Category Archives: Recipes

Zesty Cranberry-Orange Sauce

Zesty Cranberry-Orange Sauce
Zesty Cranberry-Orange Sauce

While cranberry sauce is traditionally associated with Thanksgiving and Christmas, I eat it year-round. In fact, I batch cook it and freeze it for use throughout the year.

Each fall, I eagerly await the cranberry harvest on PEI. The photo below was taken on a day that Mikita Farms in Farmington, PEI was wet harvesting their cranberry crop. Produce just does not get any fresher than this!

Freshly-harvested Cranberries from Mikita Farms in Farmington, PEI

In the fall, I buy a huge bag of cranberries for the freezer as I use them in several recipes, including cranberry-orange sauce.

These gems turn into a rich jeweled-toned cranberry sauce.

Zesty Cranberry-Orange Sauce
Zesty Cranberry-Orange Sauce

Any time I am cooking a chicken dinner, chicken pieces, or have a craving for cranberry sauce, I head to the freezer for a small container of the sauce as it just seems to make the meal.

Zesty Cranberry-Orange Sauce
Zesty Cranberry-Orange Sauce

I hope you enjoy my recipe for cranberry-orange sauce.  This is not a sickeningly sweet sauce although you can add a bit more sugar if you have a really sweet tooth!  Adding some apple and orange juice to the sauce gives it an extra flavour boost and both fruits complement the cranberry flavour well.  While the sauce is lovely without the Cointreau, it does add to the flavour of the sauce.

The method I use for the sauce is to make a simple syrup by boiling the sugar and water and then adding the cranberries, apple, and orange juice. I don’t care for runny cranberry sauce so I have learned this tip from my mother: Occasionally stir the sauce as it is cooking but make sure you stir it several times as it cools as this will help to thicken the sauce.

Don’t save this zesty cranberry-orange sauce for the holidays; enjoy it year-round!

Zesty Cranberry-Orange Sauce
Zesty Cranberry-Orange Sauce

Zesty Cranberry-Orange Sauce

Ingredients:

1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup water
2 cups cranberries, fresh or frozen
½ cup apple, finely chopped
1/3 cup orange juice
1 tsp finely grated orange rind
1½ tbsp Cointreau (optional)

Method:

In medium-sized saucepan, bring sugar and water to boil. Boil, uncovered, for 5 minutes over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally.

Add cranberries, apple, and orange juice. Bring to a boil. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring periodically throughout the cooking process for about 15 minutes or until mixture thickens.

Remove saucepan from heat and add orange rind and Cointreau. Stir several times as the sauce cools to help it to thicken.

Store, covered, in refrigerator for up to 5 days or freeze for longer storage.

Yield: Apx. 2 cups.

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Zesty Cranberry Orange Sauce

Yield: Apx 2 cups

A mildly tart and flavorful sauce that pairs well with roast turkey and any poultry dishes

Ingredients

  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 cups cranberries, fresh or frozen
  • ½ cup apple, finely chopped
  • 1/3 cup orange juice
  • 1 tsp finely grated orange rind
  • 1½ tbsp Cointreau (optional)

Instructions

  1. In medium-sized saucepan, bring sugar and water to boil. Boil, uncovered, for 5 minutes over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally.
  2. Add cranberries, apple, and orange juice. Bring to a boil. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring periodically throughout the cooking process for about 15 minutes or until mixture thickens.
  3. Remove saucepan from heat and add orange rind and Cointreau. Stir several times as the sauce cools to help it to thicken.
  4. Store, covered, in refrigerator for up to 5 days or freeze for longer storage.
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Zesty Cranberry-Orange Sauce
Zesty Cranberry-Orange Sauce

Molasses Spice Cookies

Sugar and spice and everything nice!  That pretty much sums up the smell in the kitchen when these cookies are baking.  These cookies have a lovely blend of spices that make them a real taste treat, especially with a tall glass of cold milk.

Molasses Spice Cookies
Molasses Spice Cookies

The key to keeping these cookies a bit on the chewy side is not to overbake them.  Otherwise, they get crisp and hard and more resemble a thick gingersnap.  These are almost always a staple in my freezer since they freeze so well. Good treat any time of the year.

Molasses Spice Cookies
Molasses Spice Cookies
Molasses Spice Cookies

Ingredients:

6 tbsp shortening
6 tbsp butter
¾ cup + 1 tbsp granulated sugar
1 extra large egg, lightly beaten
¼ cup molasses

2¼ cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp soda
1/8 tsp salt
¾ tsp cinnamon
¾ tsp ginger
¾ tsp cloves
Pinch mace

Sugar for dusting cookies

Method:

Preheat oven to 350°. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.

In large bowl, cream shortening and butter together. Beat in sugar. Add egg. Beat well. Blend in molasses.

Sift dry ingredients together and blend into creamed mixture.

Form dough into 1¼ “ balls and place approximately 2” apart on prepared baking sheet. Flatten with fork tines. Dust cookies lightly with granulated sugar. Bake for 8 – 9 minutes. Remove from oven and let rest on cookie sheet for 3-4 minutes then transfer cookies to wire rack to cool.

