Saturday, December 13, 2008

Caramel Macchiatto Shortbread Bars

This is an easy, yummy, shortbread bar. Anybody who frequents a well known coffee emporium and orders up a tall one by the same name.... you will enjoy this one.....

Caramel Macchiatto Shortbread Bars

2 tsp. instant coffee granules
1 tsp. hot water
1 1/2 cups soft butter
3/4 cups granulated sugar
3 cups all purpose flour
1 1/4 cups chopped chocolate covered crisp toffee bars ( I used Skor bars : 4 = 1 cup and it's plenty)

Dissolve coffee in hot water. Beat butter, coffee and sugar until fluffy. Stir together flour and candy. Mix into butter mixture 1/2 cup at a time until combined. Press dough into 15 x 10 inch jelly roll pan. Bake at 350 F for about 20 minutes or til golden. Remove from oven. Cut into bars using a sharp knife. Cool in pan on rack. Makes about 40 cookies.

Note:: it takes a bit of mixing to get all the flour incorporated.. I just take my time with my wooden spoon and it comes together.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Cranberry Coffeecake

I thought I'd post this recipe now, in case some of you are like me.... and prefer to test bake a "thing"... to make sure it works. I won't be making mine 'til closer to the day I need it because I've made it several times, it does work, and... we love it.

It is a lovely, simple cake; very flavourful. Perfect for any little get together ..... or for a fancy dinner. I think it's great that cranberry has become a year round favourite. Serve it plain or just dusted with icing sugar when it has completely cooled ..... or dress it up for the holidays with a bit of greenery, some berries and/or nuts ..perhaps even a few small ornaments or a ribbon...

If anybody needs the metric measurements just let me know.....

Cranberry Coffeecake

1/2 cup shortening or butter ( I prefer butter)
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt (I don't use because I used salted butter... your choice)
1 cup plain yogurt
1 tsp. vanilla
1 can whole berry cranberry sauce 398 mL .. or 14 oz.


1 cup sifted icing sugar
3 - 5 tsp. milk
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 cup finely shopped nuts

Cake:: Grease a 4 L (10 inch) Bundt pan. Dust with flour.
Cream butter ( or shortening) sugar and eggs til light and fluffy (in mixer or by hand). Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add to creamed mixture alternately with yogurt and vanilla, beating til smooth.
Spread half of batter in prepared pan. Spread half of cranberry sauce evenly over batter. Top with remaining batter and cranberry sauce.
Bake at 180 C. or 350 F. for 50 to 60 minutes or until toothpick inserted in centre comes out clean. Let cool 20 minues then invert onto cooling rack. Cool completely.

Glaze:: Combine icing sugar, milk and vanilla until smooth. Drizzle over cooled cake. Sprinkle on nuts.

Cake can also be baked in angel food (tube) cake pan if Bundt pan is unavailable.
Freezing:: Excellent... unglazed and double wrapped.

Monday, December 8, 2008


The traditional pork pie served on Christmas Eve in French Canadian homes.... has a delicious flavour that others shouldn't miss. It is not unlike the savoury meat pies of Scotland. Great served with a hot chili sauce or mustard pickle, or any tangy chutney...


1 1/2 pounds ground pork
1 midium onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
3/4 cup water
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper, thyme, savoury or sage (I sometimes use Herbes de Province)
1 small bay leaf (discard after cooking)

In saucepan, cook pork just until it loses its pink colour, stirring with a fork. If meat is very fatty, drain off a little of the fat.
Add remaining ingredients, cover and simmer about 15 minutes or tul most of the liquid is absorbed but mixture is still very moist.
Cool a few minutes. Line a 10 inch (or deep 9 inch) pie plate with pastry, fill with meat mixture, and cover with top crust; seal edges and cut a few slits in top. For a shiny crust, brush with slightly beaten egg (if making pastry at same time, reseve a little of the egg.) Bake in 425 F. oven until well browned, about 30 minutes. Cut into 6 or 8 wedges.


