I Finally Have It…!

July 3, 2017 at 3:23 pm | Posted in Birthdays, Food, Recipes | Leave a comment
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…My Mom’s famous recipe for Kalterhund – directly translated, Cold Dog.  The reason for the weird name is because when the ‘cake’ was first made, the shape resembled the snout of a dog.  Perhaps my German ancestors were not so inventive afterall… 😉

My Mom used to make this recipe for my Brother and myself when we were kids – if we were good.  Needless to say, we didn’t have it very often.  I think it was actually due to the fact that we didn’t have a lot of disposable income for extravagant cakes when I was growing up.  To this day, a lot of children in Germany request this cake for their birthday, or so I’m told.  It’s sinful.

I have to thank my wonderful German friend and colleague for bringing me the ingredients on her recent trip to Canada.  I can’t find any of this here.  However, I need to make sure that the recipe which was lost when my Mom and Dad moved out of their house, stays found so my girls can have it one day – hence the blog post.  The original comes from the Palmin website, but it is in German – so I had it translated; including North American-izing the quantities.  The original German version’s quantities are in brackets below. Some variations add an egg (my Mother never did), or a dash of Rum or Rum Extract (blech), she did and my brother and I hated it – Don’t mess with the original.  Although a 1/2 tsp of instant coffee added to the warm oil would be nice.  Mom did that sometimes.

You have no idea how much nostalgia and ‘warm and fuzzies’ I get with this recipe.

Mom’s Cookie Cake

  • 250 grams (1 package) Palmin
  • 5 oz Bittersweet Chocolate, broken or chopped
  • ½ cup (50 g) Cocoa Powder
  • 1 cup (250 grams) Powdered Sugar
  • 2/3 cup (150 ml) Homogenized (or whole) Milk
  • 250 grams butter cookies (Butterkekse) – use as many cookies as you need

Sift together Icing Sugar and Cocoa, set aside.  Melt Palmin and chocolate in a saucepan over medium-low heat. Remove from heat when liquified. Carefully mix in sifted cocoa powder, powdered sugar and milk.  Stir gently to combine.  Keep pot on warm (but off) burner if more heat is needed to combine ingredients.  A whisk can help remove any lumps.

Let the mixture thicken slightly.

Making a Ganache

Line a loaf pan with wax paper or plastic wrap.  Mom used a square ‘rubbermaid’ container – not as many layers but made it wider for more pieces.

Spoon enough of the chocolate to create a ¼” layer of chocolate at the bottom of the lined pan. This bottom layer will end up being the top of the cake once the cake is unmolded. Cover the first chocolate layer with a layer of cookies. Keep the cookies about ¼” from the sides of the pan.  You can break the cookies if needed, but try and have a solid layer of cookies so there is a good separation between chocolate and cookie layers.  Stagger the layers (like a brick wall). The last layer will likely be cookies, but any remaining chocolate can be placed onto the last layer of chocolate.  Alternate layers of cookies and chocolate until all the chocolate is gone.

Cover pan with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight. Try not to steal any before it’s completely set and chilled.  I promise, you will be rewarded for your patience.

When cutting, a warm sharp knife will help you get through those cookies cleanly.  Serve small pieces, it’s very, very rich.  Excellent with a glass of milk or a cup of coffee.

Enjoy!

 

 

 

 

 

Let the Girl’s Weekend Begin…

November 26, 2016 at 12:14 pm | Posted in All Things Doodle, Caityisms, Christmas, Daddy-O, Family Ties, Food, Movies, Recipes, Sisters, Toeses and Noses | Leave a comment
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Alex is disappearing for most of the weekend since it’s Grey Cup time again.  The girls and I have the weekend planned.  We’re going to make Chocolate  Crunchy Shortbread Cookies, have an indoor picnic complete with Pizza and “Home Alone” tonight, and tomorrow we’re going to the movies with Grandma to see “Moana“.  Should be a great weekend, me and my big-little ones 🙂

Last year I found a copy of my Mom’s Shortbread recipe around the house somewhere.  I was so happy that I finally found a copy of the most incredible Christmas Shortbread that I had been searching for, forever.  My Mom can no longer bake or cook, or for that matter, even hold a coherent conversation any longer.  She can’t tell me her recipes because she doesn’t remember them.  Somehow, after I found the recipe I misplaced it, and it made me very sad – sad to the point of tears, over a stupid recipe.

So I searched the internet and stumbled upon the ‘Robin Hood Flour’ version of “Melt in Your Mouth” Shortbread Cookie. The ingredients, from what I could remember, were similar.  Damn they were good.  I cut up pieces of Dairy Milk with Crunchy (available at Walmart in the British Food aisle) and put them in the mix.  The cookies lasted until Tuesday. Except for the chocolate, they were my Mom’s recipe.  Mom used to shape the cookies into crescent moon shapes and after they were baked, she dipped half in melted chocolate.  Mom also sometimes added finely ground almonds to the dough.

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Ingredients:

2 cups (500 ml) Unsalted Butter

1 scant cup Sugar

3 1/4 cups flour

1/2 cup Cornstarch

4 oz chopped Chocolate (if using) or more

“Preheat oven to 300°F (150°C). Line baking sheets with parchment paper.

Take your butter out of the refrigerator about an hour before baking so it will be nice and soft. This will make it easier for the sugar to mix in with the butter or shortening.

Cream butter in a large bowl with an electric mixer on medium-high speed until very light in texture, about 5 minutes.

Creaming butter with sugar adds air to the batter, increasing volume to help better mix the flour into the butter mixture.

Add sugar and continue beating until sugar is completely combined, about 2 to 3 minutes.

Combine flour and cornstarch in a separate large bowl. Add to butter mixture and mix with an electric mixer on low speed until just combined.

