Tuesday, August 12, 2014

All-Canadian Butter Tarts

Canadians LOVE Butter Tarts and that's a fact! I've been making these for years and they always turn out great. I made today's batch with cake and pastry flour just to see if there is a difference and I think there is. The pastry is really light and flaky and I'll probably use the same flour from now on. The tarts should not be over-baked because the filling is best if it is gooey and runny. You'll need a plate to eat these!

1/2 cup chilled butter, cut in cubes
3 Tbsp shortening (lard)
1/2 tsp salt
2 cups all-purpose flour
5-6 Tbsp ice water

1/2 cup raisins (Soaked in boiling water for 5 minutes then rinsed, drained and dried)
1/4 cup butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup corn syrup
1 egg beaten
1 tsp vanilla
few drops lemon juice

1. For the dough: Sift together the flour and salt. In food processor pulse the flour with the butter and shortening until crumbly. With motor running, slowly start adding the tablespoons of ice water, one at a time. 5 is usually enough. The dough will make a ball and stop sticking to the container. Stop processing right away- do NOT over process or the dough will be tough. Shape into a ball, wrap in plastic, and refrigerate for about an hour.

2. For the filling:  In a medium saucepan over medium high heat bring butter, brown sugar,salt, and corn syrup to a gentle simmer, stir just to blend. Simmer for 3 minutes, then let cool for about 5 minutes. Do not boil.

3. Slowly add beaten egg, vanilla and lemon juice to the butter mixture, stirring continuously. Mix well and set aside.

4. Preheat oven to 375F.

5. Roll out 1/2 the chilled dough at a time on a lightly floured surface to about 1/8-1/4 inch thickness. Use a 4" round cutter. Fit shells into a standard-size muffin tin. Put the empty tart shells in the freezer until the oven is well heated.

6. Drop spoonfuls of raisins into the bottom of the shells, then fill each about 3/4 full with the filling. Bake until crust is lightly golden and filling is barely set, about 15-20 minutes.

7. Let cool in the tins for a few minutes and then carefully lift out using a small knife.

Makes 12 tarts

Monday, August 11, 2014

Cinnamon Rolls with Cream Cheese Frosting

Who doesn't love warm cinnamon rolls smothered with a sweet cream cheese icing? We buy them all the time from various supermarkets and doughnut chains but we're always disappointed. They are never what we think they should be. So it's been in my mind to try making them at home for a while and when I recently found this recipe in the Williams Sonoma "Breakfast Comforts" cookbook, I put it on my baking bucket list for the summer. Now baking isn't a lot of fun on a very hot, humid day, but yesterday was just perfect with a warm breeze and no humidity so I rolled up my sleeves and dove in. It's a long process- I think I started at about 1 pm and we were eating these by 7 pm.

Next time I make these I'm going to make a whole lot more filling since we prefer these really cinnamony and really gooey. I'd double the filling I think and I'd throw in a handful of chopped pecans and maybe some raisins. You really need a KitchenAid stand mixer for these since the dough is a lot of work and kneading it would be very strenuous! I used my new (and so beautiful) red porcelain cast iron skillet which looks so pretty while they bake, but it is maybe a little too small and the rolls would be better in a little larger pan. Plus I think you could easily cut the dough into 12 rolls since it rises so well.

Look for a warm place in your kitchen- my perfect place is up under my under the cupboard lights with the lights turned on. I perched my bowl and pan on the toaster to keep it close to the warm lights and it worked a charm!

Good luck!

Sweet Yeast Dough (see below for recipe)
1/2 cup Firmly packed light brown sugar
6 Tbsp (90 gm) butter, at room temperature
2 tsp cinnamon
flour for rolling out dough

Cream Cheese Icing
1 1/2 cups icing sugar
2 oz cream cheese, at room temperature
2 Tbsp butter. at room temperature
1/2 tsp vanilla
finely grated zest of one orange
1/4 cup whole milk, or as needed

1. Prepare the dough as directed below and let rise 1 1/2- 2 hours.
2. In a bowl, using a handheld mixer on medium speed, beat together the brown sugar, butter, and cinnamon until combined, about 30 seconds. Set aside.

3. Punch down the dough and turn out onto floured work surface. Dust the top of the dough with flour and roll out into a 16x14" rectangle, with the long side facing you. Spread filling evenly over the dough, leaving a 1" border at the top and bottom. Starting at the long side of the rectangle farthest from you, roll up the rectangle into a log. Pinch the seams to seal. Cut the log crosswise into 8-9 slices with a sharp knife.

