Showing posts with label Dessert. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Dessert. Show all posts

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Milk Chocolate Frozen Yogurt

I queried a class of grade sixers: Who believes someone loves Mrs. Speller enough to send her a giant heart-shaped box of chocolates? A box so big it eclipsed the entire surface of the round table?

From a class of fifteen, four hands shot up, waving frantically: see me, I believe in you. Or maybe, I believe in love? Or maybe, I'm in love with chocolate?

I am in love with chocolate. I can relate. But not to the other sixers who stared at me blankly. Except for one who said, that's a lie.

My father, a teacher, was loved enough to receive a giant box (as big as the top of a round table) of Purdys Chocolates every Valentines Day. No, not my mother, a wealthy family of Malaysian descent who bought up the top of Broadmead Hill, cleared the houses and build a mansion. They were very kind, throwing parties, giving gifts, launching teachers into retirement with in-mansion mini dramas. I still find small remains of those days amongst my things: a canvass bag, a parrot-topped pen...

This milk chocolate yogurt is not as good as the giant chocolate heart. Nothing is, really. But it's delicious enough.

Milk Chocolate Frozen Yogurt

1/3 cup plus 1/4 cup milk
1 cup heavy cream
6 ounce milk chocolate, finely chopped
2 cups plain yogurt
1 large pinch kosher salt
3 tbsp sugar
3 ounces dark chocolate, finely chopped

Heat the milk and cream in saucepan over medium heat until almost simmering. Remove from heat and whisk in milk chocolate. Transfer to a bowl and whisk in yogurt, salt, and sugar. Let cool.
Regerate until cold, about two hours. You can also hold the mixture in the fridge overnight.

Freeze the chocolate pieces.

Churn the yogurt according to the specifics of your icecream maker.

Fold in the chocolate pieces.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Invalids and Moon Cakes

Where have we been for the past month? While Rachel took her annual sojourn down to the Baja as a missions-cook, my absence started off with a bad chicken salad sandwich. What started as a lovely lunch out with my children and in-laws, spiraled downwards as all but one of our party came down with a nasty case of salmonella poisoning (Chief/Grandpa wisely stayed away from the chicken salad, opting for the safer and consequence-free pastrami). Of course, it took us a week of symptoms, indescribable on a food-blog, for us to realize that this was not a common GI bug. And of course, Mike was off to Belize with a plane-full of high-school students leaving me solo with two sick little monkeys. We breathed a sigh of relief as health seemed to re-appear in our household, only for me to be struck down by the after-effects of a case of salmonella, onto round 2. It took one excruciatingly painful swollen knee, several ER drainings, and a total inability to weight-bear before I was diagnosed with Reactive Arthritis. With the miracle of modern medicine, aka a cortisone injection, I seem to be on the road to recovery.

Now, this has had two consequences: The first is that Mike has become more aware of my local rock star status, well amongst the 80 + crowd. As an occupational therapist, most people, including my husband aren't totally sure of what it is I do. Despite a few stabs at explanations, most people find it easier to file away in their minds that I'm a nurse. Finn knows that I work at the hospital, but I'm honest with myself: When Mike asks me how my day was, my family doesn't really care that 92 year-old Violet can once again use the toilet independently; or that Reginald thinks that the microwave is a washing machine (actually, Finn would like that). So when Mike took my doctors script into the Red Cross to get me a pair of crutches he was unprepared for the reaction that greeted this request-

Haley Campbell?

THE Haley Campbell, the OT?

These crutches are for Haley Campbell?

Hey guys! - Haley Campbell needs crutches (chuckles all around).

Yes, I am the queen of raised toilet seats and safety frames.

The other consequence of being an invalid for a few days, is the realization of our community. Suddenly we have a freezer full of casseroles and childcare offers. Auntie Wiena spent a morning cleaning my floors. It's a good feeling that after living in Chilliwack for two and a half years we have friends and a church community that quickly steps up and provides us support when we need it.

So while I'm getting back into the kitchen, and gearing up to pepper you with our next exciting food theme (whole grains), I am going to leave you with this recipe from Anne, who made us a lovely meal this week with these cupcakes for dessert. Mike, who professes to not be a sweets guy, was quite firm in his insistence that I get this recipe!

A huge thank you for all of you who brought us meals or who watched our kiddies last week!

Moon Cupcakes
(She didn't specify how many this makes, but I'm guessing 1 dozen)

Beat Well: 8 oz cream cheese, 1 egg, 1/3 c sugar, dash salt
Add 1 c mini choc chips

Separate Bowl: 1 1/2 c flour,1 c sugar, 1/4 c cocoa, 1 t. baking soda, 1 c cold water, 1/3 c oil, 1 t. vinegar

Use mixer and beat- don't over beat.

Put this mixture in bottom of cupcake liner.

Fill to 1/3 level.

Then put cream cheese mixture over this in liner.

Bake 350 for 15-20 minutes.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Apple Blueberry Crisp for Breakfast..

Well, the Jamisons and I are on the outs. I have had a recent string of flops from A Real American Breakfast. After my first sub-par waffle results I attributed the fault to myself; however, after a lack-luster bran muffin recipe, I'm putting part of the blame with the authors, the lovely, yet sweet-goods challenged Jamisons. On both occasions I should have gone with my cook's intuition. Both recipes had some steps that I protested as I baked, but being the dutiful cookbook reviewer that I am, I followed the directions as a holy grail. That's not to say the book is a bust. I just think that I need to stick with their more savory dishes.

