Saturday, December 20, 2008

Easiest, most delicious cheese dip ever!

Before I forget, I want to post this cheese dip recipe for you as it comes in very handy over the holidays! I have no photos of this as it goes in as many minutes as it takes to make! Just trust me - it's delicious!

I've been making this for about 5 years now. The original recipe is from What's Cooking magazine by Kraft Canada.

Ingredients: please note, all measurements are approximate as I lost the recipe itself years ago and this is how I make it memory!

  • 1 1/2 blocks of Philadelphia cream cheese, softened (light or regular)
  • approx. 1/2 cup of good grated parmesan cheese
  • approx. 1-2 tbsps of store bought pesto
  • approx. 1/4 cup of julienne red peppers (from a jar so they are nice and soft)
  • appr0x. 1/2 cup of shredded mozzarella cheese


In a mixer or food processor, mix the cream cheese and parmesan until well blended and smooth. Place in a shallow dish (oven proof) so you have about 3/4" of the mixture spread evenly in the bottom. Cool in the fridge for about 30 minutes or until the mixture is no longer soft. Preheat oven to 350F degrees. Take a spatula and spread the pesto layer evenly, add your julienne peppers evenly across the pesto, now sprinkle the mozzarella over top. Bake in the oven for about 15 minutes until golden brown on the top (broil if required for a couple minutes). Serve with sliced baguette or crackers.

Enjoy! And thank me later:)

Christmas Cookies!

Ginger on the left, Sugar on the right

Let me start by telling you I am not a baker, yet for some reason last night, I had the urge to make cookies...and they turned out very well! My husband started out with a big sigh asking why I wasnt making chocolate chip cookies. He later recanted when he tasted the first of these! Two very easy recipes below for any of you non-bakers out there - Merry Christmas!

This afternoon I will be taking over a treat (these cookies) to our neighbours as a little Christmas gift! In good 'Martha' fashion, I have included the recipes with their cards.

Ginger Cookies (recipe from a person I "know" online - Thanks LHC!)


3/4 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1/4 cup molasses (I used Lyle's Golden Syrup instead - yum!)
2 1/4 cups flour
2 tsp. ground ginger
1 tsp. baking soda
3/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground cloves (I omitted these b/c I had none in the house)


Cream butter, 1 cup sugar, egg and molasses until well blended. Stir in flour, ginger, baking soda and cinnamon. Shape dough into 1 1/2" balls.
Roll balls in sugar. Place balls on un-greased cookie sheet (put parchment paper down to prevent burning on the bottoms). Bake at 350°F for 10 minutes or until lightly browned and still puffed. Cool on cookie sheet for 2 minutes; remove to plate with wax paper to finish cooling.

IF YOU WANT THEM CRUNCHY: Store on a plate covered with aluminum foil.

TO KEEP THEM CHEWY: After ten minutes of cooling, put them in a tupperware/gladware container lined with wax paper and keep the lid on. After a couple of days, if they get hard, put a piece of bread in with them. The cookies will retain the moisture from the bread and stay chewy.

Sugar Cookies (recipe from


2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 cups white sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract


Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). In a small bowl, stir together flour, baking soda, and baking powder. Set aside.

In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until smooth. Beat in egg and vanilla. Gradually blend in the dry ingredients. Roll rounded teaspoonfuls of dough into balls, and place onto ungreased cookie sheets.

Bake 8 to 10 minutes in the preheated oven, or until golden. Let stand on cookie sheet two minutes before removing to cool on wire racks.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

My Best Veggie Lasagna Ever!

Now that I'm back in the kitchen I have been making some real comfort food. One of my favorites is vegetarian lasagna. Lately, we had been eating the boxed kind (yuck) because I hadn't been cooking but last night I whipped up a huge, fresh lasagna and it was divine! I threw this together in 1 hour. It is the perfect recipe if you are having anyone visit over the holiday season and need something that will suit everyone's taste and your budget.