This easy pastry is always rich, tender and flaky. It's good for everything from Tourtiere and Quiche to Mince pies and Butter Tarts.

5 cups all purpose flour
1 TBSP salt
1 pound lard
1 egg
1 TBSP vinegar
cold water

Combine flour and salt. Cut in lard until mixture looks like coarse meal.
In measuring cup, beat egg and vinegar with a fork; add cold water to make 1 cup liquid. Gradually add just enough liquid to make dough cling together, mixing with a fork. Press into a ball.
Wrap in plastic wrap and store in refrigerator.
Will keep up to 3 weeks. Makes 6 pie shells or 3 double crusts... Mom wrote on the recipe... "lots" of tarts... lol...
Allow to soften a bit at room temperature before rolling.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Cranberry Pear Chutney

Gifts from your own kitchen.... if you've never tried it?.... you will probably be surprised at the wonderful reaction of friends and family. Especially those who don't have time or inclination to spend making and baking. I'm pretty sure it isn't only my "circle" that looks forward with great anticipation each year to new and tempting treats.

This was my first time using frozen cranberries....I can't understand why fresh are still not around...but... this works well. Look how bright and fresh looking they are while simmering. Of course, as is usual ... by the end of the cooking time...they will have changed colour ... but are still lovely in the cute little jars I found.

The 1998 magazine in which I found the recipe touts it as "a delicious condiment to serve with turkey, baked ham or tourtiere" ... {{ a rich pork pie usually served in French Canadian homes after midnight mass on Christmas Eve... }}... I will put up a recipe for Tourtiere tomorrow.

Cranberry Pear Chutney

1 small onion, finely chopped
1 TBSP minced fresh ginger (I used a box grater)
Grated rind and juice of 1 medium orange
2/3 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
1/4 tsp. each ground cloves, grated nutmeg, salt. (I always use less salt..just a sprinkle for me)
2 cups fresh or frozen cranberries
2 large ripe firm pears, diced and peeled

In saucepan combine onion, ginger, orange rind and juice, brown sugar, vinegar, cloves, nutmeg and salt. Bring to boil; boil gently, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes. Add cranberries and pears; boil gently for 8 to 10 minutes, stirring often, until fruit is tender and mixture is slightly thickened. (mine took longer than that)...

Let cool; spoon into covered container and refrigerate for up to 3 weeks.

I cut a circle of fabric and added a gold cord... et voila! gifts from your "hearth" ...

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Cranberry Pistachio Biscotti

This is a recipe from Culinary in the Desert... if you haven't visited Joe and Jeff.... take a look. They have the most amazing blue eyed dog you will ever see.... ....and lots of great recipes.

I like my biscotti dough to be a lovely, well behaved lump, that comes away from the bowl easily.... if it is a bit sticky...just dip your hands into the flour container; that should fix it.... ..

I shape it into one long log, then cut it in half... and continue forming into two long rather narrow logs....then flatten gently, leaving it a bit rounded along the center......... look at the great colours with the pistachios and cranberries. Surprisingly,with this recipe...even with whole cranberries it doesn't fall apart at the edges when slicing, so I get to use a knife instead of resorting to my trusty "Biscotti Blade" ..(my special kitchen hack saw...which really does a wonderful job on all other recipes) Perhaps because of the soaking and softening of the dried berries.

leaving the logs a bit rounded gives the slices a nice shape later

To dress them a bit......drizzle some dark chocolate over a few ....

Cranberry Pistachio Biscotti

1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup boiling water
2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
2 tsps. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt ( I use salted butter and omit salt)
4 TBSPS. unsalted butter, softened
1 cup sugar, plus additional for sprinkling
4 large eggs, divided (I only used 2 plus egg whites )
2 tsps. vanilla
1/2 cup shelled pistachios, coarsely chopped

Put cranberries in small bowl and cover with boiling water; set aside until plump...about 15 minutes. Drain well.