Flour straight from the bag may be compacted. To loosen it, scoop it out of the bag with another container or spoon before pouring it into your measuring cup. This will help you get a more accurate measurement. Level it off with a knife to make sure you have just the right amount.”

Chop the Chocolate Bar into smallish pieces and mix them into the dough.

cookie and chocolatebatter 2

“Place ball of dough by heaping  tbsp (15 mL) on prepared baking sheets 2” (5 cm) apart.  Press down with a fork.

making cookiesmaking cookies 2

Place your cookies about 2” (5cm) apart to allow for spreading

Bake in preheated oven 20 to 25 minutes or until bottoms are lightly golden.  Remove cookies from baking sheet and cool on wire racks.”

baking

cookies

Keep the dough in the fridge between baking and use a second cookie sheet – let the first one cool off completely before you use it again (put it in the fridge), this will help prevent spreading.  Take the cookies out a minute or two before the time they’re done to avoid brown edges.

You can either scoop out balls of dough, round them, flatten them with a fork or roll the entire batch into two logs and slice when chilled (this method is easier for decorating).  You can pre-cut chilled logs, wrap well and freeze for 2-3 months – you can have cookies whenever you want 🙂

I rolled two logs, put them in the fridge and let them chill for an hour then cut them when ready and prepared the next tray while the first was in the oven.  The prepared tray was put into the fridge until ready to bake.  This greatly reduced the spread.

Makes about 45 cookies.

Should be a good weekend 🙂

Time For Thanks Giving…

October 5, 2016 at 12:03 am | Posted in Daddy-O, Depression, Food, Recipes, Sisters, Toeses and Noses | Leave a comment
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Fall is here and even though we can still wear shorts and t-shirts, it’s turkey time again. Actually, wearing shorts the second week of October isn’t all that unusual.  In Southern Ontario where we live, we often get an ‘Indian Summer‘ – a blissfully warm few days of gorgeous sunshine which follows the first frost of the season.  I haven’t noticed any frost lately, but it has been quite cool.  This past Summer was so hot, the cool weather was a blessed relief.

My Sister passed away last week.  She died from complications during a normal surgical procedure.  Saying she and I never got along was a mild understatement.  I shed about 5 tears.  Anyone who knows me, knows that is unusual because tv commercials can make me cry. Watching a particularly heart-wrenching episode of Grey’s Anatomy makes me sob.  I was despondent when my darling Dad passed away last year.  For my Sister, 5 tears.  I am free. Enough said.

Canadian Thanksgiving is this weekend and I’m hosting dinner – I’m so excited, I haven’t looked forward to anything in a long time.  I love cooking Turkey – the house always smells so wonderful that you can’t wait for dinner.

I told Lexy she was cooking the Turkey this year.  She’s a little panicked, thinking I was serious 😉

I wanted to post some of the side dishes I plan on serving.  I’ll add pictures later.  As I’ve said in previous posts,  I started this blog to record my children’s antics and to house some of the family recipes for them when they’re older.  As I found out last week, one never knows when your time will be up.

Slow-Cooker Butternut Squash

1 – Medium sized Butternut Squash, scrubbed and sliced in half length-wise, seeds removed

1/2 stick unsalted butter, softened

1/4 teaspoon Pumpkin Pie Spice

1/4 cup Brown Sugar

Water (enough to go halfway up the Squash in the Slow Cooker)

In a bowl, combine Butter, Brown Sugar and Pumpkin Pie Spice, mix until combine and spread over Squash halves.

Place the Squash halves cut side up in the slow cooker – cut into smaller pieces if they don’t fit properly – note they will shrink a bit as they cook.

Carefully pour water down the side of the Slow Cooker making sure you don’t pour directly on the Squash.  Cover and cook on high for 4-5 hours or on low for 6-7 hours or until the thickest part of the Squash is very soft when poked with a knife.

Carefully remove the Squash from the slow cooker, trying not to lose the sugar/butter mixture or burn yourself.  Note, you can keep the Squash in the Slow Cooker until you’re ready to eat, just make sure the cooker is turned off.

Using oven mitts if the Squash is too hot to hold in your hands, scrape the soft flesh into a large bowl with a spoon, careful not to get the tough skin and stir to combine all the yummy juices and spices.

I used to just use Cinnamon and Brown Sugar, but I also liked a bit of Nutmeg flavour.  Then I had a brain wave and decided to use Pumpkin Pie Spice which already has both of those plus Ground Ginger, Allspice and Cloves.  It’s a heady mixture that pairs amazingly with the succulent Squash.  Just go easy on it, a little goes a long way.  I suggest you start with 1/2 of the 1/4 teaspoon first, mix it with The Brown Sugar and sample – see if you like the flavour strength.  If not, add a bit more until you’re satisfied.  It’s so good – even Lexy likes it.

The next dish is one of my favourites and can be cooked when the Turkey is done – if your oven is like mine, the Turkey will take up the whole oven.  This dish is the ultimate comfort food, dreamy vegetables baked in herbs – amazing with gravy or on their own.  The beauty of this side dish is it doesn’t matter if you have this exact combination of root veggies, pick your favourites.

Oven Roasted Root Vegetables

2 Medium Sweet Potatoes, peeled and cubed into 1″ pieces

2 Large Parsnips, peeled and cubed into 1″ pieces

2 Medium Red Onions, peeled and cut into quarters

1 Rutabaga (or large Turnip), peeled, cubed into 1″ pieces

4-5 medium Yellow Fleshed Potatoes such as Yukon Gold (a Canadian invention by the way), peeled, cubed into 1″ pieces

4-5 medium Carrots, peeled, cut into 1″ pieces

1/4 to 1/2 cup vegetable oil

1/2 teaspoon dried Thyme

3/4 teaspoon dried Oregano

1/2 teaspoon dried Rosemary

1 teaspoon coarse Salt

Several rounds of Fresh Ground Black Pepper

Preheat your oven to 450F

Place all of the chopped veggies in a bowl.  The above quantities are an approximation – you will need enough veggies to fill a sheet pan completely, but loosely (to allow for flipping the veggies during cooking).

