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Cookbook Club – Jamie Oliver’s Cook with Jamie – February 2011


Well this comes a little late but not because we didn’t love the book only because these babies are keeping us on our toes and they seem to love getting at the computers leaving the mommies without a chance to sit and write. With this meeting of the Cookbook Club we had a feast!

Michael joined us for the first time and started us off with a first course of gnocchi. It was definitely one of the stars of the night! We would suggest making it over and over as it is easy and delicious. The gnocchi was so light and fluffy and the potato flavour was so delicate, some of the best gnocchi we have ever had. Michael could not find gorgonzola cheese so instead he made a gouda and fresh basil sauce, everyone was licking their plates!

For the main dinner we had Mad Moroccan lamb, Honeycomb cannelloni, Indian-style broccoli with spiced yogurt, and Creamy butternut squash. The lamb was yummy but ended up being way too much work to make again, Claudette was working on it for quite some time as there are so many different steps. The cannelloni was a hit, you can read about it here. The broccoli was delicious and was a great new way to enjoy your green veggies, would be a wonderful addition to any Indian dinner. The butternut squash was great but in following the recipe the cream ended up curdling with the wine shortly after assembling. The main dinner was quite good but we could have fed at least twice as many people as were there. We all enjoyed the leftovers for a couple days!


For dessert we had ‘a rather pleasing carrot cake with lime mascarpone icing’ unfortunately we did not find it pleasing. It was cooked for less time than was suggested and it still ended up being dry, not what you want out of a carrot cake.

Categories: All recipes

Honeycomb Cannelloni

March 6, 2011 2 comments


Well I am ready for winter to be over! Just when things were starting to melt they go and get cold and snowy again. With that being said I am not sick of winter food yet. We had our Cookbook Club get together this past weekend and the dish I made was so yummy and fun that I had to share it here right away. The presentation is awesome and if you have a dinner party coming up I highly recommend this dish as it serves quite a few plus the name Honeycomb Canneloni just sounds so good!

All in all this dish was pretty easy to make considering it is canneloni and usually you have to stuff each noodle individually, in this case you do not. With the red sauce you can do any variation really. You could make a meat sauce or even a couple jars of yummy store bought sauce would work. This version was a vegetarian version and was chalk full of a variety of veggies that really came together in flavour. It has mushrooms in it but I even had the mushroom haters loving this dish. Feel free to play with this dish and make it to your liking. The only thing I would recommend it to use the right size of pan to cook it in.

Mom-O-Meter: 4 out of 5
There are a lot of ingredients in the following recipe but you can adapt it to your tastes and time restraints. It truly it delicious and chalk full of goodness!


Honeycomb Cannelloni
Adapted slightly from Jamie Oliver

Ingredients

Red Sauce
a small handful of dried porcini mushrooms (I used the whole small bag they came in)
a few tablespoons of olive oil
3 carrots, finely diced
4 celery stalks, finely diced
1 large red onion, finely diced
1 leek, white and light green parts finely diced
2 cloves of garlic, sliced
3 Portobello mushrooms, finely chopped
5 x 14oz cans good quality plum tomatoes (if using whole pulse lightly in the blender before adding to the sauce)
a large bunch of fresh basil, leaves picked, stalks finely chopped

spinach layer
1 1/2 lb fresh spinach
whole nutmeg

white sauce
1 cup light cream
17 1/2 fl oz crème fraiche (I used 500ml)
4 good quality anchovies in oil, drained and finely chopped (I could not find any so I omitted them)
a handful of grated Parmesan cheese (I used about a cup)

to assemble
sea salt and freshly ground pepper
Parmesan cheese, freshly grated
1lb 2oz cannelloni tubes (I used 2 and a half packages of 250g pasta)
olive oil
a casserole pan that it approximately 8 inches in diameter and 5 inches deep (I used a dutch oven, in which the presentation looked lovely but it looks like Jamie used a metal pot)

Place the dried porcini in a bowl just cover them with boiling water. Leave them to soak for 5 minutes. Meanwhile, put a large heavy bottomed pot over medium-high heat and add the olive oil, carrots, celery, onion and leek. Cook for 8 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, then add the portobello mushrooms. Add the porcini, reserving the liquid, to the pan and cook for another 5 minutes until the vegetables have softened. Strain the porcini liquid and add this to the pot with about a half cup of water. Allow the liduid to reduce slightly, then add the tomatoes and the basil stalks. Season with salt and pepper, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for roughly 45 minutes Jamie says that he has a thick ragu, after an hour my sauce was still quite liquidy but it did not seem to matter in the end as the noodles absorb the liquid. Tear in the basil leaves.

