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Friday, December 18, 2009

Brussels Sprout Hash with Caramelized Shallots

Here is a new twist on the dreaded Brussel sprout. Though one of my favorite holiday vegetables, it is often scorned. Yet this simple vegetable has such potential. Lets look at this quick and delicious dish.

Thinly sliced brussels sprouts are sautéed with shallots in this comforting hash.

yield: Makes 8 to 10 servings
  • 6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) butter, divided
  • 1/2 pound shallots, thinly sliced
  • Coarse kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 4 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 1/2 pounds brussels sprouts, trimmed
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup water
Melt 3 tablespoons butter in medium skillet over medium heat. Add shallots; sprinkle with coarse kosher salt and pepper. Sauté until soft and golden, about 10 minutes. Add vinegar and sugar. Stir until brown and glazed, about 3 minutes.

Halve brussel sprouts lengthwise. Cut lengthwise into thin (1/8-inch) slices. Heat oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add sprouts; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Sauté until brown at edges, 6 minutes. Add 1 cup water and 3 tablespoons butter. Sauté until most of water evaporates and sprouts are tender but still bright green, 3 minutes. Add shallots; season with salt and pepper.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Eggnog - Simple, Traditional, Classic

Many Christmas traditions are over thought and overly complicated. Eggnog is most certainly a prime example of the need to make a simple process way to difficult. So hang on gan this is one of the quickest simplest and nicest recipes I have found, and I am please to share it with you care of my wife the purveyor of this fine beverage.

Eggnog! - History

Many believe that eggnog is a tradition that was brought to America from Europe. This is partially true. Eggnog is related to various milk and wine punches that had been concocted long ago in the "Old World". However, in America a new twist was put on the theme. Rum was used in the place of wine. In Colonial America, rum was commonly called "grog", so the name eggnog is likely derived from the very descriptive term for this drink, "egg-and-grog", which corrupted to egg'n'grog and soon to eggnog. At least this is one version...

Other experts would have it that the "nog" of eggnog comes from the word "noggin". A noggin was a small, wooden, carved mug. It was used to serve drinks at table in taverns (while drinks beside the fire were served in tankards). It is thought that eggnog started out as a mixture of Spanish "Sherry" and milk. The English called this concoction "Dry sack posset". It is very easy to see how an egg drink in a noggin could become eggnog.

The true story might be a mixture of the two and eggnog was originally called "egg and grog in a noggin". This was a term that required shortening if ever there was one.

With it's European roots and the availability of the ingredients, eggnog soon became a popular wintertime drink throughout Colonial America. It had much to recomend it; it was rich, spicy, and alcoholic.

In the 1820's Pierce Egan, a period author, wrote a book called "Life of London: or Days and Nights of Jerry Hawthorne and His Elegant Friend Corinthina Tom". To publicize his work Mr. Egan made up a variation of eggnog he called "Tom and Jerry". It added 1/2 oz of brandy to the basic recipe (fortifying it considerably and adding further to its popularity).

Eggnog, in the 1800s was nearly always made in large quantities and nearly always used as a social drink. It was commonly served at holiday parties and it was noted by an English visitor in 1866, "Christmas is not properly observed unless you brew egg nogg for all comers; everybody calls on everybody else; and each call is celebrated by a solemn egg-nogging...It is made cold and is drunk cold and is to be commended."


Beat 4 eggs

add 1 small can evaporated milk

3 cups milk

1/4 cups sugar

a pinch of salt

Combine well and simmer in a double boiler until desired consistency is met. If you find the nog if to thick after it has cooled, place in a blender and blend with milk until desired consistency.

Yields about 1 liter

Sunday, December 6, 2009

A look at Vanilla, history, uses, & storage

Vanilla is the delicate bean that lends its warm flavor to cool custard treats, soft spongy cakes and steaming coffee confections. This bean has a notable history and has long been recognized as a fundamental flavor.

The History of Vanilla Beans

Vanilla has a romantic and dramatic history that began thousands of years ago. These beans were prisoners of a war that raged among the Totonaco Indians and the Aztecs. Later when Spaniard Hernando Cortez defeated the Aztecs, the beans became his booty. Combined with cacao, the beans made a royal beverage that would be sipped by the sophisticated and enjoyed in various forms.

Today these beans are produced in several places. The island of Madagascar, located off the east coast of Africa is considered the largest producer of vanilla beans and is famed for having the sweetest beans that are distinctly creamy and smooth. Other places vanilla beans are produced include Mexico, Tahiti and Indonesia. Indonesia’s vanilla is noted for its woody essence, while the Mexican beans are described as spicy in nature. Tahitian beans are opposite the spicy variety and are said to have a fruity, flowery flavor.

What Does a Vanilla Bean Look Like?

If you haven’t baked with vanilla beans, you may be wondering what they look like. Prepared vanilla beans are dark brown, slender and pleated. They are approximately eight inches long, tough in texture, and contain thousands of black seeds.

Using Vanilla Beans in Your Recipes

Vanilla beans can be combined with other ingredients to make rich sauces and tasty treats. Hardened beans can be softened in liquid and then retrieved for use. Both the pod and the beans are useful for flavoring your favorite recipes.

How to Choose a Vanilla Bean

A good vanilla bean will be both plump and dark (almost black in color). The skin should be thin and will yield an abundance of seeds. A quick pinch will help you select the best textured beans.

How to Store Vanilla Beans

Vanilla beans are simple to store and can be kept in a tightly closed container. Used beans can be recycled and reused if rinsed and thoroughly dried. When refrigerated, these beans should last up to six months. Other forms of vanilla can be stored for long-term use as well. Pure vanilla extract, an alternative to the vanilla bean, can be stored indefinitely on your kitchen shelf. Vanilla powder, however, should be stored away from heat and light, and kept in a cool dry place.

Vanilla beans, though expensive, are well worth the cost, as imitation vanilla can contain harsh chemicals and inferior flavor.

Can I use vanilla extract instead of vanilla beans?

Of course. Many cooks and especially many cookbook writers want you to slit open a vanilla Bean and scrape out the seeds and add them (and often the bean, as well) to the dish you're making (plucking out the pod at the end). Many discerning palates find this produces a richer, fuller flavor than adding vanilla extract. It's also exponentially more expensive, and many average-Joe palates can't tell the difference.

In fact, the devil-may-care folks at Cooks Illustrated recently shocked much of the food world with the heresy that you might as well use imitation vanilla extract in your cooking as the more expensive pure vanilla extract. They argued that vanilla constitutes such a teensy part of your finished dish — and based on extensive taste tests by their super-discerning palates — that there was no appreciable difference in flavor.

Now, people who are concerned that imitation vanilla is generally made from chemically treated by-products of the paper-making industry may still have a slight inclination towards natural vanilla extract. Vanilla extract is made by soaking chopped up vanilla beans in a solution containing at least 35% alcohol, after which the solution is aged for several months. But in terms of flavor, if you can use imitation vanilla in place of real vanilla extract, you should at least feel fine about using real vanilla extract instead of vanilla beans.

