Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Cookie Exchange - Cardamom Spiced Cookie

Again this year, the Savour Sisters registered to be a part of the Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap. It brings together an international group food bloggers to participate in a massive cookie exchange. This year we are again excited to be partnering with COOKIES FOR KIDS’ CANCER, a national non-profit organization committed to funding new therapies used in the fight against pediatric cancer. Each participant makes a donation in addition to their cookie contribution. In total, this swap raised over thirteen thosand dollars! A huge thank you goes to Lindsay from Love and Olive Oil, and Julie from The Little Kitchen for all their hard work in organizing this great event. I would also like to thank the fantastic bloggers that sent cookies to us, check them out:

Not Crocker - Vancouver, BC
Gastronomical Sovereignty - Toronto, ON
Peanut Butter and Onion - Limoges, ON

This was the cookie that we shipped this year.
Cardamom Spice Cookie - Inspired by Martha Stewart

6 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon salt
1 1/2 tablespoon ground cardamom
1 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1 cup butter, softened
1 cup dark-brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup corn syrup
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup whipping cream
1 large egg
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

1. In a large bowl mix together flour, baking soda, salt, cardamom, allspice, pepper and clover
2. In a separate large bowl cream butter.
3. In a saucepan, bring brown and white sugar, corn syrup and water to a boil stirring until the sugar is dissolved. Pour the sugar mixture over the butter and mix until well combined and slightly cooled, then add cream, egg and vanilla.
4. Add the flour mixture to the batter until just combined.
5. Divide the dough into thirds and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate overnight.
6. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper.
7. Take one of the disks out of the fridge and let soften for 15-30 minutes.
8. Roll the dough out to 1/8" thickness, and cut with cookie cutters or make circles with a straight edged glass.
9. Place the cookies on the parchment and bake for 10-12 minutes until edges are lightly browned.
10. Transfer to wire racks to cool fully, store in an airtight container.

Makes many!!!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Spectacular Spanakopita

With the holiday season right around the corner, I like to think about dishes that can serve multipurposes. Spanakopita, the traditional Greek spinach pie is one of those ideal dishes. Make small ones and they make great appetizers or larger ones that make great entrees especially when served with a salad. You can make these ahead of time, freeze them, and they will be ready to pull out when company comes.    

2 packages (448 g each) cooked frozen spinach, thawed
2 medium onions, chopped finely
2 Tbsp garlic, minced
250 grams feta cheese, crumbled
1/4 Cup chopped fresh dill
2 Tbsp dried basil leaves
2 large eggs
3 Tbsp olive oil
6 Tbsp butter, melted
1 package filo pastry, thawed

Preheat oven to 375°F.
1. in a large frying pan, heat olive oil and saute onions for 5 minutes until soft and slightly browned. Add garlic and cook for an additional minute.
2. Squeeze all the excess water from the spinach and then add to the pan and stir to combine. Take the pan off the heat and let cool for about 5-10 minutes.
3. To the pan add the crumbled feta, fresh dill and basil. Taste the mixture and add salt and pepper as desired. (we find some feta very salty and the mixture might not require additional salt.
4. Crack eggs into a bowl and scramble lightly.  Add eggs to the mixture and stir to combine. Put this aside until you are ready to make the spanakopitas.
5. Melt the butter in a small bowl, and unroll the filo pastry carefully and cover with a slightly damp towel.
6. Take 1 phyllo sheet from stack and arrange on clean, dry, work surface with the short side nearest you (keeping remaining sheets covered) and brush lightly with some of the melted butter. Put a second sheet on top of the first and brush with more butter. Add a third sheet, but do not add more butter.
7. If making lunch sized spanakopitas, cut the stack in half lengthwise, if making appetizers, cut the stack in 3 strips. A pizza cutter or long chef knife works best.
8. For lunch sized, use approximately 2/3 of a cup of filling near 1 corner of a strip on the end nearest to you, for appetizers, use approximately 2 tablespoons of filing.
9. Fold the corner of phyllo over to enclose filling and form a triangle. Continue folding strip (like a flag), maintaining triangle shape. Don't worry about any funny ends, you can stick them down with a little butter.
10. Put triangle, seam side down, on a large baking sheet covered in parchment and brush top with butter. Make more triangles in same manner, using all of the phyllo.
11. Bake triangles in middle of oven until golden brown, 20 to 25 minutes. Serve hot or room temperature.