Preheat the oven to 375°F.

In a saucepan, heat a splash of olive oil and add the spinach, stir, then leave to wilt down. Season with salt, pepper and a grating of nutmeg. Put aside.

To make the white sauce mix the cream, crème fraiche, anchovies (if using) and grated parmesan cheese. Adjust seasoning to taste.

To assemble, get the casserole pan out and spoon in some of the white sauce so that it measures about half an inch. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese and top with the spinach. Ladle in half of the red sauce and stand your cannelloni tubes in it. Press the tubes down gently with the palm of your hand, the sauce should come up and half fill the tubes. Spoon over the rest of the red sauce, smoothing it down into the tubes (not all of my tubes were filled to the top). Pour over the remaining white sauce, sprinkle over more grated parmesan, drizzle with olive oil and bake in the preheated oven for 45 minutes until golden and bubbly. Enjoy!

Cookbook Club – Dorie Greenspan’s Around My French Table – January 2011

February 24, 2011 1 comment

Wow what a success!!! Our first ever Cookbook Club soiree has gotten us hooked! Everyone in attendance agreed that this was a brilliant idea and we all had so much fun picking a recipe and making it. It was wonderful to be able to have a full meal that was made out of one cookbook, with an appetizer, soup, salads, savory tart, and delicious dessert.

The Menu

Matafan with Creme Fraiche and Assorted Chutneys

Potato Leek Soup

Gerard’s Mustard Tart with Beet and Carrot Salads

Blueberry Mascarpone Roulade

The Verdict

We all loved the meal – but some of us loved the cookbook more than others. In general – the experience of the person cooking the dish was directly proportional to how much they liked the book. Claudette – who has by far the most culinary experience – gave the book 10/10 despite having a more time consuming dish to prepare. All of the dishes turned out well – but some were a little bit fussy for the overall product. In some recipes there is an assumption of general competence that not everyone has – and in others extra steps that may or may not make a big difference in the end product. Overall – we highly recommend this cookbook for the food enthusiast and really anyone with a bit of time to fuss around – but maybe not for everyone. Obviously – for those who have spent time in France it holds special appeal – and so our group really enjoyed all the little anecdotes and tips!

Click to find out more about the Cook-Book Club or click the link at the top of the page.

Next Up: This Sunday we are going to be doing our February selection – Cook with Jamie Oliver. Come on out and join us if you live in the area and are interested in whipping something up and tasting lots of recipes from the book!

Babies enjoying the evening of food and fun!!!

Chile Con Queso – Spicy Cheese Dip

February 1, 2011 2 comments

Wow, I can’t believe how long it has been since my last post! The holidays and fun with Penelope seem to have been keeping me away from my computer for longer than I had expected. Hopefully this post will mean that I am back in full swing!

Only 6 more days until the Superbowl, who’s excited?!?!? Truth be told, the Superbowl is the only football game that I watch the entire season and even then I think I spend most of that time in the kitchen or catching up with friends. For me the exciting thing about the Superbowl is the party where our friends get together and share yummy food. I make Martha Stewart’s Chili Con Carne every year and this is the only time I make  it as it is a bit labour intensive but totally worth it in the end as it is soooo delicious. So I will again be making that come Sunday. If you are looking for a good meat chili I highly recommend it. Last year I made The Pioneer Woman’s Chili Con Queso and it was quite yummy but it uses Velveeta cheese, which is processed, it was quite yummy but this year I wanted to see if I could find a recipe that used real cheese. I did and with success! So my friends and I will all be enjoying this spicy, cheesy dip during The Superbowl.

Enjoy!

Mom-O-Meter: 4 out of 5
There is some chopping and grating to be done but everything seems to come together pretty easily and the results are delicious!