Simply add a teaspoon or two of extract in place of the vanilla bean. If you are concerned that your recipe is particularly delicate and the addition of an extra teaspoonful of liquid will cause it to fail, decrease another low-flavor liquid in the recipe by the same amount.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Olde English Christmas Pudding With Hard Sauce Recipe

In England, no traditional Christmas dinner is complete without pudding. It is best if allowed to mature for at least two days before serving, but it can be made up to three months ahead.

Prep: 5 hrs 3 days

  • 1 1/2 cups raisins, chopped
  • 2/3 cup dates, pitted and chopped
  • 1 cup soft dried figs, chopped
  • 1 cup currants
  • 3/4 cup golden raisins
  • 1/2 cup brandy
  • 1 cup (2 sticks/8 oz./226g) unsalted butter
  • 1 cup dark brown sugar, firmly packed
  • grated zest of 1 lemon
  • grated zest of 1 orange
  • 4 large eggs, beaten
  • 1 cup blanched almonds, chopped
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour, sifted
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh white bread crumbs
  • For Flaming: (optional)
  • 3 tablespoons brandy

  1. Preparation time: 5 hours and 3 days.
  2. Generously grease a 2-quart ceramic or metal pudding mold with lid.
  3. Grease lid also.
  4. If using a ceramic pudding mold, make a lid with a piece of aluminum foil, 2 inches larger then top of mold.
  5. Lid will stay in place over top of mold by tying with kitchen twine or string.
  6. In a large bowl, place all the fruit and pour the brandy over it.
  7. Stir well to disperse the brandy.
  8. Cover with a towel and set aside to macerate 12 to 24
  9. hours.
  10. In a large bowl, with an electric mixer on high, beat the butter and sugar until thick and creamy. Beat in the zests and eggs. Fold in the fruit and almonds. Add the flour and spices, combining well, then fold in the bread crumbs.
  11. Spoon the mixture into the prepared mold, press down well, and level the surface.
  12. Place the well greased lid on top, securing the lid with the clasp (or if using a ceramic pudding mold, place heavy duty aluminum foil over top of mold and secure by tying with kitchen twine or heavy string).
  13. Place the mold on a rack in a Dutch oven or other large covered pot. Pour boiling water into the Dutch oven until it is halfway up the side of the mold.
  14. Keep water at a gentle boil.
  15. Steam for 4 hours, topping the boiling water to the same level when necessary.
  16. Remove the mold from the Dutch oven and set on a rack to cool. Remove lid (or foil, if using).
  17. When thoroughly cooled, rewrap pudding with freezer wax paper and foil, and store in the refrigerator until ready to serve.
  18. To reheat, steam for 1 to 2 hours or microwave on high for 4 to 5 minutes or until piping hot.
  19. For true Christmas indulgence pour over brandy and flame. Or use this recipe for traditional hard sauce:
  21. Refers to a mixture of butter and sugar that are beaten together until smooth and then flavored with extracts such as vanilla or alcoholic beverages such as brandy or rum. The mixture is then refrigerated until it hardens. Serve with plum pudding or similar desserts.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Making the meal what it was meant to be

Can you believe the holidays are sneaking up on us so fast this year?! I love this time of year because it means fun with family and really good food. I was just thinking of a dinner I did a few year back that was a huge success for young and old alike. The holidays can be a stressful time for all involved, especially for the kids. Whenever you host a holiday gathering remember the little ones. They are jazzed!! And why not? You are, and they take their entire perception of life from you, right?

The only difference is you don't have anyone telling you to dress right, behave and don't make a mess. During the single most exciting time in a young child's life we tend to forget how much they want to be involved in being a part of the moment. So why not take an opportunity to put a spin on tradition and try an new twist on a formal setting? You may just create some unbeatable family memories.

Have little ones help decorate the table. (Not-so-little-ones may enjoy it, too.) Purchase a plain, light-colored tablecloth of the paper variety. Avoid the type that has plastic coating - cheap paper works best. Then, set out markers and crayons (be sure the markers won't run through the tablecloth) for everyone to decorate the table before dinner. It’ll make a pleasing sight while eating. Try adding some order to the decoration. Have each person decorate his/her place setting. Draw placemats at the seats and have each person sign his/her name and decorate the “placemat.” If you’re brave, purchase a plain cloth tablecloth and Sharpie markers. Then, ask each guest to sign the tablecloth and write what he/she is thankful for, or a message to the hostess. It’ll make a nice keepsake for each year, and it can be washed without losing the signatures. (If only the same could be said about the gravy stains!)

Whatever you do to make your dinner times more pleasant, always remember to include everyone into your night whether it be small children or your best friend who is really uncomfortable in a formal setting. There is always a middle ground, and the last thing you want is a guest wondering how to behave instead of enjoying the wonderful meal the way it was meant to be.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Tips for Christmas cookies & Baking

Tis the season to start thinking about baking Christmas cookies, breads, and other delectable treats for giving and eating yourself. Are you looking to get started baking, or just looking for ideas on how to make your baking life easier. You don't need to be as prolific in your baking as my wife and I to enjoy baking for Christmas, as baked goods can be an enjoyable and affordable gift for the masses. Here are a few tips, for novices and experienced bakers alike, to put you on your way to the wonderful smells of Christmas.

Start early - even if you don't make as many cookies or candies as we do, starting early is a good idea for a couple of reasons: one, the cookies can be frozen and taken out as needed for gifts or parties; and two, you may discover one or two batches isn't enough and need to make more.

Use your freezer - cookie doughs can be made and frozen for up to three months. Cover and package dough in airtight containers or resealable bags; when you're ready to bake, thaw the dough in the refrigerator.

Shop early - scan your grocery ads and coupon inserts for great deals. Many stores start running specials on baking products in early November, so scan your recipes and make your shopping list of ingredients.

Have a "go-to" recipe - this may take much experimenting, but if you have that one recipe that people love, it'll be a great gift to present at the holidays.

For "messy" cookies, use parchment paper - one of my mom's special cookies is the classic "jelly fold," which tends to get messy with jelly spilling out of the ends. Using parchment paper to line your cookie sheets is a great idea for these types of cookies, as clean-up is simple - throw it out.

Use aluminum baking sheets for cookies - aluminum distributes heat evenly, and cuts down the chance of burning the bottoms of your cookies.

Try a "one-dough, many-ways" cookie recipe - these easy recipes are great for someone who is just starting to bake or is short on time. The basic cookie dough is the same for each type of cookie, and you just add a few ingredients to change up the taste or texture of the dough. This is an economical method as well as easy - since the basic dough is always the same, you will have these ingredients in your pantry.