Ingredients & Preparation: ("Recipe" is my own, but I just go by taste and experience)
Serves approx. 10 people

For the tomato sauce:

(you can use this one of this one if you prepare it ahead of time -

  • 1/2 large yellow onion, diced
  • 1-2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1-2 tsps herbs of your choice
  • 1 large can of diced tomatoes
  • 1 small can of tomato paste
  • olive oil
Dice the onion. Saute in heavy bottom pot with olive oil until soft - about 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook 1 minute or so. Be careful not to burn garlic. Add the tomatoes and tomato paste. Stir until mixed through. Add herbs and stir. Let this heat on medium until you are ready to build your lasagna. Cook at least 15 minutes to incorporate flavours.

For the Lasagna:
  • 2 packages of fresh lasagna sheets, approx. 12 sheets that are 9 x 6 inches (or make your own)
  • 1 container of ricotta
  • 1 container of cottage cheese
  • 1 egg
  • approx. 2 cups fresh baby spinach, chopped
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • mozzarella or mixed cheeses, grated (approx. 340 grams)
The first thing you want to do is make the sauce. After you have done that, whiz your ricotta and cottage cheese up in a food processor until smooth. Add one egg and salt/pepper to taste. Whiz again to blend. Chop the spinach up. Grate your cheese. Pre-heat over to 350 degrees.

Now take a large rectangular pan and start to layer your lasagna. Add some of the sauce at the bottom to avoid sticking. Then add 2 sheets of pasta (if your pan is the same size as mine then the sheets should fit perfectly, 2 side by side). Top with ricotta mixture so it covers the pasta and then add some of the spinach. Next layer is tomato sauce and a little mozzarella cheese. Make sure to reserve quite a lot of the cheese for the top layer. Continue with the layering alternating between ricotta/spinach and tomato sauce/cheese. The final layer will be the remainder of the tomato sauce and the rest of the cheese. You should have 6 layers.

Cover with tin foil and bake for 30 minutes. After 30 mins. remove the foil and bake for another 5 minutes. Let sit for about 5 minutes - then cut and serve! Best with Italian or French bread and a green salad.

Note: You will see in my photo I used parchment paper in my pan to reduce clean up. Don't do this. Big mistake on my part! It didn't ruin the meal at all but scooping out the lasagna = scooping up some bits of paper too.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Bun in the Oven

Well, first I must apologize for being the worst food blogger ever. I do have a good excuse though. For the past few months, food has not been my friend - at all. The mere thought of picking up a recipe made me feel sick so instead of blogging about my boxed mac & cheese or white rice dinners, I decided to keep quiet.

The truth is we are expecting our first baby (yay!) and I have only managed to get back in the kitchen in the past week or so. Now my issues are forgetting crucial parts of the recipe or preparing certain ingredients and leaving them on the counter without ever adding them to the meal! It's also much harder to be creative in the kitchen when suffering from "baby brain". Luckily my sister-in-law gave me an amazing cookbook (ReBar Modern Food Cookbook - the last time she visited and it has provided me with some inspiration! Thanks B!

This week I have ventured to make Vegetarian Enchiladas (at the request of my poor husband who has been starving for months) and Soba Noodles with shrimp & broccoli. With the holidays just around the corner I'm sure I'll get back into the swing of things.

So, many thanks to those of you who are still reading my blog even though I am such a slacker:)

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Icing

Laugh all you like, but until last week, I'd never made a carrot cake. It's one of my favorite desserts to eat so why have I never baked one before? No one knows. Thanks to Amber's Delectable Delights ( for answering my online call for a great recipe. I have copied the recipe below just as Amber sent it to me. It is originally from Baking Illustrated by Cooks Illustrated.