Chili Con Queso
Adapted from Homesick Texan

1/2 onion, finely diced
3 jalapeno peppers, finely diced
4 cloves of garlic, finely diced
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour
1 cup milk
6 cups shredded cheese, I used a combination of Cheddar, Monetery Jack, and Colby
1 10 ounce can of Rotel (I haven’t seen this in Canada but I have friends bring it back to me when they go to visit the States, you can also use a small can of diced tomatoes and a small can of chopped green chilies)
1 pound spicy sausage
1/2 cup sour cream
Salt to taste

While making the cheese sauce brown the sausage in a separate frying pan and drain off the fat and set aside. In a saucepan melt the butter over medium-low heat, add the onions and jalapenos and cook until onions are translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about a minute. Whisk in the flour and cook for about a minute. Slowly pour in the milk, whisking constantly and continue to whisk as the mixture thickens, about 5 minutes. Stir in the Rotel or tomatoes and chilies. Turn the heat down to low and add the cheese a quarter cup at a time, making sure that all the cheese has melted after each addition before adding the next quarter cup. Stir in the sausage and sour cream and add salt to taste. Serve with tortilla chips and enjoy the cheesy goodness!

Gingerbread Cookies with Cream Cheese Icing

December 16, 2010 1 comment

Nothing rings in the holidays more to me than Christmas trees and gingerbread! Oh the smells are wonderfully terrific. For me gingerbread is the quintessential Christmas cookie that has to be made every year. I have made many a different gingerbread but had never found “the one”. I wanted a thick, chewy cookie that had a well rounded flavour full of the spices that fill your house with that wondrous aroma, I wanted a cookie that tasted as good as it smelled! Many of the recipes I had tried in the past were either too crispy and did not stand the test of time or they fell flat in the flavour department. Since many of the recipes for gingerbread make a ton of cookies I would end up trying a new one each year, as my family can only eat so many cookies and I never want to throw anything out unless it is truly horrible. My search ended last year when I found the following recipe for chewy gingerbread cookies. Oh my, oh my, are these the best gingerbread I have ever found! They also pair quite nicely with cream cheese icing (I think this may be becoming my theme, but what can I say – I love cheese of all kinds!!!) I got the stamp of approval from Emma who loves these cookies and says that she doesn’t even like gingerbread that much. This year she was insisting that we make them, the sooner the better. So that is what we did. We had a great time cutting them out and figuring out how to decorate them with the cream cheese frosting without them looking too juvenile (didn’t happen) but in the end isn’t that what Christmas is all about? Getting together with loved ones to have fun and a great laugh! I think we did a great job juggling our ever busier babies and not eating all of the cookies before sharing them with others. Hey, we even managed to get through it with Oliver knocking over cups of tea and Penelope chewing on my iPhone, I knew daddy would not be too happy if he found out about me putting the phone within her reach as I am already on my second iPhone and I only got it 2 months ago, yikes!

I hope you enjoy them as much as we do, happy baking!

Stocking update: My mom and I have finished 3, yippee!!! Only 4 more to go but my mom and I are at the bottom of the list so we will see what gets done…

MOM-O-METER: 5 out of 5
The dough came together really easy and there aren’t that many ingredients. The rolling and the resting time are something that just come with a gingerbread cookie and it is a fun holiday tradition to get together with family and friends for cookie decorating. We can’t wait til our little ones can partake in all the fun!

Gingerbread Cookies with Cream Cheese Icing
Adapted from No Special Effects

3 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
3/4 cup unsalted butter, cut into small pieces and slightly softened
3/4 cup molasses (I would use a mild molasses so that the spices don’t become overshadowed, unless you love a dark molasses then by all means use it!)
2 tablespoons whole milk (I used one tablespoon of 1% milk and 1 tablespoon of cream)

First mix together the molasses and the milk and set aside. In a large bowl sift together the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger and cloves. Then stir the brown sugar into the flour mixture. Using a pastry blender (or two forks) cut the butter into the flour mixture until it resembles very fine meal. Pour the molasses mixture in a third at a time, stirring well after each addition. The dough should end up looking like coffee ice cream. (Alternately you can mix the dough in a stand mixer with a paddle attachment).