The blogging timing for such disasters, however, was serendipitous. I had just made my go-to dessert for the Heartland Book Clubbers, and my friend Louise requested a Reems Eats post. How could I refuse the woman who arrived early and helped me in a last-minute toy and shoe clean-up effort? The same woman who claims to enjoy making pipe cleaner crafts with my 3-year-old? I couldn't, so here is my all-purpose crisp recipe.

I've posted a version of this before. I have to confess that I don't follow a recipe for the dessert that Reems's affectionately refer to simply as 'crisp.' So I did make a second crisp this week, in part, but not just because I wanted to nail down accurate ingredient quantities. No, you can never have enough crisp. My favourite bowl of crisp? The leftover breakfast bowl that I always manage to hide for myself.

Blueberry Apple Crisp was a good accompaniment to our discussion of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, not quite as appropriate as a potato peel pie might have been, but I'm fairly sure it was tastier.

Blueberry Apple Crisp
(for a 9 inch dish or similar casserole - I usually double this for reasons I've already discussed)

Combine filling ingredients in 9 inch pyrex dish or casserole:

4 apples - peel and sliced thinly (for an all apple version, double this number)
2 cups blueberries
2 T flour
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 cup brown sugar (could also use honey or maple syrup)

In a separate bowl combine the topping ingredients:

1/3 melted butter
1/2 cup brown sugar (2/3 if you have a really sweet tooth)
1/3 cup flour
2/3 cup quick oats
2/3 cup old fashioned oats (could just double the quick oats and leave these out, but I like the texture from the two varieties)

If you use unsalted butter add a pinch of salt.

Combine the topping ingredients until crumbly.

Sprinkle evenly on top of fruit filling.

Bake crisp for 40 min at 350 degrees.

Top with vanilla ice cream for your warm dessert crisp. For your next morning breakfast crisp, a cup of tea alongside will do nicely.

OK, I feel that I should apologize for the photos - my only hope for half-way decent food photos is to take them in natural light, but alas this was an evening job.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Oatmeal Cake

Well, I don't have any food porn to offer - honestly Rach, I became a tad flushed when I read your last post; and I swear that since then, my heart beats a bit faster when I reach for the egg carton.

This post comes belated, Mike and I just returned from another weekend away in Seattle, this was in part to attend his belated birthday Decemberists concert, as well as an effort to pack in some time away before baby dictates our schedule (translate: 'my' schedule). The concert was good, the sleep-ins were good, the food was good, and the unusual Seattle sunshine all made for a lovely weekend. On return to our little monkeys, the happiness continued when I found a few pieces of oatmeal cake left in the fridge.

This is a cake that can be eaten at breakfast time, or can be nibbled on with a cup of tea to get you over that mid-afternoon slump. I can't claim that this cake was a revelation to me. I have a similar Lazy Daisy recipe that I make courtesy of More With Less. However, I liked the sound of nut-coconut-oatmeal topping for this particular cake. While tasty, I don't think this new cake differed dramatically from my original recipe, though the topping was a nice variation from my usual straight coconut variation.

Oatmeal Cake
(Source: A Real American Breakfast, by Cheryl Jamison & Bill Jamison)

1 cup old fashioned oats
1 1/4 cup boiling water
11/2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp cinnamon
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 baking soda
1 stick butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract

1/2 cup evaporated milk (I used regular milk with great results)
4 T butter (I used 3 T, it was all I had left, and the topping still tasted great)
1/2 cup brown sugar (1/3 for the less sweet tooth)
1/2 cup old-fashioned oats
1/2 cups shredded coconut
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1/2 cup chopped walnuts (I skipped the walnuts and doubled the pecans)

Pour the boiling water over the oats. Set aside. Stir together the dry ingredients in a medium bowl. With an electric mixer cream together the butter and the sugars. Add the eggs one at a time. Beat in the vanilla. Alternately beat in the flour and the oat mixture in thirds. Beat until only just combined. Spoon the batter into a prepared pan.

Bake for 32 to 35 minutes at 350 degrees. Cool in the pan for 10 minutes, and then run a knife around the edge and unlatch the springform rim. Transfer the cake (still on the springform base) to a baking sheet. While I followed these directions, next time I will just leave the cake in the springform and put the topping directly on.

Prepare the topping by combining the milk, the butter, and the sugar in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil. I heated these ingredients together in the microwave Remove from the heat and stir in the oatmeal, nuts, and coconut.

Spoon the topping evenly over the top of the cake. Heat the broiler. Broil the cake on the baking sheet several inches below the heat source for about two minutes, until the topping darkens a shade or two and gets a bit brown and crunchy in spots. Watch it carefully so that you crisp it but don't burn it.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Banana Pops

Rach -

It's only a matter of time before we develop webbed feet and gills over here in Chillwack. As the rain comes down the kiddies and I have turned to kitchen pursuits, dance parties, and indoor playgroups to maintain our sanity. Yesterday we made your latest bread offering, and I am already adding it to our regular rotation. I was out of maple syrup so I swapped honey with fabulous results.

Finn and I have developed a new treat - banana pops. This is a child-friendly, though definitely not mess-free, activity.

To make 4 pops:
(this only makes enough for 2 people - it's impossible to have only one each)

1) Cut 2 bananas in half. Insert a popsicle stick or a popsicle holder into the cut sides.

2) Melt 1/3 cup of chocolate chips and 1/3 cup of natural peanut butter together in the microwave.

3) Dip/spread bananas in the chocolate-peanut butter mixture.