Create a cookie platter - as mentioned earlier, baked goods make wonderful gifts at holiday time. Invited to a party? Make up a festive tray of cookies, either to pass or as a hostess gift. Check party stores for affordable yet elegant serving trays, or use a heavy-duty plastic dinner-sized plating heaping with cookies.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

How to Roast Chestnuts by an open fire

When Jack Frost is nipping at your nose, there's nothing to be done but gather around the hearth and roast chestnuts in your cozy living room.
  1. Choose a utensil that has a long handle such as a frying pan

  2. Step 2

    Clean dirt off of chestnuts.

  3. Step 3

    Cut an X into the shell of each chestnut with a paring knifeto avoid a build up of steam inside the nuts.

  4. Step 4

    Place chestnuts in pan and cover.

  5. Step 5

    Roast over the coals of an open hearth for 15 to 25 minutes or until the chestnuts are tender and the shells are beginning to open.

  6. Step 6

    Peel chestnuts when they are cool enough to handle and serve with salt if desired.

Things You'll Need:
  • firewood
  • Chestnuts
  • Salt
  • Salt
  • Frying Pan With Lid
  • Oven Mitts
  • paring knife
  • Oven Mitts
  • Salt
  • Salt
  • Oven mitts
Tips & Warnings
  • Use dry, firm chestnuts, because soft chestnuts may be rotted.
  • Don't use a nonstick pan; these can't tolerate direct heat.
  • Be sure to remove the inner skins from the chestnuts as well as the shells.
  • Chestnuts that have not been cut or pricked to allow steam to escape may explode even after being removed from the heat.
How to roast chestnuts in the oven

Longing for something a little different over the holidays? All you have to do is just follow some brief and simple steps, and you’re well on your way to enjoying a cozy, storybook-style winter's night and warm up with some traditionally toasty chestnuts.

  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

  2. Step 2

    Clean off chestnuts.

  3. Step 3

    Use a sharp paring knife to cut an X into one side of each chestnut, or prick chestnuts with a fork to allow steam to escape.

  4. Step 4

    Arrange chestnuts on a baking sheet or in a shallow pan, with the cut or pricked sides up.

  5. Step 5

    Roast in oven for 15 to 25 minutes, or until chestnuts are tender and easy to peel.

  6. Step 6

    Peel the nuts when they are cool enough to handle, and enjoy.

Tips & Warnings
  • Use dry, firm chestnuts; soft chestnuts might be rotted.
  • Try a little salt on your chestnuts.
  • Be sure to remove the inner skins as well as the shells.
  • Chestnuts that have not been cut or pricked to allow steam to escape may explode, even after being removed from the heat.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

A variation on a traditional Shortbread

The smell of shortbread signals the start of the holiday season!

The tender and crumbly straw colour biscuit, known as shortbread, is a staple of the holiday season. Originating in Scotland, the classic recipe consists of sugar, butter and flour mixed together and placed into a round mold.

Today, variations on the traditional recipe include the addition of extracts, chocolate, nuts, fruits or citrus zest, but during the holiday season, it's usually the traditional recipe that we return to. We offer you one of our favourite recipes for traditional shortbread.

  • 1/2 pound butter
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
  • Superfine sugar, for dusting

Combine butter and sugar. Gradually add flour until blended. Divide dough into two equal pieces. Press one portion into the shortbread mold. Bake in preheated 350F oven until golden, approximately 25 minutes. Cool for 10 minutes. Loosen edges with a knife and gently turn cookie out. Sprinkle warm cookie with superfine sugar and cut into wedges. Cool the mold completely before baking second wedge. Cookies can be frozen in airtight container for up to 2 months.

Friday, November 20, 2009

the Nanaimo Bar

A holiday classic and one that almost everyone has a recipe for, yet there is always the opportunity to try the new and vary our traditions from time to time. The following recipes are reported to be the BEST and there are a few variations on the original. If you have a family favorite, please send it along and it will be included here. Everyone knows that these bars have zero calories during Christmas Time!

The Original Nanaimo Bar


***Bottom Layer ***

* 1/2 cup unsalted butter (European style cultured)
* 1/4 cup sugar
* 5 tablespoons cocoa
* 1 egg beaten
* 1 1/4 cup graham wafer crumbs
* 1/2 cup finely chopped almonds
* 1 cup coconut

***Second Layer ****

* 1/2 cup unsalted butter
* 2 tablespoons cream PLUS
* 2 teaspoons cream
* 2 tablespoons vanilla custard powder
* 2 cups icing sugar

***Third Layer ***

* 4 squares semi-sweet chocolate (1 oz. each)
* 2 tablespoons unsalted butter


Bottom Layer

Melt first 3 ingredients in top of double boiler. Add egg and stir to cook and thicken. Remove from heat. Stir in crumbs, coconut, and nuts. Press firmly into an ungreased 8" x 8" pan.

Second Layer

Cream butter, cream, custard powder, and icing sugar together well. Beat until light. Spread over bottom layer.

Third Layer

Melt chocolate and butter overlow heat. Cool. Once cool, but still liquid, pour over second layer and chill in refrigerator.

This recipe for Nanaimo Bar (Official) serves/makes 24 bars.

The Cranberry Nanaimo Bar



* 1/2 cup butter, softened
* 3 squares semi-sweet chocolate
* 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
* 1 egg
* 2 cups graham crumbs
* 1 cup Angel Flake Coconut
* 1 tablespoon grated orange rind


* 1/4 cup whole cranberry sauce, finely chopped
* 1 tablespoon orange liqueur or orange juice


* 2 tablespoons custard powder
* 3 tablespoons milk
* 1/4 cup butter, softened
* 2 cups icing sugar


* 4 squares semi-sweet chocolate, chopped
* 1 tablespoon butter


Base: Melt butter with chocolate and remove from heat. Stir in sugar and egg. Add crumbs, coconut and orange rind; mix well. Press into 9" square pan. Chill

Cranberry Layer: Combine cranberry sauce and liqueur. Spread evenly over base. Custard Layer: Combine all ingredients and beat until smooth. Spread over base. Chill.

Chocolate Layer: Melt chocolate and butter over low heat or in microwave on med. power for 2 minutes, stir until melted. Spread evenly over filling. Chill. Let stand at room temperature for fifteen minutes before cutting into bars.

To store: Store in refrigerator for up to 2 weeks before cutting.

To freeze: For longer storage, freeze bars before topping with chocolate and cutting. Thaw and spread with melted chocolate.

This recipe for Cranberry Nanimo Bars serves/makes 36 bars.