In medium bowl, whisk together flours, baking powder and salt if using.

In large mixing bowl, (or mixer bowl) cream together butter and 1 cup granulated sugar. Add 3 eggs (or 2 and enough whites to equal another egg) at a time, beating well after each and scraping down bowl. Mix in vanilla. Stir in drained cranberries and pistachios.. ...I do this by hand after using mixer for the rest.

Scoop mixture onto a lightly floured surface and divide in half. Shape each half into a 2" X 16" log and place onto parchment lined baking sheet. Gently flatten each log slightly.

{{Optional::: In small bowl, whisk remaining egg. Evenly brush over surface of each log - sprinkle with additional granulated sugar. ( I never bother with this step....) }}

Place into preheated 350 F to 375 oven. Bake til logs are slightly firm to touch...about 20 - 25 minutes. Watch bottoms ..don't let them become too brown unless you like your biscotti brown like some in this house do.... sigh..... Remove pan, reduce temp... (I usually turn it off til I am ready to bake a second time.)
Let cool for 15 minutes - lightly spritz log with water; let sit for 5 more minutes. (I've never heard of this technique before, but I think it does help with the slicing). Use serrated knife to cut logs into 1/2" slices. Place slices upright (or on sides) on baking sheet and place back into oven at lower temp... about 325 F. ... bake til slices are firm to touch...about 20 - 30 minutes. I put mine on their sides and turn them all over half way through. Remove from oven and transfer slices to wire rack to cool completely.

Makes about 48....depending on how thick you slice them.

TIP ::: Invest in a box of parchment paper. It 's a wonderful thing. Saves tons of time because you don't have to wash baking sheets...and also...saves your hands as well as water too if you don't have to keep filling up the sink.

Make sure you remove cookies from parchment as soon as they are cool enough to handle or they will not be as crisp as we like biscotti.....moisture seems to go back and forth between cookies and paper.....

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Fruity Pilaf Mix

It's time to begin.......

Some gifts from your kitchen can be made well in advance and are often the most appreciated presents you can give to friends and family. What about a toss of dried fruits and nuts in seasoned rice, so they have a quick and easy side dish in minutes?

Four years ago I found some vintage look jars on sale at Canadian Tire... I like them to store my own rice and beans in... but, couldn't resist buying up a dozen when I found this recipe. They were perfect.

This year I have seen some stainless containers with the same clasp... but, they just don't offer the same effect visually..... think I'll keep looking.....

Copy the "How to Use" instructions on a gift card of some type... tie to jar with ribbon, a strand of raffia or glitzy string or cord... add a bit of greenery or wrap jar or place in a gift bag....

Fruity Pilaf Mix

7 strips lemon rind
5 cups parboiled rice
1 cup golden raisins or currants (any raisin will do)
3/4 cup slivered dried apricots or apples
1/2 cup slivered almonds, toasted
1/4 cup dried minced onion
1/4 cup dried instant chicken bouillon
1/4 cup dried parsley
7 bay leaves

Arrange lemon strips on towel; let stand for about 12 hours or until dry,..or for up to 2 days.

In bowl, combine rice, raisins, apricots, almonds, onion, chicken bouillon and parsley; transfer to gift jars, stirring to distribute evenly. Slip lemon rind strip and bay leaf into each jar, placing attractively along side; seal with lid.

How to Use Pilaf:

In saucepan bring 2 cups water, 1 tbsp. butter and 1/2 tsp. salt to boil. Stir in 1 cup Fruity Pilaf Mix and return to boil. Reduce heat to very low; cover and cook for 25 minutes or until water is absorbed and rice is tender. Discard lemon rind and bay leaf. Fluff with fork. Makes 4 servings.