4. Butter a 9x13" baking pan. Arrange the slices, cut side up, in the pan. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm spot until doubled, about 75-90 minutes. Or refrigerate overnight until doubled in size, 8-12 hours. Remove from the refrigerator 1 hour before baking.

5. Preheat oven to 350F. Bake until the rolls are golden brown, about 30 minutes. Transfer the pan to a wire cooling rack and let cool for about 15 minutes.

6. Meanwhile, make the icing. Sift the icing sugar into a bowl and add the cream cheese, butter, vanilla, and the orange zest. Using a handheld mixer on low speed, beat the mixture until crumbly. Gradually beat in enough of the milk to make a thick but pourable icing. Pour the icing over the warm rolls, and then spread it out with a spatula. Let cool for 15 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Makes 8-9 rolls.

Sweet Yeast Dough Recipe

1 cup whole milk
1/2 cup granulated sugar
5 Tbsp (75 gm) butter, melted and cooled
3 large eggs
1 pkg quick rise yeast (2 1/2 tsp)
5 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, as needed
1 1/4 tsp salt

1. In the bowl of  stand mixer (mine is a KitchenAid), combine milk, sugar, butter, eggs, and yeast. Add 4 1/2 cups flour and the salt. Place the bowl on the mixer and fit with the paddle attachment. Mix on medium-low speed, adding as much flour as needed to make a soft dough that does not stick to the bowl.
2. Remove the paddle attachment and fit the mixer with the dough hook. Knead the dough on medium-low speed, adding more flour if needed until the dough is smooth but still soft, 6-7 minutes. Shape the dough into a ball.
3. Butter a large bowl. Add the dough and turn over to coat with the butter. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and let rise until doubled in size, about 1 1/2- 2 hours. Use at once. Or punch down the dough, cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to 12 hours. Punch down the dough and let stand at room temperature for 2 hour before using.

Makes about 2 1/2 lbs (1.1 kg)

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Buttermilk Pancakes

If you're not making your pancakes this way-- you're making them wrong! The added step of whipping your egg whites makes all the difference in the fluffiness of the pancake. It really does!

2 cups all-purpose flour
2 Tbsp Sugar (or a little more)
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 1/3 cups buttermilk
3 large eggs separated
1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
Canola oil
Maple syrup

1. In a large bowl, sift together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In a medium bowl, whisk together the 2 1/3 cups buttermilk, the egg yolks, and the melted butter. Pour the buttermilk mixture into the flour mixture and stir until combined. The batter should be very lumpy.

2. In a small bowl, using a handheld mixer on high speed, beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form. Stir about 1/3 of the whites into the batter to lighten it, then fold in the rest of the whites. The batter will smooth out, but there will be some lumps.

3. Place a griddle on high heat until hot. Test it by flicking a little water and it should skitter across the surface. Lightly oil the griddle.

4. For each pancake, pour about 1/3 cup batter onto the griddle and spread it using the back of the measuring cup.Cook until bubbles form on the surface, about 1 1/2 minutes. Flip the pancakes and cook another minute until the other sides are golden brown, about another minute or so.

5. Serve piping hot with butter and maple syrup. Or if you have it- Dutch "Stroop", which is so delicious-- to me it's like a combination of molasses and corn syrup and is "lekker", as the Dutch say!

Variations: We love adding fresh (or frozen) blueberries to the pancakes as they cook. Just drop lots onto the top of the first side before you flip it. Bananas, raspberries, or chocolate chips are also great!

Friday, August 8, 2014

Kim's Homemade Granola

This not only makes your house smell divine while it's baking, but it tastes delicious even before it's cool.

6 cups large flake oats
1 cup nuts (I used a mix of walnuts and pecans), coarsely chopped
1/2 to 1 cup sunflower seeds, unsalted
1/2 to 1 cup pumpkin seeds, unsalted
2/3 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup maple syrup
1/2 cup canola oil
1 tsp sea salt

1 1/2 cups raisins
1 1/2 cups dried cranberries

1. Mix the first 5 ingredients in a large bowl.
2. Mix the next 3 ingredients in a small bowl.
3. Pour liquid ingredients over the oat mixture and mix well.
4. Pour onto two large parchment covered cookie sheets.
5. Bake at 250F for 1 hour and 15 minutes.
6. Let cool for 15 minutes then break into clumps.
7. Add raisins and cranberries and toss well
8. Store in tightly sealed containers.

