Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Tangerine Cream Dreams~

Browsing delectable Food Blogs this week I happened upon Peabody's Pepita Crunch Muffins.
I didn't have Pepitas..but I had my sweet almonds from Christmas..I had the cream cheese..and loads of little clementine/tangerines..

So I stirred up a small 1/2 batch today and they really are quite good.

Here is Peabody's recipe..

Orange Cream Cheese Muffins with Pepita Crunch

Pepita Crunch
1 large egg white (reserve yolk)
2 TBSP plus 1 tsp granulated sugar
½ cup pepitas

1/3 cup fresh orange juice
zest of ½ a small orange
4 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature, broken into 3-4 pieces
2 cups all-purpose flour
½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp baking soda
1 cup superfine sugar
½ cup unsalted butter, slightly firm
2 large eggs
1 large egg yolk (reserved from Pepita Crunch)
1 tsp vanilla extract

For the Pepita Crunch:
Preheat oven to 350F. Spray a rimmed cookie sheet with nonstick cooking spray.
In a small bowl, whisk together the egg white and 1 TBSP of the granulated sugar. Add the pepitas, tossing to coat well with the egg/sugar mixture. Pour into the prepared cookie sheet and spread evenly in a single layer. Sprinkle 1 more TBSP of the sugar over the pepitas. Bake for 7-8 minutes, stir the pepitas with a fork, and bake another 7 minutes. Remove from oven, stir the pepitas , sprinkle with the remaining 1 tsp of sugar, and bake for another 3 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool. Break up any clusters with your fingertips and set aside.

Making the Batter:

Increase oven temperature to 375F.
In a food processor, process the cream cheese, orange juice and orange zest, in three 10-second intervals.
In a large bowl, thoroughly whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, and baking soda. Set aside.
Cut butter into 1-inch pieces and place in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on medium speed until smooth and lightened in color, about 1 minute. Stop the machine and add the cream cheese mixture, and mix on medium speed for 1 minute. Add the superfine sugar in a steady stream, then blend in the eggs, the reserved yolk, and the vanilla. Reduce the mixer to low speed and add flour mixture in 3 additions, mixing just until blended after each addition.

Scoop muffins into a prepared muffin pan. Sprinkle the top of each muffin with 1 TBSP of the Pepita Crunch. Be sure to use any sugar that remains in the pan.
Bake for 22-25 minutes, or until the muffins are golden brown an the tops are springy to the touch. To ensure even baking, toward the end of baking time, rotate the pans top to bottom and front to back. Remove from the oven and place on rack to cool.

Orange Glaze:

1 cup powdered sugar
5 TBSP fresh orange juice
1 ½ tsp light corn syrup
Combine sugar, orange juice and corn syrup. Whisk until smooth and pour over muffins.

Adapted from Great Coffee Cakes, Sticky Buns, Muffins and More by Carole Walter

I used the sugared almonds I already had..and fresh clementine/tangerine juice and peel.

PS Did everyone see La Tartine Gourmande's darling new Lulu?Makes you smile as wide as the screen.


Bonne et Heureuse Année~

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Omelet 101~

My daughter's mother-in-law ,France..was over Christmas eve..We chatted about her new job..running a restaurant.Lunches only.
I think I mentioned she does it all.

Orders the food..cooks it and cleans up.It's had a resurgence in popularity..Like Restaurant Makeover without the makeover..just a new chef...France.
Sometimes she has omelets on her menu.Jacques loves them..My flipping isn't great..and sometimes they are overcooked if I do them all in the pan.
I liked her idea..a bit how I make a frittata.
She starts her omelets on the stove.. tops one side with the filling of choice..then finishes it off in the oven.
I tried this at lunch and I like the way it turned out..
I sautéed the onions and mushrooms before..and removed them before starting the omelet.I added spinach and some Fontina.

Nice lunch on a freezing cold day.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Fabulous Find~

Shrimp Caprese~
With garlic...
I thought I would share my newest favourite garlic gadget that must be as old as the hills...But I just recently bought it's new for me.
You just need your garlic..