This is not quite as interesting as the real thing... it's just plain old rice... but, to give you an idea of how festive it can look.... imagine the golden slices of apricots...a soft sage-y coloured bay leaf... the bits of nuts... wish I had a picture of the real thing but the originals are long gone and I haven't made any for this year yet. I better get cracking....this is the time to get a jump on the busy-ness of the season and I know several people with hectic schedules who would appreciate this. A perfect gift.....

Friday, November 7, 2008

Tweaking the Tuscan Bread ....

Tuscan Peasants probably tweaked it too. If they got lucky enough to find some fruit or perhaps if they made some sun dried tomatoes. I like to think perhaps they did.....

If the poor guys didn't manage to find any goodies... well, they still had some wonderful bread to eat. This recipe is easy; the bread fairly bland with a wonderful chewy firm I thought why not add some fruit? ...or perhaps some onions and dried tomatoes? ... why not indeed....... so, as usual .... I did. It's so much fun tweaking a recipe that I find easy to use.

I divided the dough into two loaves and shaped them on my parchment lined cookie sheet. The original time was for one large loaf and it said to leave it til it was very brown. (55 minutes) But, with two smaller loaves I tried 40 minutes... as you can see...that is about all it took to make the bottom quite brown and I was worried about the fruit that was exposed... it could probably be covered with some foil to protect it if you want to try leaving it longer... but, I like 30 - 35 minutes. Who needs a really dark loaf? I am sure it was cooked at 30 mins.

doesn't it just look like an old moccasin?.. For some reason I always seem to get a slipper shape...never quite the same on both ends..

BUT.... the taste!! that says it all. What yummy bread.....

and toasted???? MMMMMMMMMMM!!

Tuscan Peasant Bread

2 cups warm water
2 1/2 tsp. rapid rise yeast ( I used Fleischmann's Traditional active dry yeast)
3 1/4 - 3 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
pinch salt (I used a teaspoon salt)
pinch sugar (a tablespoon honey)

Put the water and yeast in the bowl of a mixer with the whisk attachment and stir to dissolve.

Add 1 cup of all purpose flour and all the whole wheat flour. Mix on medium for about 1 minute.

Cover bowl and let it sit for about 1 hour at room temperature.

Switch to paddle attachment and beat in salt, sugar and another cup of all purpose flour; stir for about 1 minute. Continue adding flour until dough sticks to the paddle and clears the side of the bowl.

Scrape all dough off paddle and switch it for the dough hook. Knead on low speed for at least 5 minutes. Add more flour if needed. (mine did need a bit more flour, probably due to the honey)

Turn dough out onto floured surface and lightly flour the top. Cover the dough ball with a towel and let it rise for about an hour, until doubled in bulk. This dough is pretty forgiving..don't worry if you are over or under on the time... just take your time and enjoy doing it....

Line a baking sheet with parchment; preheat oven to 425F. Transfer dough to the baking sheet and form into an oblong loaf.

Cover and let rest for another 20 minutes. (I used only 400F and my oven doesn't take 20 mins to I waited 15 mins to preheat) ...

Slash top of loaf with a serrated knife in whatever fashion you prefer. Don't go much deeper than 1/4 of an inch. (I like to dust my top with flour too.... )

Bake for 55 minutes. Don't pull out too early; this bread has a very dark crust.

Remove immediately to cooling rack. Give it a full 2 hours before slicing...
(( yeah, right... hahahha...I slice mine right away.. sure it squishes my loaf..but I have to eat the end of the loaf while it is hot...with butter on it too!)

OPTIONS :::::: try adding some Muesli, chopped nuts, dried cranberries or chopped dried apricots to a loaf. (any or all of the above) It is a bit tricky to get it into the dough without working it a lot. I sprinkle it on a gently flattened chunk of dough..roll it over a bit and then pinch it together and then gently flatten it. While it "rests" for the 20 minutes or so it plumps up a bit again.

Another loaf I added chopped, sauteed onions.. along with some sun dried tomatoes. A great chunk of bread with soup, salad or chili.... again, wonderful toasted.

