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.....