Saturday, October 26, 2013


A Bonnie Stern recipe usually does not require much tweaking.  Such is the case with this apple cobbler from her book "Friday Night Dinners".   I included my tweaks in the ingredients and did change the amount of sugar she used in the topping.  I thought the sugar could be reduced so I made the change in the ingredient list.  I used pink lady apples but any variety would work.  I used nine apples as some of the apples had bruises so I peeled an extra one to make up for the parts that had been cut away while peeling the apples.  Of course this cobbler was wonderful and the DH and company enjoyed it.


8 apples, peeled and thin - medium slices
1 tbsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg or cardamon
1/2 cup sugar or splenda


1.5 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup brown or white sugar or 3/4 cup splenda
1 tsp baking powder
2 eggs, beaten
pinch salt
1/2 cup melted butter or margarine


Place apples in a large mixing bowl and toss with cinnamon, nutmeg and sugar.  Butter a 13 X 9 inch baking pan and spread the apples across the baking pan.

Using the same mixing bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt.  Make a well in the dish and add the eggs.   Combine the eggs the with flour until it is a crumbly texture.

Sprinkle the flour mixture over the apples.  Drizzle with the melted butter.  Bake in a preheated over at 350 degrees F for 45 to 55 minutes or until the apples are tender.   Makes 8 to 10 servings.

Sunday, October 20, 2013


I must admit, I have gone overboard with a recent love.  This summer I stopped in at a specialty store that only sells olive oil, balsamic vinegar, tapenade, and olives.  The store is located in another city not far from where we live.  I had heard about this store but had not had the opportunity to visit it.  When I walked in and saw the variety of oils and vinegars I thought this experience was going to be much better than a store that sells chocolate or kitchen gadgets.  Their feature of buy five bottles and get the sixth one free was also a very good selling point.  And did I buy.  This store called Oliv has since opened at location close to where we live.  Using flavoured vinegars and oils has replaced any thought of using store bought salad dressings.

I have been using the vinegars and oils on much than just salads.  I only photographed four of the balsamic flavours that I use.  Besides garlic, cilantro, coconut, chocolate raspberry and maple, I have developed relationships with sesame ginger, cherry and grapefruit balsamic vinegar.

To give you some examples of what is possible with these vinegars consider this:
-toss cooked green beans with sesame ginger vinegar
-add sesame ginger vinegar to stir fries
-add sesame ginger vinegar to cooked vermicelli noodles
-marinate uncooked steel head trout or salmon with maple vinegar
-toss shrimp with coconut vinegar while sautéing the shrimp
-drizzle maple walnut or caramel ice cream with maple vinegar
-thaw frozen fruit and drizzle it with chocolate raspberry vinegar
-use chocolate raspberry vinegar in place of chocolate sauce
-add garlic cilantro vinegar to beef marinade
-drizzle any of your favourite vinegars on popcorn

I especially like drizzling fruit with chocolate raspberry vinegar.  It helps with the chocolate craving.  You can also add a tablespoon of some of the fruit flavoured vinegars to smoothies.  I am sure that there are many other foods that would go well with flavoured vinegars.

Sunday, October 13, 2013


This is another one of my favourite soups.  The combination of vegetables, barley and sweet potato makes a great soup.  Instead of cooking this soup in a pot on the stove, I used an electric pressure cooker.  I didn't saute the vegetables but added everything to the pressure cooker pot and cooked it for 21 minutes on medium pressure.  My pressure cooker has three gauges - low, medium and high.  For the beans I used dried navy beans.  You could use canned beans and of course reduce the cooking time.

All the ingredients added to the pressure cooker. 

Barley, Bean and Potato Soup


1 cup dried white beans (navy or pea)
3 cups water
2 tsp canola or olive oil
1 large onion, peeled and chopped
3-4 stalks celery, chopped
1 medium zucchini, chopped
1 coloured pepper, chopped
8 cups broth or water
4 carrots, chopped
1 medium sized sweet potato, chopped
1/2 cup pearl barley
1 tsp dried basil
salt and pepper to taste


Soak beans in water overnight.  Drain water and rinse well.  Heat oil in a large soup pot to medium high.  Saute onions and celery for five minutes until golden but not overly brown in colour.   If heat is too high, reduce to medium or medium low.   Add zucchini and pepper and cook for five minutes longer.   Add water if vegetables are starting to stick.  Add remaining ingredients except for the salt.  Cover the pot with a lid.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for two and a half hours.   Stir occasionally.  Add salt when finished cooking.  Serves 8 to 10 depending on portion size.

Adapted from Meal Lean i Yumm

Saturday, October 5, 2013


It can be a bit of a gamble at times when you make a recipe to take to a dinner party and it is the first time you have ever made this particular recipe.  There can be some risks that the recipe won't work, the cake doesn't rise or it tastes awful.  This didn't happen for me when I made a new recipe for a honey cake.  The cake rose, it didn't crumble when taking it out of the bundt pan, the bottom was not burned, and it tasted wonderful.  I made a few changes with the ingredients.  I didn't have orange juice so I used 1/2 cup of whisky and 1/4 cup of lemon juice.  I cut down on the sugar and used 1/2 cup sugar and 1/4 cup splenda instead of the full amount of sugar.  The original recipe called for 1.5 cups of white sugar and 1/2 cup brown sugar.  I also dusted the cake with icing sugar once it cooled down.  In fact I dusted the cake with icing sugar the following day after baking.  I baked the cake early one evening after work, I made sure it cooled down before wrapping it with saran wrap and the next day I sprinkled it with icing sugar before taking it to the dinner party we were invited to.  It is recommended to make honey cake the day before you serve it to allow for the flavours to develop.

Batter mixed and ready to be poured into the pan.

I used a bundt pan to bake the cake.

Cooling after coming out of the oven.

I dusted the cake with some icing sugar after it cooled down.

Serving sliced pieces of cake.


cooking spray
3 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tbsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
4 tsp ground cinnamon
1 sp ground cloves
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1 cup canola oil
1 cup honey
1/2 cup white sugar
1/4 cup splenda
3 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup strong brewed coffee (decaf is fine)
1/2 cup orange juice
1/4 cup whiskey

Place an oven shelf in an upper position in oven, and preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Spray a 10-inch fluted tube pan (such as a Bundt® pan) with cooking spray.
In a bowl, whisk together the unbleached flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg until thoroughly combined. In a separate large bowl, whisk together the canola oil, honey, white and brown sugar, eggs, vanilla extract, coffee, orange juice, and whiskey. With an electric mixer, beat the flour mixture into the honey mixture just until the batter is thoroughly incorporated. Pour the batter into the prepared pan.
Bake on upper shelf in the preheated oven until the cake is golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out with moist crumbs, about 1 hour.  Cool for 20 minutes in the pan before turning the cake out onto a serving platter.

Adapted from