Yield: Apx. 3 dozen

Molasses Spice Cookies
Molasses Spice Cookies

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Molasses Spice Cookies

Yield: Apx. 3 dozen

A soft and chewy molasses cookie that combines a tasty blend of spices

Ingredients

  • 6 tbsp shortening
  • 6 tbsp butter
  • ¾ cup + 1 tbsp granulated sugar
  • 1 extra large egg, lightly beaten
  • ¼ cup molasses
  • 2¼ cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp soda
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • ¾ tsp cinnamon
  • ¾ tsp ginger
  • ¾ tsp cloves
  • Pinch mace

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. In large bowl, cream shortening and butter together. Beat in sugar. Add egg. Beat well. Blend in molasses.
  3. Sift dry ingredients together and blend into creamed mixture.
  4. Form dough into 1¼ “ balls and place approximately 2” apart on prepared baking sheet. Flatten with fork tines. Dust cookies lightly with granulated sugar. Bake for 8 – 9 minutes. Remove from oven and let rest on cookie sheet for 3-4 minutes then transfer cookies to wire rack to cool.
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DSC_0881

Steamed Cranberry Pudding with Eggnog Sauce

As Christmas approaches and temperatures dip (at least for those of us who live in colder climates), my thoughts tend to turn to substantial “comfort” foods — visions of roast turkey, stuffing and gravy, cranberry sauce, fluffy mashed potatoes, and lots of root vegetables (such as carrots and turnip) enter my head.  And then, of course, there are the dessert options.  Traditionally, in my family, the main Christmas meal of roast turkey is followed by a rich steamed plum pudding served with a brown sugar sauce. You can get my recipe for plum pudding here.

However, there are other options for steamed pudding, particularly for those who prefer something a little lighter than the rich plum pudding. So, I am sharing my recipe for steamed cranberry pudding which is divine when served with a decadent eggnog sauce (recipe follows).

Steamed Cranberry Pudding with Eggnog Sauce
Steamed Cranberry Pudding with Eggnog Sauce

This cranberry pudding is super easy to make and, when paired with a smooth and silky eggnog sauce….well….you might want to have a second pudding on hand for those who have room for seconds!

This pudding is not highly spiced.  It has just enough cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves to give it subtle flavour.  Either fresh or frozen cranberries may be used.  In order to release their flavour, the cranberries should be coarsely chopped into about 2-3 pieces each for this pudding.  Tossing the cut berries in some sugar while the batter is being prepared further draws out their flavour.

If you don’t have a steamed pudding mould like the one in the photo below, you can use clean tin cans or even a metal bowl.  Simply spoon the batter into the cans or bowl, cover with a double thickness of heavy-duty tin foil, and secure it with string.  The important thing is that, whatever vessel is used, it has a tight cover for the steaming process since the steam is what cooks the pudding and maintains the moisture without leaving the pudding wet and soggy. I used a standard 8-cup mould but I believe a 6-cup mould would suffice for this pudding.

Steamed Pudding Mould
Steamed Pudding Mould

The advantages of using a pudding mould specially designed for steaming puddings is that it comes with its own cover and it also has a funnel in the center which helps the pudding to cook evenly and without falling. This, of course, is in addition to the attractive shape of the pudding when it is unmoulded and plated.

To steam this pudding, a large stock pot will be needed – one that allows enough room for the pudding mould to sit in the center of the pot and has at least 1 1/2 ” – 2 ” space all around the mould.  A small wire rack that fits into the pot will also be required.  This is what the mould needs to sit on as the pudding steams.

It’s important that the mould (or bowl or tin cans) not touch the bottom or sides of the pot as the water needs to circulate all around the pot (including underneath the pudding mould) in order for the pudding to cook evenly. Once the pudding mould is set on the wire rack, carefully pour in enough boiling water to come up to about the half-way point on the pudding mould.  This is the level of water that must be maintained throughout the entire steaming process so additional boiling water may need to be added as the pudding steams. Once the boiling water has been added to the stock pot, cover the large pot with a lid and bring the water back to a full boil then immediately reduce the heat to a gentle boil.

Generally speaking, you’ll need to allot at least 1 1/2 – 2 hours for the pudding to steam over medium-low heat.  This, however, is only an estimate and the true test is when a cake tester inserted into the center of the pudding comes out clean.  I recommend removing the lid from the pudding mould and checking the pudding with a cake tester at the 1 1/2-hour point and then, if not cooked, about every 10 minutes after until the tester comes out clean. When the pudding is cooked, remove it from its water bath and place the mould on a wire rack.  Let the pudding rest in the mould for about 20 minutes then remove the lid from the mould and transfer the pudding to a serving plate.

Steamed Cranberry Pudding
Steamed Cranberry Pudding

While this pudding would be well complimented by a traditional brown sugar sauce, it is particularly tasty served with a rich eggnog sauce.  For ultimate flavour, the eggnog sauce is best served lukewarm, rather than piping hot, and can actually even be served quite cool.  Because of the sauce’s richness, not a lot of the sauce is needed per serving.  If you are an eggnog lover, you will love this sauce which would be equally good served over a bread pudding, too.