Walnut Chocolate Chip Banana Bread

My family has always loved banana bread but I do get flack when I change the recipe even a little. There are purists among us and they think it should have only bananas, nothing more. But I really love chocolate in mine so this recipe is perfect. It makes a nice high loaf with a moist tasty center. Plus the walnuts add a little crunch. So good!

3 very ripe bananas, peeled
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
6 Tbsp (3 oz) butter, at room temperature
3/4 cups sugar
2 large eggs, beaten
1/2 cup sour cream, at room temperature
1 cup chocolate chips (I use milk chocolate)
1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts (toasted if you prefer)

1. Preheat the oven to 350 F. Lightly butter a 9x5" loaf pan. Line the bottom and long sides of the pan with parchment paper.Butter the top of the paper. Dust the pan with flour, tapping out the excess.

2. Using a fork, mash the bananas in a bowl; you should have about 1 cup. In another bowl, sift the flour, baking soda, and salt.

3. In another bowl, using a handheld mixer on high speed, beat together the butter and sugar until light in colour and texture, about 3 minutes. Gradually beat in the eggs and then the mashed bananas. Reduce the speed to low and add the flour mixture in 3 additions alternately with the sour cream in 2 additions, beginning and ending with the flour mixture and stopping to scrape down the bowl as needed, beating until smooth. Fold in the chocolate chips and half the walnuts. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top. Sprinkle the remaining walnuts on top.

4. Bake until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, about 1 hour. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool in the pan for about 5 minutes. Turn out onto the wire rack and remove paper. Invert again, and let cool completely. Cut into slices and serve warm or at room temperature. We like a smudge of butter on ours!

Makes 1 loaf

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Upside-Down Peach Cake

Such a popular cake from days gone by. I made this one today because my dear old dad asked me to. Plus peaches are now in season and that makes it the right thing to do!

3/4 cups butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 cups sliced peeled fresh peaches
3/4 cup sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup milk

1. Melt 1/4 cup butter; pour into an ungreased 9" round baking pan. Sprinkle with brown sugar. Arrange peach slices in single layer over sugar.
2. In a large bowl, cream sugar and remaining butter until light and fluffy. Beat in egg and vanilla. Combine the flour, baking powder and salt; add to creamed mixture alternately with milk, beating well after each addition.
3. Bake at 350F for 45-50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Serve warm.

Yield: 8 servings

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Ginger-Apricot Muffins

I must say these turned out to be a new favourite for everyone, guests and family as well. The ginger adds a delightful kick to the muffin, while the preserves are a nice surprise under the sugary-crisp tops. We especially love these with a tiny smear of fresh butter on them. I used orange juice instead of apricot nectar and they still turned out lovely. Enjoy!

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup granulated sugar
1 Tbsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
2/3 cup canola oil
1/2 cup whole milk
2 large eggs
1/3 cup apricot nectar
1/2 cup finely chopped crystallized ginger
1/4- 1/2 cup apricot preserves/jam
2 Tbsp Turbinado sugar

1. Preheat oven to 400 F. Butter and flour 12 standard muffin cups or line with paper liners. Butter the top of the muffin pan.
2. In a bowl, sift together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. In another bowl, whisk together the oil, milk, eggs, and apricot nectar. Pour the milk mixture into the flour mixture and mix together just until combined. Fold in the crystallized ginger.
3. Spoon half the batter evenly among the 12 muffin cups. Spoon 1-2 tsps of the apricot preserves into each cup, taking care not to let it touch the sides of the cup. Top with the remaining batter, covering the preserves. Sprinkle the tops with the Turbinado sugar, dividing evenly.
4. Bake until the muffins are golden brown and spring back when pressed lightly with your fingertips, about 20 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool for 15 minutes. Invert onto the rack and let cool slightly before serving.

