Cooking Classes


Shrimp alla Buzara

I was recently on Vancouver Island with fresh fish and seafood all about. These side striped shrimp are new to me. Even when raw they are brightly coloured. This is the perfect dish for these shrimp.

Also important,the side stripe shrimp are on the Ocean Wise list of sustainably harvested fish and seafood. They come from the coast of British Columbia and are harvested with a beam trawl. This is a cone shaped basket that is towed close to the sea bed. It is an Ocean Wise approved method of harvesting shrimp and small fish.

This recipe is from the cookbook Lidia's Italy. She suggests serving right in the pan. Put out a bowl for shells and serve with plenty of garlicky grilled bread to sop up all the juices.

When purchasing all fish but especially shrimp check that it has the Ocean Wise label. The Vancouver Aquarium has the Ocean Wise program to let us know which fish are being harvested sustainably. Find the information at Ocean Wise at

Shrimp alla Buzara
1/2 c. extra virgin olive oil, divided
1/4 c. bread crumbs, preferably fresh
4 garlic cloves, diced
1/2 c. finely chopped shallots
2 c. dry white wine, divided
2 tbsp. tomato puree
1 tbsp. cognac or brandy
4 tbsp. finely chopped parsley
Freshly ground black pepper
2 lb. large raw shrimp, tails and heads on
Chopped parsley and olive oil for garnish

Heat 1/4 cup olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat.  Add the breadcrumbs and saute until the breadcrumbs turn golden brown. Be careful not to burn.

Add the garlic and shallots and saute until soft – about 2 minutes. Add 1/4 cup of white wine and stir until the wine is nearly evaporated and the shallots are softened, about 3 -4 minutes.

Add the tomato puree and stir into the shallot mixture, caramelizing.

Add the rest of the wine and cognac, bringing to a boil, then add the parsley.  Add salt and freshly ground pepper to taste.

Reduce the heat and allow to simmer gently while cooking the shrimp.

In another large skillet, heat the remaining 1/4 cup olive oil over medium high heat until very hot. Add the shrimp to the pan and saute until shells just turn pink.

Add the shrimp to the simmering sauce.  Allow to simmer for a few more minutes. Adjust seasoning if necessary. Turn off heat.

Drizzle with good quality olive oil and chopped parsley. Serve with crusty grilled bread. 


NOLAs Beignets and Cherry Rolls with a side of Apple Fritters

It's a trifecta of coffee time treats today and the winner is beignets. I have been longing for beignets and finally I gathered my courage to make them. As with so many times in life, it wasn't that difficult. They worked first time. If I can make them, so can you. 

Perhaps it is the fear of a vat of oil. No, I'm not afraid of hot oil, only oil. I don't like the picture inside my head of me consuming all that oil.  Add in the pillowy softness of the beignet and sweet powdered sugar and all those negative images disappear. These are so darned good! They must be eaten right away and cut immediately before deep frying.

Walnut apple fritters are equally yummy and also are best if consumed right away. Get everything ready to go before guests arrive and then do the baking and frying. Why not have a treat once in awhile?

Beignet pronounced ben-yay is a staple in New Orleans made popular by the Café du Monde. These are to be eaten hot and heavily dusted with powdered sugar. 
Beignet dough can do double duty as cherry rolls. One recipe, two presentations. I make one recipe of dough and split it in half. This will make 18 cherry rolls and about 30 beignets.
1 envelope active dry yeast
1/2 c. warm water 125 mL
1 tsp. sugar 5 mL
1 c. evaporated milk 250 mL
2 large eggs, slightly beaten
1 tsp. salt 5 mL
1/2 c. sugar 125 mL
1 c. water 250 mL
1/4 c. shortening 60 mL
7 c. flour 1.65 L
Combine yeast, water and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer. Let stand 5 minutes. Add evaporated milk, eggs, salt and sugar.
Heat one cup (250 mL) water until hot, about 115 F (46 C). Stir in shortening until melted. Add to yeast mixture. Beat at low speed using the paddle attachment, gradually adding four cups of flour, until smooth. Gradually add up to three cups (700 mL) more flour, beating until a sticky dough forms. Transfer to a lightly greased bowl; roll dough to grease top. Cover and chill four hours or keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator up to one week. 
Turn dough out onto a floured surface; roll to 1⁄4-inch (6 mm) thickness. Cut into 2 1⁄2 inch (6.5 cm) squares.
Pour oil to depth of two to three inches (5 to 7.5 cm) into a Dutch oven; heat to 360 F (182 C). Fry dough, in batches, 2 to 3 minutes on each side or until golden brown. Drain on a wire rack. Dust immediately with lots of powdered sugar. Serve immediately or keep warm in a 200 F (93 C) oven up to 30 minutes. 

