't want all your hard work to explode in your oven!)
  10. Place pie on a baking sheet and slide into the preheated oven.
  11. Bake 10 minutes, then reduce the heat to 350F.
  12. Bake for 45 minutes and remove to wire rack to cool.
  13. Enjoy with anything you like (just please not whipped cream!! Ice cream like these ones maybe, especially the ginger one!)

Amount Per Serving
Calories: 254.9
Total Fat: 13.5 g
Cholesterol: 7.2 mg
Sodium: 1.8 mg
Total Carbs: 31.6 g
Dietary Fiber: 2.3 g
Protein: 2.7 g

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Pairings: Butter and Rum, Garlic and Oranges, Cats and Dogs!

Hello again! As promised, another bulk post is in store, this time for British Food Fortnight at Fuss Free Flavours, September Pets from Peanut Butter Étouffee, and Of Course You Can Pair Garlic With That! from Habeas Brulee. I'm exhausted today from my NIA class last night (which, by the way is awesome... I invite you all to check it out!) and from running back and forth to Markham, Ajax, etc. so I will be pretty brief in each element's description. Besides, the grandparents were over today bleaching the life out of our house now that my mom and the stepfather are off in Italy, so just keeping up with them has been a challenge.

The first of my three entries comes courtesy of the Great British Cookbook, and is something I vaguely remember seing out at Christmastime. Apparently, in Cumberland, rum butter and oatcakes were given to friends who called at the house to see a new baby. In turn they would leave 'a silver coin, and on the day of the christening, when the butter bowl was empty, the coins were placed in it. A sticky bowl, with plenty of coins sticking to it, meant that the child would never be wanting.

Cumberland Rum Butter
Serves: 4
225 g unsalted European butter, softened (8 oz)
175 g brown sugar (6 oz)
3 Tablespoons rum
Grated nutmeg

  1. Put the butter in a warmed bowl and cream it, either with a wooden spoon or electric beaters.
  2. Tip in the sugar and rum and mix everything together.
  3. Grate in nutmeg to taste and mix again.
  4. Place in a bowl and chill until required.
Entry number two is for Habeas Brulee's unique event Of Course You Can Pair Garlic With That!. The idea was to create a dish that utilized an unusual pairing for the ever-pungent, ever present, garlic. I have to say that I've had this recipe floating around in my head for a while after I was inspired on Epicurious and this was the perfect excuse to make it! This is a satisfying vegan main course that takes full advantage of the flavour possibilities of garlic, here cooked until soft for sweetness and body along with sweet oranges, sautéed until golden for depth, and added raw with crushed red pepper flakes for brightness.

Clementine’s Garlic – Bean Pasta
Makes 6 servings
2 medium heads garlic, cloves separated and peeled
2 cups water
1 teaspoon salt
2 Clementine oranges, peeled and separated
2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
½ lb baby spinach
4 cups hot, cooked whole wheat pasta
1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
2 cups cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp nutritional yeast
2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  1. Reserve 8 large garlic cloves.
  2. Put remaining cloves in 2 cups cold water, then simmer in a small saucepan, covered, until garlic is very soft, about 30 minutes.
  3. Reserve ½ cup garlic cooking liquid, drain garlic in a sieve.
  4. Purée cooked garlic with reserved cooking liquid and 1 teaspoon salt in a blender until smooth.
  5. Half each orange section crosswise.
  6. Mince 3 reserved garlic cloves with thyme. Transfer along with spinach to a large serving bowl.
  7. Finely chop remaining garlic cloves and cook in oil in a 12-inch non-stick skillet over moderate heat, stirring, until pale golden, 3 to 5 minutes.
  8. Add oranges and cook, stirring, 3 minutes.
  9. Add beans and garlic purée to skillet and bring to a simmer over moderately low heat, stirring occasionally. Season with salt and pepper.
  10. Reserve 1 cup cooking water, then drain pasta.
  11. Add pasta, sauce, vinegar, nutritional yeast and red pepper flakes to spinach and garlic in serving bowl and toss to combine, adding reserved cooking water if mixture is dry.
  12. Serve immediately.
  13. Each serving contains about 311 calories and 5 grams fat.
I can't wait to see the other entries, I love garlic!
This brings me to my non-foodie additions, a puppy dog and two kitty cats! These furballs are making an appearance as my entry to September Pets, a cute blogging event created by Peanut Butter Étouffee. The dog's name is Shaggy, and he's a mutt who used to belong to my stepfather (I take care of him now, so he's mine). The two cats are actually my sister's, the pretty orange one is named Bitt, and the other one is Preston. Both of them were rescues that we picked up from PetsMart, and their charm and antics never cease to make us laugh. Often the three of them will wind up in the kitchen with me, waiting for something to fall. Too bad for them!

Monday, September 24, 2007

Blogging Events Galore!