If you want to freeze them for later use, do not brush the top with butter before freezing. Freeze individually on a cookie sheet then transfer to an airtight container until needed.  Before baking, thaw and then brush with butter before baking.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

Chocolate chip oatmeal is my favorite flavour for cookies. Nutty oatmeal and warm, sweet, gooey chocolate.  I find that most recipes are too sweet or greasy, but this one has a nice balance between all the flavours. This recipe makes about 3 dozen cookies, and freezes really well. I usually roll the dough into balls and then freeze them so that I can bake them off a few at a time so they are always fresh. 

1 cup butter, softened
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 cups rolled oats
1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup chocolate chips, we prefer dark chocolate

1. Preheat oven to 325 F.
2. Cream together butter and sugars until smooth. 
3. Add eggs and vanilla and blend in.
4. Stir in flour, baking soda and salt. Stir in oats and chocolate chunks.
5. Drop by tablespoons onto a greased baking sheet and bake for 10-12 minutes, until golden brown around the edges.
6. Cool on a wire rack, if you can wait that long.

All you need now is a glass of ice cold milk.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Fruit Crisp

In the fall, we all crave warm comfort foods. This applies to desert as well.  Fruit crisp is the perfect answer to the call for those cold nights. This desert is super easy to prepare as well, you can use whatever fruit you have available, (apples, berries or stone fruit), and frozen fruit works beautifully as well, you just need to cook it a little longer to make sure that it is cooked all the way through.

For the Base:
5 cups of rhubarb
3 cups of strawberries
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup flour

For the Crumble:
1 cup oatmeal
1/2 flour
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup softened butter
1/2 cup toasted pecans (optional)


1. Cut the rhubarb and strawberries into large bite sized pieces.
2. Toss the fruit with sugar and flour and put into a casserole dish.
3. Mix the crumble ingredients together until well combined.
4. Cover the fruit with the crumble mixture.
5. Bake at 350 degrees for about 45 minutes, until the crumble is browned and the fruit is bubbling.
6. Let sit for 15 minutes before serving. Serve with ice cream or whipped cream.

Note: You may want to put the casserole dish on a cookie sheet when placing in the oven in case it bubbles over.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Classic French Onion Soup

Ever since I was a little girl, French Onion Soup has been one of my favorite dishes to order at restaurants. The rich beefy broth surrounding the tender sweet onions, but my absolute favorite part is the browned cheese that oozes and crisps on the outside of the bowl.  There are as many theories on how to make the best french onion soup as there are stars in the sky, mine is probably one of the most simple and truly celebrates the onion as the heart of the dish. There is no sherry in my version as I find it just makes the dish too sweet.  This is not a soup you can make quickly for dinner, if you want it to really work, it takes a lot of time and care in the caramelizing of the onions to get them just right, but the best thing is that this soup freezes really well, so make a big batch and save some for later.

Serves 6.

2 kilograms of large white onions, about 5
4 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoon vegetable oil
1/3 cup water
2 litres beef stock
2 sprigs thyme, stems removed
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
6 slices of stale french bread, or baguette
2 cups Gruyere cheese, grated
Salt and pepper

1. Prepare the onions by cutting in half, then slicing evenly.
2. In a large stock pot melt butter and oil, add the onions and the water on medium-high heat.
3. Put a lid on the pot and simmer the onions for 10 minutes, stirring frequently. Remove the lid and cook until all the liquid has evaporated.
4. Reduce the heat to the lowest setting, and saute, stirring frequently, until the onions are a rich caramel colour. This will take between 1 and 2 hours. Note: the slower you do this, the better the results.
5. Once caramelized, add the thyme, vinegar and stock. You can also add 1/2 cup of red wine at this point if desired. Season with salt and pepper.
6. Simmer for 30 minutes. Season as needed.
7. When you are ready to serve. Turn the broiler to high.
8. Add hot soup to onion soup bowls or oven proof dishes.
9. Add baguette to top of soup and mound with cheese.
10. Put bowls on sturdy cookie sheet or shallow roasting pan, and broil until cheese is melted and golden.
11. Serve immediately, be careful the dishes will be hot!