Cherry Rolls
1 recipe beignet dough
1 can cherry pie filling
1 c. icing sugar 250 mL
1 tsp. vanilla 5 mL
1 tbsp. milk 15 mL
Gently roll dough between your hands to make a 12 inch (30 cm) rope. On parchment lined baking sheet, loosely coil each rope. Leave two inches (5 cm) between coiled ropes. Cover with a cloth and set in a warm place. Let rise one to two hours or until doubled in size. 
Preheat oven to 400 F (205 C). Press the center of each roll with your fingers until you touch baking sheet. Make indentations about an inch (2.5 cm) wide. Spoon cherry pie filling into each indentation. Bake 15 to 20 minutes or until golden brown.
In a small bowl, combine powdered sugar, vanilla and milk. Beat until smooth. Drizzle buns with glaze. Serve immediately.
Walnut Apple Fritters 
I love the doughnut shape of a slice of apple in this fritter. You could also coarsely chop and stir apples into the batter and drop by spoonfuls into hot oil.

1 c. walnuts 250 mL
3/4 c. sugar 175 mL
1 3/4 c. flour 425 mL
1/2 tsp. salt 3 mL
a pinch of ground cloves
3/4 – 1 c. buttermilk 175-250 mL
1 large egg
oil for deep-frying
6 medium sized firm apples
powdered sugar
Preheat the oven to 325 F (160 C). Spread the walnuts on a baking sheet and bake for five minutes until lightly roasted but not too dark. Remove from oven and cool completely.
To prepare the batter, place the cooled toasted walnuts and sugar in a food processor and process until the nuts are ground to a fine powder. Add flour, salt and cloves and pulse a few times to mix.
In a small bowl, lightly whisk the buttermilk and egg together. With the motor running, slowly add the egg mixture to the nut mixture in the food processor, blending until just incorporated. The batter should be thick but pourable. Transfer batter to a clean bowl and set aside.
Heat oil in an electric deep fat fryer or in a deep frying pan to a temperature of 325 F (160 C). While the oil is heating, prepare apples. Leave the skin on the apples and remove the cores using a corer, leaving the apples whole. Cut each apple into four or five slices and carefully dry.
When the oil is hot, dip each apple slice in the batter until completely covered, then place in batches into the hot oil and deep fry for three to four minutes, turning regularly, until cooked, crisp and golden. Using a slotted spoon, remove and drain the cooked fritters on a cooling rack placed in a baking sheet. Continue until all apple rings are cooked. Dust with powdered sugar.  Serve immediately.


Spelt and Haskap Quick Bread

This should be called Everything Healthy snacking bread. I was gifted a few cups of freshly milled spelt flour. The note on the bag documented the exact milling time and with the warning 'best used within 72 hours'.

I was not in the mood for making bread and not wanting to offend the person who generously gave me the flour, I began thinking about other healthy options. And also with the provision that I do not have to go out to the grocery store for more ingredients. Thus, this everything healthy snacking bread was created.

Haskaps are a nutrient and antioxidant rich berry that has been adapted from its original home in Russia to suit our soils and climate. It is a registered trademark of the University of Saskatchewan. This link will take you to their web page describing the work that is being done.

There are only a few orchards growing this commercially. Mine came from Northern Lights Orchard in Birch Hills, SK.

Haskaps are very tart and usually they require a lot of sugar and cooking to be palatable. This has been the drawback for me. I don't want to consume all that added sugar. In this loaf they are like raisins. They add a pop of flavour and colour without tons of sugar. The haskaps are very juicy when they are thawed. If added while still frozen they stay in tact in the bread without colouring the dough purple.

I used whey because I had just made ricotta. A by-product is whey. It works well in baking like this.

This is not a sweet bread. If you want it to be sweet then I would add more honey. This morning I piled on my homemade ricotta slightly sweetened with honey and Meyer lemon zest for a guilt-free breakfast.