4) Roll in coconut (could also use chopped nuts or crushed cereal)

5) Freeze on parchment - I use silicon liners.

6) Barricade the freezer from yourself and any little ones - better yet, spend 20 minutes getting everyone in to rain gear, 15 minutes splashing in puddles, and another 10 minutes changing into dry socks and pants. The pops won't be quite frozen solid yet but at that this point you won't care.

Right, Rach, talking about myself again. I'm sure Caleb can get on his own rain gear.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Blueberry Buckle


The Reems Eats 2010 Conference was epic. Your post had me chuckling all over again. I was daydreaming today about our lovely little noodle shop, where after an hour at our counter perch, our pores breathing in the pork-tenderloin-infused-steam from vats and vats of broth, we both experienced the horror of standing shiny-faced in front of the singularly most unflattering mirror in all of Vancouver. Definitely not a first date kind of place. But wow- a great bowl of noodles.

Carmen, or Auntie Carmen is she known in these parts, has arrived. I warned her upon her arrival that if she wanted any respite at all, she needed to tone down the fun. Fun auntie = busy auntie. Well, she has not heeded my warning, she has already taught Finn a few classic Guy dance moves, and along with other unsuspecting visitors to the Campbell house, has run multiple 'races' around our main floor. Finn is just doing his part in trying to keep her youthful figure.

I had to post something delicious. Our freezer is full of blueberries, and I've been on a bit of a coffee cake binge lately; there is something about cold days and a cozy home makes anything streusel high on my list right now. Once again I've been turning to King Arthur, this time for their Blueberry Buckle The only change I made was using brown sugar instead of white in the topping. Blueberry buckle - if not because it's delicious, make it because of the name. I really have to get into the history of food names, I'm sure I'm not the only one with this curiosity. I'm adding Buckle to the list, somewhere after Bundt, Grunt, and Muffin (I know, muffin sounds normal but say it a few times).

I must log off, the fake fireplace is on, and Carmen needs a reading companion.

Readers, stay tuned for our first annual giveaway later this week.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Ghostly Cupcakes

Hi Haley,

I think you could play pranks on Mike with those bloody fingers from your last post. Try leaving one beside his razor or curling another over the edge of his comforter. Hmmm. Reminds me of when Crach and I short sheeted your bed. Or when we thought it would be hilarious to fill Mom and Dad's bed with Rice Crispies. We were wrong.

On Friday I had the opportunity to cook dinner for over one hundred people down at Street Cafe, a ministry operated by the Mustard Seed Church. The dinner is for those down on their luck or living on the street. The food is served restaurant style: lights are dimmed, candles are lit, and live music is featured. Guests are offered the choice of two entrees. On Friday, we prepared hash brown casserole and teriyaki chicken. When seven o'clock rolled around, Tina and I swapped our cook's aprons for waitress's aprons and attended the tables. We had more than a little fun storming into the kitchen hollering, "I need a chick and two hash." Restaurant lingo is truly addicting.
I brought a few desserts to serve with dinner. These chocolate ghost cupcakes were made in the spirit of Halloween. The recipe is from Nick Malgieri's book, Perfect Light Desserts. The cupcakes are my very favourite chocolate cupcakes and are extremely good topped with a mocha whipped-cream (1 cup whipping cream plus 1 tsp instant coffee, 2 tsp cocoa, 1/4 cup sugar combined and then beaten). In the future I will try topping them with a chocolate sour-cream frosting or a white-chocolate butter cream.

Chocolate Ghost Cupcakes
For the cupcakes
2 cups sugar
1 1/4 cups flour
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 tsp baking soda
4 ounces unsweetened chocolate coarsely chopped
1 cup boiling water or very hot coffee
2 large eggs
2 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup sour cream (low fat is fine) or thick, Greek-style yogurt

Preheat your oven to 350 with a rack positioned in the center.

Line a muffin tin with cupcake liners.

Measure and mix the sugar, flour, salt, and baking soda in one bowl.

Put the chocolate in a large bowl and pour the hot water or coffee over it. Let the chocolate stand for 2 to four minutes to let it melt, then whisk it into the liquid. Beating well after each addition, add the eggs, oil, vanilla, and sour cream one at a time. Be sure to whisk smooth after each ingredient.

Whisk the dry ingredients into the wet mixture, mixing until the batter is just smooth.

Pour the batter into your lined muffin tin and bake for 20 to 25 min until the muffins are just done. An inserted tester should come out clean.

Let the cupcakes cool in the tins for 5 to 8 minutes then remove them to cool completely on a wire rack.

For the boiled icing
2 large egg whites
a pinch of salt
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/3 cup water
2 tsp vanilla

Fill half a saucepan with water and bring it to boil. Reduce the water to a simmer.
Combine the ingredients in a bowl and whisk smooth.

Place the bowl over the water and whisk gently until the egg whites are hot (140 degrees_ and the sugar is dissolved. Remove from the heat. Beat with an electric beater until the icing is cooled, has increased in volume, and will hold soft peaks.

Use the icing immediately.

Store the cupcakes in the fridge. They can remain out for a few hours, any longer and the icing will harden (which some people prefer).

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Monkey Cake for Monkey Baby

Hey Rach -

Well, the pictures don't need a lot of explanation- here is confirmation that Coby has inherited the Reems sweet-tooth.

The princess is one. My how a year has flown by. It doesn't get any better than a big slobbery-monkey kiss from that little girl.

To make your own monkey cake go here (thanks for the idea Carolyn!).