Steamed Cranberry Pudding
Steamed Cranberry Pudding

 

Steamed Cranberry Pudding

Ingredients:

1 1/3 cups coarsely chopped cranberries, fresh or frozen

½ cup butter
¾ cup granulated sugar (reserve ¼ cup for tossing with cranberries)
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
2 tsp grated orange rind

1½ cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp soda
¼ tsp salt
½ tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp nutmeg
1/8 tsp cloves

2 tbsp prepared eggnog
2 tbsp milk
1 tbsp Cointreau

Method:

Grease 6- or 8-cup pudding mould or spray with cooking spray.

Toss the coarsely chopped cranberries with ¼ cup of the sugar, ensuring the cut sides of the berries are coated. Set aside.

Cream butter and remaining sugar in large bowl. Beat in egg and vanilla. Add grated orange rind.

In separate bowl, sift the flour, baking powder, soda, salt, and spices.

In small bowl, whisk together eggnog, milk, and Cointreau.

Add dry ingredients to the butter-sugar-egg mixture alternately with the wet ingredients, starting and ending with the dry ingredients.

Lastly, fold in the cranberries. Transfer batter to prepared pudding mould. Cover tightly with lid. Place mould on wire rack in large pot and fill pot with boiling water to about half way up the side of the mould. Cover steamer pot with lid and bring the water to a full boil then immediately reduce the heat to a gentle boil. Steam the pudding over medium-low heat for approximately 1½ hours or until cake tester inserted into centre of pudding comes out clean. (NOTE: Add more water to pot as necessary to maintain the water level at about the half-way point on the pudding mould during the entire steaming process.) Remove mould from water bath and place on wire rack and let rest for 20 minutes then turn pudding out onto serving dish and serve warm with Eggnog Sauce (recipe below).

Yield: Apx. 10-12 servings

Eggnog  Sauce

Ingredients:

2/3 cup sugar
1½ – 2 tbsp cornstarch
¼ tsp nutmeg
2 cups prepared eggnog
2 tsp vanilla
3 tbsp Cointreau
2 tbsp butter

Method:

In small bowl, combine the sugar, cornstarch, and nutmeg.

Pour eggnog into large microwaveable-safe bowl. Whisk in dry ingredients until smooth. Cook on HIGH until mixture is thickened to desired consistency, stirring after each 1½ minutes. Remove from microwave and stir in vanilla, Cointreau, and butter. (Note: Sauce will thicken slightly more as it cools.)

Sauce is best served lukewarm, spooned over individual slices of Steamed Cranberry Pudding.

Yield: Apx. 2 cups

Steamed Cranberry Pudding
Steamed Cranberry Pudding

 

Steamed Cranberry Pudding with Eggnog Sauce

Yield: Apx. 10-12 servings

A tasty steamed pudding served with smooth and silky eggnog sauce

Ingredients

  • For Pudding:
  • 1 1/3 cups coarsely chopped cranberries, fresh or frozen
  • ½ cup butter
  • ¾ cup granulated sugar (reserve ¼ cup for tossing with cranberries)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 tsp grated orange rind
  • 1½ cups flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp soda
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp nutmeg
  • 1/8 tsp cloves
  • 2 tbsp prepared eggnog
  • 2 tbsp milk
  • 1 tbsp Cointreau
  • Eggnog Sauce Ingredients:
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1½ - 2 tbsp cornstarch
  • ¼ tsp nutmeg
  • 2 cups prepared eggnog
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 3 tbsp Cointreau
  • 2 tbsp butter

Instructions

  1. Grease 6- or 8-cup pudding mould or spray with cooking spray.
  2. Toss the coarsely chopped cranberries with ¼ cup of the sugar, ensuring the cut sides of the berries are coated. Set aside.
  3. Cream butter and remaining sugar in large bowl. Beat in egg and vanilla. Add grated orange rind.
  4. In separate bowl, sift flour, baking powder, soda, salt, and spices.
  5. In small bowl, whisk together eggnog, milk, and Cointreau.
  6. Add dry ingredients to the butter-sugar-egg mixture alternately with the wet ingredients, starting and ending with the dry ingredients.
  7. Lastly, fold in the cranberries. Transfer batter to prepared pudding mould. Cover tightly with lid. Place mould on wire rack in large pot and fill pot with boiling water to about half way up the side of the mould. Cover steamer pot with lid and bring the water to a full boil then immediately reduce the heat to a gentle boil. Steam the pudding over medium-low heat for approximately 1½ hours or until cake tester inserted into centre of pudding comes out clean. (NOTE: Add more water to pot as necessary to maintain the water level at about the half-way point on the pudding mould during the entire steaming process.) Remove mould from water bath and place on wire rack and let rest for 20 minutes then turn pudding out onto serving dish and serve warm with Eggnog Sauce (recipe below).
  8. Eggnog Sauce:
  9. In small bowl, combine the sugar, cornstarch, and nutmeg.
  10. Pour eggnog into large microwaveable-safe bowl. Whisk in dry ingredients until smooth. Cook on HIGH until mixture is thickened to desired consistency, stirring after each 1½ minutes. Remove from microwave and stir in vanilla, Cointreau, and butter. (Note: Sauce will thicken slightly more as it cools.)
  11. Sauce is best served lukewarm, spooned over individual slices of Steamed Cranberry Pudding.
  12. Yield: Apx. 2 cups sauce
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Steamed Cranberry Pudding
Steamed Cranberry Pudding

Frypan Cookie Balls

Frypan Cookie Balls
Frypan Cookie Balls

I have no idea why these tasty morsels are called cookies because, in my view, they in no way resemble my definition of a cookie!  Nonetheless, they have always been called Frypan Cookies in my family and, regardless their name, they are mighty tasty. In fact, I think they’re actually more like candy than cookies.