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Celebrating RED and WHITE!

In honour of CANADA DAY, we wanted to share an easy dessert, great for taking to any family occasion. The red velvet cupcake is simple as it is delicious. The sour cream balances the sweetness and adds moisture. This luscious red cupcake is then topped off with a tangy goat and cream cheese icing, making it more vibrant and special for this occasion.
Recipe makes 30 cupcakes.

TIP: We used Wilton’s gel food colouring available at most kitchen stores.

For the cupcake:
2 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup butter, softened
2 cups sugar
4 eggs
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup milk
1 oz bottle red food colour
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
2. Mix flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt in medium bowl. Set aside.
3. Beat butter and sugar in large bowl with electric mixer on medium until light and fluffy.
4. Beat in eggs, one at a time.
5. Mix in sour cream, milk, food color and vanilla.
6. Gradually beat in flour mixture on low speed until just blended. Do not overbeat.
7. Spoon batter into 30 paper-lined muffin cups, filling each cup 2/3 full.
8. Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until toothpick inserted into cupcake comes out clean.
9. Cool in pans on wire rack 5 minutes.
10. Remove from pans; cool completely.

For the tangy goat cheese frosting:
¼ cup soft goat cheese
1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
2 tablespoons sour cream
2 teaspoons Vanilla Extract
3 cups icing sugar

For the icing, blend all ingredients together until they are all fluffy and lump free. Pipe or spead onto the cooled cupcakes.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Grilled Caesar Salad

Caesar salad is so classic, and when done well, it really doesn't need any tampering. But sometimes its time to try something a little different. One of the cool food trends for 2013 is grilled salad greens and it make for such a fun option especially when you are already barbecuing. It only takes a few extra minutes, but it really takes the humble caesar to a different level.

Hey and you have to admit, that's a pretty sexy looking salad!

Serves 6.

2 cloves of garlic
1 teaspoon of anchovy paste (optional)
Pinch of salt
2 egg yolks
4 tablespoons lemon juice
1/2 cup olive oil
1/3 cup finely grated parmesan cheese. (Parmiggiano-Reggiano is our favorite)
Pepper to taste
6 slices of crusty white bread  - plus a little additional olive oil for brushing
3 hearts of romaine lettuce with the core intact

1.  Using the side of your chef knife, grind the garlic with a pinch of salt until it is smooth. You can also use a mortar and pestle, or blend it with the other ingredients using an immersion blender.
2. Put the garlic in a medium bowl with the anchovy paste, and egg yolks. Mix until emulsified using whisk, electric beaters.
3. While beating, slowly add in olive oil and lemon juice. Then whisk in parmesan until the whole mixture is smooth and creamy.
4. Pepper to taste, and store in an airtight container.

To assemble:
1.  Brush the slices of bread with olive oil and place on medium high Barbeque. Grill just until the bread is nicely marked with grill marks, about 2 minutes per side. When done, slice into bite sized pieces and set aside.
2. Cut the hearts of romaine in half through the core. Put lettuce on the grill, cut side down, and grill only until grill marks appear, rotate and grill all sides.
3. When done, cut the core off the grilled romaine and place in a large bowl. (You can cut the romaine into bite sized pieces if you desire, but we love the look when whole leaves are served)
4. Toss the romaine with the dressing and then lay the leaves on a large serving plate.
5. Arrange lettuce with the toasted bread and additional shaved parmesan cheese.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Coo Coo for Coconut!

We were asked last week to collaborate with the amazingly talented doctor of traditional chinese medicine, Kim Graham. She expressed her passion for coconut and with the recent heat wave we thought a cool and refreshing popcicle experience was in order!!! We hope you enjoy!
                                                                                           Makes: 8 x 1/3 cup popcicles.

Note: We got the trays from superstore for $2, they only make 7 popcicles but there is enough popsicle mixture left over for 1 more.

