Book Reviews

Onion & Black Poppy Seed
Gluten Free Buns

Onion & Black Poppy Seed
GF Buns

Is there anything more welcoming that the smell of fresh baked bread when you enter a home.  It is so comforting!
This recipe makes 6  buns (some are missing :D )that are full of fiber and I added the onion and poppy seed for flavour and colour. They are great for freezing ready to go when you are!

½ cup warm water

1 teaspoon rapid-rise yeast

1 teaspoon granulated sugar or honey

¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons brown rice flour

¼ cup sorghum flour

¼ cup potato starch

¼ cup ground flaxseed

2 tablespoons tapioca starch

1½ teaspoons xanthan gum

½ teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar

1 large egg plus 1 egg white

2 tablespoons oil
1 tbsp each of dehydrated onion and black poppy seeds

1. In a small bowl, combine the warm water, yeast, and
sugar. Allow to sit for 10 minutes, or until it gets nice

and bubbly.

2. In the bowl of a stand mixer, mix together the brown

rice flour, sorghum flour, potato starch, ground

flaxseed, tapioca starch, xanthan gum, and salt.

3. Add the apple cider vinegar, egg, egg white, and oil to

the yeast mixture. Whisk to combine.

4. With the mixer on low speed, pour the wet ingredients

into the dry ingredients. Increase the mixer speed to

medium-high and mix for 3 minutes, scraping down

the bowl if necessary.

5. Lightly grease six 4" potpie tins and place them on a

baking sheet. Divide the dough between the six tins,

with each tin having about ¼ cup dough. Using a

spoon dipped in water, smooth the dough into an even

layer across the bottom of the tin.

6. Let dough rise in a warm, draft-free place for 20–30

minutes, or until the dough has nearly doubled in size.

7. While the dough is rising, preheat the oven to 350°F.

Once the buns have risen, place baking sheet with the

tins on it into preheated oven. Bake for 25–30 minutes.

Remove from oven and leave in the tins for 5 minutes

before removing buns to a wire cooling rack. Let cool

before serving. Once they are cooled they can be

stored in an airtight container. Buns can be wrapped in plastic

and frozen 




This recipe comes from the Everything Guide to Gluten Free Living by Jeanine Friesen my friend and fellow food blogger!
What an accomplishment this book is. First time cookbook writer and author
I hope she has continued sucess!
 It's full of information about what gluten is and why some people are allergic to it. Background info is given on the different types of flours that someone with celiac disease can use without feeling like they are being deprived.
The first 100 pages or so, gives extensive information on anything you ever wanted to know about gluten, celiac disease, right back to the beginning of agriculture and how the tiny wheat grain got started.
The recipes are easy and simple to follow even for a beginner. This book is chock full of recipes that take you from breakfast waffles, lunch quesadellas, pasta dinners and into show stopper desserts like, decadent chocolate cake, cinnamon raisin biscuits, doughnuts and even arts and crafts for the kids!
Many GF books have a great deal of vegetable and meat dishes which are naturally GF and they have very few recipes for you to enjoy carbs like everyone else. Who doesn't want a slice of pizza?
  As an avid baker and cook, I really don't need books with those recipes only!
I want amazing breads, cookies and doughs that will enable me to substitute wheat flour for a lighter and less bloating option.
This book is full of options and delightful ideas enabling you to have a wide variety of foods for you and your family without a fuss.