Drizzle the oil over the veggies and sprinkle on the seasoning, salt and several good rounds of fresh ground pepper, mix well to coat.

Place a length of non-stick Aluminum Foil on your sheet pan.  Dump the seasoned veggies on the pan and spread out evenly.

Place in the oven and cook for approximately 30 minutes and stir. Cook for another 30 minutes or until the veggies are fork tender and not burned.  Stir and flip the veggies so they caramelize and brown on all sides.

Place in a serving bowl and enjoy.  Try not to eat too many before they get to the table.

The veggies will hold in a covered dish on the stovetop for 4-5 hours if you want to make them in advance.  They can be served at room temperature.

Turkey Stuffing (for inside the bird)

My Mom’s recipe, it flavours the bird from the inside and tastes incredible.

1 Package Pork Sausage (Maple Leaf makes a great Pure Pork Sausage just for this purpose)
2 Slices dark Rye Bread (Dimpflmeier makes wonderful Rye but regular sandwich bread or pre seasoned turkey stuffing bread is also fine for this)
2 Cloves of Garlic, Minced
1 Large Onion Diced
1/2 tsp Poultry Seasoning
Ground Black Pepper
Garlic Powder

Sauté the diced onion until barely translucent. Add the minced Garlic and sauté for a few more minutes. Remove from heat. In a large mixing bowl, place the Pork Sausage, and the sautéed Onions and Garlic. Add 1/2 Tsp. Poultry Seasoning, several rounds of freshly ground Black Pepper, and 1/2 Tsp Garlic Powder.

Tear the bread into bite sized pieces and add them to the mixing bowl. Mix the mixture thoroughly but not too much that it all breaks down. Form into a loaf and stuff into the cavity of the bird (make sure there are no giblets in there first!).

When the Turkey is cooked, remove the stuffing – it should come out whole like a meatloaf. Slice and serve with dinner.

Dressing – for Outside the Bird

ingredients1 loaf Turkey Stuffing Bread (if you can’t find the pre seasoned bread, use a loaf of white bread and make sure you have lots of Poultry Seasoning)

Poultry seasoning (if you don’t have pre seasoned bread)

1 large onion diced

1 large clove Garlic, minced

2 half sticks unsalted butter, cut into slices – half for inside the mixture, the rest on top

4 packages OXO Chicken Bouillon powder and hot water prepared to package directions, set aside – note, you may not need all of the Bouillon; or you can use boxed low sodium Chicken Broth (Campbell’s)

Water, enough to fill the pan half way up the loaf

Saute onions until translucent and then add garlic. Saute for a few more minutes until the garlic is softened.  Remove from heat.

Make the bullion as directed on the package in a measuring cup.  Alternately pour a cup of boxed Chicken broth into a measuring cup.  Set aside.

torn-breadIn a large bowl, tear 1/3 of the loaf into small, bite-sized pieces.  If you used regular white bread, sprinkle liberally with Poultry Seasoning, then proceed to the next step.

If using the pre-seasoned loaf, scatter half the onion mixture over the bread.  Sprinkle some of the bouillon liquid or Chicken Stock over the bread and onions until the bread is just moistened.  The bread should hold a shape if you squeeze it in your hand, but it shouldn’t release any liquid. Add a few pats of butter. Mix to incorporate.

onion-bread-and-chicken-stockTear another 1/3 of the loaf and add the remaining onions and garlic and more bouillon or Chicken Stock as above.  If using the unseasoned loaf, add another round of Poultry Seasoning.  Mix.

Tear the remaining pieces and repeat as above.

Tear two pieces of Aluminum Foil and overlap slightly.  Dump the mixture onto the centre of the foil and shape into a loaf that will fit into the baking dish with some room on the sides of the dish.

ready-for-the-ovenPlace pats of butter all over the top and wrap the foil around the loaf so that the opening is at the top.  The dressing will steam in the oven, so the water can’t get in it.

Fill the pan with water, half way up the foil making sure water can’t  get into the package.

Place, covered, in a 350F oven for half an hour.  Remove lid and open the package for browning.  Place in the oven for another 1/2 hour.  The dressing is done when the top is crispy and a knife comes out clean when inserted into the middle.  So good with gravy 🙂

More Cheesecake…

July 3, 2016 at 4:57 pm | Posted in All Things Doodle, Caityisms, Family Ties, Food, Recipes, Toeses and Noses | Leave a comment
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It seems like I bake a lot more than I do.  I created this blog originally to capture the crazy antics my kids were doing.  My blog evolved over time to include family recipes – so that my girls would always have them for when the are older.  Hopefully some day they’ll make some of my recipes for their kids…

Ingredients (Crust):

  • 1½ Cups Graham Cracker Crumbs
  • 1/3 Cup Granulated Sugar
  • 4 Tbsp (half a stick) Unsalted Butter, melted
  • 1/8 Tsp Cinnamon
  • 1 Tbsp Shredded Coconut

Ingredients (Cake):

  • 3 Packages (8 Ounces each) Philadelphia Cream Cheese
  • ¾ Cup Sugar
  • 1 Tsp Vanilla
  • 3 Eggs
  • 1 Package less 1 cup (reserve for the Ganache topping) Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips (PC Decadent Brand if you can find them, otherwise Nestle Tollhouse will do)

Ingredients (Ganache Topping):

  • 3/4 Cup Whipping Cream
  • 6 Squares Baker’s Semi-Sweet Baking Chocolate
  • 1 cup reserved Chocolate Chips
  • Scant 1/8 Tsp Cinnamon

Let all ingredients come to room temperature.

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Place a cake pan filled with warm water on the bottom rack, just below the rack where you will put your cheesecake. This will create a humid environment and can prevent cracking.