Monday, August 30, 2010

Celebratory Trifle

Rach - Welcome home! I am posting something delicious in order to celebrate your return and our newest nephew. Welcome to the newest little Reems (or not so little weighing in, 2 weeks before his due date, at over 9 pounds!) - Parker Brent Reems!

Mike and I have noticed a trifle trend in Chilliwack- trifles of various kinds seem to be the dessert of choice in this town. So who am I to stand in the way of local dessert preferences? If I'm trying to please my fellow Chilliwack-ians I guess I'll have to throw some deliciousness into a bowl, let it get nice and mushy together, and call it dessert.

Chocolate cake? Layered with chocolate pudding, whipping cream and raspberry sauce? Chocolate shavings? Well.. I guess.. if that's what everyone wants..

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Rhubarb Coffee Cake


After dinner, after I kiss my sweet babe to sleep, and while Mike cuddles into the car bed swapping 'Dream Stories' with Mr. Finn, I sneak out the back gate and do my four laps of the park. You can probably guess that while I pretend that this is for exercise, it's delicious to be alone - without my busy little sidekick, my sous chef -no it's just me and the mountains. This evening, on my way back into the yard, I found that my seeds had sprouted - tiny pea sprouts and delicate little Swiss chard leaves that I am already dreaming of devouring.

Once again, almost eerily, our ovens are baking in unison. This weekend I harvested my first rhubarb of the season; while you squared yours up I went the coffee cake route. This was a nice friendly cake - moist, with a lovely sugary topping. I merged a few different recipes to come up with this one, which I will be making, along with your squares, all spring and summer long.

First make your topping.

2 T melted butter
1/3 brown sugar
1/4 flour
1 tsp cinnamon

Then make your cake.

First chop 2 cups of rhubarb. I sprinkled the rhubarb with 2 T sugar and then put the lot into the microwave for 2 minutes - next time I'm skipping this step, but I thought that the rhubarb looked a bit green.

1/3 cup butter (or you could sub canola oil) with 3/4 cup brown sugar
2 eggs and 1 tsp vanilla

Add the following, but don't stir until you have added all the dry ingredients (this should be done in a separate bowl, but I don't like to wash more dishes than I have to):

2 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt

Mix together and add 1 cup buttermilk, or in my case 1 T lemon juice plus milk to equal 1 cup. Fold in the rhubarb. Pour into a 9 inch springform and sprinkle/dab the topping on top. Bake for 45 minutes at 350 degrees.

To Rhubarb!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Birthday Cake

Thanks for the birthday wishes. It's true, a Reems birthday is a big deal - and as a true Reems- March 30 is a day that I shamelessly look forward to. After having 31 special days, I still spend too much time deciding what the meal lineup on my birthday will look like - in the past it was what restaurant Mike would be taking me to, now it's what form of take-out will grace our table. For we have a new birthday champion that can no longer be excluded from a birthday dinner - Finn has taken on birthdays with all the excitement that an almost 3-year old can drum up. He has figured out that with birthdays comes presents, and cake, and balloons, and if he's really lucky- candy.

The highlight of Finn's young life was taking home a goodie bag from his friend Ben's third birthday party. This was a loot bag that I was not be able to first sneak into and 'censor' - no Finn was aware of all the glorious sugary contents. He devoured about half of the treats while sitting in the buggy on the way home, and then proceeded to lock himself into his bedroom to polish 'er off. Even though I had acknowledged that the treats were his, he still saw me as a potential roadblock to sugar nirvana.

This year, the dinner meal was decided on - Hana Sushi - followed by a cake made by myself and Finn. Grace was scandalized that I was going to be making my own birthday cake; however, I have learned that if you want something to taste amazing you need to make it yourself. Mike, like Caleb, had to be introduced to the all-out Reems birthday extravaganza. He plays along gamely and makes sure that I am sufficiently spoiled- from the start of our relationship he was always the ultimate gift buyer. Gifts are his love language and he does them well - the only part of the special day missing from his itinerary? The cake. Each year when this was pointed out, Mike obligingly whisked me off for a birthday blizzard, or selected a chocolate bar at the birthday movie - yet, I still felt the need for a cake. I finally had the eureka moment this year that if I wanted the perfect confection I was going to need to roll up my sleeves. Finn and I were up for the challenge and, in an attempt to replicate my all-time favourite cake- Victoria's Dutch Bakery Mocha Point- we rolled up our sleeves and got busy.

I made two 9-inch yellow cakes and then sliced them in half to be filled with a vanilla cream filling and mocha whipping cream. To be finished off with more mocha whipping cream. Finally, I melted semi-sweet chocolate chips and drizzled them on parchment and then broke them up randomly to be sprinkled on top (chocolate shavings would also be great but I didn't have a block of the good stuff). I'm not going to give the individual recipes but I am going to reveal my secret for an amazing whipped frosting.

Take 500 mL of whipped cream. Add 1 T instant coffee. Put in fridge for about an hour until the coffee is dissolved (real coffee would make your cream to watery, and the hour lets the coffee dissolve nicely). Then add 1/3 cup (or more if you have a sweet tooth) icing sugar (which has corn starch in it to make the cream a bit stiffer) and then whip that cream with your electric mixer. You could add 1/3 cup cocoa but I am trying to model the Dutch Bakery with a more strict coffee flavour.