The Orange Nanaimo Bar


* 2 cups Graham wafer crumbs
* 1 cup Coconut, unsweetened, flaked
* 1/2 cup Pecans; toasted, chopped
* 2/3 cup Butter
* 1/3 cup Cocoa powder; unsweetened sifted
* 1/4 cup Sugar, granulated
* 1 Egg; beaten


* 2 cups Icing Sugar
* 1/4 cup Butter; softened
* 1/4 cup Grand Marnier;or orange liqueur
* 1 tablespoon Orange rind; coarsely grated


* 1 tablespoon Butter
* 4 ounces Semisweet chocolate; melted


In bowl, stir together crumbs, coconut and pecans. In small saucepan, gently heat butter, cocoa and sugar until butter melts. Remove from heat; whisk in egg. Blend into crumb mixture. Press into greased 9 inch square cake pan. Bake in 350F oven for 10 minutes. Let cool on rack.

Grand Marnier Layer: In bowl, place half of icing sugar with butter, mix in half of the icing sugar with butter; mix in Grand Marnier, remaining icing sugar and orange rind. Spread over base.

Chocolate Topping: Stir butter into chocolate until melted; spread evenly over Grand Marnier layer. Let cool for 20 minutes in refrigerator; cut into bars. (Bars can be covered, refrigerated up to 2 weeks, or frozen up to 2 months. Let soften slightly before serving.

This recipe for Orange Nanaimo Bars serves/makes 24.

Cherry Almond Nanaimo Bar



* 1/2 cup Butter
* 1/4 cup Sugar
* 1/3 cup Cocoa
* 1 teaspoon Vanilla
* 1 Egg -- beaten
* 1 cup Coconut -- desiccated
* 1 3/4 cup Graham wafer crumbs
* 1/2 cup Almonds -- chopped


* 1/4 cup Butter -- softened
* 1 tablespoon Cherry juice
* 2 cups Icing sugar
* 1/3 cup Maraschino cherries -- chopped


* 2 ounces Semisweet chocolate
* 1 tablespoon Butter


Base: Cook butter, sugar, cocoa, vanilla & egg in saucepan over low heat heat, stirring constantly until custard begins to thicken. Remove from heat and stir in coconut, crumbs and almonds. Pat firmly into a greased 9 pan inch square pan. Chill for 1 hour.

Filling: Cream butter, cherry juice and extract.

Gradually beat in icing sugar to a make a smooth spreading consistency. Stir in cherries. Spread over base and chill until firm.

TOP: Heat chocolate and butter, stirring until smoothly melted. Drizzle chocolate over filling.

Chill. Cut into bars.

This recipe for Cherry Almond Nanaimo Bars serves/makes 30 bars.

Thursday, November 19, 2009


Well folks as promised it is time to turn or thought to the Holiday season and that means Christmas baking! I wanted to set us off on the right foot with something a little more challenging. As well as something a little different for most people. This is a wonderful bread and a great tradition.

Stollen or Christstollen is a tradition dating back to 14th century Germany.

Germans baked stollen loaves at Christmas to honor princes and church dignitaries, and to sell at fairs and festivals for holiday celebrations.

Early stollen loaves were made as bread without milk or butter because the Catholic church did not allow these ingredients during advent. In the mid 17th century, a papal proclamation allowed stollen bakers to add milk and butter.


Yeilds: 2 loaves

Dry yeast 1 package

Warm butter 1/4 cup

Milk 1/2 cup Sugar 1/4 cup

Salt 1 tsp Shortening 2 tbsp

All purpose flour 2 1/2 cup

Chopped nuts 1/4 cup

Eggs 1 Raisins 1/4 cup

Currents 1/4 cup

Candied citron 1/4 cup

Candied cherries 1/4 cup

Melted butter 2 tbps

Icing sugar As needed

Soften yeast in water. Scald milk. Add sugar, salt and add shortening and cool to luke warm. Add 1 cup flour and mix well. Add softened yeast and egg. Beat well, stir in raisins, currents, citron, and cherries. Add more flour to make a soft dough. Turn out on a lightly floured board and knead until smooth and satiny. Place in a greased, cover and let rise until doubled in size (about 1 1/2 hour). Lightly punch down the dough and shape into two balls. Let rest for 10 minutes, then flatten into an oval sheet about 3/4 inch thick. Brush one half of sheet with melted butter. Fold over with large parker house rolls style. Place on a greased baking sheet. Brush lightly with melted butter. Let rise until it has doubled, about 45 minutes. Bake in oven at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for about 25 minutes. When cool brush with icing sugar and sprinkle with chopped nuts.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The Classic Grey Cup Game party


Creating a fun Grey Cup atmosphere is easy to do, and worth the effort. Here are a few ideas:
• Encourage guests to come dressed in their favorite team colors or to wear football jerseys.
• Wear a referee striped jersey as the host.
• Decorate your party room with tablecloths, shirts, jackets, hats and other paraphernalia in team logos or team colors.
• Add team and player posters, football equipment, pennants, and photos.
• Use white tape or chalk to mark off the yard lines from the curb to your front door—this is also a fun activity to do with the kids.
• Cover chair backs with team jerseys. Unless you are a huge CFL fan it may be hard to cover all the chairs with team jerseys, but even a few sports jerseys add to the atmosphere.
• Welcome your guests to the party by putting a sign over the door with your name as part of the Stadium name (i.e. Smith Stadium, James Field).
• Set up friendly football pools to encourage even the non-fans to become involved. Create pools based not only on the outcome of the game but also more random results, like total points, “random square” pools and even the coin toss.

No grid iron gathering would be complete without snacks. It’s a long game, though, so be prepared to offer up heartier fare for your football crowd—especially if you are serving alcohol. Fun food serving ideas:
• Design a buffet to resemble a concession stand to dispense the food and/or drinks.
• Use items like football helmets, shoulder pads, etc. to hold baskets or bowls of food. (You might want to clean them first!)
• Try Astroturf on your buffet instead of a tablecloth.

Sweet & Sour orange glaze wing sauce
Yields 2 lbs wings

Orange marmalade 1/2cup
Rice vinegar 2 tbsp + 2 tsp
Soy Sauce 1 tbsp
Thai chili sauce 1 1/2 tsp

Season and grill wings, about 20 min. In a small bowl, whisk all ingredients. Toss with grilled wings.


Football and beer always go well together, but in staying with the Canadian theme, try offering up some Caesars. The Caesar is actually a Canadian invention: It was developed in Calgary, Alberta, in 1969 by bartender Walter Chell to mark the opening of a new restaurant, "Marco's." Its popularity has grown and it is estimated that 250 million Caesars are sold every year.

Caesar Tip Caesars are “pitcher-friendly,” and the ability to mix a pitcher of Caesars makes hosting your party even easier. To help ease that November chill, leave a bottle of TABASCO® beside the bar for those who want some extra spice.

Classic Caesar Punch Recipe
• 6 oz vodka
• 36 oz of Clam Tomato Cocktail
• 1 tsp TABASCO® Sauce
• 1 tbsp Worcestershire Sauce

Mixing instructions
Add all ingredients to a large pitcher and stir to mix. 
Rim glass with lime juice and rimmer. Fill glass with ice and pour. Garnish with celery and lime wedges. Makes eight 6-oz Caesars.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Tin Foil Dinner Recipes

Tin foil dinners offer a great way to get your kids involved in preparation and cooking. There's nothing quite like packing up your food and then sitting back and relaxing while your grill or fire goes to work.