Anna Olson Back to Baking

Maple Gingerbread Cookies
I was lucky enough to Win Anna Olson's latest cookbook "Back to Baking" this fall in a Werther's Caramel contest.
This autographed book is great for a novice and experienced baker. The intro goes through measurements, which always comes in handy; to ingredients, substitutes, chocolate & pan preparations. She has colourful tags describing the types of recipes are in the chapters like dairy free, egg free, gluten free, low fat and even low sugar for dietary restrictions.
The chapters cover an enormous amount of variations from cookies, tarts, cakes, muffins, cupcakes, pudding, pies and even sauces.
This gingerbread cookie is divine.  It uses fresh ginger which I never have used in baked goods before!
I have substituted her butter for margarine to make it dairy free and it is delicious and has kept well outside and freezes well.
1/2 cup margarine
1/2 cup light brown sugar, not packed
1/2 cup pure maple syrup, ( I used 1/4 cup)
1 egg
1 tbsp finely grated fresh ginger
1 tsp grated lemon rind (I used the whole rind)
2 1/2 cup flour
1/4 tsp ground allspice
1/2 tsp each cinnamon, baking soda, salt
By hand beat margarine & sugar together until fluffy in a large bowl.  Add syrup, stir together.  Add egg, ginger and zest.
Mix flour, salt, baking powder and spices together. Pour into wet ingredients.  Scrape dough onto plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2 hrs or overnight.
I rolled out chunks of dough right onto my silpat then pressed out shapes with my floured shapes and with a sharp knife lifted off the excess dough.
This prevents the cookie from having to be lifted and mishapen.  Scraps can be gathered and re-rolled.
Bake in a preheated 350F oven for 12-14min until lightly browned. Allow to cool on racks completely before icing.
Royal Icing
1 cup icing sugar
1 egg white
food colours if needed
Mix the sugar with egg white using a fork until incorporated. If it is too runny add more sugar. Scrape into a piping bag and pipe an outline around the shapes.  Fill in with the same colour or allow to dry for 1hr before filling with another colour.

Canadian Living "Complete Preserving Cookbook"
Product Details

This really is a complete and fabulous book guide, covering all of your canning needs, in depth explanation with clear photographs to guide the novice or expert canner.  From sweet jams, jellies and marmalade's classic and modern twists adding spices and herbs.  It covers Spring to Winter pickled vegetables, relishes, chutneys, fruit preserves, marinades, sauces, flavoured alcohols', rubs & flavoured salts!

Extremely informative and well executed.  LOVED THE WHOLE BOOK    

Lychee Vodka

1 cup whole lychees in syrup

1 1/2cup vodka

Reserve 2/3 cup of syrup.  Drain lychees & mash using potato masher. Transfer to sterilized 4c canning jar.  Pour in reserved syrup & vodka.  Seal with a lid. Let stand in cool dar dry place for 24hrs before opening.  Store in cook dark place for up to 1 month

 Tropical Storm

Tropical Storm

2 oz Lychee Vodka
1 oz Blue Curacao
2 oz Pineapple juice

Shake in a ice filled Martini Shaker
Pour, garnish with a slice of Dragon Fruit and Pineapple

Lidia's Italy in America
Lidia Bastianich & Tanya Manuali

Lidia's Italy in America

For a year now I have been watching the newest addition of fabulous chefs on TV and I have to say that I just love the warm and inviting "tutti a tavola a mangari" Lidia Bastianich hailing from Northern Italy.

In her newest release Lidia takes us to the heart of Italian American cooking communities and gives us recipes passed down from their ancestors.

In her newest journey she takes us across the Americas to where immigrants landed and flourished. They brought their cuisine which added a new diversity to the American culture. From the Bronx Antipasti ,  Mozzarella in Texas to wine in Sonoma County, California.   4th and 5th generation Italians simple and delicious family recipes flourish across the continent.

This book is full of family, restaurant and bakery recipes sure to delight your senses.  From Antipasti(appetiser) cold & hot, to soups, sandwiches, pizza, pasta, salads, vegetables, meats, seafood and desserts who could resist over 300 recipes ready when you are.


Peel of 15 lemons
750ml of Vodka
3 1/2cup water
2 1/2cup sugar

Wash and dry lemons. Using a vegetable peeler, zest lemons being careful to omit white pith.

Place lemon peel and vodka into a large jar. Allow to sit in a dark cool place for 30 days.

Boil water & sugar for 5-7min. creating a syrup.  Cool.  Add to vodka and allow to sit another 30 days.

Funnel liquid into a decorative sealable bottle, discarding peels.

Enjoy with love!

Marisa's Note: I start making this when the weather begins to cool in fall.
My cold cellar will keep it cold and it will cure nicely by the time Xmas comes around for all to enjoy.  Make extra and share a bottle for gifts.