Okay, forgive me for trying to kill a few birds with one stone here, but I've been putting off so many blogging events that I've wanted to take part in that I have to shove them all into one entry. Today's featured events will be World Apple Day from kochtopf, In the Bag from RealEpicurean, and of course ARF / 5-A-Day from Sweetnicks. Tomorrow's post will be another bulk post for British Food Fortnight at Fuss Free Flavours, September Pets from Peanut Butter Étouffee, and Of Course You Can Pair Garlic With That! from Habeas Brulee. Ah, now that I've posted that there is NO excuse for me to forget! After all that I promise to do the write up for the wedding and take part in the meme that the wonderful Valli at More Than Burnt Toast tagged me for. Phew!

Okay, first things first. A World Apple Day invitation was sent to me from kochtopf, and since I eat an apple (or two) every day, I figured it would be a great and easy way to kick-start the Fall season. I'm not too sure where this recipe originated from (maybe a box of Bran Flakes?) but I do know that it's simple, tasty and almost like a carrot cake with apple chunks in texture and taste! It's definitely a good go-to for breakfasts on the go, and it isn't too sweet, plus the fibre from the apples, bran flakes and carrots will do your system good! Even baked as jumbo muffins they are still low in fat and fairly low in calories so your waistline won't hate you either!

Bran-Apple Carrot Muffins
12 regular muffins or 6 jumbo muffins
1 3/4 cups bran flake cereal
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup spelt flour
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/3 cup fat free vanilla or apple-vanilla crumble yogurt
3/4 cup low-fat buttermilk
3/4 cup finely chopped firm apple (Granny Smith or Mutsu work well)
3/4 cup grated carrots

  1. In a bowl, combine the first six ingredients.
  2. In a small bowl, beat the yogurt and buttermilk.
  3. Stir into dry ingredients just until moistened. Fold in apple and carrots.
  4. Fill muffin cups coated with nonstick cooking spray three-fourths full.
  5. Bake at 400 degrees F for 20-23 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
  6. Cool for 5 minutes before removing from pan to a wire rack. Serve warm or freeze for future use.
For ARF / 5-A-Day, I present to you a recipe made with one of the strongest protein and antioxidant powerhouses there is: Black Beans! Eating these little gems helps to lower cholesterol and LDL levels, scavenge free radicals, moderate insulin resistance, and reduce cancer risk. Many people also find them easier to digest than other beans, and they are such a versatile ingredient that eating them will never leave you bored! In fact, I've turned them into a yummy, flavourful and tres garlicky dip and spread that's great for parties or hogging all to yourself (if you're like me, hehe).

Cuban Black Bean Hummus Recipe
6 servings
1 (16 ounce) can black beans, drained
1 tablespoon sesame meal (grind seeds in a coffee mill to a powder)
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons water
Juice of one lime
4 garlic cloves, peeled and sliced
1 teaspoon cumin
¼ tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper

  1. Combine all of the ingredients into a food processor.
  2. Process until smooth.
  3. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use (up to one week).

Amount Per Serving
Calories: 131.4
Total Fat: 3.4 g
Cholesterol: 0.0 mg
Sodium: 1.2 mg
Total Carbs: 19.2 g
Dietary Fiber: 6.8 g
Protein: 7.1 g

Finally, for the In the Bag event, I rummaged through our pantry and came up with a recipe featuring a both a tasty, fruity orange flavour with great dried fruit I always associate with the cooler weather, dates!

Date Squares
Makes 12
1 1/2 cups rolled oats
1 1/2 cups whole-wheat pastry flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup packed brown sugar
3/4 cup unsalted butter (no substitutes), softened
3/4 pound pitted dates, diced
2 tbsp grated orange zest
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup orange juice
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon lemon juice

  1. Preheat oven to 350F.
  2. Combine oats, pastry flour, salt, 1 cup of the brown sugar, and baking soda.
  3. Mix in the butter until crumbly.
  4. Press half of the mixture into the bottom of a 9 inch square baking pan.
  5. In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine the dates, zest, orange juice, water, and brown sugar.
  6. Bring to a boil, and cook until thickened (about 15 minutes).
  7. Stir in lemon juice, and remove from heat.
  8. Spread the filling over the base, and pat the remaining crumb mixture on top.
  9. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes in preheated oven, or until top is lightly toasted.
  10. Chill before cutting into squares.

Amount Per Serving
Calories: 206.5
Total Fat: 3.3 g
Cholesterol: 0.0 mg
Sodium: 56.8 mg
Total Carbs: 42.9 g
Dietary Fiber: 3.0g

Okay! I think that's all for today! Have a great beginning of the week everyone!

Sunday, September 23, 2007

WHB #101: Signs of Summer, Hints of Fall

Yeah, I know I said I wouldn't be posting this weekend due to the wedding on Saturday, but the party's over, Andrew's on his way back to Ottawa *sniff*, the baby sister's in bed and the rest of the stepfamily are off godknowswhere. Eventually everyone will be returning for a last rendezvous at my grandparent's place before my wonderful aunt and uncle fly back to Vancouver, but until then I essentially have the house to myself (and the puppy, who is quietly lying at my feet under the kitchen table as I write this). I will be posting pics of the wedding (and the reception, before the untimely death of the camera batteries) soon, but that will be seperate and may in fact be a link to Flickr rather than a host of them here. I feel the pain of webpages taking eons to load too! But no matter, that is for another post, definitely after I wash the remaining hairspray out of my hair and re-scour my face (I knew there was a reason why I didn't wear makeup!).