IMG_1673Method (Crust):

In a separated 9” Springform pan, place a piece of non-stick foil over the bottom plate before putting the two pieces of the pan together.  Crumple any excess foil up over the edge.

Spray the entire inside of the pan with non-stick vegetable spray.

Place Graham Cracker Crumbs into the prepared pan

Melt Butter and add to Graham Cracker crumbs.

Add Cinnamon, Sugar and Coconut.

Mix by hand for best results.

This mixture should feel like damp sand and should hold a shape if you were to press it in your palm.

Press into the bottom the Springform pan using your hand or the bottom of a metal measuring cup.  There should be enough crumbs to go up the sides of the pan by about a ¼”.

Bake for 10 minutes then remove from oven.

IMG_1672Method (Cake):

In a mixing bowl, beat Cream Cheese, Sugar and Vanilla together on medium speed until combined.

Add Eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition – careful to not over beat.

By hand, gently stir in Chocolate Chips.

Pour batter into the pan and tap several times on the counter to bring any air bubbles to the surface.

 

Bake for 50 minutes, turning after the first 30 minutes.

At the end of baking, turn the oven off, but keep the Cheesecake in the oven for another 1/2 hour – don’t open the door! Don’t even peak! Just let it be…

When the 30 minutes are up, take the cake out of the oven and allow the cake to cool for an hour on the stove top or counter.

At the end of the hour, run a knife around the edge of the cake, but don’t take the ring off.

Place the cake, uncovered, in the fridge to cool for two hours.

Remove the cake and cover with either foil or plastic wrap.

Chill at least eight hours or overnight keeping the ring attached.

IMG_1677Method (Topping):

Remove the cake from the fridge but don’t take off the ring.

Heat the cream in a small saucepan over medium heat.  Bring just to a boil.

Remove from heat and stir in Cinnamon.

Add the baking squares and reserved chocolate chips and continue to stir slowly until incorporated (this takes a minute or two).

 

The sauce should be very thick when all of the chocolate has completely melted.

Pour over the top of the Cheesecake.

Chill at least 2 hours for best results, run a knife around the edge to loosen the cake.

When you’re ready to unmold the cake for serving, remove the Springform ring and place a piece of paper towel on the top of the cake, invert the cake in your hand and remove the bottom Springform plate.

While the cake is still upside down, place a cake plate or serving platter on the bottom of the cake and invert carefully.

To serve, use a hot, dry knife to slice each piece.

Sometimes, depending on my mood, before the ganache sets, I’ll sprinkle the top with roasted, slivered almonds.  Or mini chocolate chips.  Or toasted, chopped hazelnuts … or … fresh, ripe raspberries!

For an extra treat, serve with some fresh Whipped Cream and sliced Strawberries.  Yum Yum!

So Hungry…

May 31, 2016 at 1:12 pm | Posted in Family Ties, Food, Recipes, Toeses and Noses | Leave a comment
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What does one do with a pound of yummy leftover pulled pork?  Leftover Pulled Pork

We’ve already had Tacos.  Don’t feel like sandwiches.  That leaves no alternative, I think tonight’s menu will have to be Empanadas … 🙂 I’ve made them before and quite liked the a basic Empanada recipe I found, so I thought I’d give it another go.

Ingredients for the Dough:

Make 2 batches of dough for approximately 48 Empanadas

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour, plus some for dusting
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2/3 cups cold unsalted butter cubed
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1/2 cup Ice water (approx)
  • 2 Cups Leftover Pulled Pork
  • ½ Cup Shredded ‘Mexican Inspired Cheeses’ (Pepper Jack, Mozzarella, Cheddar mix)
  • 1 cup frozen Corn 🌽
  • A dash of your favourite Barbeque Sauce if the Meat isn’t moist enough
  • 1 Egg, Beaten with a Teaspoon of Water

Get the Pulled Pork Recipe here (you’ll need to prepare this the day before).

Empanada Dough BallIn a food processor, combine Flour, and Salt for about 10 pulses.  Add the Butter cubes, spreading them out as much as possible.  Pulse about 20 times until the Butter has broken down to pieces approximately the size of a pea and started to incorporate into the butter.

Transfer the Flour/Butter mixture to a large bowl.  Crumble the mixture through your fingers to break down any remaining large pieces of butter, but be careful not to do this too long or the butter will become too soft.

Beat egg yolk into Ice Water and drizzle over flour mixture, mix with a spatula until the Dough looks ragged and there isn’t any remaining Flour in the bowl.  You may not need all the water or you may need more – it will depend on how hot it is in your Kitchen and what the Humidity level is.

Cutting the CirclesTurn the Dough out onto a lightly floured surface and form into a ball.  Cut the ball into two pieces.  Flatten each piece into a 6″ circle.  Cover with plastic wrap and place in the Fridge for 1-2 hours to firm.

After the Dough has chilled, remove one circle from the Fridge.  Roll the first circle on a lightly Floured surface until it’s approximately 1/8″ thick.  Using a 3″ Biscuit Cutter, cut as many circles out of the dough as you are able.  You can throw the scraps away.  I re-mashed them and re-rolled to get another couple of circles.  This is a major no-no in the baking world because now the Butter has melted and the Gluten has activated – it’s possible a couple of your Empanadas will be tougher because of this.  Doesn’t matter, I’m still hungry 😉

Repeat the process with the second disc.

Empanada Dough CirclesPlace all of the discs on a plate and cover with plastic wrap.  Refrigerate for 15-30 minutes.  See all the butter specks in the pastry?  <— That’s what makes a flaky pastry 🙂

For the Filling:

Add the Barbeque sauce (if using), corn and Cheese mixture to the Pulled Pork, mix well.

Assembly:

Crack the Egg in a bowl and add the Water.  Whisk well with a Fork to make the Egg Wash.