Why they are called “Frypan Cookies” is a mystery to me but that’s what I’ve always known them as and my mother has been making them since I was a wee child (and probably even longer ago than that).  My best guess is that, somewhere back in time, someone picked up a frypan and used it to cook the date, sugar, and egg mixture and simply named the result “Frypan Cookies”.  In any event, we’ve continued the tradition of using a frypan which, I must admit due to its shallow depth, is easier to scoop the mixture from to make the balls than would be a deeper saucepan.

While these treats don’t take a lot of ingredients or any difficult-to-find ones, I tend to only make them once a year – at Christmas – probably because that was the only time of the year my mother made them and they were always considered to be a special Christmas treat.

The trick to making these balls is in the thickening of the egg, sugar, and date mixture.  It is important to stir the mixture continuously as it cooks to avoid scorching.  Once the mixture starts to thicken, it’s done.  This generally takes about 5-7 minutes.

Don’t let the mixture get too thick as it will then be difficult to incorporate the rice cereal into the mixture.

Adding nuts, such as chopped walnuts or pecans, is optional in this recipe.  I generally do not add them.  One-half cup of chopped glazed red cherries can also be added, if desired.

There are a couple of options when it comes to the coconut coating for frypan cookie balls.  Traditionally, sweetened shredded coconut is used – this is the long stringy kind of coconut.

While, sometimes, it is tricky to get the coconut to stick to the balls, this coconut makes a more showy frypan cookie ball.

The shorter, more fine-textured, macaroon coconut may also be used.

It makes a neater looking ball but is not quite as interesting and showy looking.

I often choose the macaroon coconut if I am making these balls for trays for an afternoon tea since they are more dainty and the coconut adheres better and does not tend to fall off the balls.

Choice of coconut in which to roll the balls is, of course, a matter of personal preference.

The mixture needs to be quite warm in order for the coconut to stick to the balls.  So, it’s important to work quickly when making the balls.  If the mixture gets too cool, you can transfer it to a microwave-safe bowl and heat the mixture for just a very few seconds (i.e., 7-8 seconds) to warm it up.

The balls can be formed by hand but it’s a sticky process (although spraying the hands with cooking spray helps).

The best method is to use a small 1″ cookie scoop.  This will also ensure that the balls are of consistent size.

These balls need to be kept chilled and will keep in the refrigerator for about a week.  They also freeze really well if longer storage is needed.  Whether refrigerating or freezing, just ensure that the balls are stored in an airtight container and are separated between layers of wax paper.

Frypan Cookies
Frypan Cookies

Frypan Cookie Balls

Ingredients:

2 tbsp butter
2 eggs, beaten until light
1 tsp. vanilla
1 cup granulated sugar
1½ cups pitted dates, chopped

2 cups crisped rice cereal (such as Rice Krispies)
½ cup chopped nuts (optional)
Apx. 1½ – 2 cups sweetened shredded coconut or apx. 2/3 – 1 cup macaroon coconut

Method:

Line large baking sheet with wax paper.

In large frypan, over medium heat, melt the butter. Whisk the eggs, vanilla, and sugar together. Add the liquid mixture along with the dates to the frypan and reduce heat to medium low. Cook mixture, stirring constantly to avoid scorching, for approximately 5-7 minutes or until mixture thickens. Remove from heat and stir in the rice cereal and nuts.

Place coconut in bowl. Using a 1” cookie scoop, form the mixture into balls then drop balls into coconut; roll to coat then place on cookie sheet. Refrigerate until firm. Keep refrigerated in an airtight container or freeze for longer storage.

Yield: Apx. 56 balls

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Frypan Cookie Balls

Yield: Apx. 56 - 1" balls

A rich, moist, and slightly crunchy date ball.

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 2 eggs, beaten until light
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1½ cups pitted dates, chopped
  • 2 cups crisped rice cereal (such as Rice Krispies)
  • ½ cup chopped nuts (optional)
  • Apx. 1½ - 2 cups sweetened shredded coconut or apx. 2/3 - 1 cup macaroon coconut

Instructions

  1. Line large baking sheet with wax paper.
  2. In large frypan, over medium heat, melt the butter. Whisk the eggs, vanilla, and sugar together. Add the liquid mixture along with the dates to the frypan and reduce heat to medium low. Cook mixture, stirring constantly to avoid scorching, for approximately 5-7 minutes or until mixture thickens. Remove from heat and stir in the rice cereal and nuts.
  3. Place coconut in bowl. Using a 1” cookie scoop, form the mixture into balls then drop balls into coconut; roll to coat then place on cookie sheet. Refrigerate until firm. Keep refrigerated in an airtight container or freeze for longer storage.
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Frypan Cookie Balls
Frypan Cookie Balls

Gumdrop Cake

Gumdrop Cake
Gumdrop Cake

This is one of my all-time favorite cakes! It’s colorful and it’s tasty.  While I make this cake at any time of the year (and it’s often a staple in my freezer because it freezes very well), it’s a great Christmas cake because of the colorful gumdrops which give it a festive appearance.  It is also  a perfect alternative for those who do not like the traditional fruitcakes associated with the holiday season.  It’s lighter, both in the color of the cake and its texture, than a fruitcake and yet it is colorful with its myriad of shades of gumdrops.