This weekend marks the 101st go-around of Weekend Herb Blogging, an event of gardening goodness started by Kalyn of Kalyn's Kitchen. This time the wonderful Myriam from Once Upon a Tart is hosting, and I've gotten into the swing of Fall already (happy Equinox, everyone!) with a ginger cake. However, this isn't just ANY ginger cake. This is a special, egg- and dairy-free and honeyed ginger cake with the tasty addition of peaches to bring back the whiffs of Summer that are not so far behind us. And really, when you think about it, it's coming into Summer for half the blogging world! Hmm, maybe I should look into moving to Australia for 6 months...

Well, here you have it! The first recipe of mine for Fall 2007 and my first Fall entry to WHB: Ginger Peach Cake.

Ginger Peach Cake
Serves 12-16
1 3/4 cups flour
1 cup spelt flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon baking powder
4 teaspoons ground ginger
1 cup warm water
¼ cup brown sugar
½ cup peach puree
¾ cup honey
1 egg replacer
1 pound fresh (or canned in water) peaches, peeled, pitted and sliced
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup water
½ tsp ground cloves
1 tsp ground ginger

For Cake:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 325F. Grease and flour a shallow 9” cake pan.
  2. Place all ingredients into a food processor and process until smooth.
  3. Bake for approximately 45 minutes.Remove from oven and allow to cool.

For Filling:

  1. Combine peaches, brown sugar, water, cloves and ginger in a pot over medium heat.
  2. Cook uncovered about 25 minutes, or until liquid is reduced to thick syrup, stirring occasionally.
  3. Slice cooled cake and sandwich filling between the layers.
  4. Top with additional filling. You will not necessarily use all the filling!

Amount Per Serving
Calories: 233.3
Total Fat: 0.4 g
Cholesterol: 0.0 mg
Sodium: 13.9 mg
Total Carbs: 55.5 g
Dietary Fiber: 2.7 g
Protein: 3.6 g

Friday, September 21, 2007

Champagne Brownies for a Special Day

Wedding Day is tomorrow. Not mine, of course, though that will come in it's own due time. My mom's the one getting hitched, and to celebrate we've had both Andrew come in from Ottawa and my Aunt Janice and Uncle Mike fly in from Langley, BC (near Vancouver). So I figured a celebratory recipe was in order, particularly something on the sweeter side of life. A bit of drool-Googling later I happened across this recipe at LovesCool, and I knew it was one to use. I altered it slightly, adding in cherry pie filling and omitting the glaze overtop, but I think it worked out a-OK. Sweet, fruity and chocolatey, and with Champagne to boot! What better for a last day of Summer wedding?? And tell me a woman who can turn down a decadent, special chocolate treat?

Wedding Brownies
1 lb 70% dark chocolate, chopped
6 tbsp butter, cubed
6 tbsp applesauce, room temperature
½ tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 ¼ cups packed brown sugar
3 large eggs
¼ c strawberry or cherry preserves or pie filling
3/4 cup plain [all-purpose] flour
1 cup champagne

  1. Adjust the rack 1/3 from bottom of the oven and preheat to 325F
  2. Butter a 9″x9″ baking pan and line with parchment paper
  3. Melt the chocolate and butter in a microwave or double boiler. Stir in the applesauce.
  4. Beat the salt, vanilla and sugar into the melted chocolate mixture.
  5. Add the eggs one at a time to the chocolate mixture and beat thoroughly to incorporate.
  6. Add the preserves and mix well.
  7. Add the flour and mix just until blended.
  8. Add the champagne and continue mixing the batter vigorously until it becomes very shiny and pulls away from the sides of the bowl.
  9. Turn the mixture into the prepared pan and bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out moist, but free of batter, about 45-50 minutes.
  10. Cool completely before cutting.

*N.B.: I won't be posting this weekend, for obvious reasons. Enjoy your weekends, everyone!

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Arr, Matey! Here's the Rum!!

Hello, mateys! Welcome to International Talk Like A Pirate Day! Being a fan of seafaring, in both my own family (dad and mom were sailors themselves, I practically grew up on a sailboat; plus I have some rum-runner in me too!) and my cinematic loves (Pirates of the Caribbean, anyone?), I just couldn't let the day go by without a few culinary mentions on the subject! Of course, both the drink recipe and the ham component of the dinner meal contain measures of rum, and while I was browsing Danielle's gorgeous blog Habeas Brulee (looking for details on her new event Of Course You Can Pair Garlic With That, which I have a great recipe for!) I found two more rummy delights that the true pirates out there in the blog-o-sphere can tempt themselves and their crew with, or use to barter passage off a deserted island!