If you need some sort of orange dessert for the fall/Halloween season coming, this would be ideal! Add some scary bugs made out of jube jubes and licorice string on top for some spooky flair! ;)

Ingredients & Preparation
(recipe from Amber's Delectable Delights & original from Baking Illustrated). If you like nuts in your cake, stir in 1 1/2 cups of toasted chopped pecans or walnuts into the batter, along with the carrots. Raisins are also a good addition. 1 cup can be added with the carrots. If you add both nuts & raisins, your cake will need an extra 10-12 minutes in the oven. Below are instructions for using a hand-held or standing mixer.
  • 2 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (12 1/2 ounces)
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves (I didn't have cloves so they were not used in my version)
  • 1/2 teaspoon table salt
  • 1 pound medium carrots (6 to 7 carrots), peeled (I used organic)
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar (10 1/2 ounces)
  • 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar (3 1/2 ounces)
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups vegetable oil , safflower oil, or canola oil
Cream Cheese Icing
  • 8 ounces cream cheese , softened but still cool
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter softened, but still cool
  • 1 tablespoon sour cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 cups confectioner's sugar

1. For the cake: Adjust oven rack to middle position; heat oven to 350 degrees. Spray 13 by 9-inch baking pan (or 2, 9" round cake pans) with nonstick cooking spray. Line bottom of pan with parchment and spray parchment.

2. Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and salt in large bowl; set aside.

3. In food processor fitted with large shredding disk, shred carrots (you should have about 3 cups); transfer carrots to bowl and set aside. Wipe out food processor workbowl and fit with metal blade. Process granulated and brown sugars and eggs until frothy and thoroughly combined, about 20 seconds. With machine running, add oil through feed tube in steady stream. Process until mixture is light in color and well emulsified, about 20 seconds longer. Scrape mixture into medium bowl. Stir in carrots and dry ingredients until incorporated and no streaks of flour remain. Pour into prepared pan and bake until toothpick or skewer inserted into center of cake comes out clean, 35 to 40 minutes, rotating pan halfway through baking time. Cool cake to room temperature in pan on wire rack, about 2 hours.

4. For the frosting: When cake is cool, process cream cheese, butter, sour cream, and vanilla in clean food processor workbowl until combined, about 5 seconds, scraping down bowl with rubber spatula as needed. Add confectioners' sugar and process until smooth, about 10 seconds.

5. Run paring knife around edge of cake to loosen from pan. Invert cake onto wire rack, peel off parchment, then invert again onto serving platter. Using icing spatula, spread frosting evenly over surface of cake. Cut into squares and serve. (Cover leftovers and refrigerate for up to 3 days.)

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Elk you say?

Well, me and the husb have not been eating meat for the past few months. I did promise way back if we ever found someone selling pastured, antibiotic/hormone free meat where we could meet and talk with the farmer and the animal was not killed in a commercial slaughter house we could buy some. Well, the husb's prayers were answered. He got himself some spicy elk sausage the other day at the Brickwork's Farmer's Market in Toronto. The animal is killed in a local, Mennonite abattoir and the meat is also processed/flavoured there as well...

Here is a snippet from the farm's website about what they do:

"At Glen Ewen Springs, we strive as a family owned farm to provide a safe and n
atural setting for our Red Deer & Canadian Elk to live. We pride ourselves on providing a naturally raised animal and using no hormones, steroids, pesticides, herbicides or growth enhancers. Our feeding program includes seasonal pasture, alfalfa forage, natural grains and minerals. Our venison products are also antibiotic free."

So, while I am not big on the idea of eating any meat at all the husb was happy to have some animal protein back in his life for at least that one day. No need for the recipe as it is a straight forward pasta. If you ever get your hands on some elk sausage try and be more creative than I was with this dish! I did add some amazing organic King oyster mushrooms, also from the Brickwork's Farmer's Market, which were divine.

Rudolph is a Reindeer, right? Just checking.

Not better than takeout: Sweet Potato Pie

I followed the instructions. I swear it. Unfortunately, my sweet potato pie (masquerading here as an apple pie) did not turn out as well as I hoped. My butter was too cold and my sweet potatoes were too hard (after 60+ minutes of boiling)and so the whole process went down hill from there*. I ended up almost whipping the filling by the time I had everything mixed in so while it tastes light and airy it certainly does not have a traditional SPP texture. Also, I had an extra pie crust that was very soft by the time I went to use it, so I decided not to waste it and made the lattice. That's the apple pie part.