Bite Me
Julie Albert & Lisa Gnat

With a name like Bite Me, one has no idea what's in store when you turn the pages of this sassy book.

These 2 sisters, poke fun at the names of recipes with ingenious titles.  Delightful descriptive chapters like Grab Me (appetizers), Spoon Me (soups), unDress Me (salads),  Fork Me (desserts)! Their humor is consistent throughout every page and chapter.

Recipes range from easy entertaining, healthy to sophisticated dishes. This is a must try just for the entertainment factor.

Parmesan-Crusted Asparagus
Preheat oven 450F

3/4c mayonaise

2tbsp dijon mustard

2tsp lemon juice

1 tsp salt

1 1/2c panko bread crumbs

3/4c parmesan cheese

2 large bunches asparagus, washed and snapped
 at the ends to remove fibrous bit on end

2 tbsp olive oil

Spray baking sheet.  In a med. bowl mix mix first 4
 ingredients.  Mix crumbs and cheese, place onto
some wax paper. Dip each spear from the middle
 down into the mayo mixture and roll into bread

Place on baking sheet. Bake 14-16 min. Turn half
 way through cooking.

*These were delish but the extra salt wasn't
needed because of the cheese and mayonnaise*

Marisa's Version

I only had one bunch of asparagus, so I halved the
 recipe and still had leftover mayonaise mixture. I
also added 2 sprigs of parsley to the mayo. Using
 a brush helped me spread the mixture better,
 which is probably why I didn't need so much.  I
substituted seasoned breadcrumbs instead of
panko and lowered the heat to 425F
Enjoy with love!

Sicilian Home Cooking
Wanda & Giovanna Tornabene with Michele Evans

Sicilian Home Cooking: Family Recipes from Gangivecchio
Gelo di Caffee

Claire's Espresso Gelatine

3 1/2cups strong espresso

3tbsp cornstarch

1tbsp cocoa

1cup water

3/4 cup sugar

1 lemon zested

In a saucepan, combine dry ingredients.  Stir in water, sugar and zest. Bring to a boil stir constantly until mixture thickens. Let cool. Pour into bowls, chill for at least 3hrs. Garnish with lemon.

Marisa's Version

3 cups strong espresso

4tbsp cornstarch

1tbsp cocoa

1 cup water

1/4cup sugar

1 orange zested

In a medium sized saucepot combine coffee,
water, sugar, cocoa, zest and cornstarch, stir to
dissolve. Place on med. high heat (#5-7) and stir
until mixture boils. Reduce heat to med. low.  Stir
regularly so mixture does not stick onto bottom
of pot until mixture thickens. Pour into decorative
 pudding bowls. Cover with plastic wrap and
 refrigerate overnight.

This is surprisingly light and refreshing with no
fat!!! It will slightly congeal with a texture of light
 gelatin. I added  more cornstarch as the mixture
was quite runny and reduced the coffee because
my espresso machines just were'nt giving me the
right amount, but it worked out. I didn't have
lemons so, I substituted orange which I prefer
 with coffee. Of course I had to reduce the sugar
 content to reduce the calories!. 

Enjoy with love.

Vegan Desserts
Author: Hannah Kaminsky

Coconut Lime Dairy Free IceCream

This small, attractive book, has impressed me! It has delicious suggestions and combinations that really surprised me!. Bold and exciting ingredients and titles to her recipes like i.e.: Kumquat Poppy Seed Scones, Lemon Iced Tea Cheesecake, Lemon Grass Mac-Nut Blondies, Saffron Pound Cake. Even figs, persimmons and pomegranate seeds don't escape her imagination.

I was thrilled with her "ice-cream" recipes, as I am lactose intolerant it was a thrill to see her combinations. I couldn't help dipping into it in its pudding like consistency before being frozen which would be a different dessert altogether.