Start things off with a (cannon) bang:

Anchors Away!
Serves One
1 oz white rum
1 oz spiced rum
1 oz coconut rum
3 oz pineapple juice
1/2 ripe banana
5 large, frozen strawberries
1 slice pineapple
  1. Combine all ingredients together in a blender with ice.
  2. Blend on high until smooth, pour into a hurricane glass, and serve.
Smooth sailing ahead (mind the main [sail], matey!):

Jamaican Ham Steaks
Serves 6
2 ham steaks, 1” thick, cooked
24 whole cloves
2 cups sliced Red Delicious apples
½ cup dark rum
1 tsp mustard powder
¼ cup brown sugar
3 tbsp honey
3 tbsp dark rum
  1. Preheat oven to 375F.
  2. Insert cloves around the edges of the steaks. Place in a shallow baking dish.
  3. Pile apple slices on each steak.
  4. Add the ½ cup rum, plus enough water to come halfway up ham.
  5. Cover and bake 50 minutes
  6. Reserve 1/3 cup cooking juices, drain remainder from dish.
  7. Mix reserved juice with mustard, brown sugar, honey and remaining rum.
  8. Pour mixture over apples and ham.
  9. Bake uncovered 15 minutes. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.
Tortuga Rice
Serves 6
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1/2 large onion, sliced
1/2 red delicious apple, cored and sliced
1 pinch curry powder
1 1/3 cups water
2/3 cup brown rice
1 teaspoon dark molasses
1 small, slightly green banana, sliced
1 tablespoon unsweetened flaked coconut
  1. Heat the oil in a saucepan over medium heat.
  2. Add the onion and red apple; cook and stir until onion is transparent.
  3. Season with curry powder, and stir in the water.
  4. Add the rice and molasses, cover, and cook over low heat about 30 minutes.
  5. Mix in the banana, then sprinkle the coconut on top.
  6. Heat through for a moment over low heat before serving.
P.S. If you don't feel like baking away all your rum with a dessert, the Rum Runner's Rum Cake Factory in Halifax ships both Original and Chocolate Rum Cakes!

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

She Sings! She Dances! She Bakes!

Yup! Bumblebee Bakery is at it again! One of the wonderful people at my mom's work placed a large order with me and so aiming to please I filled 'er up over the course of today! In total (and in order, go me!), I made:
  • 2 Banana-Nut breads
  • 1 Apple-Oatmeal bread
  • 12 Nutty Apple Tree muffins
  • 6 Irish Mocha muffins

Making these was a lot of fun for me, even being a little hungover from being sick earlier. And no, mom and dad, I'm not pregnant! Though I was barefoot and in the kitchen...LOL. Seriously though. If you knew me, the idea of that would be as far removed as Pluto (which, in my opinion, is still clearly a planet).

But anyways, to get me into my "baking groove" so to speak, I plugged in my new MP3 player (which has all my gym-bound songs on it) and zoned out to everything... the phone, the cats, the dog... unfortunately I wound up NOT missing one of the election campaigners for the provincial election (do these people ever give up? I mean, they're worse than the newspapers for understanding "no!"). I danced and sang along to everything from the Barenaked Ladies and Trans-Siberian Orchestra to the Hairspray soundtrack to Red Hot Chili Peppers and my latest favourite, K.T. Tunstall. I was smiling, laughing, totally in my "comfort zone", even though I won't be able to try the goods myself! As a pure, delightful bonus, the house smelled like heaven. What can I say? I have the perfect job.

Unfortunately for you foodies out there, I can't give out my secret recipes for the bakery. However, I can give you another, equally tasty recipe I have in my files!

This is something that I would make just to say I did... it's that kind of dessert. Flourless and butterless, but don't let that fool you... the chocolate and whipped cream kind of cancel that out! It's actually of Moroccan origin, though it's name - La Russe - indicates a French / Russian connection (there's that connection again! What's with that!?). This is a showstopping dessert, at any rate, that I had once at Nottawasaga Inn's dinner buffet when I was about 11 and haven't forgotten since. I'm sure this isnt the recipe they used, this version is slightly "lightened up" (if that can be done!) by using less whipped cream and nuts, instead choosing to rely on fine-quality (yet easy to find) dark chocolate and ground hazelnuts instead of chopped to "spread the love" so to speak. Besides, who says we can't indulge once in a while. It's not a cake after all, it's a fat-free meringue... with benefits!