You will be glad you gave this loaf a try.

oooh.... just look at that tasty plump cranberry....

Thursday, October 9, 2008

A plum by any other name....

.... is still a plum to me. Apparently the official title for this loaf (or quick bread) is Italian Prune Nut Bread. It calls for Italian prunes.... or prune plums as they are also called...but I finally found out that they are the same little plums we used to pick off the backyard trees in any neighbourhood in Kamloops when we were kids ...

The grocery store had a very small display of them... I bought them all. I'm freezing some for when I want this loaf and there is two feet of snow on the ground. I'm also baking two more today. It's that good!! One of the tastiest loaves I have ever baked.

Italian Prune Nut Bread
1 cup butter
2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
4 eggs
3 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt ( I never use it because I used salted butter)
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 cup sour cream (I used fat free yogurt)
2 teaspoons grated orange peel
2 cups Italian prunes, pitted and chopped in 1/2 inch pieces.
1 cup chopped nuts

Cream butter, sugar and vanilla until fluffy.
Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
Combine flour, salt, cream of tartar, cinnamon and baking soda.
Blend sour cream and orange peel...
.. add to creamed mixture alternately with dry ingredients.
Stir til blended.
Add prunes and nuts; mix well.
Divide between two greased loaf pans (9x5x3).
Bake at 350F for 50-55 minutes
.... or until tooth pick inserted in centre comes out clean.
Cool 10 mins. in pan
Remove from pan and cool thoroughly on rack.

............ options .... I added a bit of ginger, all spice and nutmeg to the cinnamon. Be careful with nutmeg and all spice..just a tiny "sprink" goes a long way! The nuts in mine were walnuts and I lightly toasted them before chopping. I halved the recipe for my test loaf.... but it was so good I will be making more right away. Double wrapping with foil and plastic keeps loaves as fresh as the day you bake them. Just thaw and enjoy later. Last week I sliced an egg nog loaf from Christmas baking..... perfect for a surprise treat at tea time ...

Mennonite Girls Can Cook is the site where I found the recipe .... look under quick breads if the link doesn't take you immediately to the page. Have a look at all the other wonderful recipes while you are there ..... I love the beautiful photos. It seems that Mennonite Girls can indeed cook .... and they all seem to be pretty amazing photographers as well.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Tuscan Peasant Bread

I got this recipe via Susan's blog... she mentioned that instead of the pinch of salt and pinch of sugar...she adds a teaspoon of salt (which helps regulate the action of yeast) and she adds a teaspoon of honey instead of sugar. I used a multi grain flour in place of the whole wheat suggested. You can see some of the flax seeds in the sliced picture. It is pretty yummy toasted.. even with Becel....

It is a rather bland bread with a lovely, chewy crust. One bread book I have suggests using this type of bread with salty or very flavourful dishes. Great with cheeses and olives... (not that I eat any of those!).. but if you do.... and lucky you might I add ... sigh... ..

The dough is pretty forgiving and if you leave it longer or punch it down more than once or big deal...

My oven is exact and I found that 55 minutes was too long. Even with parchment on the bottom of my baking sheet... it got a bit more toasted in a few areas than I liked. I think perhaps 400 F next time and probably only about 45 mins. I think I will also form two smaller loaves and use my baking stone instead and see how that turns out. This large loaf is different though and was fun to make...but of course was too long for the toaster slots... had to cut each slice in half. And the guy must have been eating Rice Krispies while waiting for it to cool...I didn't hear any snap, crackle, pop...

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Good grief!..

How on earth did a month go by that quickly? I don't know what's happening, but every time I turn around, a day or a week or a whole darn month is gone..... waaaahhhhh... brother... what a whiner, me, eh?