Spelt and Haskap Quick Bread

1 1/2 c. whole spelt flour
3/4 c. old fashioned oatmeal, plus more
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 c. honey
1/2 c. butter, melted
2 eggs
2 ripe bananas, mashed
1/2 c. whey
1 tsp. vanilla
3/4 c. whole frozen haskaps

Grease and flour a standard size loaf pan. Set aside. Preheat oven to 350 F.

Measure and whisk dry ingredients into a bowl. In the bowl of a stand mixer add honey, butter and eggs. Beat until frothy. Add bananas, vanilla and whey and beat again.

With a spatula mix in the dry ingredients just until the flour is moistened. Add haskaps, frozen, and mix to incorporate.

Pour into a prepared loaf pan. Sprinkle with more oatmeal, if desired, and bake at 350 F for about 40 minutes. Test doneness by lightly touching the top of the loaf. It should spring back. You can also use a skewer to poke into the loaf. If it comes out dry, the loaf is baked.


Fiddlehead Cream Soup

There is nothing like the waning days of winter to arouse the desire for spring. I feel like I have been trapped in my house foreva. Now is the time we should be checking the freezer and be sure all last summer's bounty has been consumed.

I have fiddleheads and must use them before the new crop arrives. This soup is adapted from one of my all time favourite cookbooks The Silver Palate Good Times.

Fiddlehead Cream Soup
1/2 c. unsalted butter
1 large yellow onion
5 c. homemade chicken or mushroom stock
1 lb. fiddleheads
1 c. dry white wine
1 c. whole milk
1 c. cream
1/2 tsp. fresh ground nutmeg
3 tbsp. fresh squeezed lime juice
salt and pepper, to taste
piment d'esplet

Melt the butter in a Dutch oven and add onions. Cook gently over medium heat until soft and transparent. Add stock, wine and fiddleheads. Simmer for about 30 minutes.

Cool slightly. Put in blender or food processor. Add milk, cream, nutmeg, lemon juice and salt and pepper. Puree until smooth. Pour back into the Dutch oven and gently heat until hot. Ladle into 6 or 8 soup bowls and garnish with piment d'esplet. Serve immediately.


Chinese Hot and Sour Soup

This is one of my favourite authentic Chinese recipes. This is so easy to make. The surprise to me in this recipe is that the spiciness or heat comes from the white pepper that is added. I have always thought there was a sriachi or hot sauce. Nope, simply white pepper.

This recipe will come together much more smoothly if all the ingredients are chopped, measured and ready to add before beginning to cook. In French this is called mise en place, everything in its place. Chop, measure and line up the ingredients so you can focus on combining them in creating pure alchemy with this recipe for Hot and Sour Soup.

Many of the same ingredients are used over and over again in this cuisine. If you are a fan then it is worth building a pantry.


 Chinese Hot and Sour Soup

2/3 c. boneless pork loin, cut into 1/4 inch strips 
2 tsp. dark soy sauce
4 small Chinese dried shitake mushrooms
3/4 c. dried black fungus
1 1/2 tbsp. cornstarch
1/2 c. canned sliced bamboo shoots, cut lengthwise into 1/8 inch wide strips
2 tbsp. red wine vinegar
2 tbsp. rice vinegar, unseasoned
1 tbsp. light soy sauce
1 1/2 tsp. sugar
2 tbsp. vegetable oil for frying
4 c. using mushroom soaking liquid and sodium reduced chicken stock
3 to 4 oz. firm tofu, rinsed and drained, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1 large egg
1 tsp. sesame oil
1 1/2 tsp. ground white pepper
2 tbsp. thinly sliced green onions
2 tbsp. fresh whole cilantro leaves
Toss pork with dark soy sauce until well coated. 

Soak shitake and black fungus in boiling hot water to cover, about 30 minutes.  Cut out and discard stems from shitakes, then squeeze excess liquid from caps and thinly slice. Squeeze liquid from black fungus. Trim any hard nubs. In another bowl, stir together 1/4 cup (60 mL) cooled mushroom soaking liquid with cornstarch and set aside.

Stir together vinegars, light soy sauce, sugar and salt. 

Heat a wok or heavy pan over high heat. Add vegetable oil and stir fry pork until it just changes colour, about one minute. Add shitake mushrooms, black fungus and bamboo shoots and stir fry one minute. 