No recipe or preparation required here folks as this one is not a winner.

*Only 2 sweet potatoes were injured in the making of this pie.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Organic Blueberry Crumble

I normally don't make dessert but I had a lot of organic blueberries this week in my produce delivery so I decided to make a crumble. This recipe is too easy. I thought I made a mistake somewhere because it took only 5 minutes to prep (+ 30 minutes in the oven). Unfortunately, we had no ice cream in the house and there was no way either of us were going out to get it so we each poured a big glass of milk and sat down with our crumble.

Ingredients & Preparation (Recipe from
Serves 4-6
  • 6 cups blueberries (I used organic)
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 2/3 cup flour
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup oats
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 4 1/2 tablespoons butter

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Rinse fruit and drain thoroughly. Put berries in a mixing bowl and add lemon juice and one tablespoon flour. Combine, and pour into a 10”pie plate. In a food processor, pulse together the remaining ingredients until they resemble coarse breadcrumbs. Cover the berries with the topping and bake for thirty minutes until the top has browned and the fruit is bubbling.

Can be served hot or at room temperature. Goes very well with ice cream (or so I hear).

I normally don't like blueberries but this is to die for - Enjoy!

Scallops with crispy sage in an Irish whiskey balsamic reduction

This was a spur of the moment recipe. I was dying for scallops. I had no plans for this so I crossed my fingers and hoped for the best. I think I was subconsciously inspired by my recent trip to Kentucky where everything is infused with whiskey.

I am pleased to say that this experiment passed! It sounds like a very, very odd combination of ingredients but it just works. All measurements are estimates because when I'm making stuff up, I'm not good at paying attention to what I'm doing.

Ingredients & Preparation:
Serves 2 (double the recipe for 4 etc.)
  • 8 oz of sea scallops
  • approx. 3 tbsps of balsamic
  • approx. 4-5 shakes of Frank's hot sauce
  • few shakes of sea salt
  • approx. 1 oz of The Macallan (Irish Whiskey 12 year old)
  • approx, 1/4 to a 1/3 cup of heavy cream
  • 10-12 fresh sage leaves
  • 3 tbsps olive oil
The first thing I did was mix all the ingredients together in a small glass jar (except the sage, olive oil and scallops). Shake to mix (with lid on!). Pour the sauce over the scallops in a small bowl.

Now on the stove, add olive oil to a frying pan and heat. Once heated, add about 3/4 of the whole sage leaves and fry them up about 1 minute per side. Be careful they don't brown or burn. Once they are ready, set aside and let cool.

In the same frying pan, add your scallops and sear on each side until just cooked through (they will be opaque). Set scallops aside. Remember your crispy sage leaves? Smash those up in the bowl they are in until they are in little pieces. Add the remaining sauce from the marinade plus the crispy sage bits and cook it down a little bit. Then add a dash more whiskey from the bottle and reduce further. At this point the sauce should be more of a reduction. Nice and thick.

Place the scallops on the serving plate/bowl and drizzle with the reduction and garnish with some more fresh sage. Serve with whatever side you like - rice, orzo, fettuccine, or a simple salad of greens for an appetizer.


Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Not Ratatouille's Ratatouille

What a dish! There are 2 reasons I made ratatouille today. The first is because I had it on Monday for lunch at a local restaurant and it was very tasty and the second reason is because I bought the cutest casserole dish today that needed to be used stat!

I had no recipe for this and made it based on my memory of the taste from the version I had on Monday. At first I thought I would add mushrooms but those were never thing I did learn from a French cooking site was to put coarse salt on the eggplant pieces before I used them as it helps them to cook a little better (removes the moisture, I guess).