Take a circle and moisten the rim with a bit of Water.

IMG_1481Put a spoonful of the Pulled Pork mixture into the centre of the circle and fold the Dough over onto itself, creating a half-moon.  Use a fork to seal the edges and set aside.  Once all of the Empanadas have been made, place them in the freezer for 15 minutes or the Fridge for 30-45 to chill again.  Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 375°F.

Take the Empanadas out and line two baking sheets with Parchment Paper or Non-Stick Foil.  Lay the Empanadas on the baking sheets, brushing them with a bit of egg wash. Bake until golden brown, approximate 20 minutes, spinning the rack after 10 minutes.  When the pastry is golden, the Empanadas are done.  Let cool for five minutes before eating.  Enjoy 🙂

Each batch of dough Makes approximately 20-24 Empanadas.  Serve with a Barbeque-based dipping sauce combined with your favourite Salsa.  You can also use any remaining sauce from your pulled pork.  Enjoy, I know I will 🙂

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Comfort Food 101…

February 20, 2016 at 5:44 pm | Posted in Family Ties, Food, Recipes, Toeses and Noses | Leave a comment
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It’s nearly the end of February and it’s 11°C.  Did I mention that I live in Canada?? It’s been a really weird Winter so far, and although I’m loving the effects of El Niño – I still hate Winter.  Last year at this time we were in the middle of an Arctic Freeze. The temperatures were in the -30°C for what seemed like forever and we had snow everywhere.  This year, the flowers and grass are growing at the front of my house.  Sometimes though, it doesn’t matter what the weather is like, we all need comfort food.

I had a craving for Ham and Scalloped Potatoes, so that’s what’s on the menu tonight.  The ham was simply prepared – take a small, smoked 1/4 Ham, put it in an oven proof dish and cover it with Pineapple Juice about half-way up the ham.  Stick it in the oven for a couple of hours at 325°F – remember to baste it every 40 minutes or so and that’s it.  The Pineapple Juice draws some of the salt out of the Ham, and makes it more delicious.  Discard the juice when you’re ready to slice the Ham.

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Leftover Scalloped Potatoes make a great lunch – a minute or two in the microwave 🙂

For the Scalloped Potatoes, it was a bit more complicated.  I researched a couple of recipes on the internet and also used a few of my Mom’s tricks and damn if it didn’t turn out delicious.

Ingredients:

    • ~3 Pounds New, Yukon Gold or Red Skinned Potatoes
    • ½ Pound Bacon Lardons
    • 1 ½ Medium Yellow Onion
    • 1 Clove Garlic, Minced
    • 1 Cup Shredded Medium Cheddar
    • 1 Cup Shredded Monterey Jack
    • 1 ½ Cup Whipping Cream
    • 1 ½ Cup Half and Half Cream
    • ¼ Cup All Purpose Flour
    • 1 Tsp Dried Thyme
    • 1 Tsp Dried Oregano
    • ½ Tsp Fresh Ground Black Pepper, plus several rounds of Pepper for each layer
    • Dash or two of Salt
    • Several dabs of Butter
    • Non-Stick Vegetable Spray

Wash, peel and thinly slice Potatoes, set aside in a bowl of water until you’re ready to assemble.  The Potatoes may turn brown from oxidation but it doesn’t affect the taste. It’s recommended to use a Mandolin to slice the Potatoes and Onion if you have one.  You’ll need slices approximately 1/8” thick.

Thinly slice the half Onion crossways to get onion rings, set aside.

Grate, then combine both cheeses and set aside.

Combine both Creams in a microwaveable dish and heat for 1 minute. Add the dried Thyme, Oregano and Black Pepper.  Add the Flour and whisk to combine.  Set aside.

Fry the bacon until nearly crisp. Dice one onion and add to the Bacon, and continue to fry until the Onions are translucent (about 5 minutes), add the minced Garlic and fry the mixture until the bacon has completely crisped.  Remove from heat and set aside.

Scalloped Potatoes 3

Bacon, Onions and Garlic, oh my!

Spray your covered baking dish liberally with the Non-Stick Spray. Add a couple of dabs of butter on the bottom of the pan.  Place 1/3 of the potatoes, overlapping the slices slightly in the dish.  Add a few rounds of Ground Pepper, 1/3 of the Bacon mixture, scatter ½ of the onion rings, 1/3 of the Cheese mixture and top with 1/3 of the cream mixture (whisk again before you add it to distribute the ingredients).  Repeat 2 more times.  On the second layer I sprinkled some salt – the Cheese and Bacon adds a lot of Salt on their own, so you don’t really need much. Add a couple of dabs of butter to the top before you put the dish, covered, in the oven.

Scalloped Potatoes 2

One of the Layers Before the Cheese and Cream Mixture Were Added

Bake in a 375°F Oven until the Potatoes are fork tender – approximately 1½ hours. I rotate the pan every ½ hour to help even the baking – I don’t have a fancy convection oven … yet.  Uncover the dish the last 20 minutes of baking to get a golden brown yummy crust.

Almost Finished

Almost Finished – It Looks Like a Lot of Liquid, But The Cream Will Get Absorbed by the Potatoes and Will Thicken and Create a Gorgeous Sauce

Let cool for 15-20 minutes before serving.

Leftover Scalloped Potatoes are even more tasty – you can pan fry them in a little Butter or reheat in the Microwave. Enjoy!  I know I will 🙂

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The Finished Product

Not Your Mom’s Cheesecake …

December 11, 2015 at 10:06 pm | Posted in Christmas, Food, Product Testing, Recipes, Toeses and Noses | Leave a comment
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…Unless your Mom is Julia Child.

‘Tis the season once again and tomorrow night Hubby and I are going out sans kids to our friends for a get together.  We were asked to bring a dish and this is my contribution.  If it makes it to their house that is … in one piece.

