Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Apricot & Hazelnut
Shortbread Cookies

Apricot Hazelnut Shortbread

A flavor combination I have really come to love is,
Apricot & Hazelnut with white Chocolate
Sophisticated flavours that turn everyone into mush with the oohs and aahs!
This cookie is no exception
Easy to whip up and a beautiful presentation.
This recipe is a keeper with it's light texture and buttery taste. 

You can be sure this cookie will be added to your favourite go to recipes that are easy enough for any party occasion!

3/4 cup butter

1/2 cup icing sugar

1 cup flour

1/2 cup cornstarch

1/2 orange, grated

1/3cup toasted hazelnuts, skinned and chopped coarse

5-6 dried apricots, chopped fine

5 oz white chocolate, melted for drizzling

Cream butter, zest and sugar in a mixer on med. high speed until fluffy.

Turn mixer to low speed.  Add combined flours gradually adding to butter.

Stir in apricots and nuts, do not over mix

Shape into 20   2" balls. Place 1" apart on a parchment lined baking sheet or silpat.

Bake in a preheated 350F oven for 20-25min, until lightly golden.

Cookies will harden when cooling on wire racks.
Enjoy with love!

Thursday, 21 June 2012

Black Bottomed Chocolate Pumpkin Cheesecake

2 400g pkg cream cheese
1cup yogourt
1 cup sugar
2 tsp vanilla
2 tbsp flour
1 cup  pure canned pumpkin
1 orange zested
35g orange flavoured chocolate
1/4 cup cocoa
1/4 tsp each cardamom, cloves, nutmeg, cinnamon, allspice
1tbsp dark rum
2 cups crushed chocolate wafer cookies
1/4cup melted vegetable shortening
In a food processor crush wafer cookies to a fine crumb consistency. Pour in shortening and blend.  Press crumbs into a 9"round springform pan. Line the sides of pan with parchment paper for easy removal. To adhere the parchment, dab some Crisco onto outside of parchment and press onto inside of pan.
Using the same processor tip in cream cheese, sugar, vanilla, flour, yogourt and zest. Blend until no lumps remain.  Add eggs and mix only for a few seconds, (over mixing allows cake to rise and crack when cooling). Scrape down sides.  Pour half of this mixture into another bowl. To this mixture add pumpkin, rum,  and remaining spices, fold  thoroughly using a spatula.
To the remaining mixture in the processor add the chocolate, and cocoa. Blend for a few seconds to mix. Pour into bottom of crust and spread to sides evenly.
Pour pumpkin mixture onto chocolate gently making a top layer and spread evenly, poke out any bubbles.
Wrap the bottom and sides with heavy duty foil and place in a larger baking sheet.  Place pans in oven and fill baking sheet with 1"-2" of boiling water for a Bain Marie. Bake in a preheated oven @ 325F for 1 hr.
Centre will be jiggly, cool for 10min and run a sharp knife around edges to loosen crust to prevent cracking the top.

Monday, 18 June 2012

Apple Cinnamon
Toffee Swirl Muffins

Apple Cinnamon Toffee Swirl Muffins

1 cup oil
1 cup sugar
3 1/2 cup flour
1 orange zested
1 box butterscotch instant pudding mix
4 lg. eggs, slightly beaten
2 cup natural vanilla yogourt
1 1/2tsp baking soda
2 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
4 granny smith apples, peeled, cored, diced
Swirl Topping
1/2 cup sugar, 1tbsp cinnamon, 1/3cup toffee bits (Skor)
In a mixer blend flour, baking powder, sugar, pudding, salt and zest to remove any lumps.  Stir baking soda into yogourt, set aside.  Add eggs and oil to flour mixture while beaters are mixing on low,  then add yogourt. Mix on low until almost incorporated. Lift beaters and using a spatula fold in apples gently, do not over mix.
In a small bowl blend topping ingredients together.  
Spray 24 muffin tins with non stick baking spray or line muffin tins with paper cups(apples may stick to paper).  Place a heaping tbsp. of batter 1/2 full into each muffin, sprinkle 1 tsp of topping over batter.  Top with more batter to almost 3/4 full and sprinkle with more topping.
Bake in a preheated 350F oven for 35-45 min until golden brown or a toothpick inserted comes out clean. If you pierce an apple it may appear "wet".  Make sure no "wet" batter sticks to toothpick.
Enjoy with love.