La Russe
Serves 12
6 egg whites, at room temperature
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon cream of tartar
1 cup superfine sugar
1 cup hazelnuts, toasted and peeled
1 tsp coarse sugar (not coloured)
2 tablespoons superfine sugar
7 oz bittersweet chocolate (70% or higher), broken into pieces
¼ cup brewed espresso
1 tablespoon Kahlua
2 cups heavy whipping cream

  1. Preheat the oven to 300°F.
  2. Generously grease 8 inch cake pans
  3. Cut 3 rounds of waxed paper to line the bottom of each pan, and generously grease the waxed paper.
  4. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer on high speed, beat the egg whites with the salt and cream of tartar.
  5. Slowly add the sugar and continue beating until stiff peaks form.
  6. Divide the egg whites among the three pan, and smooth the tops with a spatula.
  7. Place in the oven and immediately decrease the heat to 275°F.
  8. Bake until the meringue is hard but not brown, about 1 hour.
  9. In a food processor, grind the nuts with coarse sugar until you have a fine meal.
  10. Combine the chocolate, coffee, Kahlua, and remaining 2 tablespoons sugar in a heatproof bowl and melt together.
  11. Set aside and allow to cool slightly.
  12. Pour the cream into a large chilled bowl, and whip with an electric mixer on high speed until stiff peaks form.
  13. Gently fold the melted chocolate blend into the whipped cream, and then fold in half of the ground nuts.
  14. To assemble the cake, carefully peel the paper from the bottom of each meringue.
  15. Set one round on a serving platter. With a spatula, spread one third of the cream over the top.
  16. Cover with a second round, and repeat the procedure.
  17. Top with the third round, and spread with the remaining cream, spreading it over and around the sides of the cake.
  18. Sprinkle with the remaining ground hazelnuts.
  19. Refrigerate for no more than 3 hours before serving.

Amount Per Serving
Calories: 380.0
Total Fat: 28.6 g
Cholesterol: 54.3 mg
Sodium: 42.8 mg
Total Carbs: 31.5 g
Dietary Fiber: 2.3 g
Protein: 5.7 g

Monday, September 17, 2007

Burger and Fries... Vegetarian Style

Some days you really get a hankering for a burger and fries. But really, with all that supersizing, at 610 calories and almost 30 g of fat in McDonald's fries, plus a Big Mac weighing in at 530 calories and 30 g of fat, we tend to cringe a little bit at the thought of the tipping scales. Besides, if you're going to have a burger and fries for dinner, I for one would like some taste, not just meat, cheese and mayo on a bun, thank you very much! So, in order to satisfy my cravings and help the family eat a little better I came up with two better-for-you but still high in taste recipes, served together they're the perfect "burger n' fry" combo.

Personally, I like spicy fries, but feel free to just use salt if you want, or nothing at all. These are "wedge-style", and have a nice kick to them.

Country Fries
4 servings
3 medium baking potatoes
1 egg white
1 tsp each paprika, garlic powder, black pepper and salt
  1. Preheat oven to 500F.
  2. Coat a baking sheet with non-stick spray.
  3. Cut potatoes into 36 wedges, place in bowl of cold water.
  4. Whisk egg white, paprika, garlic powder, pepper and salt in a large bowl until frothy.
  5. Dry potato wedges, add to egg white and toss to coat.
  6. Spread on baking sheet and bake on bottom rack 25 minutes, turning half way through.

Amount Per Serving
Calories: 130.3
Total Fat: 0.2 g
Cholesterol: 0.0 mg
Sodium: 22.0 mg
Total Carbs: 28.9 g
Dietary Fiber: 2.1 g
Protein: 4.5 g

As for the burger part of this burger n' fry meal, I have never ever had a tastier burger than the Jamaican Jerk burger from an Ottawa staple that has been talked about on the blogs before: The Works Gourmet Burger Bistro. Their menu is huge, with 62 topping combinations, 7 burger patties, 2 buns and 12 sides to choose from! They also have an incredible selection of milkshakes that are all to die for, though my favourite will always remain the chocolate peanut butter. As far as burger toppings go, apparently the combination of Kraft Dinner and a hamburger is a winner (according to my old history teacher) but I always return to my classic favourite. My recipe is for all intents and purposes what you can expect to recieve if you ordered a Jamaican Jerk burger with a portobello mushroom cap and a whole wheat bun. Insane tastiness with just the right amount of kick to get your heart beating, a good warm-up for those -40C winters in the capital!

Jamaican Jerk PortaBurger
Makes 4
½ C. vegetable oil
½ C. vegetable broth
1 large onion, chopped
2 green onions, chopped
2 Habanero peppers, stemmed, seeded and minced
2 T fresh ginger, grated
1 T chopped fresh thyme
6 cloves garlic, minced
¼ C red wine vinegar
2 T brown sugar
¼ tsp. nutmeg
¼ tsp. cinnamon
¼ tsp. ground cloves
2 tsp. allspice
4 T fresh lime juice
4 portabella mushroom caps, stems removed
4 slices pepper-jack cheese
4 slices ripe beefsteak tomato
4 T chopped green chili peppers
4 whole-grain rolls, sliced and toasted
  1. Add all ingredients through lime juice to a blender.
  2. Puree until smooth.
  3. Arrange mushroom caps in a small, deep dish. Pour marinade over.
  4. Cover and refrigerate 4 – 6 hours, turning caps halfway through.
  5. Heat grill to medium-high. Remove caps from marinade and blot dry.
  6. Place caps (gill side down) on grill, cover and cook 4 minutes.
  7. Flip, top each with a slice of cheese and cook, covered, 4 minutes more.
  8. Place 1 slice tomato on the bottom half of each roll. Top with mushroom caps, then add 1 tbsp chilis to the top of each. Top with remaining bun half.