OK, that might not be a secret, but it did taste amazing. Oh, and thanks for the Happy Birthday sung on the phone. You and Carmen get better every year -though in your case it may have been Caleb's lovely harmony.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Cake (Very Creative Title, I Know)

Hi Haley,

Glad you liked the cake. I'm not really in a bloggy mood right now but I am trying to be good. My food thoughts are revolving around such:

meringue cookies--cooling on the rack
chicken--washed, rubbed down with coarse salt, herbs, and olive oil, waiting naked in the fridge
bread--always new possibilities (I made a banana French sourdough. Very nice)
Valentines Day--heart cookie (classic), pancakes, scones...hmmm, what else can be hearified?
chocolate pudding--slightly obsessed with this treat

I will post the cake recipe, in case any of our eager readers want to try it. I won't post icing and pastry cream recipes. When I made the cake, I split it and filled it with pastry cream and jam and iced it with a white chocolate frosting. It was good. The cake can also stand on its own two feet, so please try serving it unadorned. It is very tasty this way, just not as sweet, or as hello-world-look-at-meish.

Coconut Poppy Seed Cake
1 cup flour
2 Tbsp poppy seeds
3/4 cup sweetened, shredded coconut
1 tsp baking powder
3 large eggs
3/4 cups sugar
1/2 oil
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup yogurt

Preheat to 350

Sift flour, poppy seeds, coconut and baking powder together.

In another bowl, whisk the eggs; add the sugar and whisk. Whisk in the oil and salt.

Fold half the dry into the wet. Fold in the yogurt. Fold in the remaining dry.

Pour into a sprayed 9 inch round pan.

Bake 30-40 min.

Let cook 5-10 min before unmolding on a rack. Cool completely before devouring.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Sending out an S-O-S

So Rach- WHERE ARE YOU? Seriously, everyday I log onto my laptop, hoping to see a delicious recipe for yet another inspiring creation, but alas, nothing. I do realize that you are a busy high-school English teacher, with classrooms of young adolescent crushes to fend off, while my days lately are fairly routine. You know how it is, time spent sitting on the bathroom floor next to the potty, or having impromptu dance-parties with a two-year old. Another sizable portion of my days is devoted to food production - whether baking with Finn, preparing nutritious meals for myself and the busy toddler, or sustaining a two-month old with "mommy milk" (sorry if this is too graphic). So every now and then it's nice to take a break from the usual breakfast, lunch, dinner, snack routine and venture into the fun and exciting world of grown-up food - appetizers!

We had some friends over on Saturday night and I was excited to pull out an old faithful sweet appy concoction. It's my firm belief that between the hot spinach dip and the crock of mini meatballs there needs to be something sweet and definitely over-the-top. This apple dip tastes amazing, looks fabulous and is ready in minutes. Only assembly is required.

On a round platter or plate assemble your layers-

Layer 1- Spread 1 package of softened cream cheese in a round circle (I use light). You can use spreadable cream cheese or a block for this.

Layer 2- Top with caramel spread. This is different than caramel sauce or syrup and is found next to the peanut butter in your grocery store.

Layer 3- Sprinkle with chopped-up chocolate bars. I was introduced to this with broken-up Skor bars, but mix it up sometimes. On Saturday I used up leftover mini-Snickers from the Halloween stash.

Finally, slice up apples for dipping I wait to do this until right before the party, and still toss the apples in a bit of lemon juice to prevent browning. I insist that you put the apple slices in a circle around your dip.

It's that easy. Take this to a Christmas party and everyone will love you.

OK, please let me know that you're alive. I might have to come to Victoria to find you. On Wednesday. On the 5:00 ferry. Good times!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Lemon Balm

Hi Haley,

It's Thursday morning and I'm cranky. To all appearances it's been a perfect morning. My little hubby made me an omelet for breakfast. Then he drove me to work, where I said a curt goodbye and pecked him on the cheek. I'm a terrible person. Well, no, not really. But I am cranky. I think it might be the whole 'work' thing that's getting me down. You and I aren't really ones for work. In the mornings we'd rather stay home and bake bread and go for a walk on a leaf strewn path as it rises.

But life goes on.

And on.

But I did read the blog, see your pumpkin pie, and smile. I have also had pie on the brain. While I haven't been utilizing a pat in crust, I have been taking a short cut. Mine is to make a big batch of dough, enough for four single crust pies, and then put three disks of dough in the freezer.

Victoria's been a little gloomy lately, lots of clouds, and the sun's been disappearing very early. Too hang onto that sunshine just a little longer, I made a lemon meringue pie on Sunday. Caleb's parents were away. They asked us to come by and let the cat our (or was it in?). Either way, the cat needed attention. So on Sunday night we took a couple of slices of pie and a bottle of wine over to the Speller residence. We lit a fire in the hearth, pulled the couch up and close and played house. Suddenly, October didn't seem so gloomy.

Sunny Lemon Meringue Pie

I used the Better Homes and Gardens lemon meriangue pie recipe. It is a classic. Many lemon pie recipes use lemon curd, which is very nice. This one is a rift on lemon curd, and includes the addition of water, which makes for a lighter pie, both in taste and calorie/fat content.

1 9-inch Baked Pastry Crust
1-1/2 cups sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1-1/2 cups water
3 slightly beaten egg yolks
2 tablespoons butter, cut up
1/2 to 2 teaspoons finely shredded lemon peel
1/3 cup lemon juice
3 egg whites
1/2 tsp cream of tarter
6 tablespoons sugar

First, seperate your three eggs and beat the egg yolks. Set them aside.