Have I mentioned that I’m in love with the President’s Choice Black Label line of products?  The foodie in me quivers in the food aisle at Loblaws any time I get near one of their new products.  My mind races as I think of ways to use them.  Here’s one.

**Just so there’s no confusion, this is more of an appetizer, a spread for crackers or Crostini than a cheesecake you eat like a dessert by the slice.  It’s a cake. Made from cheese.  Hence the name, cheesecake…. But savoury, not sweet … 😉

Savoury Roasted Garlic Cheesecake

Ingredients:

  • 2 Heads Garlic, roasted
  • 1 Medium Onion, sliced thinly
  • 1 Tsp Thyme
  • 1 Tsp Oregano
  • Fresh Ground Pepper
  • 2, 1/4 Tsp Coarse Sea Salt
  • 2 Packages Cream Cheese, room temperature
  • 2, 300 Gram packages of plain Goat Cheese, room temperature
  • 1.5 Cups toasted, unsalted Pistachios (get them in the bulk section already shelled), ground
  • 2 Tbsp melted Unsalted Butter
  • A 9″ or 10″ Fluted non-stick Tart Pan with removable bottom
  • Crostini and or Crackers
  • PC® Black Label Cherry Shiraz or Fig Cabernet Wine Jelly
  • PC® Black Label Bacon Marmalade Spread
  • PC® Black Label Pistachio Oil
  • Good quality Olive Oil

For the Crust:

Toast Pistachios in the oven for a few minutes until they crisp and are warmed through.  Cool thoroughly then place them in a food processor along with 1/4 salt and blitz several times until the Pistachios resemble coarse crumbs.  Pour into a bowl and slowly add melted Butter until the crumbs are moist and will hold a shape if pressed.  Mix well then pour into your Tart Pan and press into the bottom to form a Crust.  Chill in the fridge until the filling is ready.

crustIf you don’t have Roasted Garlic lying around, cut the tops off of two whole heads of garlic, but don’t discard them.  Place all the pieces in a piece of Aluminum Foil and top with a drizzle of Olive Oil.  Wrap the package tightly and put it in your barbecue over medium, indirect heat for an hour or until soft.  Using your barbecue serves two purposes:  one, you don’t stink your house up for days with the smell of roasting garlic; two, you get to annoy your neighbours for a while as it cooks outside.  Once the garlic is soft and brown, squish the cloves into a bowl, careful not to include the skin of the garlic cloves and mash with a fork to make a paste.  Set aside.

Sauté the sliced onions in Butter over medium heat until they get soft and begin to brown.  Set aside to cool.  Place in Food Processor and pulse a few times to break down the onions.  Set aside.

In a mixer place your softened cheeses and half of the Roasted Garlic and all of the onions.  Add the Oregano, Thyme, one of the 1/4 Tsps of salt and a few rounds of cracked pepper.  Mix on medium speed until all the ingredients are thoroughly incorporated.  Taste and add more Garlic if you wish.  The mixture should be light and fluffy with no lumps from the cheeses.

cheese and onionsTake the Tart Pan out of the Fridge and pour the mixture over the crust.  Spread evenly using an offset spatula if you have one – if not, it’s not that important – and cover with plastic wrap.  Put in the fridge for several hours, or overnight (preferred) to allow the cheesecake to set up and all the flavours meld.

For the Crostini, slice a Baguette, thinly and place onto a cookie pan.  Mix a few tablespoons of Olive Oil with a tablespoon of PC Black Label Pistachio Oil and brush over each Crostini top.  Bake in a 350ºF oven until just brown and the crusts are crispy, set aside.  Repeat until all of your Baguette has been used.  Place on a platter along with crackers if desired.

When ready to eat, unmould the cheesecake and cut into 1″ wedges.  Place a slice of cake, a few Crostini and/or Crackers on a plate.  Add a spoonful of PC Black Label Fig Cabernet Jelly and a spoonful of PC Black Label Bacon Marmalade to the side of the plate.  To assemble, spread a bit of the cheesecake, ensuring you don’t forget the Pistachio crust on a Crostini, top with a small amount of Bacon Jam and a small amount of Fig Cabernet Jelly.  Try not to inhale it in one mouthful.  Try to resist eating the whole cake in one setting, you’ll want to.  It’s amazing.  Bon Appétit

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Finished 2fig cabernetPistachio Oilbacon jam

What to Do When Dad Goes Out With the Boys? Girls Night In, Making Cookies!

November 28, 2015 at 8:08 pm | Posted in Christmas, Daddy-O, Family Ties, Food, Movies, My Kid is a Donut, Recipes, Sisters, Toeses and Noses | Leave a comment
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Toblerone Shortbread Cookies to be exact…

Alex is off for his usual boys weekend involving much drinking, debauchery and Football, so I decided to make cookies with the girls and watch a Christmas movie (Santa Claus is Coming to Town) while drinking Hot Chocolate.  I dunno, but that sounds like a pretty good night to me …

Back to the cookies … I had a copy of my Mom’s Shortbread recipe around the house somewhere.  I found it after we moved my Mom from her Apartment to her Long-Term Facility this Summer.  I was so happy that I finally found a copy of the most incredible Christmas Shortbread that I had been searching for, forever.  Somehow, between then and now, I’ve misplaced the recipe and it made me very sad – sad to the point of tears, over a stupid recipe.

Last weekend I decided to try the Robin Hood Flour “Melt in Your Mouth” version because the ingredients, from what I could remember, were similar.  Damn they were good.  I cut up pieces of Dairy Milk with Crunchy (available at Walmart in the British Food aisle) and put them in the mix.  The cookies lasted until Tuesday. Except for the chocolate, they were my Mom’s recipe.  Mom used to shape the cookies into crecent moon shapes and  after they were baked, she dipped half in melted chocolate.  Mom also sometimes added finely ground almonds to the dough.