This little gadget..grates it so well..keeping the juices..and almost emulsifies it..
I prefer it to chopped..or minced or crushed.

I am sure you can get them here.. It's by Revol I think..and I bought it while in Provence at the market in Gordes.(So beau!)

I'm sure that's why I like it even more....
If you can find one I suggest you pick one up..
Takes hardly any room in your gadget drawer..It's pretty and white and always looks new.

Here's the recipe we are having tonight..I'll let you know how we liked it..

Grilled Shrimp Caprese..

Marinated Tomatoes:
1 1/2 lbs Roma tomatoes, cored* and cut into 1” pieces
20 medium fresh basil leaves, stems removed and cut into 1” pieces
2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 Tbsp garlic, minced
1 tsp Italian seasoning
Salt to taste

2 Tbsp butter
1/2 cup white wine
11/2 cups heavy cream
1 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
1 lb capellini (angel hair) pasta, cooked according to package directions
2 cups mozzarella cheese, shredded
1 lb 26/30 or 21/25 shrimp, peeled and deveined

Preheat broiler.

COMBINE tomatoes, basil, olive oil, garlic, Italian seasoning and salt in a large bowl and blend thoroughly. Cover, set aside and marinate for at least 1 hour.

HEAT a large, nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add butter and let melt. Stir in white wine and bring to a boil. Add heavy cream and Parmesan cheese and bring to a simmer. Let sauce reduce to desired consistency.

ADD cooked, drained pasta and marinated tomatoes to skillet. Stir to thoroughly coat pasta with sauce.

TRANSFER pasta and sauce to serving platter and top with mozzarella cheese.

GRILL or SAUTE shrimp until internal temperature reaches 150°F and set aside.

PLACE serving platter in broiler for 2-3 minutes, or until cheese has melted.

TOP pasta with cooked shrimp and serve.
* I'll go lightly on the cream..we like light.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Delmonique Potatoes~

OK..Delmonico potatoes..:)


I found them here...Scroll down the posts when you get there:)

Cindy M

Delmonico Potatoes

2 pounds red or Yukon gold potatoes (about 4 or 5 large), don't peel
4 ounces cheddar cheese, grated
1/2 cup fresh grated Parmesan cheese
1 clove garlic, minced
salt and pepper to taste
1 1/2 cups half & half (or heavy cream)
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/2 cup coarse bread crumbs

Cube potatoes into 1-inch chunks and boil in salted water till tender. Drain, then toss in a large bowl with cheeses, garlic, salt & pepper, half & half, and paprika. Stir well, then place in a casserole dish and sprinkle with bread crumbs. Bake at 400 for 30-40 minutes until bubbly and lightly browned.

Cindy shared them at Gardenbuddies ..they are originally Marilyn's at Gardenweb..I think.. and we were having marinated pork loin on the BBQ and grilled zucchini and I thought..nice change.. it is!
I halved the recipe of course and used 2% milk instead of half and half..I know not as good ..but it works for us.
I also cooked my potatoes in chicken stock(bouillon) I always do.

Enjoy..lots of variations could be made..fresh herbs etc..

Friday, December 26, 2008

That week between Christmas and New Years~

When you have guests and are tired of all the usual Christmasy Hors d'Oeuvres..Try these..
Plus the variations you can do are endless.

Perfect little packages of bite sized nibbles~

I first made this a few months ago and was reminded of it today..

Spotted through Tastespotting.. Mike's Table

Phyllo Caprese Bites

* 4 sheets phyllo dough
* ~1 Tbsp butter
* campari tomatoes (or some other sweet, small variety)
* 6 basil leaves
* 1 oz mozzarella
* salt
* pepper
* 3 kalamata olives

This recipe makes about 3 pieces, so scale up appropriately

Begin with the standard treatment for phyllo dough: melt and clarify the butter, carefully lay down a sheet of phyllo dough, and gently brush the surface of the dough with butter. Carefully lay another sheet of phyllo on top, brush it, and repeat until your phyllo stack is 4 layers tall.