Monday, 11 June 2012

Tropical Wave
Tropical Wave

1 oz Lychee Vodka
1/2 oz Blue Curacao
2 oz Passion Fruit juice
1 oz pineapple juice

Fill a martini shaker 1/2 full with cracked ice.
Pour in all ingredients and shake to chill.  Pour into a Martini glass.
Garnish with Dragon Fruit and Pineapple slices

Drunken Banana Loaf
Drunken Banana Loaf

1/2cup + 3 tbsp margarine or butter
1/2cup brown sugar (not packed)
3 ripe bananas, cut into rounds
1/4cup dark rum or cognac
1/4cup coffee liquor
2 1/4cup flour
1 tbsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp  each cloves & nutmeg
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 heaping tbsp. yogourt or sour cream
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup chopped nuts (opt.)

In a small skillet on med. heat melt 3 tbsp margarine with brown sugar.  Stirring, cook for 2-3 min. until mixture thickens

Drop in bananas and cook for 3min until softened. Add alcohols and cook for another 3-4min. Turn off heat to allow to cool.

While bananas cook, beat margarine, spices and sugar in a large mixer bowl on med. speed.  Add eggs, mix well. Scraping down mixture.

Add flour, baking powder and soda.  Blend on low.  Add yogourt, nuts then banana mixture, reserving some pieces for decoration on top of loaf.

Pour into greased and floured loaf pan, place pieces on top.

Bake in a preheated oven @ 350F for 65-70min until an inserted scewer comes out clean.

Enjoy with Love!

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

3 Pepper Prime Rib Roast
with Stout Mushroom Gravy

and Creamy Roasted Cauliflower
I think for many Canadian families a Sunday lunch or dinner is synonymous with Pot Roast.
I know in my large growing family a week doesn't go by without me making something with
Canadian Beef!
Not only is roast easy to prepare,
but it truly becomes tender without a lot of fuss.
I used to wake up on Sunday mornings to the smell of Pot Roast in the oven as my mother went off to church.
I really love a good cut of Prime Rib Roast, usually when I have gotten to know the butcher at my favourite grocery store, he takes the time to give me good cut and it's just a matter of adding aromatics to the pan.
I have learned from asking questions and he loves to answer them, that the upper 1/3 - 1/2 of the rib cage has smaller bones and they are perfect for giving the roast a fabulous tenderness.
Although I have also had a roast with the bones cut away and tied back on to the roast, I find leaving them attached fully gives the roast much more flavour.
The bones happen to be my favourite part and I call them Brontosaurus ribs!
I still remember Fred Flinstone cartoons where the waitress brings a rack of ribs to the car, placing them on the clip on table tray at the side of the car, tipping the whole car over.
Generally something always gets my back up when I cook a roast.
I respect the wonderful large tender cut and it's ease in preparation and cooking but, whenever I serve it for guests they always arrive 1 hr late!
Well of course most roasts become char at that point.
But I have found lately that even my late guests can't ruin my fabulous
Prime Rib Canadian Beef!
As my last guest proclaimed, "well you can't ruin a good cut of beef!"
Although I would have preferred it to have more pink inside.
Because I generally buy more than I need, I have found that it actually gets very tender the next day, when I use it again.
This comes to me as a big surprise!
But I think the muscle fibers relax and allow for thinner cutting and the centre if not cooked all the way through now has the opportunity to be warmed in a big sandwich or stir fried quickly, allowing me to have another easy and quick mid week meal
Can't go wrong with that!

1 5lb prime rib roast
1 473 ml can Dark Stout Ale (Guinness)
2 bay leaves
2 black cardamom pods cracked
1-2 tsp salt
2 tsp each of garlic powder & chipotle pepper powder
2 tsp each of black pepper and chili flakes
2 tsp cornstarch
1 lb button or cremini mushrooms, sliced

 Roasted Cauliflower

1 head of cauliflower
1 Vidalia onion
1/3 cup ricotta
2/3 cup chicken broth
4 tbsp pecorino cheese, grated
salt & pepper to taste

1/2 cup seasoned bread crumbs
Extra virgin olive oil
Preheat oven to 375F

Place roast  on a roasting pan with a rack. Pour beer over all sides of roast.  Put bay leaves and pods on bottom of pan.  Mix together salt, garlic powder and 3 peppers and sprinkle all over roast.  Using your hand rub in the spices. Place in middle oven rack and roast for 45min.
Turn heat down to 350F and continue cooking for another 1- 1 1/2hr uncovered until meat is slightly pink in centre or to your preference.
*I stick a sharp knife half way down the centre of the roast and touch the tip to my lips.  If the tip is hot the meat is over cooked, if it is cold it is rare, if it is warm then it is medium rare to med. well.*

If the juices evaporate too quickly add 1 cup of water when needed. When done remove from oven & allow to rest 10-15min covered

Meanwhile, remove core and stem of cauliflower and pull apart the florets.  Place them and the whole onion in its jacket on a parchment covered baking sheet.  Drizzle sparingly with EVOO and season to taste.   When the roast has been cooking for 1 1/2hrs place vegetables in oven. Turn after 15min to colour all over.  Bake for 20-30min until fork tender.