Do you remember Ratatouille's ratatouille? It was perfectly layered which makes it a lot different than mine! I call this a traditional recipe (except for the addition of goat's cheese) as it is more of a stew. For a good version of a layered ratatouille see Smitten Kitchen's post here

Ingredients & Preparation:
Serves 4-6
  • 1 large eggplant, cut into chunks
  • 1 red pepper, cut into slices
  • 1 green pepper,cut into slices
  • 1 yellow or red onion, diced
  • 3 small zucchini, chopped into rounds and then halved
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • few swirls of olive oil
  • knob of butter
  • 1 28 oz can organic whole tomatoes
  • 1 28 oz can organic crushed tomatoes
  • 1 5.5 can tomato paste
  • coarse salt for eggplants
  • black pepper to taste
  • goat's cheese to taste
  • 5 sprigs fresh thyme
  • handful of fresh basil
  • 4 sprigs fresh oregano
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 2 tbsp red wine vinegar
I tried to use only local organic ingredients for this dish. All the herbs (except the bay leaves) are from my humble, front porch garden.

So, first things first. Chop/slice up your peppers, zucchini, and eggplant. Dice your onion. Put your eggplant in a bowl or colander and put some coarse salt over it. Add some paper towels to soak up the water. Let this sit for about 20-30 mins. In the meantime, cook up the onions and garlic in a frying pan with a few swirls of olive oil and the knob of butter.

You can use fresh tomatoes in this recipe but I'm not sure how to explain that to you since I used canned toms (cheater!). Open up your canned tomatoes and pour the whole ones into a bowl. Press the water out of the whole tomatoes (I used a potato masher) since you don't want your sauce to be too thin.

In a heavy bottom, large pot, add a couple swirls of olive oil. Add your peppers and zucchini and cook for a couple of minutes. Add your eggplant and cook for another couple of minutes. Now add your onions and garlic that you previously sauteed.

Pre-heat your oven to 375F.

Pour the crushed tomatoes and the whole tomatoes into the pot with the other veggies and stir it up. Now add the tomato paste. Add the red wine vinegar. Stir. At this point I add the bay leaves, thyme (just the leaves) and oregano (just the leaves chopped up). Add some pepper to taste. I didn't add any extra salt as the tomatoes had salt added and the eggplant had salt on it already. Let that heat all the way through.

Pour the stew into an oven safe casserole dish. Dot the goat cheese around the stew. I rolled the cheese into little balls and place 6 around the edge and one in the middle. Place the casserole in the centre of the oven and bake for about 25-30 minutes.

Once it is ready, add some fresh basil on top. Serve with a great piece of fresh French bread & big glass of wine. Be careful not to serve anyone a bay leaf with their portion!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

The Omnivore's Hundred

I found a link to this list through Elly from - I love anything poll or survey related so I thought I would check it out (procrastinator - who me? Never!). The original list was created by Andrew from Andrew thinks that every good omnivore should try to taste each of these things at leadst once in their life. I'm getting I as adventurous with food as I think???

Here is what he asks:
1) Copy this list into your blog or journal, including these instructions.
2) Bold all the items you’ve eaten.
3) Cross out any items that you would never consider eating. (can't strikethrough font in blogger so made comments in light orange and italics instead)
4) Optional extra: Post a comment here at linking to your results.