3/4 cup coconut milk
2 cups frozen mango pieces (slightly thawed)
2 cups frozen raspberries (slightly thawed)
3 tablespoons honey
1/3 cup unsweetened finely shredded coconut (optional)

1. In a large bowl or a blender add coconut milk, frozen fruit , and honey.
2. Blend using the blender or an immersion blender until the mixture is smooth. At this point you can pass the mixture through a sieve to remove the raspberry seeds if desired.

3. Stir in the coconut and then divide amongst the popsicle trays. Insert sticks and place in freezer.

4. Freeze for at least 6 hours before eating.

Other good fruit combinations are strawberry and peach, or field berry blends.

Check out Dr. Kim's facebook page at!/Dr.KimTCM?fref=ts

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Game Day Treats!- Nuts and Bolts - 2 varieties

Nuts and bolts are a great treat and an easy, inexpensive crowd pleaser. There are lots of store bought varieties out there, but they are expensive and full of salt. The best thing about making your own nuts and bolts is that you can put in all of your favorite ingredients, whatever they are. They key to success is to have a good balance between flavours in the base mix. We mixed pretzels with Shreddies peanuts, sesame sticks, Cheese Nips and corn nuts, but you can add whatever you like.

We did a bunch of test runs to determine the best seasoning mix to add before baking them, and we just couldn't make up our minds. We just had to give you more than one option, a sweet and a spicy version!
Makes 20 servings.
For the Base:
1 cup Shreddies
1 cup Cheese Bits (we used the ones by Kraft)
1 cup sesame sticks
1 cup corn nuts, plain
1 1/2 cup pretzels
1 1/2 cup unsalted peanuts

Sweet and Salty Topping:
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup water
1 teaspoon cayenne
1 tablespoon finely chopped rosemary

Spicy Masala Topping:
1/2 cup butter
1/4 cup Franks Red Hot Sauce
1/4 cup water
1 tablespoon ground garam masala

1. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees.
2. In a large bowl mix all the base ingredients. You can adjust the proportions of the ingredients based on your preference, but it must total approximately 7 cups.
3. In a small saucepan, combine all the topping ingredients and bring to a boil. As soon as it boils, turn off heat immediately.
4. Pour the topping over the base mixture. Mix well with a wooden spoon. (topping is hot, do not use your hands to mix)
5. Spread the mixture onto a cookie sheet.
6. Bake for 20-25 minutes, mixing every 10 minutes.
7. When done, let cool before putting mix in a bowl.  Store in an airtight container.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Playoff Snacks - The Perfect Pretzel

It's playoff time! Now not everyone is a fan of hockey, and not everyone wants to sit around watching the playoffs all spring. Whether in front of the game or for movie night in with the girls, everyone is going to love these pretzels!

This recipe isn't a Savour Sister original, it is actually Alton Brown's recipe from his show Good Eats. It is so perfect that we just had to share it with everyone. 

It may seem complicated, but in fact it is really easy to do. it just takes a little time and patience.  These pretzels also freeze brilliantly, just throw them in a cold oven, then turn on the heat to 350 degrees. When the preheat cycle is over, the pretzels will be hot and crispy!

1 1/2 cups warm (110 to 115 degrees F) water
1 tablespoon sugar
1 package active dry yeast
22 ounces all-purpose flour approximately 4 1/2 cups
2 ounces unsalted butter, melted
2 teaspoons kosher salt
Vegetable oil, for pan
5 cups water
1/3 cup baking soda
1 large egg yolk beaten with 1 tablespoon water
Pretzel salt (or I also use cinnamon and sugar)