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Ingredients:

2 cups (500 ml) Unsalted Butter

1 scant cup Sugar

3 1/4 cups flour

1/2 cup Cornstarch

4 oz chopped Chocolate (if using) or more

“Preheat oven to 300°F (150°C). Line baking sheets with parchment paper.

Take your butter out of the refrigerator about an hour before baking so it will be nice and soft. This will make it easier for the sugar to mix in with the butter or shortening.

Cream butter in a large bowl with an electric mixer on medium-high speed until very light in texture, about 5 minutes.

Creaming butter with sugar adds air to the batter, increasing volume to help better mix the flour into the butter mixture.

Add sugar and continue beating until sugar is completely combined, about 2 to 3 minutes.

Combine flour and cornstarch in a separate large bowl. Add to butter mixture and mix with an electric mixer on low speed until just combined.

Flour straight from the bag may be compacted. To loosen it, scoop it out of the bag with another container or spoon before pouring it into your measuring cup. This will help you get a more accurate measurement. Level it off with a knife to make sure you have just the right amount.”

Chop one and a half of the regular sized Toblerone Bars into smallish pieces and mix them into the dough.

cookie and chocolatebatter 2

“Place ball of dough by heaping  tbsp (15 mL) on prepared baking sheets 2” (5 cm) apart.  Press down with a fork.

making cookiesmaking cookies 2

Place your cookies about 2” (5cm) apart to allow for spreading

Bake in preheated oven 20 to 25 minutes or until bottoms are lightly golden.  Remove cookies from baking sheet and cool on wire racks.”

baking

cookies

Should be a good night 🙂

We might save some for Daddy when he gets home … maybe …

Last year we made a batch for the girls to take to their School’s Christmas party.   They didn’t contain either of the chocolate types because of potential allergies. After baking, the girls frosted them.  They were a big hit.

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Fall’s Around the Corner…

August 25, 2015 at 12:10 am | Posted in Family Ties, Food, Recipes, Sisters | Leave a comment
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imageIt’s hard to think that cooler weather will soon be here when it’s still so hot during the day. With the exception of my Pot-loving neighbour out back, it’s been a great year to keep the windows and back door open in the evening to catch the cool breeze. Too much air conditioning can be a bother. With the cooler weather approaching, I’m yearning to hibernate.  While I can’t actually do that, I can begin to fatten myself up (like I need more padding) for the upcoming Winter by preparing some of my favourite long-cooking foods I grew up with (hence the need for no more self-padding).

I’ve said it before that my Mom was an amazing cook and she taught my Brother and I well. Without realizing the tremendous gift she was giving us at the time – her knowledge and recipes; it’s taken years to truly appreciate what she gave us. With my Mom’s memory quickly fading, it’s been very important to my Brother and I to try to remember as many of her recipes as we can.

Both of my Parents are now in a long-term care facility about an hour and a quarter away from where we live.  I go up every weekend to visit because I can’t bear the thought of them being alone up there for long. On these trips, my Brother and I naturally have a lot of time to chat and catch up and invariably our conversations always turn to food.  We both love cooking and eating and experimenting with new flavours, but always we return to the classics.  Like my Mom’s Meatloaf…. I made it for the first time a couple of weeks ago and the girls loved it.  It was requested again this weekend.

I’m glad I have this blog.  One day it will be a trove of family recipes for my girls to try, and some funny anecdotes from their childhood. Please indulge me as I share another recipe. As typical of my Mom’s style of cooking, a lot of the seasonings were added ‘to taste’.  You might have to adjust some of the measurements to your liking, after all it’s hard to measure a ‘taste’.

Ingredients:
– 1 Pound Lean Ground Beef
– ½ Pound Ground Pork
– ½ Medium Onion, Finely Diced
– 2-3 Large Cloves Garlic, Finely Minced
– A good squirt of ‘The Keg’ Steak Sauce (approx. 1-2 tablespoons) – ‘HP Sauce can be substituted
– A good squirt of your favourite bottled BBQ sauce that’s a bit smoky rather than tangy or sweet (I use ‘Sticky Fingers’)
– 1 Large Egg, Beaten
– 1 Palmful of Breadcrumbs (hard to measure because it depends how moist your mix is, but start with a couple of tablespoonsful and add more if needed), or a couple of Soda Crackers crushed
– 1 tsp Paprika
– 1/4 tsp Smoked Paprika
– 1/4 tsp Garlic Powder
– 1/2 tsp Oregano
– Several grinds of fresh Black Pepper
– ½ tsp coarse salt
– 1/4 tsp Cumin
– A pinch of Turmeric (optional)
– 1/2 Tsp dried Rosemary, crumbled or chopped
– 8-10 whole Black Peppercorns
– 1 medium Onion, quartered
– 1 medium Roma (Plum) Tomato, quartered
– 3 cups Water
– 5 packages ‘OXO’ Bouillon Sachets
– 4 slices Bacon, cut in half

For the gravy:
– 4 tablespoons flour
– 2 heaping tablespoons ‘Bisto Gravy Maker’
– Enough water to form a slurry

Method:
In a large bowl, mix the Beef, Pork.  In a small bowl, beat the egg and add all off the Seasonings (except whole Peppercorns) into a slurry.  It looks horrible, but its a better way to distribute the dried Seasonings.  Add the slurry to the meat along with the diced Onions, minced Garlic, Keg sauce, BBQ sauce, and Breadcrumbs.  Mix well to incorporate, but don’t over-mix or it will toughen the meat. If your mix is too moist, add a bit more Breadcrumbs.  If it’s too dry, add a bit of BBQ sauce. Form the Meat into an oval-ish loaf shape and place in a covered roasting pan which has been sprayed with vegetable oil.  The Meat should retain its shape. Add the quartered Onion, quartered Tomato, whole Peppercorns and some Rosemary to the pan around the Meat, not on top of it. Put in the fridge to allow the seasonings to fully permeate and marinate the loaf for at least an hour, up to overnight if you have the time.