Then, combine the sugar, cornstarch, flour, and water in a saucepan. Now pop it onto the stovetop and bring to a boil. Be sure to stir constantly to avoid sticking. Boil for two minutes. The mixture should get nice and thick. Take the pot off the stove and spoon aproximately a cup's worth into the egg yolks.

Pour the egg yolk mixture back into the pot and mix it into the cornstarch and water mixture. Put the pot back on the stove. Bring it to all to a gentle boil and boil for two more minutes. Stir all the while to prevent sticking.

Take the pot off the stove. Stir in the zest. Stir in the butter. Slowly stir in the lemon juice. Put a lid on the pot to keep it all warm while you focus on the meringue.


Beat the egg whites and cream of tarter on meduim speed for about a minute. Soft peaks should start to form. Now crank your beater into high and add the sugar one tablespoon at a time. Beat about four minutes until stiff peaks form.


Pour lemon filling into your pie crust. Spoon the meringue overtop, spreading it out over the edge of the crust because it will shrink back a bit.

Now bake it in a 350 degree oven for 15 minutes until the tips of the meringue are lightly browned.

Variation: For a low fat version, omit the crust and pour the lemon filling right into a pie plate before topping with the meringue and baking according to the recipe instructions. It still tastes great!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Pat-in Pie Crust


It's a great day in the 'Wack, the sun is shining, the trees are a patchwork of colour..but the best parts of my day? Finn and I have worked out a deal - if he wants to go to the park with slides and swings he has to sit in the stroller. To walk at a normal pace - without having to stop at every rock, to actually feel like I might be getting a bit of exercise? Fabulous. Another memorable part of the day? Leftover pie.

I know that this comes as no suprise, but I love to eat pie - though, really, who doesn't. The problem is making it. Making a pie crust is too much like work: the rolling, the floury counter (and floor, and cupboards, and fridge handle..). I love food, I like to eat, I like to cook but I admit it, I'm lazy. In the kitchen I like to take as many short cuts as possible to get to a delicious outcome. On our Thanksgiving trip to Victoria I left the parents' with two pumpkins from their garden. Now, with all my bravado about short-cuts I have to say that making pumpkin puree is not a shortcut. In fact, I can't say that I notice a difference in the pumpkin from the can and the big bowl full that I have in my fridge. The shortcut that I discovered this round is a pat-in-the-plate pie crust. No more rolling for me. This is an oil based crust so it loses that flaky quality, but for my pumpkin pie it was fabulous (and for those who care, trans-fat free!).

Cooking pumpkin isn't rocket science but my method is to use the microwave. I cut the pumpkin (or squash) into a few big pieces, scrape out the seeds, and then put the squash into a glass pyrex in the microwave. I microwave until soft and then set aside until cool. When cool, I peel the skin off, and puree the pumpkin using my brand new food processor. You want to make sure that the pumpkin is really soft so that the pureeing is quick and easy. Hard pieces make for chunks which makes for scraping down the sides of your blender/processor. The microwave method is convenient when Finn and I are puttering around in our PJs in the morning, but another great trick is just to chuck your pumpkin in when you already have the oven going with some other baking - pureeing pumpkin is all about stages, that way it seems like less work.

The pumpkin pie recipe I used is pretty standard - I won't post it because most pumpkin pie recipes are the same - the difference is that I used regular milk instead of the recommended evaporated milk or cream. I didn't notice a difference and suspect that the evaporated milk is a big marketing ploy - beyond the need to have access to canned milk, let's say while in the wilderness with no cows in the proximity- why is evaporated milk out there? If more people discovered this conspiracy, however, then Carnation would be out of business. Hhhhmm.. would anyone be interested in my latest inspiration: Food X Files? I digress, here is my new crust short-cut. I'm thinking of trying an apple-crumb topped pie variation.


1) Combine: 11/2 cup flour, 11/2 tsp sugar, 1/2 tsp salt.
2) Make a well in the dry mixture and add: 2 T milk and 1/2 cup canola oil
3) Pat into a pie plate.

There you have it. Pie crust. It's that easy!

Before I sign off I need make a second request for your apple bread recipe (sadly we just finished your last half loaf from the freezer). A little birdy told me you might have a new teaching job? Drop me a post!

Friday, June 26, 2009

Strawberry and Rhubarb Crisp

I've been a neglectful blogger of late. Not because we're not eating well; I have many great blog entries in my head right now. My problem is, that when the little man goes to sleep, it seems all that I want to do lately is curl up with a good book. OK, this isn't a new problem, but has been a recurring theme throughout my procrastination-rich-book-filled life.

Ah, summer. Ah, strawberry season. When the local strawberry season kicks off my world becomes that much shinier. A good fruit crisp is my faithful standby dessert. I love it - apples, pears, blackberries.. anything goes. Almost better than a crisp with a plop of ice cream, is a big bowl of it for breakfast the next morning. Throughout the winter I have bags of frozen summer bounty to ensure that my addiction is curbed.

But those zip locks have been emptied months ago; fortunately summer is here and berry season has begun. I also currently have a bumper crop of rhubarb that seems to grow like a weed in my garden. From a tiny little plant two months ago, I now have mammoth leaves vying for sunlight with my tomato plants. Finn and I have been eating stewed rhubarb, rhubarb loaf, and rhubarb muffins for the past month. I mixed it up a little and added a few cups of strawberries to create a delicious crisp.

A fruit crisp is another forgiving dessert. It's hard to mess up. My measurements here are all approximations. You really do need to just go for it and see what you come up with.