1. Combine the water, yeast, and sugar in a large bowl, or stand mixer bowl. Allow to sit for 5 minutes or until the mixture begins to foam. 
2. Add the flour,butter and salt to the bowl. Mix until well combined, then knead until the dough is smooth and pulls away from the side of the bowl, approximately 4 to 5 minutes. 
3. Remove the dough from the bowl, clean the bowl and then oil it well with vegetable oil. 
4. Return the dough to the bowl, cover with plastic wrap and sit in a warm place for approximately 50 to 55 minutes or until the dough has doubled in size.
5. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. 
6. Line 2 half-sheet pans with parchment paper and lightly brush with the vegetable oil. Set aside.
7. Bring the 5 cups of water and the baking soda to a rolling boil in a large saucepan.
8. In the meantime, turn the dough out onto a slightly oiled work surface and divide into 12 equal pieces.
9. Roll out each piece of dough into a 20-inch rope. Make a U-shape with the rope, holding the ends of the rope, cross them over each other and press onto the bottom of the U in order to form the shape of a pretzel. 
10. Place onto the parchment-lined half sheet pan. Place the pretzels into the boiling water, 1 by 1, for 30 seconds. Remove them from the water using a large flat spatula. 
11. Return to the half sheet pan, brush the top of each pretzel with the beaten egg yolk and water mixture and sprinkle with the pretzel salt. 
12. Bake until dark golden brown in color, approximately 12 to 14 minutes. Transfer to a cooling rack for at least 5 minutes before serving.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Pasta Perfection - Greek Orzo Salad

This salad is cool, refreshing, and delicious! Inspired by traditional greek salad ingredients with a light and zesty dressing. Perfect for a BBQ, potluck, or family function! And it tastes just as good the next day so feel free to make ahead of time!

Serves 10.

Ingredients for the salad:

1 1/2 cups uncooked orzo (rice-shaped pasta)
1 1/2 cups crumbled seasoned feta cheese
2 cups of chopped cucumber
1 pack cherry tomatoes (1 pint)
3/4 cup pitted Kalamata olives
4 green onions, chopped

Ingredients for the dressing:

3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste


1.  Cook orzo in large pot of salted, boiling water. Ensure orzo is cooked al dente, approximately 8-10 minutes
2. Drain orzo in colander, rinse with cold water to stop the orzo from continuing to cook.
3. Add feta, cucumber, tomatoes, olives, and green onions
4. Combine lemon juice, vinegar, mustard and olive oil in small bowl.
5.  Add dressing into the orzo salad and mix well.
6. Refrigerate at least 30 minutes before serving for flavours to meld.

NOTE: Artichoke hearts, capers or pine nuts are awesome additions as well!

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Classic Homemade English Toffee

I don't have much of a sweet tooth, but there is something about Traditional English Toffee that I just can not refuse. There is something about the combination of crisp toffee, dark chocolate and pecans that I just adore. The problem is that it is very expensive to buy and not that easy to find. Making candy is a little tricky, but doable if you prepare everything before beginning, have a good digital thermometer, and be cautious of the hot sugar.  Trust me this recipe is totally worth it.


1 cup butter 
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup chocolate chips
1 cup coarsely broken pecans

1. Toast the pecans by baking on a cookie sheet for 8-10 minutes at 350 degrees.
2. Lightly grease a 7" x 11" cake pan, You can use a standard 9" x 14" but the result will be a thinner candy.
2. In a heavy saucepan, add the butter, sugar, water and salt.
3. Cook on high heat, stirring constantly and being extremely careful until mixture reaches hard crack stage. (300 degrees F). The mixture will be a rich caramel colour.

Note: You can also do this without a candy thermometer by filling a bowl with ice water, then drop a little of the molten syrup in cold water and it will form hard ball that won't flatten between your fingers. Be extremely careful to avoid burning yourself.

4. Once ready, pour the mixture quickly into the prepared pan, spreading evenly. Note: the pan will get very warm.
5. Let it sit for a couple minutes, then sprinkle the chocolate over the toffee.
6. Let it sit for a few more minutes letting the heat melt the chocolate, then using an offset spreader or spatula, spread the soft chocolate over the toffee. Then sprinkle the pecans over the whole thing.
7. Once the toffee has cooled completely, it can be turned out of the pan, broken into pieces and stored, in an airtight container, or frozen.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Beautiful Brioche

Brioche is one of the greatest bread based inventions ever! This beautiful, rich, eggy and slightly sweet treat is very traditional for Easter meals, especially brunch. Our mother has made it every year since we were children, and it just gets better and better. Brioche seems very complicated, because it has quite a few steps and needs to be started the day before you want to serve it, but in truth, most of the time spent is waiting for the dough to rise. It is actually a very easy dough to put together and it is worth every minute of effort. This recipe was created from the amalgamation of many different recipes to make it as easy as possible to follow.