Tossing together ingredients and wrapping them in aluminum foil began as a camping ritual. It was an easy way to store, prepare and cook food when utensils and supplies were at a minimum.

Today, many enjoy the moist, easy to prepare dinners at home. There are no set rules when it comes to foil dinners, so be creative! If you have children, allow them to pack and prepare their own meal.


Every foil dinner needs a natural source of moisture. Onion slices, soups, a dab of butter, an ice cube, salad dressings or even a spoonful of water will help keep your dinner moist and fresh.

One alternative for lining your dinner is with lettuce or cabbage leaves before placing it in the foil wrapper will not only provide moisture and flavor, but also prevent burning.

Always line dinners with two layers of heavy duty aluminum foil with wet paper towel in between the layers and wrap tightly.

Use your favorite soups. Adding a few tablespoons of Cream of Mushroom soup gives a whole new flavor to an old favorite.

NEVER cook on open flames. Add tightly sealed packets to charcoal, hot coals or a stove. Open flames may cause your package to rip, tear or explode.

Cooking times depend largely on the amount of heat provided and the size of the packet. As a general rule, a single packet of hamburger and vegetables takes 15 minutes and a chicken packet takes 20-25 minutes. Never undercook.

1 Medium sized Trout
Onion slices
2T Butter or margarine

Clean fish and salt and pepper its insides. Fill each fish 3/4's full of onion slices. Wrap each fish separately in two layers of heavy duty foil, topping each with 2 tablespoons of butter or margarine. Bury in hot embers or on grill coals for 20-25 minutes.

1 Sausage patty
1 potato, thinly sliced or
1/2c Hash Brown potatoes
2T Water
1 Egg
Salt and pepper to taste

Wrap all ingredients in double foil and top with spices and water. Place on hot coals or in oven for 10-15 minutes.

1 Hamburger patty
1 potato, sliced thinly
2 Carrots, sliced
1 Onion, sliced
2T Butter
Garlic salt to taste

Cut all ingredients and place in double layer of heavy duty aluminum foil. Top with pat of butter and garlic sauce. Place in hot coals, in grill or oven for 15-20 minutes.


1/2lb. Chuck or Sirloin steak
1 potato, sliced
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2c Cream of Mushroom soup
1/2 can Cream of Corn
2T Butter
Onion slices

Place meat in double layer of aluminum foil and top with a layer of thinly sliced potatoes. Salt and pepper to taste. Add Cream of Mushroom soup and Cream of Corn. Top with pat of butter and thin layer of onions. Wrap tightly and place over coals, cooking for 20 minutes, or until meat is tender.


1 Medium sized Pork chop
1 Red potato, sliced
1 onion, sliced
2 carrots, sliced
Heinz 57 sauce (or similar)
2T butter
Garlic sauce

Add pork chop to double layer of aluminum foil. Top with thin layer of spicy sauce. Add carrots, potatoes, onions and dab of butter. Sprinkle garlic sauce and add an additional 2 tablespoons of spicy sauce. Cook 25-35 minutes, or until pork is thoroughly cooked.


1 Medium sized boneless chicken breast
1 potato
1 tomato, sliced
1 Bell pepper, sliced
BBQ sauce

Place boneless chicken breast on double layer of foil. Top with one tablespoon barbecue sauce. Add remaining vegetables and salt and pepper to taste. Top with dab of butter and liberal amount of barbecue sauce. Cook 25-30 minutes on hot coals, in oven or in grill. Meal is done with chicken's juices run clear.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Beef barley soup

Between the leanness of the beef and the health benefits of all the vegetables and barley, this dish is pretty high on the list of healthy things to have for supper. While I was thinking this recipe over I tried to come up with one that would meet as many dietary requirements as I could without ruining the dish's potential health benefits.

3 Tbsp olive oil
3 lbs lean beef chuck roast, trimmed
of excess fat
1/4 cup flour
1 tsp salt
2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp each oregano, tarragon, thyme and basil
1 onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
4 Roma tomatoes, finely chopped
1 lb mushrooms, sliced
1 red bell pepper, chopped fine
1/3 cup finely chopped celery
1/2 lb carrots, sliced 1 inch thick
4 cups beef broth
1 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup tomato juice
2 cups barley

In a bowl combine flour, salt, pepper and seasonings. In a large Dutch oven heat olive oil over medium high heat. Cut beef into 2 inch cubes and dredge in seasoned flour, shaking off excess. Add beef to oil in batches and cook until well browned on all sides. Remove to a bowl and set aside.

Reduce heat to medium and add onions and mushrooms. Cook, stirring occasionally until golden brown. Remove and set aside. Add tomatoes, garlic, celery and bell pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally 5-10 minutes, or until softened.

Return beef and onion to the pot and stir to combine. Add broth, wine, tomato juice and barley. Raise heat and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer 2.5 hours or until beef is fork tender and vegetables have disintegrated into the sauce.

Add mushrooms and carrots and simmer 1/2 hour more until carrots are cooked. Taste and adjust seasonings as necessary and serve hot with a loaf of your favorite crusty French or Italian bread.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Creamy Sweet Corn Soup

I wanted to edit things down and make a soup that captured the pure essence of sweet corn. I also lightened up the recipe by using skim milk instead of the heavy cream that usually goes into soups like these. Believe it or not, this didn't really compromise the usual velvety texture as much as you'd think. What's my secret? Pureeing the corn, straining the soup, then letting it simmer for an additional 30 minutes gives it a very satisfying richness--without any added fat!

This recipe involves making a "corn cob stock" instead of using more traditional vegetable or chicken stock. I wanted to squeeze every last kernel (pun intended!) of flavor from the corn cobs instead of just tossing them in the trash. It doesn't take that much extra time or effort and the added step is well worth it. Besides, this stock smells heavenly and shows off the sweet goodness even before adding the corn kernels, so please set aside 30 minutes to make it!

This basic sweet corn soup is perfect as is, but can also be a base for whatever additions you like.

Corn Chowder: add potatoes and bacon
Cajun Corn Soup: add green peppers, celery and sausage
Mexican Corn Soup: cilantro, lime, chicken, tomatoes, green chiles

Creamy Sweet Corn Soup
Serves 2-3

2 Tbsp unsalted butter
2 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 yellow onion, chopped

1 clove garlic, minced

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

6 ears fresh sweet corn

4 cups water

2 cups skim milk

salt and pepper

1. Shuck corn and cut kernels from the cobs and set aside cobs and kernels in separate bowls.

2. Saute onion in butter and garlic on low until translucent, about 10 minutes. Add garlic and cook for an additional two minutes. Add flour and stir constantly for about 4 minutes--do not let it brown--then whisk in the water and milk slowly to avoid lumps. Add the corn cobs (but not the kernels) and let simmer for about 30 minutes to get all of the flavor from the cobs.