Gumdrop Cake
Gumdrop Cake

The cake is a bit time-consuming to make because cutting the sticky gumdrops can be a bit tedious and it does take over 2 hours to bake so you do need to do some planning ahead to make this cake. That said, the method is not at all difficult.

To begin, buy good gumdrops. Hard to believe it but there is a difference in the quality of gumdrops.  I use Ganong gumdrops made in St. Stephen, New Brunswick.  The Ganong company has  been making candies since 1873 so they have a good handle on what makes quality confections! The Ganong gumdrops are good quality and hence make a better cake.  Don’t use black gumdrops in this cake – those are good for snacking while cutting up the other colored gumdrops 😉 Black gumdrops are just plain ugly in a cake and may bleed out their intense color.  I also don’t put a lot of white gumdrops in the cake either because they are not bright and showy enough. Cut each of the gumdrops into 3-5 pieces, depending on the size of the gumdrops to begin with.

The thing about gumdrops is that they are heavy, even when they are cut. This means there is a possibility they could fall to the bottom of the cake with the top half or more of the cake having few, if any, gumdrops.  To counter this issue, make sure the gumdrops are well dredged (floured).  Dredging means some of the flour called for in the recipe is used to coat the cut sticky edges of the gumdrops so they don’t all stick to each other and fall, with their collected weight, to the bottom of the cake.

DSCN1900

To dredge the gumdrops, simply place the cut gumdrops in a bowl and add a small amount of flour.  By spoon or by hand, toss the gumdrops in the flour, making sure the cut side of each gumdrop is well floured.

The other tip to avoid ‘falling gumdrops’ is to only use a reasonable amount in the recipe. It’s tempting to add lots and lots more  gumdrops; however, those add weight to the cake and they will likely all get together and congregate to have a party at the bottom of the cake.  This cake has a light batter so it doesn’t have the power to hold up a lot of heavy gumdrops. I use 1 pound of gumdrops for this cake and find it is sufficient.

Adding the gumdrops to the batter is the last step in making this cake so, when doing so, fold them in gently with a rubber spatula and don’t over-mix. Just fold them in till there is no  flour visible.  Over-mixing them will remove the flour from their floured edges and may cause the gumdrops to fall to the bottom of the cake. The flour is meant to act as a “barrier” between the sticky gumdrops and the wet batter.  As shown in the photograph below, just keep gently rolling the spatula over and under the batter until all the gumdrops are incorporated.

Gently folding in the gumdrops

You can see how each roll of the spatula brings up more batter each time until the gumdrops are finally all blended in.

The batter for this cake will not result in a lily-white cake because it uses butter.  To get a white cake, shortening would have to be used but you would be sacrificing the butter flavour for which this cake is meant. Use the good stuff!

Gumdrop Cake
Gumdrop Cake

The butter will cream much easier and faster if it is at room temperature so take the butter out of the fridge an hour or two ahead of preparing the cake. Avoid the temptation of softening the butter in the microwave as, inevitably, some of it will melt and that causes a different texture to the butter.  I also remove the eggs and the milk from the fridge about 35-40 minutes before making the cake, bringing them to room temperature.  I find this helps the ingredients to incorporate better and more smoothly than if they are used in their refrigerated cold state.

The best pan to use for this cake is a funnel cake pan. The hole in the center of this pan helps the cake to bake evenly without it falling in the center, leaving it unbaked and gummy. I use my large 16-cup angel food pan for this recipe but a slightly smaller funnel pan would accommodate the amount of batter called for in this recipe.

Place the oven rack in the center of the oven to bake the cake and place the cake pan in the center of the rack. If the cake starts to brown too quickly on the top, loosely lay a piece of tin foil over the top of the pan.  It takes about 2 hours and 15 minutes for this cake to bake in my oven but I recommend that you start testing for doneness at the 2 hour point so the cake does not dry out.  It is done when a cake tester inserted near the center close to the funnel comes out clean and the top of the cake is no longer sticky.

Remove the cake from the oven and let it cool in the pan for 20-30 minutes then turn it out on to a wire rack, removing the parchment paper from the bottom of the cake.  Let the cake cool completely before cutting.  This cake is best left for a day or two to age before slicing it.

Gumdrop Cake
Gumdrop Cake
Gumdrop Cake

Ingredients:

1 cup butter, softened
1⅔ cups granulated sugar
3 eggs, room temperature
1¼ tsp vanilla
1 tsp almond flavouring
1 tsp lemon flavouring

3 cups flour (reserve 1/4 cup for dredging cut gumdrops)
2½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt

1 cup milk, room temperature

1 lb gumdrops, cut into 3-5 pieces each

Method:

Place oven rack in center of oven and preheat oven to 300°F. Grease large funnel pan and line bottom with parchment paper.