Brioche is best served slightly warm with butter. It is also good toasted, and the leftovers make brilliant french toast!

Makes: 1 loaf.

1 tablespoon yeast
1/4 cup milk, warmed
2 tablespoons flour
1 1/2 cups flour
2 tablespoons icing sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons milk
3 eggs (2 for the bread, 1 for the egg wash)
1/3 cup butter, softened
Zest of 1 lemon

Juice of 1/2 lemon
1/2 cup icing sugar

1. In a small bowl, warm the milk in the microwave until it is just warmer than body temperature. (105°–115°F.) Stir in yeast and flour to make a smooth paste. Let sit for 10 minutes till foamy.
2. In a large bowl add, flour, icing sugar, salt, and lemon. Stir gently. 
3. Using fingers, or 2 knives, cut in butter till evenly distributed.
4. Add milk, eggs, and yeast mixture. Stir mixture until the dough just comes together.
5. Put the dough out onto a lightly floured counter, kneed 3-4 minutes till the dough fully incorporated and is smooth.
6. Lightly grease a large bowl and put the dough in to rest. Cover with Saran Wrap and a damp tea towel. Let rise for 30 minutes. Then refrigerate 8 hours or overnight. (This helps create the distinct flavour of brioche.)
7. Now it's time to form the loaf, we love the look of doing a braid. To do this, divide the dough into 3 equal portions, roll them into 24" logs. Lie the logs side by side and pinch one end together well. Braid the strands together loosely, (don't pull or twist, but "flop" each strand on top of the center strand without leaving gaps). At the finish, pinch the second end together tightly. (You may have to adjust to make sure the loaf is even.)
8. Put the loaf onto a lightly greased cookie sheet. Let proof covered with Saran Wrap and a damp tea towel. Let rise for 90 minutes.
9. Make an egg wash with the remaining egg and a tablespoon of water. Brush the wash onto the dough.
10. Bake at 350 degrees for approximately 35 minutes, until the loaf is golden brown. Let sit 5 minutes, then lift off the baking sheet and cool on a rack.
11. To make the glaze: mix lemon juice and icing sugar until smooth. Spoon onto the brioche and spread evenly when still slightly warm.


Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Romanoff Potato Popovers

Romanoff Potatoes are the perfect Easter side dish. Rich and cheezy, they are the perfect pair to both ham and roast beef for dinner on Easter Sunday. This traditional potato casserole uses sour cream, cheese, onions and scallions to dress up the basic boiled potato.  They can also be made a day ahead of time to make your dinner go more smoothly. The best part of this dish is the crust that forms as they bake in the oven. We wanted to get the most crispy crust possible while keeping the inside creamy. So we bake ours in greased muffin tins. They look beautiful and taste awesome.

Makes: 18 Popovers.

6 large russet potatoes
1 cup sour cream
1 cup cheddar cheese, grated
1 medium white onion, finely diced
3 scallions or green onions, sliced finely
1 teaspoon cayenne powder
Salt and pepper to taste

1. Peel potatoes and cut into quarters. Put into a large pot of salted water and boil until cooked, about 30 minutes.
2. While the potatoes are cooking, saute the onion in butter till translucent and golden brown.
3. When fully cooked, drain the potatoes well and return to the pot. Let the potatoes cool slightly and allow all moisture to evaporate.
4. Using a fork or potato masher, mash the potatoes roughly. (We refer them to still have small chunks remaining.
5. In a bowl, mix the sour cream, onions, cheese, scallions, and cayenne. Pour this mixture over the potatoes and mix to combine. Salt and pepper to taste. 
At this point, you can refrigerate the mixture overnight or until you are ready to bake.
6. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease muffin tins thoroughly with butter.
7. Spoon the potato mixture into the muffin tins. Do not pack the mixture.
8. Bake for 45 - 50 minutes, or until golden brown and hot though.
9. Use a sharp knife to release the popovers from the pans.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Hot Cross Buns

Easter is a holiday full of symbolism and tradition. It is the most important of the Christian holidays, celebrating the resurrection of Jesus. It celebrates rebirth and renewal, and the beginning of a new growing season. Whether you are religious or not, it is a time of celebration, and family and in our house wonderful food. 