The VGT's Omnivore's Hundred

1. Venison

2. Nettle tea

3. Huevos rancheros

4. Steak tartare

5. Crocodile (it is on a lot of menus in Florida!) EDIT - oops. I'm thinking of alligator!

6. Black pudding

7. Cheese fondue

8. Carp

9. Borscht

10. Baba ghanoush

11. Calamari

12. Pho

13. PB&J sandwich

14. Aloo gobi

15. Hot dog from a street cart

16. Epoisses

17. Black truffle

18. Fruit wine made from something other than grapes

19. Steamed pork buns

20. Pistachio ice cream

21. Heirloom tomatoes

22. Fresh wild berries

23. Foie gras (I would have eaten this before but not now)

24. Rice and beans

25. Brawn or head cheese (never!)

26. Raw Scotch Bonnet pepper

27. Dulce de leche

28. Oysters

29. Baklava

30. Bagna cauda (would love to try this!)

31. Wasabi peas

32. Clam Chowder in Soudough Bowl

33. Salted lassi (I’ve had a sweet lassi – but I don’t think I’ve tried a salted one)

34. Sauerkraut

35. Root beer float

36. Cognac with a fat cigar (Cognac, yes but not with a cigar!)

37. Clotted Cream Tea

38. Vodka Jelly/Jell-O

39. Gumbo

40. Oxtail

41. Curried goat

42. Whole Insects

43. Phaal

44. Goat’s milk

45. Malt whisky from a bottle worth $120 or more

46. Fugu (maybe, if someone else tried it first)

47. Chicken tikka masala

48. Eel

49. Krispy Kreme original glazed doughnut

50. Sea urchin

51. Prickly pear

52. Umeboshi

53. Abalone

54. Paneer

55. McDonald’s Big Mac Meal

56. Spaetzle

57. Dirty gin martini

58. Beer above 8% ABV

59. Poutine

60. Carob chips (I’ve had carob but not in a chip format)

61. S’mores

62. Sweetbreads

63. kaolin

64. Currywurst

65. Durian

66. Frogs’ legs

67. Beignets, churros, elephant ears or funnel cake

68. Haggis (no thank you!)

69. Fried plantain

70. Chitterlings or andouillette (nope)

71. Gazpacho

72. Caviar and blini

73. Louche absinthe

74. Gjetost or brunost

75. Roadkill (really? no I don't think so!)

76. Baijiu

77. Hostess Fruit Pie

78. Snail

79. Lapsang Souchong

80. Bellini

81. Tom Yum

82. Eggs Benedict

83. Pocky

84. 3 Michelin Star Tasting Menu

85. Kobe beef

86. Hare (is this different than plain ‘ol bunny? I’ve had rabbit.)

87. Goulash

88. Flowers

89. Horse (Um, no)

90. Criollo chocolate

91. Spam

92. Soft shell crab

93. Rose harissa

94. Catfish

95. Mole poblano

96. Bagel and lox

97. Lobster Thermidor

98. Polenta

99. Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee

100. Snake

Let me tell you - I used wikipedia more than ever to figure out what some of these things are!
Summary - I think I did pretty well!

Have eaten: 71/100
Have not eaten: 29/100
Will never eat: 6/100

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

English Trifle - a guest blogger post (btt's Mum)!

This post & recipe was written by my Mum. Here it is in all its glory - word for word - direct from my inbox (complete with details on my dirty laundry). It's a bit heavy on photos for instructional purposes. I will have to convince her to do her German Cheesecake next!

Thanks for a great weekend - we had a good time and enjoyed your company and the laughs - folding the washing was comme ci, comme ca! Just kidding - it was my pleasure... Anyhow, here's the trifle recipe as best as I can muster at this time of night and not ever having had a recipe for it in my life!

Ingredients & Preparation: (Original recipe by Mum and Nana)

You will need a large fancy glass fruit/serving bowl

  • 1 large pkg. or 2 small pkgs. jello powder (raspberry flavour is best)
  • 1 pkg. small jelly sponge cake rolls (usually 8 per pkg - red jam, no cream)
  • 1 large tin sliced cling peaches (in fruit juice, not syrup)
  • 1/2 - 3/4 large pkg. frozen 4-berry fruit (strawberries, blackberries, blueberries, raspberries)
  • 1 small pkg frozen raspberries (or one can)
  • 1 or 2 cans ready made custard or make 2 1/2 cups custard using 2% milk and Horne's or Bird's custard powder
  • 1 carton (small) whipping cream
  • 1/4 cup sliced raw almonds, toasted


Cut each jelly roll into 4 slices and place in bottom of glass bowl, then around sides - any bits left over can go in the middle of bowl.

Drain peach slices reserving juice. Put one peach slice between the jelly roll slices which are around the sides of the bowl - then arrange remainder of peaches in centre of bowl covering the sponge cake entirely (reserve few slices with which to decorate top of trifle).