Rhubarb- Strawberry Crisp

Fruit Mixture
Combine in a 8 inch baking dish or casserole of similar size:
4 or 5 cups chopped rhubarb
2 cups sliced strawberries
1/3 cup sugar (this results in a somewhat tart crisp, add 2/3 cups if you have a sweet tooth)
1/4 cup flour
1/2 tsp cinnamon

Crumbly Topping
1/4 c melted butter
1/3 c brown sugar (again, 1/2 if you like it sweeter)
1/2 c flour
1 cup rolled oats (or old fashioned, which is what I used this time)
pinch salt (if using unsalted butter)
shake of cinnamon

You want a nice crumbly texture. If it seems to dry add a T of water or honey. Spread the topping on the fruit mixture.

Bake at 350 for about an hour .

Enjoy. Tastes great cold too.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

With or Without Ice Cream

Dense chocolate, sugar, and butter is what I had in mind, a brownie to lose yourself in. The recipe was romantically titled "Audrey Hepburn's Brownies." I pictured her baking between shoots, showing up on the set in a cocktail dress and a tiara with a platter of brownies on one cocked arm. Does every women want to be Audrey Hepburn? I think so.

Eight ounces of chocolate, I began to break up the baker's bar, drop it in the pot. My hand may have trembled--eight ounces--my pulse may have raced, either way, I couldn't do it. Nor the half cup butter. My healthy instincts refused.

So I hummed and hawed, trimmed, cut, and added to create a rich, but less calorie and fat laden brownie. I served it for dessert the next evening. My company, a distinguished couple in their seventies, approved, although they didn't know what to make of the licorice ice cream on the side.

This is a dense, double chocolate brownie. You may serve it with ice cream if there's some hanging around in the freezer but it is rich enough to stand alone and makes a perfect dessert after a filling dinner. We can't all be Audrey but, heck, my husband didn't know the difference.

Wanna Be Audrey Hepburn Brownies

2 ounces chocolate, chopped in eight pieces
1/4 cup butter
2/3 cup cocoa
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 egg white
2 eggs
1/4 cup apple sauce
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup sugar

1/2 cup flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon

Spray 9 or 8 inch pan with oil, line with parchment or tin foil and spray bottom again.

Melt the chocolate and butter in a saucepan over low heat.

Meanwhile, combine the flour, baking powder, salt and cinnamon in a bowl.

When the chocolate mixture has melted, keep on the heat and sprinkle cocoa over top. Mix in the cocoa and keep on the heat for a couple of minutes. Remove from heat and let cool a little. Mixing well after each addition, use a wooden or flat spoon to add the egg white and eggs one at a time. Beat in the sugar and vanilla. Mix in the applesauce. Add the flour mixture and stir until just combined.

Pour batter into prepared pan. Set 8x9 pan in a larger pan; this will ensure even baking and a smooth, dense brownie. Bake for 20 to 25 min, or until the edges of the brownie are just beginning to pull away from the pan and the middle is just set or nearly set. An inserted tester should not come out clean. Do not over bake; better to error on the under-baked side as the brownies will continue to set after you pull them from the oven.

Let cool 5-10 minutes in the pan on a wire rack, then tip from the pan onto rack to cool completely.

Variation: Add nuts if that's your brownie style

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Feasting on Virtue

He makes grass grow for the cattle, and plants for man to cultivate—bringing forth food from the earth: wine that gladdens the heart of man, oil to make his face shin, and bread to sustain his heart.

Psalm 104:14-15

Food celebrates life, cultivates community, and illuminates the glory of God. Pastor McDougall reminded me of this on Sunday when he expounded upon the virtues of food and its importance in scripture. I was hooked. Obviously food is connected to praise and to the virtues of the one who made it. No wonder I’m fixated on its splendor. Conclusion: I am a very holy individual. What a relief, I feared I was a common glutton, particularly after my holiday parade of dinners, brunches, and other food-focused gatherings. I’ve been so busy eating I’ve scarcely had time to blog. I’m fortunate to have a mother and a mother-in-law who love to cook. Both laid out impressive spreads this Christmas, leaving me to the fun extra pieces, like dessert, my favourite meal.

After a hearty meal, I like to serve a light sweet dessert. My standby for such occasions comes from the Rebar Cookbook: Chocolate Mousse Blackout. I’ve made changes to the dessert so if you want to see it in its original form you’ll have to consult the Rebar Book, (or, even better, go to the restaurant). My version contains significantly less chocolate so the term “blackout” no longer suffices. That said, there is still plenty of chocolate in the cake and you’ll find it sufficiently sweet and creamy. And, as the dessert is comprised of primarily, gasp, tofu, you can afford second, even third, helpings.

Chocolate Mousse Cake


3 TBSP sugar
1 cup white or spelt flour
1/3 cup toasted cashews
1/8 tsp salt
½ tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp ginger
3 TBSP oil
2 TBSP water
½ tsp vanilla

  1. Grease a 9 inch pan (8 inch will work too) and set aside. Combine sugar, flour, cashews, salt, cinnamon and ginger in a food processor. Pulse until a fine texture. Add oil, water, and vanilla. Mix until combined. Press into prepared pan. Bake for 10 min, then set aside to cool.