Hot cross buns are a staple treat around Easter time. These sweet buns filled with spices and fruits are fantastic served with butter or jam straight from the oven. Traditional hot cross buns are made with raisins or candied fruit, but we prefer to make them with dried fruits such as cranberries and mango to give them a fresher taste. I don't like using pie dough or flour water paste to make the cross, I just carve a cross in the top with a sharp knife before baking. The glaze will then settle in the hollows.  These are incredibly simple to make, but have quite a few steps, so make sure you have enough time before you need to serve them.

Makes 2 dozen buns.

1 cup milk
2 packages active dry yeast
1/2 cup granulated sugar
4 cups flour
2 teaspoons ginger
2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons cold butter
3 large eggs
3/4 cup dried cranberries
3/4 cup dried mango, diced to the same size as cranberries

1. In a small bowl, warm milk in the microwave until just warmer than body temperature (105°–115°F.)
2. Stir in yeast and 1 teaspoon of sugar.  Let mixture stand 5 minutes, or until foamy.
3. In a small bowl put cranberries and mango. Pour enough hot water on fruit to cover. Let stand for 10 minutes to plump, then drain all water off and set aside.
4. Into a large bowl sift together flour, ginger, cinnamon, salt, and remaining granulated sugar.
5. Add butter blend into flour mixture with pastry blender or fingers until mixture resembles coarse meal. 
6. Lightly beat 2 eggs in a bowl. Make a well in center of flour mixture and pour in yeast and egg mixture, and fruit. Stir mixture until a dough is formed. 
7. Transfer dough to a floured surface and with floured hands knead until smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes. 
8. Place dough to an oiled large bowl and turn to coat. Let dough rise, covered with plastic wrap, in a warm place until doubled in bulk, about 1 1/2 hours.
9. Butter 2 large baking sheets.
10. Turn dough onto a floured surface,  knead dough briefly and then divide into 24 balls. ( I prefer to use a scale and weigh out the balls, but you can also form into two logs and cut each log crosswise into 12 equal pieces.)
13. Form each piece into a ball and arrange about 1 1/2 inches apart on baking sheets. Let buns rise, covered, in a warm place until doubled in bulk, about 45 minutes.

14. Preheat oven to 400°F.
15. At this point, if you like you can use pastry dough to add a cross to the top of the buns. But I prefer to just use a knife to carve a cross in each.
16. In a small bowl, whisk egg with a fork. Brush buns with egg glaze 
17. Bake buns in upper and lower thirds of oven, switching position of sheets halfway through baking, until golden, about 12 minutes. 
18. Transfer buns to a rack to cool slightly. Buns may be made 1 week ahead and frozen, wrapped well. 

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Irish Whisky Soda Bread

It's St Patrick's Day! I have always loved Ireland, and fell even more in love with the country when I vacationed there many years ago. The people are the warmest and most welcoming of anywhere I have ever visited, the scenery and history is rich and beautiful, and the food is amazing. (The beer is pretty good too) I have been making this recipe for whisky honey soda bread for many years. It doesn't have the traditional whisky soaked raisins or caraway, it is a simple soda bread that has a hint of sweetness, but is excellent served with butter and stew or with jam.

Makes 2 x 8" diameter loaves.

4 Cups flour, all purpose
1 Teaspoon salt
1 Teaspoon baking soda
1/4 Cup Butter, chilled
1 Cup raisins or currants (optional)
1/2 Cup honey, liquid
1/4 Cup Irish Whisky
1 Cup buttermilk (you can use regular milk as well)

2 Teaspoons Irish Whisky
2 Teaspoons Milk 
1/4 cup icing sugar

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
2. In large bowl, combine flour, salt and baking soda. 
3. Cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in raisins or currants (if using). 
4. In separate bowl, combine buttermilk, honey and whisky. 
5. Add all at once to dry ingredients; stir just until just incorporated. 
6. Turn dough out onto lightly floured surface. Knead lightly 1 minute (too much handling will toughen loaves, while too little will inhibit rising.) 
7. Divide dough in half and shape each half into an 8" round loaf. Place in two greased 8" cake pans. 
8. Cut a cross 1/2" deep in each loaf.
9. Brush each loaf with milk.
10. Bake 25 to 30 minutes or until loaves sound hollow when tapped on bottoms. Remove from pans; let cool on wire racks.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Apple Tart Tatin to Celebrate Pi Day

Happy Pi Day everyone! 