In medium-sized bowl, dredge the cut gumdrops with 1/4 cup of the flour, making sure that the cut edges of each gumdrop are well floured. Set aside. In separate bowl, sift together the remaining flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.

In bowl of stand mixer, cream the butter. Gradually add the sugar, beating until well incorporated. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in the vanilla along with the almond and lemon flavourings. Add the dry and wet ingredients in three parts (3 parts dry and 2 parts wet) starting and ending with the dry ingredients. After all ingredients have been added, beat batter on medium speed for 1 minute.

Remove bowl from stand mixer and, by hand, gently fold in the floured gumdrops just until incorporated and no dry flour remains visible. Do not overmix.

Transfer batter to prepared pan and, with knife, smooth batter out even. Bake for approximately 2¼ hours or until cake tester inserted near funnel center of pan comes out clean. Remove cake from oven and let cool in pan for 20-30 minutes then turn cake out onto wire rack to cool completely. Cake  will slice better a day or two after baking.

Gumdrop Cake
Gumdrop Cake

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Gumdrop Cake

A buttery cake loaded with flavour and dotted with colorful gumdrops.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1 2/3 cups granulated sugar
  • 3 eggs, room temperature
  • 1¼ tsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp almond flavouring
  • 1 tsp lemon flavouring
  • 3 cups flour (reserve 1/4 cup for dredging cut gumdrops)
  • 2½ tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 cup milk, room temperature
  • 1 lb gumdrops, cut into 3-5 pieces each

Instructions

  1. Place oven rack in center of oven and preheat oven to 300°F. Grease large funnel pan and line bottom with parchment paper.
  2. In medium-sized bowl, dredge the cut gumdrops with 1/4 cup of the flour, making sure that the cut edges of each gumdrop are well floured. Set aside. In separate bowl, sift together the remaining flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
  3. In bowl of stand mixer, cream the butter. Gradually add the sugar, beating until well incorporated. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in the vanilla along with the almond and lemon flavourings. Add the dry and wet ingredients in three parts (3 parts dry and 2 parts wet) starting and ending with the dry ingredients. After all ingredients have been added, beat batter on medium speed for 1 minute.
  4. Remove bowl from stand mixer and, by hand, gently fold in the floured gumdrops just until incorporated and no dry flour remains visible. Do not overmix.
  5. Transfer batter to prepared pan and, with knife, smooth batter out even. Bake for approximately 2¼ hours or until cake tester inserted near funnel center of pan comes out clean. Remove cake from oven and let cool in pan for 20-30 minutes then turn cake out onto wire rack to cool completely. Cake will slice better a day or two after baking.
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Gumdrop Cake
Gumdrop Cake

Cream of Roasted Tomato Soup

Roasted Cream of Tomato Soup
Cream of Roasted Tomato Soup

One of my all-time favorite comfort soups is homemade tomato soup.  I have been working for the past couple of years to develop a tomato soup recipe that uses the right blend of ingredients and spices to achieve a balanced tomato soup that is pleasing to my palette. Recipe development can be a lengthy and tedious process and the recipe I am sharing today is the result of my efforts.  Once I crafted the final version of this soup, no canned tomato soup will now do!

Roasted Cream of Tomato Soup
Cream of Roasted Tomato Soup

The tomatoes I recommend to use in tomato soup are the plum tomatoes, sometimes referred to as the “Romas” or “Italian tomatoes”.

Roma Tomatoes

These are an oblong, almost egg-shaped, tomato and they are a firm tomato, quite meaty, and less watery with fewer seeds than other tomato varieties.  They also have a gorgeous vibrant red color that translates into wonderful color for soups and sauces. They are ideal for roasting because of their thick wall of flesh that does not break down and collapse quickly.  For these reasons, the Romas are often used in canning, soup-making, and for making tomato sauce and paste.

I like to roast the vegetables for this soup because the roasting draws out and heightens their flavour,  making a more flavorful soup.  It’s important to coat (but not drench or soak) the vegetables with a high quality olive oil before roasting them.  This will help to keep the vegetables from drying out during the roasting process. Although a plain olive oil can certainly be used, I like to use a flavored oil such as oregano or herbes de provence, for example, as this adds additional flavor. The only vegetable I find difficult to get roasted soft is the celery so, for this vegetable, I recommend cutting it into small chunks about 1″ long.  Through the roasting and cooking processes, the celery will eventually soften but it does take more time (but it is necessary for the flavor it provides to the soup). Use care not to burn or over-char the vegetables — there is a definite line between vegetables that are well-roasted and those that are burned. The goal is to have a flavourful soup that uses roasted vegetables but has no ‘burnt’ taste to it.

Use the freshest of ingredients you can find for this soup; it matters.  Using fresh herbs is essential for the best flavor of the soup and add them near the end of the cooking process so their flavor will be more intense and true.

I use a hand-held immersion blender to purée the vegetables although a standard food processor would also work.  How smooth to purée the mixture is a matter of preference.  For a more refined soup, purée the mixture until very smooth; for a more rustic, artisan soup, purée less.