Probably has something to do with having to study up a bit because of the new 6 month readings; inherited high cholesterol "continuing to be in the above normal range"... now there are even more changes to the old diet. Even though I love to cook and bake, I eat sensibly, have small portions and up til last year was very regular with a vigorous exercise routine. Fell off the exercise wagon because of the foot....and got lazy. Now... I am back at it but finding my foot is still not as strong as it should or could be....but don't dare push it too hard because nobody can tell me why it broke in the first slow and steady wins my race I guess.

....shelves are full of light cooking aids..... and, surprisingly, they taste the same or close to it as regular fat products. I even found fat free cottage cheese after I have not been eating cheese at all...and hey! it's pretty good. I have it with some fruit for lunches... with a slice of home made toast and Becel...hahah... some days it seems silly all of this, but, I would rather be as healthy as I can for as long as I can and what the is kind of fun to see what new recipes I can come up with that still taste great and are fun to eat.

Chinese Cabbage to add near the end of the cooking..just to lightly steam it.... and perhaps a small handful of noodles.

More fiber has been suggested....... and, so, ... more grains; more fruits and veggies....

In with this beautiful mountain of veg there are a couple of little pieces of pork for my other half.... his cholesterol is low...let's hope the insides of his arteries are nice and smooth and clean... I'm happy to stick with just the veggies and some lovely brown rice cooked in orange juice.

...for added flavour.... crystallized ginger, garlic and basil along with a splash of light soy sauce...white rice vinegar... a scraping of lemon zest and a light squeeze of the juice.... my mouth is watering already... must be the thought of lemon....

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Cheese scones

GuzziSue reminded me that all scones are not created equal.... but, I was so busy doing berry and sweet scones during the past week that I totally forgot about anything savoury..... acckkkk! Silly me! Cheese scones below, Guzzi....

So.... if sweet scones need a Sweet Tea Biscuit base.... guess what savoury scones require? .... just a simple Tea Biscuit recipe.

Tea Biscuits

2 cups sifted all purpose flour
4 tsps. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 - 2/3 cup firm butter
2/3 cup milk (approximately)

Sift flour, baking powder and salt into mixing bowl. (I don't use salt because I use salted butter and I just don't like a very salty flavour)
Cut in fat with pastry blender, knives or fingers 'til no large lumps of fat remain.
Add milk a little at a time..with fork or spoon 'til mixture will form a ball around the fork. (Too little milk makes a stiff dough... too much milk makes a sticky, difficult to handle dough.)
Turn dough out onto floured board;knead lightly. Gently roll out or pat to 3/4 inch thick for large biscuits, 1/2 inch for small biscuits. Cut with 1.5 or 2 inch cookie cutter. Brush top with milk or milk with beaten egg yolk for a shiny surface.
Place on un-greased baking sheet. Bake at 400 to 425F for 10 -20 minutes. Makes 12-18 biscuits 3/4 inch thick.

To save time or to create a more rustic appearance....drop onto baking sheet by spoonfuls instead of rolling and cutting.

Cheese Scones

To dry ingredients add 1 teaspoon dry mustard, 2 cups grated, medium or old Cheddar cheese. For liquid beat 2 egg yolks in measuring cup; add milk to make 2/3 cup. Use smaller amount of fat.
For something different....brush tops with milk; sprinkle with poppy seeds, celery seed, sesame seed or cumin seed.

Tomato Cheese Scones

Add 3/4 cup grated Cheddar Cheese to dry ingredients. Reduce baking powder to 2 tsps and add with 1/2 tsp baking soda. Replace milk with tomato juice.

Try adding some small chunks of onion cooked in butter or bits of tinned tomatoes or perhaps some minced peppers.... call them Confetti Scones... or, how about some herbs of your choosing? Sky is the limit as usual.... I love to experiment. I've tried sun dried tomatoes... those were tasty... oh, I want to try some savoury scones this week....... it never ends does it, this cooking? ... and, of course....the eating! The best part..... and now for some jumping jacks and a run around the block....