Depending on the size of your phyllo dough and your intended cooking pan (I used a muffin pan), your cuts might be smaller than mine, but I cut my stack into 3 pieces (rectangles larger than the holes in my muffin pan).

Before you place your phyllo rectangles into the muffin pan, either grease the pan, or better yet, brush the underside with butter as well (so that all visible phyllo surfaces are buttered). Gently press the phyllo into the muffin pan, taking care not to poke any holes through it.

With the phyllo pressed in, on to the filling. Thinly slice the tomatoes, chiffonade (thin slices) the basil, and crumble off chunks of the mozzarella. Then, layer in some tomato slices, basil, mozzarella, and a dash of salt and pepper. Figure about one small tomato and 1-2 leaves of basil per piece.

With the filling in place, you can now seal the phyllo packages up. I didn’t do anything too fancy, simply folding up top and folding/crimping it all together. Top each piece with a pitted olive because it looks nice and olives are awesome. :-P

Transfer this to a 400°F oven for 20 minutes so that the outside can crisp up and turn golden while the flavors inside will meld together.

Once time is up, allow for a few minutes of cooling time and then carefully remove each from the pan so that they can cool down before you serve. Enjoy!

Boxing Day~

Boxing Day in Canada is like Black Friday in the USA.
Here people flock to the stores the day after Christmas for bargains galore.
The crowds can be frightful.
So I am happy to be cozy at home reorganizing.
I'm starting with my Little Blog.
Imagine my surprise..when the first gift I opened Christmas Morning was this from one of my daughters..

The cutest chef hat with my little blog name on it:)
I love it! it's my header.Hope you like it.
I don't think I'll ever tire of it:)
How sweet was that?

The next gift I opened was just as sweet from my other daugther..and fits in perfectly with my header also.
I love these..had seen them.. never told her I liked them so much..Canada Post delivered it to her the day before Christmas..She was very happy about that.
And I must admit so was I.
Isn't it beautiful?

Not a little necklace from my 5 yr old photo..a necklace with a million memories in those 3 beautiful names.

You must forgive my show and tell..But J and I don't exchange you won't see a slew here..just these..and a very blingy cute hostess gift my DD's DMIL brought Xmas eve..

You slip the handle through your ring finger:)

You end up sipping your stenciled coffee or tea with a 4 carat diamond on your finger:)Make Believe Bling.She is fun and thoughtful.

She's on a new adventure..Chef/organizer/do it "aller" of a restaurant that has seen a recent surge in patrons since she took over.
Fabulous cook.
You can see a bit of her here..Having 2 of my appetizers:)

Have you seen these?
Perfect little appy plates that slip on your finger.. you can enjoy your wine and have your amuse-bouches:)
Jay Leno gave them a critical quirky review..but I think they are too cute.
Perhaps Jay has a maid passing hors d'oeuvres around..:)

So that's it..
The New Year is almost upon us..
Just kick starting the new year with cleaning up Christmas a bit.
I hope yours was Merry and Sweet.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008


Remembering the scents of Europe today~

Sunday, December 21, 2008

I love being a student at home~

It's been fun getting ready for Christmas..It's a lot at once..
But I really like the creativity of it also.It gives you an opportunity to try new recipes.. redo what you learned in the past year with new designs..

taught many of us how to handpaint sugar cookies.I was a focused student:) To say the least.They were just so beautiful her cookies I had to try.
I made some for friends during the year..and they appreciated them very much.
You can personalize etc..
My daughters are creative and artistic..
I hope they try these soon..
And they each have cookie cutters from Jain:)on top of their own.
I am sure they will blow me away when they start!

Yesterday afternoon I sat in the sunroom..listening to Christmas Carols on my favorite station....with the sun streaming in..handpainting a few..
It is so relaxing.

Of course I wish I had baked more sugar cookies..and had more cutters:)

But nevertheless every little cookie is a blank sugary canvas..

And so much fun to do..
A little Christmas Joy..for ourselves..Slows down the pace.. quiet..