3. Remove the corn cobs, add in the corn kernels and let simmer for about 10 minutes.

4. Puree the soup with an immersion blender, then strain soup and return to the pot.

5. Add more milk as needed, depending on how thin you like your soup. If you have time, it's best to let the soup simmer for an additional 30 minutes with the lid off.

6. Garnish with your choice of fresh herbs and other accompaniments and serve. (I garnished the soup with a squeeze of fresh lime juice and chives and served it with a side of toasted whole wheat tortilla strips seasoned with chili powder, cumin, paprika and salt.)

Optional Accompaniments:


scallions or chives
seasoned and toasted wheat tortilla strips

sauteed corn
sour cream

Monday, November 2, 2009

Chicken Noodle Soup

Don't let the production of a stock through you off. If need be you can use the tetra pack chicken broth from any grocery store. But nothing that gives that fall homey feel like a chicken stock simmering on a back burner throughout the day, adding to the anticipation of the meal. Additionally I love spending time in the Kitchen, it is important to slow our family's down, spend time together, laugh and love together.

Yields: 4 servings


  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 medium carrots, cut diagonally into 1/2-inch-thick slices
  • 2 celery ribs, halved lengthwise, and cut into 1/2-inch-thick slices
  • 4 fresh thyme sprigs
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 quarts chicken stock, recipe follows
  • 8 ounces dried wide egg noodles
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded cooked chicken
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 handful fresh flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped


Place a soup pot over medium heat and coat with the oil. Add the onion, garlic, carrots, celery, thyme and bay leaf. Cook and stir for about 6 minutes, until the vegetables are softened but not browned. Pour in the chicken stock and bring the liquid to a boil. Add the noodles and simmer for 5 minutes until tender. Fold in the chicken, and continue to simmer for another couple of minutes to heat through; season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle with chopped parsley before serving.

Chicken Stock:

  • 1 whole free-range chicken (about 3 1/2 pounds), rinsed, giblets discarded
  • 2 carrots, cut in large chunks
  • 3 celery stalks, cut in large chunks
  • 2 large white onions, quartered
  • 1 head of garlic, halved
  • 1 turnip, halved
  • 1/4 bunch fresh thyme
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns

Place the chicken and vegetables in a large stockpot over medium heat. Pour in only enough cold water to cover (about 3 quarts); too much will make the broth taste weak. Toss in the thyme, bay leaves, and peppercorns, and allow it to slowly come to a boil. Lower the heat to medium-low and gently simmer for 1 to 1 1/2 hours, partially covered, until the chicken is done. As it cooks, skim any impurities that rise to the surface; add a little more water if necessary to keep the chicken covered while simmering.

Carefully remove the chicken to a cutting board. When its cool enough to handle, discard the skin and bones; hand-shred the meat into a storage container.

Carefully strain the stock through a fine sieve into another pot to remove the vegetable solids. Use the stock immediately or if you plan on storing it, place the pot in a sink full of ice water and stir to cool down the stock. Cover and refrigerate for up to one week or freeze.

Yield: 2 quarts

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Mulligatawny Soup

As the weather gets chillier, soup becomes so appealing: a steaming, fragrant welcome to a warm home.

Mulligatawny -- a mixture that originates with the Tamils of southern India -- is such a great soup at this time of year. It's spicy and slightly exotic, but is based on chicken broth, garlic and onions -- ordinary ingredients that seem to have exceptional abilities to ward off the chill, as well as colds and flus. Serve this one hot--and with a lot of showmanship--to 4-6 people.

Add turkey or chicken to the pot to make it even more substantial. Serve it with warm naan or crunchy pappadams and you've got a wonderful, easy weeknight supper.

• 2 Tablespoons butter or olive oil
• 2 stalks celery, chopped
• 1 carrot, peeled and chopped
• 1 large onion, peeled and chopped
• 1 chile pepper, seeded and deveined (your choice: banana, poblano, jalapeno, habanero--whatever you can stand)
• 4 cups chicken stock
• 1/4 cup lentils
• salt and pepper to taste
• 1 Tablespoon curry powder
• 1/2 cup coconut milk* or whipping cream
• 1-2 cups cooked rice (preferably basmati)
• 1/2-1 cup shredded cooked chicken (you can cook raw chicken in the stock at the start if you don't have leftover chicken lying around)
• 1/2 cup tart raw apple, chopped fine

Garnish: spoonsful of extra cream or coconut milk--and minced cilantro or parsley.
Saute the celery, carrots, onion, and pepper in the butter at a low heat until the onion is translucent. Stir in the curry powder to blend and cook for a minute. Pour in the stock, add the lentils (and chicken, if it's raw), and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes.
While the soup is simmering, get the rice cooked (if it isn't already); likewise with the chicken. Then shred the chicken and chopped the apples finely. You don't need to skin the apples.
When the soup is done, season to taste with the salt and pepper, then puree, solids first, in a blender. Return to pot.

When ready to serve, bring the soup to a simmer and add the coconut milk or cream. Take the pot to the table, as well as individual bowls of warm rice (heated in the microwave, if necessary), shredded chicken, finely chopped apple, coconut milk (or cream), and minced cilantro (or parsley).

To serve, have big individual serving bowls at the ready. Spoon rice into each bowl (flat soup bowls are nice here)--then pile on a big spoonful of chicken and a spoonful of apple. Ladle the soup on top, then drip coconut milk/cream into the center and swirl--and sprinkling with fresh cilantro and parsley.

Friday, October 30, 2009

20 Great Parties, from Simple to Sophisticated

We are on the verge of the Holiday season, families are making plans, children are heading out to trick or treat, about to experience there first seasonal sugar hang overs. You are thinking of the entertaining season and the question that inevitably comes to mind is

Do I want to have a casual gathering, or a more formal event?

When it comes to throwing a party, the first step is to decide what sort of party it’s going to be. Do you want to have a casual gathering, or a more formal event? Once you’ve decided, then the planning can begin. From simple to sophisticated, here are a few party ideas to get you started.

1. The potluck: This is a great way to get together with friends without worrying about making tons of food. The potluck can satisfy large or smaller groups. Just make sure your guests know exactly what to bring, and are the type to get into the potluck spirit.
2. TV/Sports parties: Again, this simple theme allows you to spend time with friends and enjoy a common event together. Whether it’s the Grey cup, superbowl or a sitcom marathon, all that is required are snacks such as popcorn, nachos, drinks, and a fun crowd.

3. Brunch: Sometimes, it seems impossible to pull everyone together for an evening. So why not have a brunch? Throw together a frittata the night before or explore more gourmet options such as Eggs Rancheros. The great thing about brunch is its flexibility.

4. Games night party: If you’re looking for a laugh, consider pulling together your mates for a games night party. From get-to-know-you games, to hilarious team options, let your hair down with your friends. As for food, pizza and drinks are a great way to go.