Mix jelly powder with one cup boiling water per small pkg, (2 cups for large). Stir until well dissolved, then add 1/2 cup reserved peach juice for each cup of hot water used. Mix well, then add frozen berries and stir gently for one minute. Pour carefully into bowl on top of the peaches & cake making sure the cake slices on side of bowl stay in place. Put bowl in fridge and leave to set (about 1/2 hr).
Meanwhile, make the custard according to directions and when ready, cover pan and allow to cool for about 5 minutes (don't leave it too long or it will not pour easily). Once jelly has set (almost set is fine) pour warm custard over the top of fruit/cake mixture (or, if using canned custard pour contents of two cans over mixture). Put bowl back into fridge and allow custard to set (20 mins or so). In a small pan, lightly toast the almonds and set aside. Whip cream until soft peaks form and they hold shape easily (don't over-whip the cream or it will be lumpy) Spread the cream over top of custard, use reserved peach slices to decorate centre. Sprinkle all over with toasted almonds. Ready to serve and enjoy!

A true English Trifle will contain about 1/4 - 1/3 cup of sherry or port but this is an individual taste choice - just add sherry to the hot water/jelly powder mix before adding frozen fruit - give it a try!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Buttered Linguine with Seared Scallops, White Wine, Chili & Parsely

Could there be anything better than a fresh, big, succulent sea scallop? I personally, don't think so. While they are quite expensive where I live, you can make do if you are on a budget by only buying a few and cutting them in half.

This recipe takes only a couple of minutes once you have all your ingredients ready to go. Get everything laid out before you start. You will want to eat this as soon as it is ready - I would have eaten it directly out of the pot if no one had been looking.

Thanks again to my food boyfriend Jamie Oliver for his brilliance.

Ingredients & Preparation: (from The Naked Chef by Jamie Oliver)
Serves 4
  • 12 scallops, trimmed (now I assume he means Bay scallops, but I used Sea scallops so you really don't need 12 if that's the type you are using or he is Jamie Oliver and can afford 12 big sea scallops)
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 clove of garlic, peeled and finely chopped
  • 2 medium sized fresh red chilies, seeded and finely chopped
  • 3/4 cup of white wine
  • 1 lb of fresh pasta (Jamie suggests taglierini in the original recipe - I used linguine)
  • 1 good handful of flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped
  • 1/4 cup of butter
  • salt & freshly ground black pepper

On a board, place each scallop on its flat side and slice it across in half. Put the olive oil in a hot pan and add the scallops, garlic and chili, which will sizzle and sear right away. As soon as the scallops have coloured on one side, pour in the wine, letting it reduce slightly.

Meanwhile, cook your pasta in boiling salted water until al dente. Add the pasta to the scallops with the parsley and butter and remove from the heat. Toss and taste for seasoning. Serve.

This is an excellent meal - you must try it!

Friday, August 15, 2008

Homemade Spinach & Ricotta Cannelloni

You can impress your friends with this one (I know you can, because I have done it). Fairly straight forward to make, this recipe is great for a weeknight or for a casual dinner with friends. Make extra for leftovers!
I have been making cannelloni for about 8 years now. It's one of my go to recipes or my "bread & butter" as my husband says. This is the first time I made it with home made pasta so it is extra special.

Ingredients & Preparation: (made up in my brain some 8 years ago)
Serves 4
  • 1 large tub of ricotta cheese
  • 2 cups of fresh and/or frozen spinach
  • 1 egg
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • homemade pasta sheets cut into 4-5" squares (or rectangles - whatever works!)
  • 1/2 cup of mozzarella, shredded
  • homemade bechamel and/or tomato sauce (see previous posts for instructions)

Whiz up your ricotta in a food processor with the egg and salt & pepper. Warm your spinach on the stove until wilty and soft. Set aside half of the spinach. Add the remainder to the ricotta and whiz until it is smooth.