Preheat the oven to 350°F.  Take the Meatloaf in the pan out of the fridge while the oven is pre-heating and you prepare the next step.

In a small saucepan, heat the Water almost to boiling and turn off the heat.  Stir in the Bouillon and allow to cool for 10 minutes. When ready to put the Meatloaf in the oven, carefully pour the Bouillon water into the pan so that it fills no more than half-way up the side of the Meatloaf. Bake, covered, in the oven for ½ hour.  Remove from oven and carefully place the Bacon strips over the top of the loaf so that they cover the entire surface without overlapping. Increase the temperature to 375°F and place the pan, covered, in the oven for an hour, rotating the pan half way during the hour (if you have a convection oven you don’t need to rotate the pan).

After the hour is up, remove the pan from the oven, take off the lid and place the pan back in the oven to crisp the Bacon, about ½ hour. When the bacon has browned and begun to crisp, remove from the oven, transfer the Meatloaf to a platter and cover with foil. Allow to rest while you make the Gravy.

Begin by skimming off some of the Grease – get what you can, but don’t worry if you can’t get it all, it adds flavour. Place the roasting pan over a burner on medium heat and allow the liquid to approach boiling then reduce to a hard simmer.  If you wish, remove the cooked Tomato and all- or most-of the cooked Onion, and the Peppercorns (I only remove the Tomato), but don’t and I’m serious about this, don’t remove the scraps of Meatloaf and Meat Juices which are floating around the pan – that’s flavour baby!

In a mug combine the Flour and Bisto and enough Water to make a thick Slurry.  Mix well to eliminate lumps.  You can also place the ingredients in a Mason Jar and shake the heck out of it… When the liquid has stared to boil, add about ⅓ of the Slurry, ensuring you whisk briskly to avoid lumps and incorporate into the Gravy.  Allow to cook for a few minutes to cook off the raw Flour taste.  If the Gravy isn’t as thick as you’d like, add more Slurry and cook again. Taste the Gravy and adjust seasonings if you wish.

Slice the Meatloaf into ½ inch slices.  Serve with Mashed Potatoes and Broccoli in Cheese Sauce.  So incredibly good.  Enjoy 🙂

Best Soup… Ever!

January 3, 2015 at 5:03 pm | Posted in Food, Recipes, Toeses and Noses | Leave a comment
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20140701-153621-56181229.jpgI’ve made this soup a few times before but this time I cooked it in my Breville Fast Slow Cooker using the Pressure Cooker option instead of the Slow Cooker feature – which was good too, but omg this is a million times better 🙂 I even sent Alex out in a snow storm to get the requisite French Bagette to eat with it 😉

I changed the recipe a bit as well, tweaking slightly, the new version is listed below:

Pressure Cooker Pasta Fagioli Soup

Ingredients:

– 1 lb lean Ground Beef
– 4 cloves of Garlic, finely minced
– 1.5 large Onions, diced
– 1/2 medium Parsnip sliced into medallions, then cut in half
– 4-5 Carrots sliced into thick medallions
– 2 stalks of Celery, diced
– 1 cup Pancetta, diced
– 1 can diced Fire Roasted Tomatoes
– 1 can Red Kidney Beans, drained and rinsed
– 1 can 6 (or 5) Bean blend, drained and rinsed
– 1 jar Ragu Original Pasta (Spaghetti) sauce
– 1 box Campbell’s Beef Broth
– 1/2 tsp coarsely ground Black Pepper
– 10 dashes Tabasco Sauce, twice
– 2 tsp Paprika
– 1/4 tsp Garlic Powder
– 1/2 tsp dried Rosemary
– 1/2 tsp dried Oregano
– 1/2 tsp Italian Seasoning
– 1/2 tsp coarse Sea Salt
– 1/2 tsp Chili Pepper Paste (see photo below, or mince your own favourite hot variety)
– 8 ounces of a hearty, small Pasta (Ditalini or Macaroni are perfect), cooked separately.

Can You Take the Heat (2)If you don’t have a pressure cooker, you can use a regular large soup pot or Dutch Oven. Fancy equipment is not needed. Most of the instructions are the same, however, when everything is combined, simmer for 1-2 hours.

Set the Fast Slow Cooker to Sauté for 30 minutes. Cook the Pancetta until mostly crisp. Add Garlic and sauté for a minute, being careful not to burn the Garlic. Add the Ground Beef, season with all of the Herbs, Chili Pepper Paste and Spices above (add 1 set of 10 dashes of Tabasco Sauce), crumble the Rosemary before adding and cook for about 10 minutes, until most of the fat has rendered and the Meat is mostly cooked through. Add the Onions and cook for about five minutes, until translucent. Add the remaining fresh Vegetables and sauté for another five minutes.  The timer should be done, or nearly done at this point. Add all of the drained, rinsed Beans and stir, cooking for approximately 5 minutes. Add the Tomatoes and all of its Juice from the can. Add the Ragu Sauce and the Beef Broth. Add water if you feel the soup is not ‘soupy’ enough. Add a good round or two of freshly ground Black Pepper and the second addition of Tabasco Sauce. Set the Fast Slow Cooker to ‘Pressure Cooker’ with the timer set for 45 minutes, on high pressure. When you’re ready to serve, cook the pasta to al dente in a separate pot (the pasta will soak up all your beautiful liquid if you cook it with the soup). To serve, place some cooked pasta in a deep soup bowl and ladle your soup over it. Grate Parmesan over the top if you wish.  Serve with warmed crusty bread slathered in butter – oh well it was pretty healthy up to that point 😉  Enjoy!

Prep time: 20 Minutes, Cooking time 1/2 hour plus 45 minutes.

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