In a small oven proof dish or sheet, mix crumbs with 1 tbsp of the pecorino cheese and oil. Stir to combine and bake for 10min. *watch carefully, do not burn*  This is the crunchy topping for the cauliflower.

Mushroom Gravy:  In a small heated skillet drizzle 2 tbsp olive oil and saute mushrooms until golden brown, season to taste. While they cook prepare gravy.

In a small saucepan mix cornstarch with 2tbsp water to a smooth paste. Strain jus from roast into the pan , should be approx. 1 1/2 cups ( if not add more beer or water) and bring to a boil, stirring frequently until thickened. Set aside.

Cauliflower:  Remove onion from skin and add to processor along with, cauliflower, broth, ricotta, pecorino cheese  and blend to a smooth consistency. Season to taste if necessary.

Sprinkle crumbs over cauliflower to serve.
Enjoy with love!
Oven Roasting

Sunday, 3 June 2012

Creamy Polenta
Creamy Polenta

An easy dish elegantly displayed as an appetizer or a hearty economical dish for any day of the week!

4c chicken broth (preferable homemade)
1 c cornmeal, med grind
1 container Philly Cooking Creme Savoury Garlic
3-4 tbsp pesto sauce (bought or homemade)
3-4tbsp pine nuts, toasted
olive oil for drizzling on top
Add cold broth to a heavy bottomed med size saucepot.  Whisk in cornmeal . When it is mixed turn heat on to high.  Whisk constantly until mixture comes to a boil.  Reduce heat to med. (#5) and continue stirring with a wooden spoon until mixture is thickened.  Cook another 5min. reduce to low heat and stir in Cooking creme.

Ladle into dishes swirling with the bottom of the ladle.  Spoon on some pesto and sprinkle with nuts.

Garnish with cheese crisps

Saturday, 2 June 2012

Spicy Pepper & Cheddar Bread

Spicy Pepper Cheddar Bread

3 lg. eggs
1 cup flour
1 3/4 tsp baking powder
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2cup beer
1/2cup milk or almond milk
1 1/2tsp  each sea salt & pepper
1tsp pepper flakes
1/2 green pepper diced
1 1/2 cup shredded cheddar
3 tbsp sesame seeds

Preheat oven to 350F.
In a bowl of an electric mixer, combine eggs, oil and milk, beat till smooth.  Gradually add flour , baking powder, seasonings and spices mixing on low. Mixture will be thick.  Remove from mixer and using a spatula or wooden spoon, fold in cheese, green pepper and beer. Stir to just mixed.

Pour into a greased & floured or sprayed loaf pan and sprinkle generously with sesame seeds.

Bake for 60 min until top is golden brown or until a toothpick, knife or scewer inserted comes out clean.  Transfer to a wire rack to cool for 15 min.

Slide a knife around the loaf to remove from pan.
Serve warm or at room temperature.

Enjoy with love!

Lime Tequila Tilapia
with Capers

 Lime Tequila Tilapia with Capers
4 filets of tilapia or any white fish
1 cup flour for dredging
1/2 onion chopped roughly
1 red pepper, cored sliced into slivers
400g pkg of snow peas, stringy fibre removed
6 tbsp tequila
2 limes, zested and juiced
100g jar of capers in brine
1 tbsp roasted garlic, mashed
2 tbsp each parsley and mint, chopped finely
salt & pepper to taste
Extra Virgin Olive Oil

In a heated medium skillet add 1 tbsp evoo and begin to saute onion, stir cooking for 1 min to soften.  Add red pepper and season to taste, stir and continue cooking for another minute on medium high heat.  Remove from burner, set aside.
Add flour to a shallow dish, dredge fish in flour shaking off excess.  In a large heated skillet add 2-3 tbsp evoo. Cook fish on both sides browning on medium high heat 2-4 min per side depending on thickness of fish.  To the pan add roasted garlic, then tequila and lime, swirl around pan to distribute. Add capers and brine then herbs. Spoon sauce on top of fish to coat.  Check for seasoning as brine can be quite salty, readjust if needed.
Serve over vegetables.
Enjoy with love!