Preheat oven to 350F. Get out a large oven-safe dish and add some sauce to the bottom (tomato would be best). Cut your pasta into 4-5" squares. If you don't have any homemade pasta buy the fresh lasagna sheets from the deli and cut each piece in half.

Place about 2 tbsp of the ricotta onto each piece of pasta and smooth it out so it is even. Leave some space at the edges. Add some of the reserved spinach. Now roll it up from one end to the other. Place seam side down in the dish. Continue until they are all rolled up. Now cover the pasta in your sauce of choice (I used both bechamel and tomato sauce in this recipe since I had just made them). Sprinkle the top with the mozzarella and place in the oven. Bake for about 20-25 minutes or until warm, gooey and golden brown.

Delicious with a side salad and big glass of vino!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Warm Lentil Salad - a super speedy vegetarian lunch

I thought I would post here about my latest craving to break up the pasta recipes (stay tuned - 2 more to come).
Lentils. What a delicious little thing a lentil is...full of protein, fibre, wholesome goodness. Find out more about the lovely lentil here:

Here is a very simple idea that has been both lunch and dinner in the last 24 hours.
Ingredients & Preparation: (no actual recipe was consulted in the making of this meal, just bare cupboard desperation!)
Serves 1 hungry gal

  • 1/2 can of quality lentils, drained
  • 2-3 handfuls of chopped fresh spinach, or frozen if that's what you have on hand
  • 1 tbsp of sun-dried tomatoes (not packed in oil)
  • 1-2 tbsp feta cheese on top

Warm up the lentils in either the microwave or on the stove. Add in the spinach, cook until it is soft and wilty. Toss in the tomatoes. Serve in a bowl and top with feta.

A delicious, filling vegetarian meal for one (multiply recipe by 2 for 2 people and so on). Serve with greens if you are feeling sporty!

PS - the picture is not of my actual meal (you will not see any sun-dried tomatoes), but it is a pretty good replica from

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Mushroom, Sage & Pinenut Ravioli served in a reduction of maple syrup, mushroom, olive oil & cream

I have to tell you - this was an experiment but it turn out better than I ever could have hoped! Along with my pasta maker I also bought a ravioli thingy (not sure the real name!). I can only hope that when I try to make this again it will be just as good!

Ingredients & Preparation:

Ravioli & Filling
  • 2 long sheets of fresh, homemade pasta (see last post)
  • 1/2 cup toasted pine nuts
  • 1 package of cremini mushrooms, sauteed (keep the juices for the sauce)
  • 2 slices of halloumi cheese, fried, cut into little pieces
  • 2 tbsp fresh sage, chopped
  • white pepper, to taste
  • 2 tbsp 100% real maple syrup
Saute the pine nuts and set aside. Saute the mushrooms, reserve juices and set the mushrooms aside. Fry up the halloumi. Mix up the pine nuts, mushrooms, halloumi, sage, pepper and maple syrup. Stir well.
Boil a large pot of salted water.
If using a ravioli maker, flour it well and place the first sheet of pasta over the mould. Push in the little holes. Add some of the mixture to each hole. Do not over fill. Place the next sheet of pasta over top. Using a rolling pin, roll over the edges (which are raised for this purpose) and cut the ravioli squares. Make sure there are no gaps. Carefully remove them.
Plop your ravioli into the water and bring back up to a soft boil (not a great rumbling boil). Cook for about 5-6 minutes. Taste one to make sure it is fully cooked.

While you are cooking the ravioli, make the sauce.
Ravioli Sauce
  • mushroom juices (previously set aside)
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup 18% cream
  • 1-2 tbsp chopped fresh sage
  • 2 tbsp 100% real maple syrup, or to taste (be careful not to make it too sweet)
Reduce the mushroom juices for about 1 minute or so. Add the cream and oil and whisk together. Cook another 1-2 minutes. Add sage and maple syrup. Stir well. Remove from the heat and add to the pasta straight away. Coat the pasta evenly. Garnish with some sage and halloumi bits.