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Basic Scone recipe

Scones are really just a sweet tea biscuit recipe with a tweak or two. Add some raisins, currents or other fruit .... add some cream, buttermilk and lemon zest..etc... and you have a lovely snack or breakfast treat...although I prefer them for any other time of day except breakfast myself. For brekky...I want gives me energy for the better part of the day and I am not hungry before noon....

So, first of all, here is the recipe for the sweet biscuit... and following that... some "tweaks". This is the same sweet biscuit topping I use for my Apple Cobbler. A very versatile mix from an old and trusted friend.....The Canadian Cookbook.

Sweet Tea Biscuits

2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
4 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt (I use salted butter so don't use salt as well)
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup firm butter
1 egg

Sift flour, baking powder and salt into mixing bowl. Cut in fat with pastry blender, knives, or fingers, 'til no large lumps of fat remain.

Beat egg with fork in a measuring cup and add milk to make 1 cup. Add to dry ingredients and mix gently with fork or spoon. Turn dough onto floured board; knead lightly for about 7 turns... turn dough to smooth side... roll 3/4 inch thick and cut with 2 inch cookie cutter.

For shiny surface brush top with milk or milk containing beaten egg yolk; place on unbuttered baking sheet. Bake at 400 to 425 F for 10-20 minutes depending on size.

To save time... mix dough a bit longer and drop by heaping spoonfuls onto baking sheet instead of kneading or rolling. More rustic appearance but still great texture.

Currant Scones
to the above recipe; add 1 cup raisins or currants to dry ingredients. Sprinkle with sugar.. bake 410F for 20 minutes.

Lemon Cream Scones
in Sweet Tea Biscuit recipe, substitute buttermilk or sour cream for milk, add juice and zest of 1 lemon, reduce baking powder to 2 teaspoons and add 1/2 tsp. baking soda. Roll 1/4 inch thick;brush with egg white, sprinkle with sugar to glaze; cut into triangles; or drop by spoonfuls; bake well separated on baking sheet at 425 F for 15 minutes.

To this I also add 2 more tablespoons of plain yogurt and some blueberries, or, in season, Saskatoon berries....mmmmmm...... The dough is pretty sticky and wet, but I never roll it out...I love the rustic look of spoon dropped dough for my scones, although this last time I was probably one spoonful of yogurt too soft.... they were slightly more rounded versus standing up a bit.

The texture was wonderful...

Saturday, August 16, 2008


...... blueberries in all the stages of ripeness....just because I love the colours!

Today, it is 32C or 90F.... not really the perfect day for baking. I have been known to turn on the oven when the house gets to 92F ... I figure if it is hot already...what difference could it possibly make?

Today I decided to try something else though.... I wondered if I could just bake some in my electric frying pan instead of turning on the oven.

Guess what? the answer is yes. However... it does take longer than the 20 minutes in an oven...and....the tops do not brown. They appear almost ..uhm...... steamed looking on the tops.... . but..the texture is great... and the bottom is lovely and golden. The Saskatoon berries were swollen to bursting and seem even sweeter than straight off the bush.

I placed my cooling rack on the bottom of the pan.... put the dough on double thickness of foil... and placed on top of the rack.

I had the pan at 400F and did put on the lid. If moisture accumulated inside the lid (I can see it because my lid is glass) I just wiped it off, in an attempt to prevent steaming. I thought it might even be possible to brown the surface...but the answer to that seems to be Oh, well....they are delicious and the garage smells like scones...I placed the pan on the workbench..... keeping it cool as possible in here til I have to turn on the AC....

Back later with the recipe ....

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

my kingdom for a cookie.....

ahhhhh..... love...... or is it? ... methinks she is dreaming of cookies... not just any cookie ... one of her special Empire Cookies......of the realm I suppose....

Delicate, soft, sweet ... with lovely berry jam sandwiched in every bite...... ohhhhhh how I wish I had one myself right now! Along with a cup of Earl Grey from this lovely teapot ...

Sadly...they disappeared very quickly .... pronounced every bit as good as the ones we used to get at a fav little bakery that no longer exists.