250 grams good quality dark chocolate
3 boxes silken tofu
¾ cup plus 2 TBSP sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1/8 salt
2 tsp instant coffee powder

  1. Melt chocolate in a double boiler.
    Drain tofu and puree in food processor until smooth. Add sugar, vanilla, salt, and coffee powder and blend. Add melted chocolate and blend.
  2. Pour the filling into the crust and bake for 35 min. Don’t worry about underbaking as the
    cake tastes best creamy and soft. If you leave it in far past the suggested time it will appear much firmer but will taste dry. (If you use an 8 inch pan leave the cake in for at least 5 min longer.
  3. Cool completely on a wire rack and refrigerate overnight before serving.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Simple Sweets

Desserts are truly one of my favourite things. I’ll leave the raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens to Julie Andrews. Pass me the lemon cheesecake. Dessert cookbooks are another one of my favourite things. You’ll notice in a previous post that Haley gloats upon obtaining a copy of Nigella Lawson’s new Christmas cookbook. She plans to curl up on a couch with a cup of hot chocolate and a book full of Nigella and do some serious reading, naturally, one of her favourite things. I would be ridiculously jealous, but I too have Nigella on hold at the library. Some of my favourite dessert cookbooks of late include the Moosewook Restaurant’s book of desserts (these people are wonderful), Perfect Light Desserts (this one is sooo good! Not full of boring, icky light desserts, but really tasty creations), and my ancient copy of The Joy of Cooking (this book feels a lot like a mother, or grandmother, laying all the kitchen tips and secrets bare).

Caleb’s birthday falls in the second week of December, giving me a big fat wonderful excuse to drool over dessert recipes. Perfect. After an exhaustive search I decided upon a Joy of Cooking special: lemon cheesecake made with cottage cheese. This appealed to my low fat sensibilities. I worked out a number of ways to further reduce the fat and I was off, flying high before I fell. Because I reduced the fat in the cake it needed a shorter baking time. I realized this after I pulled it from the oven. Boohoo. While the dessert was tasty, it was decidedly dry, as over-baked cheesecakes tend to be, particularly low-fat over baked cheese cake. Yet I’m still excited, and hopeful. With a little tinkering this could prove to be my work-horse of cheesecakes. Well I couldn’t serve a dried out cake at the birthday go time. What to do? I had no time during the day to prepare another dessert, as Caleb and I had a list of plans. A normal, less obsessive person would probably just pick up a cake from the store or bakery. But I am obsessive. I unearthed my recipe, or rather, the Moosewood Collective’s recipe, for Six Minute Cake. As Caleb’s family members arrived for the birthday dinner, and I sprinkled the coarse salt on the foccacia, dropped the meatballs in the sauce, panicked about a salad, I used my third free hand to whip up a six minute cake. I swear I did it in five. I served this simple chocolate cake warm from the oven with a dollop of mocha whipped cream. It was a hit.

What a reminder that food should be simple and fun. It should taste good. Tiered cakes and frothy egg whites have their place but most often a slice of something hot and chocolate and a little sweet beside it is all a girl needs.

Six Minute Chocolate Cake

Sift the following ingredients directly into a an 8 inch square or 9 inch round baking pan:

1 ½ cups white flour
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1 tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
1 cup sugar

In a measuring cup, measure and mix together:
½ cup vegetable oil
1 cup cold water or coffee
2 tsp pure vanilla extract

Pour the liquid ingredients into the baking pan and mix with a fork or whisk.

When the batter is smooth add 2 TBSP apple cider vinegar.

Stir quickly. There will be pale swirls in the batter.

Bake for 25 to 30 minutes at 350. Let the cake cool in the pan on rack. You can cut the slices directly from the pan to serve.

The Moosewood Collective suggests that you let the cake cool and then refrigerate it for 30 minutes but I prefer the cake warm.

Mocha Whipped Cream

Combine and whip until stiff:
1 TBSP instant coffee
1 cup whipping cream
¼ cup icing sugar
1 TBSP cocoa powder

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Butter and Apples

More than once this fall, I've pulled out a bowl, a canister of flour, and a pastry recipe only to find, alas, that I cannot lift my hand to cut the butter (or lard, according to some recipes). It seems that my mother's lessons in health have been carved with fire upon my soul. "Too much," her voice screams through my mind. "Too much." And so I closest the block of butter back in the fridge before rummaging for the oldfashioned oats to make a crisp. A few days ago, my vision of pastry was forever changed when I checked out a book from the library titled Perfect Light Desserts. Amongst other low fat and delicious-looking recipes, I found a lighter pie dough, which still uses butter. I'm not a huge fan of the oil crust. I'm not going to give you the recipe as I haven't tried it yet; although a pumpkin looms on top of my fridge, so the time may be neigh. But last week, after casting aside yet another pie crust recipe with a sob, I made this lovely French Apple Cake. The recipe comes from The Joy of Cooking but I've tweaked it to my liking.

Here's what I did:

French Apple Cake

Spray a deep 8 inch pie pan or a deep round casserole dish. Cover the bottom with:
3 cups sliced apples (you could up it to 4)
Sprinkle the fruit with:
1/3 cup sugar
1 Tbsp flour

In a bowl, sift:
1 cup flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt

In another bowl, beat together:
2 egg yolks
1 Tbsp melted butter
1/4 cup milk
Add to the dry ingredients and beat with swift strokes just until blended. Cover the fruit with the batter. Bake at 375 for aprox. 30 minuted. Reverse on a platter and cool slightly.

Make meringue:
Beat until frothy:
1/8 tsp salt
2 reserved egg whites
1/4 tsp cream of tarter
Add gradually:
4 Tbsp sugar
Whip until stiff and glossy. Be sure to whip continually. Heap onto cake and bake at 300 for 15 or 20 more minutes.