I also made the Pumpkin Crème Brulee. The volumes were too little for me , so I doubled the ingredients and after sieving for smoothness I only got 3 ramekins worth. The sugar really didn't crack like milk brulees but this sweet vegetable dessert was worth it for its nutritive value and satisfies the sweet tooth. It can be stored for days before you broil the topping.
The book has a huge variety and range of desserts that are fun for everyone, even treats for Fido.
Her glossary explains all of her ingredients so that a novice cook will be well informed and comfortable using ingredients.

A big A+ from me!
Yam Creme Brulee

Cooking for Trouble
Bitchin Kitchen' Nadia G

I loved this crazy Bichin' Italian, Montreal Born Canadian right from her first show.  I thought she was pulling my leg with her antics and Italian slang and tough girl attitude, but not only is she a looker (hate her) but can she cook!!!!

With her rocker, goth, sex kitten fashions and CFM heels, her kitchen decor changes with her outfits!

She wanted to be a comedian slash rock star but, that didn't pay her bills so she combined it along with her love of food and has given us a hilariously entertaining show, captivating her viewers with her humor, Italian slang and her rockn' bod (still hate her).

Her book is an extension of the way she performs on tv. It had me in stitches!
She is accompanied by her Bitchin Crew. The Spice Agent, Yeres or however you pronounce it, Panos the Fish n' Meat Guy and Hans, Beef Cake Guy who is a Nutritionist. Together they give you fab recipes, knowledgeable information and comedy to boot!
The photographs are beautifully done and the food looks delish.  The Contents 1st Chapter is called (Dysfunctional) Family Pizza Night, you can imagine the rest! There is even a chapter for Bachelors.
At the back of the book is a dictionary for anyone who doesn't understandthe Italian Canadian slang.

Mi.... this book is hilarious! and the dictionary doesn't explain the proper meaning for that word.  It's not pretty so as a Canadian Italian I will not explain it to you.

My suggestion try  this out book and you'll have fun "SHFOFFING" down her food!


1/2 whole wheat prepared pizza dough
vegetable oil for frying
1 cup sugar
2tsp cinnamon (opt)
3 chunks toblerone dark chocolate
1/4 cup half & half cream

Preheat a deep saucepot with 2" of oil.  *You will know when it is hot enough when you drop a tiny amount of dough into oil and it quickly sizzles. Do not allow oil to smoke, it will be too hot and smell burnt.*

Cut small 2"x2" chunks of dough and place on silpat or parchment paper. Place 3 or 4 pieces of dough into hot oil at a time and lightly brown both sides, using tongs to flip. Roll into sugar and cinnamon mixture. Place onto serving platter.  Makes 40 - 60 pieces depending on size. 

Place cream and chocolate into a ramekin large enough to hold ingredients and heat on high in microwave for 30-40sec. Watch carefully as cream may boil over.  Stir until all chocolate is melted and thick.  Reheat if chocolate doesn't melt.
Dip pizza dough into ganache mixture.
Enjoy with love!

~This is an easier variation as her book actually gives the reader a recipe for pizza dough.~

Cookin' it Livin' it Lovin' it
Guy Fieri with Ann Volkwein

If you watch the Food Network as often as I do, you will know who Guy Fieri is.
A cooking Rock Star, who does everything big, bold and over the top! His introduction is warm and inviting as he tells you about his life's journey so far. He shares family pic's and shares triumphs and tragedies. He pays homage to all of the people behind the scenes. I haven't read a book so far that has put in so many pages of their crew members.

I was surprised to read that his parents as hippies, experimented with vegetarianism and basically told him when he was young, that if he wanted to cook meat, he had to cook it himself. .....a STAR is born!

His pantry has a great list of all equipment a well stocked home should have...and boy is it extensive!

The lists are very organised and can be overwhelming for a novice...but, for a "foodie" you may very well have most of the items on this list.
I love his personal touches which he "doodles" onto pictures, big and bold with captions on the side showing you step by step of the more complicated preparations so the reader can follow. Great for novice cooks!

Guys food is always full of bold flavours. He isn't afraid or concerned about calories and he definitely loves his meat! He gives us a great deal of other choices from salads, soups, pastas, pizzas, gourmet sandwiches, fish, game, meats, cocktails and desserts. There are even pages showing you the particular animal featured in the chapter with types of cuts and it's uses. The Guy'ds are very helpful to any novice or experienced cook, so you know what you are buying at your butchers.