I tried to find out why they are called Empire but didn't see much except the vague suggestion that perhaps, since they seem to be very British, ... they being an Empire and all... so, if anyone has seen any info on this... please point me in that direction.

This particular recipe appears to have been clipped from a booklet of recipes using brand names.. Robin Hood flour... Crisco etc.. I have it in my Christmas Recipe Album that I've made up using my personal favs along with family recipes and pictures...a 3 ring binder type of thing. At the top of the recipe.. the great suggestion.... "this is a favourite at Christmas, but don't limit it to the holiday season"... somebody knew me well.

I only put little glistening cherries on a few for a photo... somebody was standing there grinning...waiting for the taste testing.....

At first I rolled them the suggested 1/8" thickness ... hahahahha...yeh ...right ... almost "see through" thin it was... and just try to get them off the counter! Next chunk..I rolled closer to 1/4"..but not quite. I had much better luck...but I also discovered a new trick at this late stage in life. Instead of just pressing down, turning a bit and lifting off with my flour dusted cutter... I turned it back and forth a few times and almost tried to lift it off at a bit of an angle.... .. so that it actually lifted a corner of the dough with it as I did the lift out of the dough. Hah! that really loosened things and I could then easily slide my floured spatula under each and transfer it the cookie sheet. Sigh... sometimes!........

Empire Cookies

3/4 cup golden Crisco shortening ( I used butter)
1 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt ( I always omit because I use salted butter)

Filling and frosting

1/2 cup raspberry jam
1 1/2 cups icing sugar, sifted
1/4 tsp. almond extract
1 1/ to 2 TBSP hot water

Cream shortening, sugar, eggs and vanilla in large bowl on med. speed of electric mixer until light and creamy. Combine flour, baking powder and salt. Add to creamed mixture, beating at low speed until well blended. If desired, chill 1 hour for easy rolling. (I found this a is pretty sticky) Roll out dough, a portion at a time, on lightly floured surface to 1/8" thickness. ( I went slightly thicker for ease of handling) Cut into 2" all leftover pieces at once to avoid over handling. Place on ungreased baking sheet. Bake at 350 F (180 C) for 8 to 10 minutes or until lightly browned around edges..(watch them like a hawk) .. Cool completely before handling.

Filling and frosting ::: spread half of cookies on the underside with jam. Top with the remaining cookies. Combine icing sugar, extract and enough hot water to make a thin icing. Frost tops of cookies. Decorate with small piece of cherry. Store in airtight container overnight. (At this point they were still sort of crispy and hard..not at all how I remember them being when I used to buy Empire cookies... but... left overnight... magically they became soft, delicate to bite into.... yes... finally almost the exact thing!)

Monday, July 21, 2008

Rhubarb apple cobbler...

When I was at my sister's a few weeks ago, we used some of her fresh rhubarb to add to apple cobbler.
We were not sure if it would be a bit woody as it was getting late in the season there and the stalks were huge. So...we cut up the stalks.. cooked it in a saucepan with a few tablespoons of water... and when it was soft..added some voila... tasting time. It tasted soooo good. I ladled several huge spoonfuls onto the apples for the recipe..mixed it well and put on the topping. Wow !! It was the best apple cobbler I ever made. Bar none. We love it.

Rhubarb recipes are still making the rounds on some of the blogs.. .. even though most of us don't have access to any fresh rhubarb at this late date. However...I decided to give frozen a try...and you know what? Surprisingly good! did the same thing with my frozen chunks... stewed them... added it to some cobbler the other day and here it is. There was just some little thing different about this one.... not quite the same as the last one that was El Supremo...but still very good if I do say so myself...and I do. Something to do with the spices I think... perhaps I put a bit more ginger than I did previously... I do like to add some spices to my cobblers.

The colour is so pretty too...

A little dollop of vanilla frozen yogurt....mmmmm.....