A gift to ourselves..
Thanks Mary.It's a fun fun peaceful little pastime.

I know mine are humble beginnings:)compared to yours..

I would say I am a brave soul!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Jamie Oliver's Christmas Mincemeat Tarts~

OOhhh..from the moment I saw Jamie's Christmas Special..I knew I had to try his mincemeat tarts.
Primarily because I thought they were a thing of beauty..
And Secundo..because I had never tried Mincemeat.:)

I am so glad I tried these..
They were not as easy for me.. as for he..
and I use Filo and Puff pastries regularly..
His Filo..must be so in "just made". usually bought frozen.sometimes fresh,if it's it was frozen.

I love everything about this recipe..
I was grateful to find President's Choice Mincemeat.
I really am not one for pre -packaged..canned etc..
Except for St-Hubert BBQ Sauce:)
And some Sweet Baby Ray's USA Rib sauces..:)

But Jamie recommended.. pre-made:)

So I used that and added dried cranberries,nuts,grated orange peel,etc..

Almonds and Icing Sugar sprinkled on top..

Slid them in the oven..
And lo and behold.. angels got wings~

I am really glad my first mincemeat tart recipe turned out to be so delicious.
Of course.. I knew it..It was Jamie's Recipe..No pepper in mine:)

Here is the recipe..

1 package bought puff pastry
8 sheets filo pastry
1 jar good fruit mincemeat(President's Choice..was very good)
Roasted Chestnuts..I used walnuts
Dried Cranberries
melted butter
Icing sugar..before and after baking
Sliced almonds.

Roll out puff pastry to about the size of a teatowel. Spread mincemeat all over. Chop chestnuts..or nuts and scatter over. Scatter on dried cranberries,orange peel.. Roll pastry from long edge into a tight roll. Cut roll into rounds about 3/4" thick.

Take a 12 hole muffin tin. Lay out enough filo pastry to cover the same area as the muffin pan, brushing with melted butter. Lay on a second layer, overlapping joints, and again brushing with butter. Pick up the double sheet you have made, and lay it over bun tin.It has to be bigger..longer and wider than the muffin tin..Allow for making the holes.. and packaging:)

Take the pastry that was at the end of your "puff pastry roll" and use it to push filo sheet down into the muffin pan holes. Place one slice from the puff pastry roll in each muffin pan hole. Scatter with a little more icing sugar,and sliced almonds.

Bake in a pre-heated oven ap 350 F for about 20 mins** or until golden brown, risen and crisp.

Remove from oven, allow to cool slightly, Put cooling tray on top
and invert - remove bun tin. Put another cooling tray on top, and turn back over. Scatter more icing sugar on top, and break off individual mince pies.

* My notes..I baked 10 mins puff pastry needed it.
I had to patch my Filo as when I indented broke..that's why I say.. fresh fresh filo may be the answer.
But Filo patches up beautifully.
You can hide a multitude of sins w/ it!
I added chopped nuts instead of chestnuts..
and grated orange peel all over:)before rolling..on top of the mincemeat.

I watched the video on Youtube to refresh my memory of his Christmas Special.
It really is so good.
I am definitely making this again and again.
Little Flights Of Fancy~
Thank you Jamie.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Day Trip~And Once In A Lifetime Trip~

Yesterday we did a little day trip to one of my favorite parts of town..

The Pannetone is always plentiful there at this time of year..As well as gorgeous lovely little salted capers..and a nice lunch at my favorite little Italian resto.

I like to buy a few small ones as stocking stuffers..

And an extra one for a favorite friend.

A recipe I saw at
had caught my eye this week and I decided to buy an extra Pannetone to make her Pannetone and Chocolate Bread Pudding because my husband loves bread pudding and although there has been a whole lot of holiday baking going on here..nothing in the form of something more substantial than a little bouchée sucrée..

It is really really good..