Divide the dough in two and place one half on a rectangle of parchment paper. Place another piece of parchment on top and pat the dough into a rough rectangle. Then using a rolling pin roll the dough to a 1/4 inch thickness (the original recipe said that you can place two magazines on either end of the rolling pin to get the right thickness, neat trick!). Repeat with the other half of the dough. When the dough is rolled out stack the pieces onto a cookie sheet and refrigerate for 2 hours or overnight.

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper. Remove the dough from the fridge and gently peel off both of the pieces of parchment paper. Cut the dough into whatever shapes you like and place on baking sheet, spacing the cookies at least an inch apart. Bake the cookies for 8 minutes if they are 3 inch cookies and from 8-11 minutes if they are 5 inch cookies. Rotate the pan half way through the cooking. Repeat with the remaining dough. Will make roughly 2 dozen 3 inch cookies.

Cream Cheese Icing

1/2 cup butter, softened
1 250g (8 ounce) package of cream cheese, softened
A little less than 1 500g bag of icing sugar (about a pound)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Cream together the butter and cream cheese until smooth and fluffy, add the vanilla and sugar and beat until well combined. Sometimes I start with less sugar and add more according to how sweet I want the icing. On the tree cookies pictured above I took some of the icing and turned it into a glaze by adding a little bit of milk until I got my desired consistency, I then dipped the top of the cookies into it and lifted them out pulling the trunk up first to create the effect.

Have fun decorating!

Holiday Monster Everything Cookies

November 28, 2010 1 comment

With the holidays fast approaching I have been kicking it up a notch in my holiday preparations. I mean there is less than a month until Christmas!!! With the arrival of Penelope my mom and I are taking it upon ourselves to make new stockings for all of the family members. In the past two weeks we have been to the fabric store three times, have come up with the designs and finished one stocking… not sure if we are crazy for taking this on as it seems like a much bigger task than we originally thought!

Last week Emma and I got together to have a play date and whenever we get together it seems we always to end up in the kitchen! Evaluating what we had in the cupboards and with the holidays on our minds we decided to make these festive cookies that contain the remnants of many bags of goodies. I am sure many of you have that remaining handful of some sort of chip that never seems to get used up. We really like the combination of salty and sweet so we used pretzel M&M’s (if you haven’t had them yet I recommend them). Feel free to use any combination of yummy stuff that you love, we were not crazy about adding nuts to the cookies so we left them out but if you are a nutty person (hehe) feel free to add them in!

These cookies turned out to be quite yummy. I have to say I enjoyed them more after they had come to room temperature. We were unsure about the rice krispies at first so made some with and some without. It turns out that the rice krispies really help these cookies maintain their crispiness for several days, of course that is if they last that long!

MOM-O-METER: 4 out of 5

There are a lot of ingredients in these cookies but they use up any leftover goodies you have in the cupboard. They also make a lot of cookies and seemed to come together pretty quickly once all of the ingredients were laid out plus who doesn’t love anything with peanut butter in it!

Holiday Monster Everything Cookies
Adapted from The Pioneer Woman

Ingredients

1 cup (2 sticks) salted butter softened
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups packed brown sugar
2 eggs (large)
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 1/2 cups oats (quick or regular)
1/2 cup regular M & M’s (we used holiday ones)
1/2 cup pretzel M & M’s
1/2 cup chopped up caramels or toffee bits
1 cup chocolate chips (milk or semi-sweet or a combination, whatever your fancy)
3/4 cup peanut butter chips
2 cups rice krispies

Preheat oven to 375°F.

Using a mixer cream the butter and the two sugars together until fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add vanilla and beat to combine.

In another bowl mix the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and kosher salt. Add to the mixer and beat on low until combined. After this add in all of your goodies in whatever amount you so desire.

Add the rice krispies at the very end mixing until just combined, we did this by hand as to try to not smoosh them!

You can either scoop the dough out or grab pieces about a tablespoonful and roll them gently into a ball and place onto the cookie sheet. The Pioneer Woman said to bake the cookies until golden brown which we found took about 10 minutes, then allow to cool on a rack.