While whole milk by itself can be used in this recipe, I like to add a mixture of whole milk and blend (or, if I want to be really extravagant, whipping cream) because it gives better flavor and texture to the soup.  I make this soup in large batches and freeze it. It will not freeze well and maintain its quality texture if anything less than whole milk is used and it freezes even better if blend or whipping cream is used along with the whole milk.

This is not a highly spiced soup because my intent is that it remain very much a tomato-flavored soup. Any ingredients added are intended to compliment and enhance the soup’s flavor, not mask or overpower the tomato flavor.

Roasted Cream of Tomato Soup
Cream of Roasted Tomato Soup
Cream of Roasted Tomato Soup

Ingredients:

1 medium-sized carrot
1 medium-sized onion
1 leek
½ celery stalk
1 – 1½ oz piece of fennel bulb
2½ lbs ripe plum tomatoes (Romas)
4-5 garlic cloves, unpeeled
Olive oil
1 tbsp butter
2 tbsp liquid chicken bouillon
2 cups hot water
1 tbsp ketchup or tomato paste
1 tsp sugar or honey
1 bay leaf
3 tbsp fresh basil, chopped
1 tbsp fresh oregano, chopped
1 tbsp fresh thyme, chopped
1¼ cups whole milk
½ – ¾ cup blend or whipping cream
Sea Salt
Pepper

Sour Cream (optional)
Seasoned Croutons (optional)
Fresh Herbs (optional)

Method:

Preheat oven to 450°F. Place oven rack in center of oven.

Peel carrot, onion, and strip outer layers from leek – use only white and light green part of the leek. Cut carrot, leek, and celery into chunks about 1” – 2”. Chop fennel bulb into 2-3 chunks. Cut tomatoes and onion into quarters. Place vegetables into a large bowl and add unpeeled garlic cloves. Drizzle vegetables and garlic cloves with enough olive oil to coat and sprinkle with sea salt and pepper. Toss gently to coat mixture with oil. Place vegetables and garlic, single layer, on greased tinfoil-lined baking pan.

Roast, uncovered for apx. 45-60 minutes, or until vegetables are cooked soft (do not burn them). Remove vegetables from oven and split garlic peeling to extract garlic.

Melt 1 tbsp of butter in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add the roasted vegetables and garlic along with the liquid chicken bouillon, hot water, ketchup or tomato paste, sugar or honey, and bay leaf.  Stir. Cover. Bring to a boil then immediately reduce heat to simmer for 20 minutes. In the last 10 minutes of simmering, add the fresh basil, oregano, and thyme.

Let mixture cool to lukewarm. Remove bayleaf, then purée mixture with immersion blender or in a food processor to desired consistency/smoothness.

Return puréed mixture to large pot. Add milk and blend (or whipping cream). Stir well.

Heat gently, over medium-low heat, stirring often to prevent scorching. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Ladle into soup bowls and garnish with sour cream, seasoned croutons and fresh herbs, if desired.

Cream of Roasted Tomato Soup

Yield: Apx. 6-8 servings

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Cream of Roasted Tomato Soup

Yield: Apx. 6-8 servings

A flavorful homemade tomato soup filled with goodness.

Ingredients

  • 1 medium-sized carrot
  • 1 medium-sized onion
  • 1 leek
  • ½ celery stalk
  • 1 – 1½ oz piece of fennel bulb
  • 2½ lbs ripe plum tomatoes (Romas)
  • 4-5 garlic cloves, unpeeled
  • Olive oil
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 2 tbsp liquid chicken bouillon
  • 2 cups hot water
  • 1 tbsp ketchup or tomato paste
  • 1 tsp sugar or honey
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 3 tbsp fresh basil, chopped
  • 1 tbsp fresh oregano, chopped
  • 1 tbsp fresh thyme, chopped
  • 1¼ cups whole milk
  • ½ - ¾ cup blend or whipping cream
  • Sea Salt
  • Pepper
  • Sour Cream (optional)
  • Seasoned Croutons (optional)
  • Fresh Herbs (optional)

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 450°F. Place oven rack in center of oven.
  2. Peel carrot, onion, and strip outer layers from leek – use only white and light green part of the leek. Cut carrot, leek, and celery into chunks about 1” - 2”. Chop fennel bulb into 2-3 chunks. Cut tomatoes and onion into quarters. Place vegetables into a large bowl and add unpeeled garlic cloves. Drizzle vegetables and garlic cloves with enough olive oil to coat and sprinkle with sea salt and pepper. Toss gently to coat mixture with oil. Place vegetables and garlic, single layer, on greased tinfoil-lined baking pan. Roast, uncovered for apx. 45-60 minutes, or until vegetables are cooked soft (do not burn them). Remove vegetables from oven and split garlic peeling to extract garlic.
  3. Melt 1 tbsp of butter in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add the roasted vegetables and garlic along with the liquid chicken bouillon, hot water, ketchup or tomato paste, sugar or honey, and bay leaf. Stir. Cover. Bring to a boil then immediately reduce heat to simmer for 20 minutes. In the last 10 minutes of simmering, add the fresh basil, oregano, and thyme.
  4. Let mixture cool to lukewarm. Remove bayleaf, then purée mixture with immersion blender or in a food processor to desired consistency/smoothness.
  5. Return puréed mixture to large pot. Add milk and blend (or whipping cream). Stir well. Heat gently, over medium-low heat, stirring often to prevent scorching. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Ladle into soup bowls and garnish with sour cream, seasoned croutons and fresh herbs, if desired.
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Cream of Roasted Tomato Soup
Cream of Roasted Tomato Soup