And really any excuse to use my little red Staubs is a good one:)

It's funny..yesterday..I saw things in a different way there since our trip to Italy this September.Even the VENEZIA name on the Pannetone box brought back a flood of photographs in my mind.
At one point ..I missed seeing these sights at the turn of the corner heading to my favorite hardware store that has the most beautiful kitchen selection:)

I go over the whole time in my mind many times.The images are so vivid..:)

Thanks to Chocolate Shavings for the delicious recipe..You can find it at her site..

Thursday, December 18, 2008

You can't catch me~

I'm the Gingerbread Man~

I still remember that story from when I was a young child..Never trust a sly fox...:)

Yesterday my friend Susan at Savoring Time in the Kitchen

..shared her trusted Gingerbread recipe..I had a bit of time this morning before I left for the day and tried my hand at hers.
It's so easy and fun..
I made 5 little sets for our grandchildren Christmas Eve..I made only half the recipe and still have dough left over.
I recommend her tried and true recipe..

Here is the recipe she shared ..

Gingerbread Cookies

• 1 cup powdered sugar
• 1 cup butter or margarine

• 1/2 cup molasses
• 1 egg
• 1 Tablespoon vinegar
• 2 teaspoons cinnamon
• 1-1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

• 3-1/2 (approx) cups flour
• 1-1/2 teaspoon baking soda
• 1 teaspoon salt

Heat over to 375 degrees when ready to start baking.

Cream sugar and butter until smooth. Add next 5 ingredients and mix until just blended. Add flour, soda and salt and mix until incorporated.

Pat dough into ball and put in plastic wrap or covered bowl in refrigerator for at least 1 hour or up to several days.

Roll out on floured surface to ¼" thickness and cut into desired shapes. Sprinkle with color sugar and add cinnamon decorations, if desired.

Bake in preheated oven for 7 to 8 minutes.

Go visit her beau will be happy you did..
And in the meantime..reread this classic tale..

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

While visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads~

T'was the night before Christmas..

Well not exactly..but I have been excited to make these since Katie..gave me some last year..
She was inspired by a 1979 Gourmet Magazine and graced me with the recipe..
A cinch to make I say:)
And pretty too..

Bite size and sugar coated..

Little dollops of Sugarplum Fairies..

Here is the recipe for Katie's Sugarplums~

In a food processor fitted with the metal blade..
finely chop:
1/2 cup each of dried apricots and pecans
1/4 cup plus 1 tbsp of grated sweetened coconut
1/4 cup each of golden raisins and dried apples
With motor running add 2 tbsps of Kirsch and blend 5 seconds.
Roll into 3/4 inch balls and roll in sugar.
Sugarplums keep in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 weeks..or can be frozen for several months.

Children..she said were not always charmed..ButI have to tell you..adults are.

Maple Cream Fudge/Ann T's Recipe~

Most years I try different recipes..
I have one from an aquaintance ..35 yrs ago..Thérèse..
I have No-Fail Fudge..I have Jéhane Benoit's..and now an internet load of them..
But I wanted to share with you this one from someone who has shared so many recipes with me and many many others..Ann T..a remarkable and tireless chef.
It's very very good..

We make it with the sirop d'érable we buy every year..
It is sooo dood..
Très bon pour se sucrer le bec:)

The recipe is below my explanations..
My daughters read my blog..and I want them to read the tips too:)

I must tell you I have to boil mine quite a bit longer than the 7 mins.. even 9 is not enough..Perhaps my temp is lower.Boiling sugar and my ceramic cooktop is an accident waiting to happen.
I know this first hand with a balsamic and port reduction day.
It involved our now son-in-law asking us for our daughter's hand in marriage.
Of course I got distracted!:)~My cooktop has the result of my distraction:(

My test is the SOFT BALL on my candy thermometer.(I love that thing..indispensible to me.)
Then I place my pan w/ the sizzling syrup in my sink w/ the base of the pot sitting in cold water.
Then I stir vigourously until I see..and feel the RIGHT consistency..You will know..
You don't want it to be too wet..nor too will know..
It should pour in nicely in your pan.Not liquidy.But not like a blob either:)

You will just know!
I Ann ..prefer our Xmas fudge thick not I made 2 pans of ap 3x5 inches..