Add stock and bring to a boil, then add tofu. Return to a boil and add vinegar mixture. Stir in cornstarch mixture and return to a boil. Liquid will thicken. Reduce heat to moderate and simmer one minute. 

Beat egg with a fork and add sesame oil. Add egg to soup in a thin stream, stirring slowly in one direction with a spoon. Stir in white pepper. Sprinkle with green onions and cilantro before serving.  Makes 6-8 first courses. (Adapted from Bruce Cost)


Sticky Rice with Chinese Sausage

Victoria on Vancouver Island is home to Canada’s oldest Chinatown established during the Gold Rush of the early 1850’s. It is the second oldest in North America. At its peak over 40,000 immigrants lived in a few square blocks in the city centre. To this day it remains a vibrant place to shop for Asian ingredients, vegetables, fish and meat.  

While I was in the city I joined Chef Heidi Fink on her culinary tour. Heidi is in her tenth year leading cooking enthusiasts through the grocery stores, restaurants and teashops and shares her wealth of knowledge of Oriental cuisine. 

Sticky rice is one of my favourite dim sum dishes. Usually it is wrapped in lotus leaves but I cannot find lotus leaves. I have actually had it served to me in a rice steamer in a Chinatown restaurant and this is how I am making it at home.

Cantonese sausage can be found in the freezer section of an Asian grocery.

Sticky Rice with Chinese Sausage 
These are usually found in lotus leaf packages but I can't find lotus leaves. I don't like the flavour of banana leaves so I just steam them in a parchment lined bamboo steamer.

1 1/4 c. short grain glutinous sweet rice
4 Chinese dried shitake mushrooms, also called black mushrooms
1 boneless, skinless chicken breast
1/4 tsp. salt
1 tbsp. Chinese rice wine or dry sherry
1 tsp. cornstarch
2 links Cantonese sweet sausage, also called lop cheong
1 clove garlic, peeled and chopped
1 tbsp. Chinese rice wine
1 tbsp. light soy sauce
1 tsp. dark soy
1 1/2 tsp. cornstarch dissolved in 1 tbsp. cold water
2 tbsp. vegetable oil for stir frying
1/4 tsp. Asian sesame oil
black pepper or white pepper, to taste

Cover rice with cold water and soak for one hour.  Then drain and steam in a bamboo steamer lined with cheesecloth.

Meanwhile, soak mushrooms in boiling hot water until softened, about 30 minutes. Cut out and discard stems, then squeeze excess liquid from caps and thinly slice caps. Save mushroom soaking liquid for another use.

Thinly slice green onions keeping pale green and white parts separate from dark green parts. Quarter sausage lengthwise and finely chop.

Heat wok or large heavy pan over high heat and add vegetable oil. Add mushrooms, sausage and pale green and white parts of green onions, stir fry one minute. Add rice and stir fry, breaking up any clumps, one minute. Add sesame oil, then add pepper and remaining green onions and stir fry until combined well.  Steam in a bamboo steamer lined with parchment paper for about 15 minutes. 

Makes 8-10 side dishes. (Adapted from Bruce Cost)

Chinese Pork and Chive Dumplings

In 2015 the lunar new year, Chinese New Year or Tet begins on February 15 and lasts for 15 days. The holiday is celebrated with the entire family enjoying restaurant and home feasts. 

Who doesn't love potstickers? These are one of the most popular appetizers in Chinatown. Now is the time to face the fear and make them at home. There are no ingredients that cannot be found in a modern day grocery store. Make it a party and get friends together to make a big batch. Freeze them and they are ready for an easy tapa or meal.

Pork and Chive Dumplings

The sauce
1/2 c. soy sauce 125 mL
1/2 c. black vinegar, also called sugarcane juice vinegar 125 mL
1 tbsp. sesame oil 15 mL
2 tsp. toasted white sesame seeds 10 mL

The filling
1 lb. ground pork
1 c. finely chopped garlic chives
2 tsp. minced garlic
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cornstarch
1 tsp. grated fresh ginger
1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
one package 3 1/2-inch round dumpling wrappers
vegetable oil, for frying

Make the sauce by combining all ingredients and set aside until ready to serve. Makes about one cup.

Make the pork filling by combining all ingredients except for dumpling wrappers and vegetable oil.