Amount Per Serving
Calories: 329.8
Total Fat: 17.7 g
Cholesterol: 25.2 mg
Sodium: 381.7 mg
Total Carbs: 33.1 g
Dietary Fiber: 5.4 g
Protein: 13.9 g

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Comfort Food for the Human Meringue

Those of you who know me well know just how sick I can get how quickly, and how fragile my sleeping cycles are. Well, two nights ago I got a grand total of one hour sleep (not that it wasn't for lack of trying), and spent most of yesterday and today trying to recover, so I apologize if I'm not as coherent or jovial as I have been previously. I will, however, share one of my personal favourite (and frequently made, it seems) comfort foods along with a great gem (ruby, perhaps?) of a breakfast or snack that is perfect when you're feeling down that I picked up from GroupRecipes and modified slightly as per my digestive tolerances.

Okay, so comfort food #1 is a chili-inspired meal-in-one that I adore, and helps calm down my troublesome tummy. It is very low fat (since my system rebells and wreaks all havoc when I add butter, oil or any high-fat ingredient such as peanut butter or dairy to my food (though you wouldn't know it, looking at this blog); think of me as a meringue!), whole-grain, has 2 servings of vegetables, and is very heavily spiced (I won't put quantities of the spices because I never measure, I go by taste-to-check and I add tons, which irritates the family slightly) and incredibly healthy. It is protein, calcium, fibre and iron-rich, and is vegan, soy and gluten free.

Small Mexican Red Beans are similar to kidney and pinto beans in shape and texture, with a slightly stronger "bean" flavour to them. They hold their shape and firmness when cooked, which makes them ideal for this design. Kasha describes roasted whole-grain buckwheat or buckwheat groats. It is a common filling for a knish, and is nutty and slightly toothsome, blending well with the spices. You can find kasha in bulk or health food stores. Finally, Savoy cabbage is the crinkle-leaf variety, usually reserved for making cabbage rolls. It is the most tender and does not need much cooking, you will NOT be pleased if it is over-steamed!:

Kasha with Mexican Beans and Cabbage
Serves One
1 cup cooked Small Mexican Red Beans, drained
1/2 - 3/4 cup tepid water
Garlic powder
Onion powder
Mustard powder
Chili Powder (use a lot of this)
Cinnamon (small amount!)
3/4 cup hot water
1/4 cup dry kasha (whole buckwheat groats)
pinch salt
6 oz (about 6 leaves or so) Savoy cabbage, julienned
2 cloves garlic, chopped
  1. Put beans and tepid water into a small pot over medium heat. warm thoroughly.
  2. Add spices to taste, stir to blend well and keep on low heat. Do not let mixture become too thick, add water if necessary.
  3. Bring hot water to a boil, add salt and kasha. Turn heat to low, cover and simmer 15 minutes (it will absorb the water).
  4. Steam cabbage and garlic cloves 6 minutes (maximum).
  5. Place cabbage in a large, deep bowl.
  6. Top with cooked kasha and spread it out evenly.
  7. Pour hot beans over all, stir slightly and serve.
Per Bowl
358 Calories
1.9g Fat
14.3g Fibre
18.5g Protein
10.75% Calcium
34.75% Iron

Comfort food #2 comes as a variation on a recipe from one of my great inspirees, Pinkpasta from GroupRecipes. The original recipe is here, I am posting my variant here (nut, dairy and butter free) but I am jealous that such a delightful recipe can't be tasted by me unaltered. Oh well, such is life. Here is what she has to say about this tasty meal: This is like eating gourmet oatmeal! Sweet, tart, nutty!, delicious! Whole oats take a little longer to cook than instant, but they're higher in fibre, have a chewier texture, and stick to your ribs.

Old-Fashioned Dried Cherry Oatmeal
Yields 6 servings (serving size 1 cup)
3 cups water
3 cups fat-free soymilk
2 cups whole oats (NOT instant)
1/2 cup dried cherries, coarsely chopped
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  1. Bring first 5 ingredients to a boil.
  2. Reduce heat, and simmer, stirring occasionally, 20 minutes or until thickened. Remove from heat.
  3. Stir in brown sugar and next 2 ingredients.
  4. Spoon 1 cup oatmeal in each of 6 bowls. Serve immediately.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

WHB: Cloves... with garlic? Pickled? You bet!

I had quite the dilemma when it came time for me to figure out what to post for this edition of WHB, from the creative world of Kalyn's Kitchen. I mean, here we are, at the 100th edition!! It should be something unique! Showstopping! Pecuiliar... er, I mean, tasty! What was I to post?