And now..for the recipe..

Maple Cream Fudge
1 cup white sugar
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup cream
1/3 cup of butter
1/4 cup of maple syrup
pinch of salt
. Add the two sugars, butter and cream maple syrup and salt into a sauce
pan. Place over medium heat. Stir while bringing to a boil. Lower the
heat and continue to stir slowly while the mixture cooks. After about
7 minutes, test by pouring a small amount into some cold water. You
want it to form a soft ball. You might need to cook it for another
minute or two. Remove from the heat, add a couple of teaspoons of
vanilla and start stirring. It takes about 14 or 15 minutes for the
fudge to cool and thicken. Pour into buttered dish.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Glazed Sesame Almonds~

I love these little sesame coated crunchy nibblies..
Not too spicy not too sweet and the perfect crunch to add to your holiday table..
I made them a few years ago..and have been repeating myself ever since.
The recipe is courtesy of Canadian Living Holiday Baking .
I miss the show.. we used to have it as a TV show and it's long gone..
Wish it would come back.
I learned so much from that charismatic,charming,intelligent trio.
Elizabeth Baird et al..Miss you:)

They are quite addictive..They go well with cheese.. wine.. baguette..terrines.. ..And they whip up in a moment.


3/4 cup (175 mL) granulated sugar
3/4 cup water
3 cups (750 mL) whole unblanched almonds
2 tbsp (25 mL) sesame seeds
1-1/2 tsp (7 mL) sea salt
1/4 tsp (1 mL) each cayenne pepper and ground ginger

Line rimmed baking sheet with foil; grease and set aside.

In saucepan, bring sugar and water to boil, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Boil for 5 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in almonds; let stand, stirring often, for 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, in bowl, stir together sesame seeds, salt, cayenne pepper and ginger. Using slotted spoon, spoon almonds into bowl; toss to coat. Discard sugar mixture. Spread on prepared pan; roast in 350°F (180°C) oven, stirring once, until caramel colour, about 20 minutes. Let cool on pan on rack. (Make-ahead: Store in airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 weeks or freeze for up to 1 month.)

Darling Bakers Dec13th~

I was lucky for this DB weekend..My dear childhood girlfriend Jojo and her husband were coming for dinner.
I wanted it festive..but not what I was going to do at Christmas..

A little birdie sent me some great napkins and napkins rings while I was in Florida..and these began to set the theme..
Thanks so much Kathleen..

It was so much fun to get the table set for our little foursome..

So the roosters and the poms may be a bit eclectic..but it worked for us.
I was so happy to chat about the friends I have met and.. really met.. with Jojo last night..
Of course with all these roosters going on.. you Darling Bakers probably know I opted fot the pot pies..

Noah was napping..perfect..cause my attention is definitely not on the preps when he's there.He's soo cute:)

I don't have a baked and decorated photo..I got caught up in my friends:)

They turn a lovely puffy golden brown..and you add a sprig of thyme or rosemary.
It hit the spot on this cold cold evening..

We started off with hors d'oeuvres.. I made baked cheese in a little covered cheese warming pot I have and topped it with Pom jelly..

I had made the cretons and added some Artisan Bread in 5 mins..

Have I told you how much I love that book? The recipes? The fun of having it on hand? I have to make more today.
I thank them for this great book.

I also made a fennel and clementine salad with pine nuts and poms:)

Dessert was a Hazelnut Bûche from Martha Stewart.It's so good.I like making these rolled log cakes..
The chocolate flower is made from a blog I saw.. she showed us how to use chocolate and corn syrup and make them..

I love the idea..and they are easy.A little pearl necklace for the proverbial black dress:)
The hazelnut filling has Nutella:)

It was cold enough last night to let my lantern keep being frozen outside until we ate..It was the centerpiece.
They are plastic lantern fill them with water..freeze..and unmold..there's a spot for a tea light inside..It illuminates so softly.. like an ice sculpture..

I had a great time last night.