Celebrated on March 14th (3.14),  Pi Day is an annual celebration commemorating the mathematical constant π (pi). I have a wonderful friend who told me about the tradition of eating pie to celebrate this special holiday, and used to bring several different varieties into the office every year for us to share.

Now not everyone has time to make pies for the office, but for a quick and super easy desert for tonight, try this recipe for a simple version of a classic tarte tatin, or french apple pie. It is a one pan wonder, and you can have it done in 45 minutes with no fuss. A tarte tatin is an upside down pie where the apples are cooked in caramel before adding the pastry to the top and baking. I use store bought puff pastry, because it is quick and reliable.

Most recipes call for the use of a cast iron pan, but I used my aluminum pan and it works perfectly. Just be careful of the handle taking it out of the oven.

Serves 6-8.

5 Large granny smith apples
1/4 Cup butter
1/4 Cup sugar
1 Tablespoon cinnamon
1 Tablespoon lemon juice
1 Piece of puff pastry, thawed

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
2. Roll the pastry out to an even 1/8" thickness, put on baking sheet and keep in the fridge until ready to use.
3. Peel, core and slice the apples in 1/4"slices, put in a bowl and toss with cinnamon and lemon juice.
4. put butter and sugar in the frying pan, heat over medium-high heat until the mixture has melted and turned a golden colour. Take off the heat immediately.
5. Arrange the apple slices nicely into the skillet. the first layer will form the top of the pie. Subsequent layers can be less pretty.
6. Return the pan to the heat, and cook the apples undisturbed for about 10 minutes, until the apples on the bottom are beautifully brown and the apples start to get soft. (You can gently check the apples by lifting them with a knife and replacing them.)
7. When the apples are ready, turn off the heat and remove the pan. Gently lay the pastry over the apples, trimming as required and tucking in the apples.
8. Cut 3 steam vents in the pastry. 
9. Bake for 20-25 minutes until pastry is puffy and golden brown. Let sit for 5-10 minutes before turning the tarte onto a cooling rack. Serve warm or cool.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Pumpkin Power Muffins

Muffins are a brilliant food. They are perfect for breakfast, a great addition to a brunch spread, and a natural afternoon snack. Easy, convienient and inexpensive. The problem with most muffin recipes is that they have little nutritional value, so in fact they aren't as much muffins as they are individual portions of cake. This recipe was inspired by the classic power muffins, lots of good ingredients but far less sweet, stodgy, or heavy. Pumpkin adds great flavour, keeps the muffins moist and replaces most of the fat.  Add your favorite nuts and fruit to change up the taste to fit your palette.

Makes 12 Muffins
Nutritional Value: 160 calories each

1 1/4 cup flour
1/4 cup bran
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1 cup canned pumpkin
1/2 cup buttermilk  (you can also use 1/2 cup of regular milk mixed with 1/2 tablespoon of lemon juice, or plain yogurt instead)
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
large egg
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/3 cup toasted slivered almonds
1/3 cup toasted pumpkin seeds
2 tablespoons, sesame seeds

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
2. Line a standard muffin tin with muffin papers.
3. In a large bowl, mix together the following: flour, bran, baking soda, baking powder, salt, ginger, cinnamon, allspice, both sugars.
4. In a second large bowl, wisk together pumpkin, buttermilk, oil, and egg.
5. Add the cranberries, almonds, and pumpkin seeds into the dry ingredients.
6. Add the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix only till combined. You need to move quickly at this point for best results. The batter will be quite thick.
7. Spoon the batter into the muffin cups, they should be about 3/4 full.
8. Sprinkle with sesame seeds.
9. Bake for 25 minutes or until the muffin bounces back when pressed or a toothpick comes out clean when inserted.
10. Put immediately on a cooling rack.