Well, I worry no longer, for I recalled a recipe that I had posted on GroupRecipes that had caused a little bit of a stir, so to speak. I talk of spicy, yet sour, yet sweet, intensely flavoured Pickled Garlic. It uses cloves, which I know is technically a spice (actually, a flower bud, as I discovered) but I'm crossing my fingers and hoping that both the kind creator and the wonderful hostess (who is Katerina from Daily Unadventures in Cooking, this time around) will forgive my slight variation from the original theme.

Cloves can be used in cooking either whole or in a ground form, but as they are extremely strong, they are used sparingly. In north Indian cuisine, it is used in almost every sauce or side dish made, mostly ground up along with other spices. They are also a key ingredient in tea along with green cardamoms. In south Indian cuisine, it finds extensive use in the biryani dish (similar to the pilaf, but with the addition of local spice taste), and is normally added whole to enhance the presentation and flavor of the rice.

In Chinese medicine, cloves are considered acrid, warm and aromatic, and enter the Kidney, Spleen and Stomach channels. They are notable in their ability to warm the middle, direct Stomach qi downward, and to fortify the Kidney yang.

However, cloves can be irritating to the GI tract, and should be avoided by people with gastric ulcers, colitis, or IBS. In overdoses, cloves can cause vomiting, nausea, diarrhea, and upper GI hemorrhage. Severe cases can lead to changes in liver function, dyspnea, loss of consciousness, hallucination, and even death!

You know what, though? I'm willing to take that risk for this treat! These are great straight from the jar, or mash them into vegetables or steak!

Persian Sugar-Pickled Garlic
4 heads garlic
2 small dried Thai peppers
1 cup sugar
2 cups red wine vinegar
2 cups water
8 whole cloves
2 tablespoons whole black peppercorns
  1. Separate garlic cloves, but do not peel.
  2. Place all ingredients in a large pot.
  3. Bring to a boil and cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  4. Reduce heat to medium and cook 5 minutes.
  5. Transfer to a large glass jar large enough to hold garlic and the liquid, seal tightly.
  6. Refrigerate at least 6 months before serving.
  7. The garlic improves with age for as long as 15 years!

Friday, September 14, 2007

ARF / 5-A-Day: Falling With Mom's Harvest Apple Squares

There is a distinct nip in the air these days, and the heat that was blazing down on us a month ago has seemed to disappear. I guess that means soon the leaves will be changing and apples will be ripe for the picking! My mom and I have a great time going up to Natures Bounty Orchards and picking apples for hours. They have all kinds... MacIntosh, IdaRed, the Delicious family, Empires, my personal favourite Spartans, and the perfect pie apple that is the Northern Spy.

Apples are a major Fall crop here in Ontario, where there is even an Applefest held over the Thanksgiving weekend at the villages of The Blue Mountains. Every Fall to my recollection has been graced with the wafting aromas of baking pies, pork roasts, crisps and squares, all featuring the delicious bounty of the new season.

This was one of our Fall dessert favourites here at home when I was growing up. My mom is still famous at our old elementary school for these... my Home Ec teacher would steal them from the bake sale tables! A blend of Northern Spy and MacIntosh apples is great for these crumbly, sweet gems, but if you can't get your hands on the Spy apples, try for a firm, tart apple like a Granny Smith.

My Mom's Apple Squares
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup packed dark brown sugar
1 1/2 cups quick-cooking rolled oats (not instant)
1/2 cup cold butter or stick margarine (vegan variant if needed)
3 cups thinly sliced apples (see preamble)
1 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp lemon juice
  1. Preheat oven to 375F.
  2. Combine flours through oats in a large bowl.
  3. Cut butter into the dry ingredients until mixture is crumbly. Add a little apple juice or water if required.
  4. Press 1/2 the crumble into the bottom of a thoroughly greased 9" pan.
  5. Combine remaining ingredients and toss to coat.
  6. Pour apples over bottom crust and crumble remaining oat mixture overtop evenly. Pat down.
  7. Bake 40-45 minutes or until golden brown.
  8. Let cool thoroughly in fridge before cutting and serving.

I discovered recently while browsing Slashfood that this is rather a timely post! Lucky for us apple-lovers, the L.A. Times has a great guide to the myriad of apple varieties out there! Apples are a wonderful source of both vitamins and antioxidants (but of course we ALL knew that!), so I've decided to post this treat in honour of Sweetnick's ARF / 5-A-Day event (#88!). By the way, last week's roundup is posted here, since I was lax in posting that one earlier!

P.S. --> November 1, 2007 is Canadian National Men Make Dinner Day! That means only 47 days left for you guys to get your apron strings tied for your gals (if you have one) and try something new! By the way, making dinner doesn't involve a phone number stuck to the fridge or excessive use of the microwave! Just kidding, guys! I know you can cook with the best of 'em!

Thursday, September 13, 2007

A Feast for Worldly Religions!