Makes 12 muffins
Adapted from Williams Sonoma Breakfast Comforts

Monday, August 4, 2014

Blueberry Coffee Cake

1 large egg
1/2 cup fat-free milk
1/2 cup fat-free yogurt
3 Tbsp Vegetable oil
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup granulated sugar
4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp table salt
1 1/2 cups frozen blueberries
1 Tbsp all-purpose flour
2 Tbsp Turbinado sugar
2 Tbsp sliced almonds
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon

1. Preheat oven to 400 F. Whisk together the first 4 ingredients in a large bowl.
2. Sift together flour and next 3 ingredients in another bowl. Stir flour mixture into egg mixture just until dry ingredients are moistened.
3. Toss 1 1/4 cups blueberries in 1 Tbsp flour, fold into batter. Pour into a lightly greased (with shortening) 9" spring-form pan. Sprinkle with remaining 1/4 cup blueberries.
4. Stir together 2 Tbsp Turbinado sugar, sliced almonds, and cinnamon; sprinkle over batter.
5. Bake at 400 F for 25-30 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in centre comes out clean. Cool in a pan on a wire rack 15 minutes; remove sides from pan.

Makes 10 servings

My Changes
I used 2% milk & 0% Greek yogurt, and baked it a little longer than 30 minutes, until it bounced back when touched.

Quick Tip
Combine the dry ingredients the night before for a quick morning start. Serve this cake warm or at room temperature.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Spaghetti alla Bolognese



This is our favourite meat and vegetable sauce for pasta, especially spaghetti. It is rich and delicious and doesn’t end up being a heavy, thick tomato based sauce. The meat and the richness of the wine come through.


Meat Sauce

4 Tbsp olive oil

1 onion, finely chopped

1 Tsp chopped garlic (from a jar)

4 strips bacon, chopped

1 carrot, diced

1 celery stick, diced

500 gm/1 lb lean ground beef

150 ml/1/4 pint red wine

125 ml/4 oz milk

grated nutmeg

28 oz can chopped tomatoes

1 Tbsp sugar

1 tsp chopped fresh oregano

salt and pepper


500 gm/ 1 lb spaghetti

1 tsp olive oil

freshly ground pepper

parmesan cheese, grated


Make the sauce: heat oil in a saucepan and saute the onion, garlic, bacon, celery, and carrot until soft and golden. Add the beef and cook, stirring occasionally, until browned.


Add the red wine and bring to a boil. Reduce heat slightly and cook over medium heat until most of the wine has evaporated. Season with salt and pepper.


Add the milk, and a little grated nutmeg, stirring well. Continue cooking until the milk has been absorbed by the meat mixture. Add the tomatoes, sugar and oregano. Reduce the heat to a bare simmer and cook, uncovered for 2-2 1/2 hours until the sauce is reduced and richly coloured.


Bring a large pot of salted water to the boil. Add the spaghetti and olive oil and cook until tender but firm to the bite (al dente). Drain well and season with pepper. Pour over the meat sauce and serve the Parmesan separately.


Serves 4

Friday, June 6, 2014

Delicious Dutch Boterkoek

2 C Flour
1 C Butter (cold)
1 1/3 C Sugar
1 Tbsp Baking Powder
1 tsp Vanilla
1 tsp Almond extract
Dash of Salt
1 Egg (reserve a bit of the white)

Combine all ingredients reserving a small bit of egg white and knead together with hands,
 being careful to incorporate all the butter

Put in a round cake pan and pat down. 
Brush with reserved egg white. 
Mark edges with a fork.

Bake at 385 for 15-20 minutes. The middle should still be slightly wet and not over-baked.

Let cool and thinly slice. 
This is a rich filling cookie/cake and you truly only need a small piece with a cup of tea

Recipe can be doubled & frozen.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Chocolate Caramel Bars

This is one of the old recipes that I used to make when my family was young (and I had lots of help eating it!). Now I'd have to say that it makes an awful lot and we just don't eat like we used to!

14 oz (400 gm) or about 64 individually wrapped caramels
1 cup (250 ml) evaporated milk
2 cups (500 ml) all purpose flour
2 cups (500 ml) oats
1 1/2 cups (375 ml) lightly packed brown sugar
1 tsp (5 ml) baking soda
1/2 tsp (2 ml) salt
1 1/2 cups (375 ml) butter or margarine, softened
2 cups or 1 pkg (300 g) semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup (250 ml) walnuts, chopped

Melt caramels and evaporated milk  on low heat, stirring until smooth.
Combine flour, oats, brown sugar, baking soda, and salt in large mixing bowl.
Cut in butter until mixture is crumbly.
Press half of mixture into 15" x 10" pan or 2 9" square pans.
Bake at 350 F (180 C) for 5 minutes.
Sprinkle chocolate chips and walnuts evenly over baked crust.
Pour caramel mixture on top.
Sprinkle with the remaining crumb mixture.
Bake 15- 20 minutes longer or until golden.
cool and cut into bars