On The Sandwich Board: Egg Salad Sandwich

Egg Salad Sandwich
Egg Salad Sandwich

One of my all-time favorite sandwiches is egg salad. It’s also one variety of sandwich that, when I take a plate of sandwiches somewhere, is sure to go first.  The filling can, of course, be made very simply with nothing more than hard boiled eggs, salad dressing or mayonnaise, and some celery and onion, if desired.  I like to jazz up my egg salad filling a bit by adding some ingredients that give an additional flavor boost to the sandwich – prepared mustard, sweet pickle relish, lemon juice, fresh herbs, and just a smidgen of a fine quality white truffle oil.  Add some fresh lettuce and place this filling in a good quality roll or between slices of your favorite bread for a decadent lunch.  I take my lunch to work and it’s always a special treat day when I take the time to prepare an egg salad sandwich and pack it with some fresh veggies and fruit!

And, don’t forget the pickles!  Crunchy bread and butter pickles go great with an egg salad sandwich.

The eggs for the filling can be either diced or mashed according to personal preference.  Dicing the eggs results in a more rustic looking sandwich like the one shown in the photo below.

Egg Salad Sandwich
Egg Salad Sandwich

However, if I am making egg salad sandwiches for an afternoon tea, then I mash the eggs with a fork or small potato masher as it makes a  creamier filling that stays neatly in place between the bread slices as shown below.

Egg Salad Tea Sandwiches
Egg Salad Tea Sandwiches

Either bought or homemade salad dressing or mayonnaise can be used in this sandwich filling.  Sometimes, I add a little of each. I recommend starting with a tablespoon (or even slightly less) of the salad dressing or mayonnaise and then adding small amounts as necessary to achieve the desired consistency of the salad filling.

Egg Salad Sandwich

Ingredients:

2 hard-boiled eggs, diced
¼ cup celery, finely diced
1 tbsp red onion, finely chopped
1 tsp prepared mustard
1½ tsp sweet pickle relish
1 – 2 tbsp salad dressing or mayonnaise
½ tsp lemon juice
1½ tsp chives, chopped
1½ tsp fresh parsley, chopped (optional)
¼ tsp. fresh dill, chopped (optional)
Salt and pepper, to taste
½ tsp. white truffle oil

4 slices of bread of choice or 2 rolls
Lettuce
Paprika (optional)

Method:

Place eggs in medium-sized saucepan. Cover with enough water that the eggs are completely covered by at least 1” of water. Bring to a full boil. As soon as the water is at a full boil, remove saucepan from heat and let the eggs sit in the hot water for 12 minutes. Drain the hot water and rinse eggs under cold water to stop the cooking process. Let eggs sit in a saucepan of cold water for 4-5 minutes then peel and dice (or mash) them.

Place eggs in bowl and add all remaining ingredients. When adding the salad dressing or mayonnaise, start with 1 tbsp and add more until mixture is of desired consistency. Stir well to combine ingredients.

Butter bread slices or roll halves. Place lettuce on bottom halves of each sandwich or roll. Top the lettuce with the egg filling, dividing equally between the two sandwiches or rolls. Sprinkle with paprika, if desired. Place remaining roll tops or bread slices over filling and slice as desired.

Yield: 2 sandwiches or rolls

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Egg Salad Sandwich
Egg Salad Sandwich

Egg Salad Sandwich

Yield: 2 sandwiches or rolls

A flavorful egg salad sandwich perfect for any occasion that calls for a sandwich!

Ingredients

  • 2 hard-boiled eggs, diced
  • ¼ cup celery, finely diced
  • 1 tbsp red onion, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp prepared mustard
  • 1½ tsp sweet pickle relish
  • 1 - 2 tbsp salad dressing or mayonnaise
  • ½ tsp lemon juice
  • 1½ tsp chives, chopped
  • 1½ tsp fresh parsley, chopped (optional)
  • ¼ tsp. fresh dill, chopped (optional)
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • ½ tsp. white truffle oil
  • 4 slices of bread of choice or 2 rolls
  • Lettuce
  • Paprika (optional)

Instructions

  1. Place eggs in medium-sized saucepan. Cover with enough water that the eggs are completely covered by at least 1” of water. Bring to a full boil. As soon as the water is at a full boil, remove saucepan from heat and let the eggs sit in the hot water for 12 minutes. Drain the hot water and rinse eggs under cold water to stop the cooking process. Let eggs sit in a saucepan of cold water for 4-5 minutes then peel and dice (or mash) them.
  2. Place eggs in bowl and add all remaining ingredients. When adding the salad dressing or mayonnaise, start with 1 tbsp and add more until mixture is of desired consistency. Stir well to combine ingredients.
  3. Butter bread slices or roll halves. Place lettuce on bottom halves of each sandwich or roll. Top the lettuce with the egg filling, dividing equally between the two sandwiches or rolls. Sprinkle with paprika, if desired. Place remaining roll tops or bread slices over filling and slice as desired.
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