My family and I have never really subscribed to a set religion. I tend to say that I am a spitritual person, rather than one who subscribes to a dogmatic faith, while my mom prefers the term agnostic to describe herself. The SF and SB proclaim themselves far and wide as Catholics, but I don't think they have attended mass since the SB's christening, and as far as I know my Dad, sister, Martha, and Andrew don't really care one way or another. One thing my Dad, Martha (who teaches at an elementary Catholic school but has a degree in religion) and I have in common is the love of learning all things we can about all religions. When I was young my elementary school celebrated almost every festival and feast day for every religion and nationality we could, and I took World Religions in high school, along with independent exploration in university. I love all things that make the world what it is, everything that is both similar and unique about our community as a city, a country and a planet. I believe that everyone has the right to believe and worship in their own way, or not to if they choose, and that the religious wars that have been fought in the past were wrong. Hopefully I haven't upset anyone in the reader community so far, I do know that religion is a rather touchy subject (and one not usually to be discussed around the dinner table)!

However, since I was a little out of it yesterday, I missed out on two very important milestones in two very important religious calendars! The 12th of September marked the celebration of the holy day of the Jewish new year, or Rosh Hashanah. For those following the Islamic calendar, we welcome the first night of the fasting (and ninth) month of Ramadan.

For Rosh Hashanah, a popular observance is eating apples dipped in honey, a symbol of the wish for a sweet new year. On the second day of Rosh Hashanah, Jews eat a new fruit (or vegetable) not yet eaten in the season so a special blessing can be recited. Various symbolic foods - such as dates, pomegranates, pumpkin, leeks and beets - are traditionally eaten on the holiday. No work is permitted on Rosh Hashanah, and many a festive meal is shared. One of the most traditional (at least to un-initiated) me is Chicken and Matzoh Ball Soup.

This recipe is taken almost verbatum from my fellow Canadian and personally my favourite chef Michael Smith. I have watched him prepare this recipe a few times on his TV Show Chef at Home, and I have a special fondness for how he talks about his family memories as he cooks. My mother and grandmother would do the same thing as they prepared family meals for us, and whenever possible they would involve us in the stirring, pouring, and decorating of whatever we were presenting. One day I will be sharing these memories with my own child, and will probably still be on the blog circuit as I do it! Boy, my link lists will be long then!
Chicken and Matzoh Ball Soup
Serves 4
1 roasted chicken carcass, meat removed and reserved for another use
4 carrots, cut into chunks
3 stalks of celery, cut into chunks
3 onions, cut into quarters
1 tbsp dried parsley
3 tbsp dried thyme
1 tbsp garlic powder
4 eggs
4 tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/4 tsp oregano
1 cup matzoh meal
1 inch piece of ginger, grated
2 cups of baby spinach leaves
3 shallots, sliced
1 cup of bean sprouts

For the Browned Chicken Broth:
  1. Roast chicken carcass in a 400-degree oven until golden brown.
  2. Place into a stockpot along with the carrots, celery, onions, parsley, thyme and garlic.
  3. Cover with cold water and bring to a boil and then let simmer for 2 1/2 hours. Strain.
For the Matzo Balls:
  1. Whisk together eggs, oil, nutmeg, onion powder, oregano and salt and pepper to taste.
  2. Stir in matzo meal and let rest for 20 minutes. Form into balls with two spoons.
For the Soup Base:

  1. Bring chicken broth to a simmer and add matzo balls.
  2. Cook for 10 minutes.
  3. Add ginger, spinach, shallots and bean sprouts and stir to wilt, just prior to serving
During the Fast of Ramadan, strict restraints are placed on the daily lives of Muslims. They are not allowed to eat or drink during the daylight hours. At the end of the day the fast is broken with prayer and a meal called the iftar. In the evening following the iftar it is customary for Muslims to go out visiting family and friends. The fast is resumed the next morning.

Usually, a date is the first thing people eat after they fast from dawn until dusk during Ramadan. This recipe is taken from an un-named Middle Eastern fruit dessert I found in one of my international collections. This is a simple dessert, with evaporated milk for a topping. Made almost entirely from dried fruit, studded with ginger and nuts, it is also fairly healthy, though calorie- and carbohydrate-dense for those watching their intakes (such as non-fasting dieters and diabetics).

A Dessert for Ramadan
Makes enough for 10 persons
1 cup dried prunes
1 cup raisins
1 cup whole dried apricots
1/4 cup candied orange peel
1/4 cup currants
10 dried figs, chopped
5 cups water
1/2 cup sugar
2 tbsp candied ginger
1 cup (combined) chopped walnuts and almonds
Evaporated (not condensed) milk
Fresh grated nutmeg
  1. Place the prunes, raisins, apricots, peel, currants, and figs in a large bowl.
  2. Add cold water until the level rises 1” above the fruit. Soak overnight and drain.
  3. Place the 5 cups of water and sugar in a heavy saucepan, cover, and gently boil for 15 - 20 minutes.
  4. Add all the fruits and ginger to the syrup and simmer, covered, for 2 hours over low heat.
  5. Halfway through the cooking, add the nuts and mix well.
  6. Remove the mixture from the heat and allow to cool.
  7. Transfer into a bowl and refrigerate until cold.
  8. To serve, top with evaporated milk and garnish with grated nutmeg.