This book is well written and has a wide range, which I would expect nothing less from a seasoned Chef like Guy Fieri.

Guy's Garlic-Onion Tortilla Stack

Guys Garlic-Onion Tortilla Stack             Marisa's Garlic-Onion Stack
2/3c canola oil                                           2/3cup olive oil

4cups (2lb) small-diced red onion         3 large red onion (5cup), fine dice fine dice
3tbsp unsalted butter                              3tbsp unsalted butter
2tbs sugar                                                  1tbsp agave syrup or
3/4cup roasted garlic                              2 bulbs roasted garlic
5tbsp parmesan cheese                          3tbsp parmesan cheese
1/4cup mayonnaise                                 1/4cup scant mayonnaise
3tbsp minced cilantro                              3tbsp chopped parsley
kosher salt & black pepper                     sea salt & black pepper to taste taste
12 8" flour tortillas                                   10 8" whole wheat tortillas
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar                           2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
Heat oil on med. in a med. size saucepan. Add onions, stir& cook for 5min. Add sweetener & butter simmer on low for 20-25min., stirring occasionally.
Turn off heat and add the rest of ingredients. Cool and refrigerate for at least 4hrs. Spread on 9 of tortillas and top with last tortilla. Wrap well and refrigerate for 24hrs to set up.
Cut into 8 wedges, grill on BBQ or grill pan.
*My pkg. only had 10 tortillas. Guy suggests you remove 1/3 of the mixture and add balsamic to use for a dip. My onions were more than his and my recipe didn't allow me to reserve extra as there would have not been enough to spread on all tortillas. I would suggest doubling the filling if you want extra.*

I don't know why this app'y needs a day to make it. As a mother of 3, I don't have time for this. But, if I was making it ahead for a party this would be a great make ahead recipe for dinner guests.

This appy is way tooooo oily, as I thought it would be! My husband had a little bit of trouble turning it on the barbecue. Most pieces were grilled well. But the sides were impossible to do as the picture displays There is no way it would have grilled well if I had cut it into 16 skinny pieces as the recipe requests. Instread I cut it into 8 wedges . The taste was good except for the amount of oil. Even though I used more onion, it still could have used more inside. Over all everyone in my household loved this recipe.

Every Day Flexitarian
Authors: N. Cronish & P. Crocker

Just the name of this book makes me laugh. The authors eat meat but, know the importance of veggies and fruit and they mix nuts & legumes to get vegetable proteins in the diet, for a healthy choice which lowers cholesterol.
Their "enlightened pantry" discusses the many types of pepper & their degrees of heat with descriptive explanations.  There is an extensive variety (4 pgs.) of sauces, glazes and condiment recipes.
There is even a page showing you how to use the serving suggestions and whether you want to omit meat.  Black print is vegetarian and  blue print includes  meat into the recipe. How thoughtful  and innovative!
I've never seen a book like this.

There is everything from appy's  to soups, stews, and salads.  Big beautiful pic's !
My daughter loves their variations on salads mixed with fruits and has made the following recipe. Great nutritious dishes, very informative. In essence many of us who are conscientous and consume only what we need and want to reduce our "footprint" on the planet are already "flexitarians".

The authors showcase the dishes as meat being a part of the meal or diet and not the main focus of the whole dish.
This is a unique way to adapt recipes because essentially you could have two separate and different meals for every recipe.

Black Bean Bruschetta   

1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 clove garlic
2tbsp. olive oil
 juice of 1/2 lemon+ 2-3tbsp for dressing
1tbsp pesto
 sea salt & pepper to taste
1lb arugula salad
1-2 tomatoes
pumpkin seeds
 juice of 1/2  lemon
6 slices toasted bread
In the food processor blend first 6 ingredients. Spread on toasted slices of bread.  Toss salad with a drizzle of olive oil and  2-3tbsp.lemon juice, season to tast. Top bread with tomato slice, salad and sprinkle seeds on.

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