5. The ultimate BBQ: The best thing about the barbecue is its versatility. You can go gourmet, or stay simple when it comes to grilling. Anything goes. Just throw some food on the barbecue and put together a couple of salads, or be brave and throw a winter BBQ!

6. Direct selling party: Direct selling parties are coming back into the scene, from candle parties to elegant kitchenware products and more. All you need to do is provide some simple food, and the guests, then sit back and let the representative do the work.

7. Dinner party: Like the barbecue, the dinner party has some flexibility. With larger groups, focus on making one great meal. Conversely, if you’re feeling up to the gourmet challenge, invite a couple of friends over for a multi-course gourmet extravaganza.

8. Cocktail parties: Cocktail parties are a great way to have an elegant party without serving a major meal. Make sure you have a good “bartender” mixing up the cocktails, and some elegant appetizers to accompany the drinks.

9. Mixers: Whether it’s for a group of singles, or just a way to introduce new people into your social circle, mixers can be great fun. breakers get people circulating right away. For food, consider an unusual buffet. The key thing is keeping people moving.

10. Tea: While one would think the classic “tea” would be a simpler party to enjoy with friends, one must consider what goes into this elegant meal. Finger foods such as cucumber sandwiches and other dainty delights are required. Tea is a great idea for an afternoon with the girls.

11. Appetizer party: While this one seems as though it would be simple, in actuality, an appetizer party requires a lot of preparation. Mix it up with hot and cool appetizers. This is a great opportunity to explore a whole range of those delicious hors d’oeurves recipes. 

12. International dinners: Explore all the delights of a region or a specific country when you throw an international dinner. It can be a buffet, or a sit-down event. Just make sure your guests will appreciate the type of food you’ve chosen.

13. Book club party: This is a great way to enjoy good company, great literature and fun food in one. Book club parties are best with more casual meals, but still have an air of sophistication. Just make sure you have committed members.

14. Tapenade party: Tapenades are a tasty alternative to major meals or mere appetizers. A whole range of smaller, more gourmet meals can make for great discussion pieces for your guests. Tapenades also add an air of sophistication to your party.

15. Dessert party: A twist on the standard dinner party, a dessert party is a fun way to satisfy the sweet tooth. Whether you create a chocolate based buffet, explore smaller bites or offer a few cakes, if you like creating desserts, this is a fun one for you.

16. Baking/Cooking parties: Getting the gang together to catch up is fun. Getting them together in the kitchen creating preserves, or unusual meals is fabulous. It’s essential to make sure you’ve got enough space.

17. Wine/Beer tasting parties: It’s always fun to have a tasting party with so many micro-brewed beers and wine to try. You can have blind tasting and offer prizes, or just delight in the new flavors. If you’re worried about expense, ask each guest to bring a bottle (or bottles) within a certain price range to add to the tasting.

18. Progressive parties: Start at your place with appetizers. Cross the street to enjoy your neighbour’s main meal, and make your way elsewhere for dessert. The progressive party has you hopping from place to place. Just remember: timing is everything.

19. Fondue party: Bring back this 1970’s favorite! Fondue is such a diverse meal, it’s worth going retro and making it the focus of your party. The range of recipes are endless. Sophisticated and scrumptious, the only drawback is collecting all the pots for the party!

20. Theme parties: Oscar parties, murder mysteries, and more, theme parties are always fun. Go retro. Revolve around characters such as James Bond. The key thing with great theme parties is having the invites, decorations, cocktails and food match your theme.

Parties are a perfect opportunity to enjoy good food and company, so whatever you choose, make sure you remember to enjoy yourself as well.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

"Impress your Wife with minimal effort"

There are many ways to impress your girlfriend or wife but I will suggest one way that is sure to be a success and lead to one of the most wonderful evenings you have had. It is amazing how women are impressed by a well cooked dinner.

What I am about to suggest is that you cook a great dinner and make it a romantic event. In order to impress women an ordinary meal will not do. The meal should be well invested in the sense of menus and good cooking.

Now, not everyone is a born cook, but there is nothing that is impossible to learn. Even if you have never cooked, all you have to do is get some great recipes and good and easy to follow instructions of how to cook them.

Salmon en croute.

Serves: 2

Preparation time less than 30 mins

Cooking time 10 to 30 mins


For the salmon en croute
4 tbsp chopped fresh dill
4 tbsp chopped fresh chives
200g/7oz cream cheese
2 tbsp wholegrain mustard
2 5oz salmon fillet, skinned
flour, for dusting
1/2 of 425g/15oz packet ready-rolled puff pastry
2 free-range egg, beaten
For the sauce
300ml/1/2 pint double cream
2 tbsp wholegrain mustard
salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tbsp chopped fresh dill
For the sautéed spinach
2 tbsp butter
400g/14oz spinach


1. Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas 6.
2. For the salmon en croute, mix the dill, chives, cream cheese and mustard together in a small bowl.
3. Slice the salmon in half across the middle and spread the cream cheese mixture on top of one of the halves. Place the other half fillet on top of the filling.
4. Roll the pastry out on a lightly floured surface to make a rectangle twice the size of the salmon fillet. Divide into two rectangles.
5. Place the salmon on top of one rectangle, making sure there's a 2½cm/1in border around the salmon. Brush the edges with beaten egg and place the second pastry rectangle on top of the fillet. Press down around the edges to seal and brush all over with beaten egg.
6. Place onto a baking sheet and bake in the oven for 12-15 minutes, or until the pastry is golden-brown and the salmon cooked through.
7. For the sauce, pour the cream and mustard into a pan and bring slowly to the boil. Season, to taste, with salt and freshly ground black pepper and stir in the dill.
8. For the sautéed spinach, heat the butter in a frying pan, add the spinach and stir until wilted.
9. To serve, place the salmon en croute onto a serving plate with the spinach and drizzle over the sauce.

Serving Cheese as a Dessert

In different culinary traditions it’s customary to serve a cheese course before dessert or after dessert. But what happens when cheese becomes the dessert? We can’t imagine anyone will be missing the chocolate cake or apple pie.
In recent years, it has become increasingly fashionable to serve cheese in place of typical sugary sweets. As a dessert, cheese is simple, elegant, and in many cases, healthier than brownies, cookies, and the like. And with so many textures, flavors and aromas, cheese offers a world of decadent possibilities.

Flavored Cheeses

At gourmet markets and cheese shops, you’ll find cheese makers are indulging the dessert trend with specialty cheeses featuring sweet flavors, fruits, and liqueurs. For exquisite but easy desserts, look for Chèvre encrusted with blueberry and cinnamon, Wensleydale flavored with rum and tropical fruit, logs of goat cheese blended with semi-sweet chocolate, or cheese tortes filled with alternating layers of cheese, honey, and nuts. A favorite made in Britain is White Stilton studded with pieces of mango and ginger. It tastes just like a luscious cheesecake, without the crust!

Cheese Plates

To create your own cheese dessert, individual cheese plates are a very sophisticated option, especially when entertaining guests. For the proper assortment, choose three to four cheeses (see suggestions below) that range in flavor from savory to sweet, and plan on adorning each individual plate with about two ounces of each cheese.
For a pretty presentation, arrange fresh fruits between each selection. Apples, pears, figs, melons, and grapes pair well with almost any cheese. Then embellish each plate with a sprinkling of walnuts, a side of quince jelly, or a drizzling of honey or pecan praline sauce. Complement your offerings with some sweet dark breads and biscuits, and of course a lovely dessert wine. Dessert cheeses match well with vintage Port, fruity Moscato, or crisp, chilled ice wines.

Dessert Cheese Choices

Some cheeses are naturally sweet and fruity in flavor, making them traditional treats for dessert time. Think of smooth Dutch Gouda, acidic Swiss Emmantel, creamy Danish Havarti, or luxurious French Brie. It takes little more than a few slices of fruit and wine to turn these famous cheeses into simply scrumptious desserts.
Savory cheeses, though not as obvious, make alluring dessert choices as well. Mature Parmesan, albeit crumbly, nutty and salty, is perhaps best appreciated as a dessert with fresh figs and pears. A robust Italian Pecorino melts in your mouth when cut into chunks and served with ripe pears and honey. You could also try a Spanish San Simon or a sharp, gritty Danish Blue alongside strawberries and peaches. For a more casual treat, warm slices of crusty Finnish Juustoleipa (Bread Cheese) in the microwave for 10 to 20 seconds. Serve it with honey and lingonberry jam, or dip it right into your cup of coffee.

Easy, Cheesy Dessert Recipes

From cheesecakes and pies to tarts and tiramisu, cheese finds its way into a number of our favorite desserts. So cheese lovers who can’t bear to trade in their sweet treats for a cheese plate can still enjoy the best of both worlds.
However, when you don’t have time to bake, cheeses like Ricotta and Mascarpone can be turned into elegant desserts without much fuss. These mild, creamy cheeses almost beg to spread and swirled with sweet add-ins. Best of all, they’re ready to eat in just a few short minutes. Enjoy!

Ricotta Cheese with Honey and Berries
  • 250g ricotta
  • 250g mixed berries (strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, or blackberries)
  • 4 tbsp raspberry sauce
  • 2 tbsp honey

  • Prepare four dessert plates. Divide the ricotta into four slices and place one slice on each plate.
  • Top the ricotta with berries. Drizzle each plate first with raspberry sauce, then with honey.
  • Serve immediately. Makes four servings.

    Banana Mascarpone Mousse
    • 100g dark chocolate
    • Splash double cream
    • 85g mascarpone cheese
    • Splash lemon juice
    • 1 tbsp fresh mint, chopped
    • Splash rum
    • ½ banana, chopped

  • Gently melt the chocolate and cream in a double boiler over simmering water or on low in the microwave.
  • In another bowl, beat the mascarpone, lemon juice, mint, rum and banana.
  • Add the melted chocolate to the mascarpone mixture and fold until combined.
  • Spoon the mousse into four ramekins and refrigerate for at least 20 minutes or more. Makes four servings.
  • Monday, October 26, 2009


    I have had a few people ask me for a good recipe for potato, leek soup, and I hope to make them happy with a good Traditional recipe. Until then this is a nice twist on an old concept.

    Yields about 6 cups; serves 4

    The whole potato, skin and all, goes into this thick soup, so wash the potatoes well.
    Sharp cheese works well in this soup because it melts smoothly. Extra sharp will give you a more pronounced flavor but because of its lower moisture content, the soup will be less smooth.

    2 medium russet potatoes (about 1/2 pound each)
    4 Tablespoons unsalted butter
    2 medium leeks (white and light green parts), sliced and rinsed well
    2 medium cloves garlic, minced
    Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
    2 cups homemade or low-salt canned chicken broth
    4 thick slices bacon, cut into 1/2-inch dice
    1/2 cup milk
    1/2 cup sour cream
    1 cup grated sharp Cheddar (about 1/4 pound)
    2 Tablespoons thinly sliced scallion greens or chives

    Heat the oven to 375ºF.

    Scrub the potatoes, pat dry, and pierce several times with a fork. Set them directly on the oven rack and bake until very tender, about 1 hour.
    Let cool completely on a cooling rack.

    Melt the butter in a soup pot over medium-low heat. Add the leeks and garlic, season with salt, and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 10 minutes. Add the broth and 2 cups water.
    Simmer until the leeks are very tender, about 20 minutes.

    Meanwhile, cook the bacon over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until browned and crisp.
    Transfer to a paper-towel lined plate to drain.

    Cut one of cooled potatoes in half lengthwise and scoop the flesh out in one piece from each half.
    Cut the flesh into 1/2-inch cubes and set aside.

    Coarsely chop the potato skin and the entire remaining potato and add to the pot with the leeks.
    Purée the contents of the pot in batches in a blender until very smooth.

    Return the soup to a clean pot and reheat over medium low.

    Whisk together the milk and sour cream and then whisk this into the soup, along with 1/2 cup of the Cheddar.

    Stir in the diced potato.

    Season with salt and pepper. Serve garnished with the remaining Cheddar, the bacon bits, and the scallions or chives.

    Saturday, October 24, 2009

    Scary Skillet Shepherd's Pie

    For those of us with little Ghouls & Ghosts heading out to Trick or treat in the next Week I was sent this recipe from a dear friend out in Comox Valley, positioned on the East Cost of Vancouver Island. It is a fantastic spooky, fun and nutritious way to send them haunting into the night.

    What you need:
    3 cups frozen mixed vegetables (peas, carrots, corn, green beans)
    1 lb. (450 g) ground beef
    1 cup beef gravy
    125 g (1/2 of 250-g pkg.) PHILADELPHIA Brick Cream Cheese, cubed
    1 cup milk, divided
    1 cup water
    2 cups instant potato flakes
    1/4 cup KRAFT 100% Parmesan Grated Cheese


    COOK vegetables as directed on package. Meanwhile, brown meat in large skillet; drain. Stir in gravy; simmer until heated through, stirring occasionally.

    MICROWAVE cream cheese and 1/4 cup milk in medium microwaveable bowl on HIGH 30 sec.; beat with whisk until smooth. Gradually whisk in remaining milk and water. Microwave 2-1/2 min. or until hot, stirring after each minute. Stir in potato flakes and Parmesan until well blended. Spoon into resealable plastic bag; cut 1 corner from bottom of bag.

    REMOVE 12 peas from mixed vegetables; stir remaining vegetables into meat mixture. Squeeze potato mixture into 6 mounds on meat mixture to resemble ghosts. Add 2 of the reserved peas to each for the eyes.