Working with one dumpling wrapper at a time, place a tablespoon of pork filling in the center of the wrapper, moisten the edge of the wrapper and fold in half. Pinch the dumpling at one end and pinch as you go until you have a total of 6 pleats and the dumpling is closed. Place dumpling on a parchment lined baking sheet. Repeat with remaining dumpling wrappers until all filling has been used. Cover dumplings with a damp paper towel until ready to cook or at this point they can be frozen and cooked later.

In a large non-stick skillet, heat two tablespoons of oil over medium-high heat. Working in batches, arrange the dumplings in a single layer and cook, until the bottoms begin to brown, about one minute. Pour half cup water into the pan, cover with a lid and steam until the filling is almost cooked through, about 2 minutes. Uncover and cook, until the all the water has evaporated and the bottoms have become golden brown and crisp, about 2 minutes. Serve warm. 


Saskatoon Berry and Ricotta Crepes for Shrove Tuesday

Saskatoon Berry and Ricotta Crepes

1 c. whole milk
1/3 c. water
1 c. unbleached flour
3 tbsp. melted butter
3 eggs
1 tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
pinch salt

1 c. ricotta
1 tbsp. honey
1 tsp. lemon zest

1 c. saskatoon berries
2 tbsp. sugar or to taste
1 tsp. cornstarch
1/2 c. cold water

Add first 8 ingredients to a blender. Puree until thoroughly blended. Pour batter into a bowl, cover and let sit for an hour or overnight. Gently stir before using. Try not to incorporate air bubbles.

Preheat your crepe pan and very light grease with butter. You will ruin a few crepes while you get the temperature just right. The finished crepe should be very pale with only a hint of browning.

This is slightly too browned.
Pour about one quarter to one third cup of batter into middle of the pan and swirl to make a large thin pancake. Cook until the edge becomes slightly crispy. Loosen edge with rubber spatula and turn crepe over. Cook until the batter releases from the pan and you can easily slip the crepe onto a dish, about 30 seconds. Cook all of the crepes and set aside.

Make ricotta filling by combining ricotta with honey and lemon zest. Make berry topping by combining berries with sugar, cornstarch and cold water. Gently heat over medium low heat until bubbly. Cool and serve.

Put these together by  spreading each crepe with a tablespoon of ricotta filling. Roll into a cigar shape. Spoon warm berry sauce over, garnish with toasted sliced almonds and lemon zest. Serve.

The recipe will make about 18 crepes. If you don't use them all, stack with a piece of waxed or parchment paper between each crepe and seal in a freezer bag. Freeze until needed. Better yet, fill with the ricotta, roll and freeze. Pull them out of the freezer, defrost and serve with a warm saskatoon berry sauce.


Northern Pike Fish Cakes

When I was growing up on the prairies northern pike was irreverently called jackfish. It was not the fish anyone wanted to catch and often they were thrown back. This fish grows to large sizes and if a trophy is your goal then this was the one to snag. They live in shallower waters and swampy areas which some say is reflected in the flavour.

But it seems that times are changing and they are now considered more favourably.

The picture above shows a dollop of roe atop the fish cake.

During the Christmas season one of my nephews enjoyed a bit of ice fishing during his university break. He generously shared two nice sized northern pikes with me. He left them whole, still in their slime, and tripled bagged them. Almost two months later these fish were as fresh as the day they were caught. I have never frozen them using that method but it was very effective.

Filleting was also just like fresh. This is a very bony fish. To fillet it without getting bones results in wasting a lot of the flesh.

As I filleted the first fish I found it was full of roe. What a bonus. I like little treasures like this to push my culinary comfort level. Second fish was also full of roe. Double bonus. My first and only thought was to brine them and use raw.

I had never thought to flour and fry the sac in butter. Turns out two of my respondents on Facebook suggested that. One was my aunt whose husband, Doc, was a legendary fisherman. She preferred them floured and fried in butter to the fillet itself.

I used a recipe from Hunter Angler Gardener Cook to attempt a brine cure of the roe. My experimentation was a good learning experience. The sac enclosing the roe is much stronger than I expected. The roe are tightly attached and there are quite a few lost while trying to remove the membrane. It doesn't take very long to cure them in the brine. Shelf life is short, only a week. Pike roe are very tiny and don't have the dramatic effect of a larger roe and have very little flavour. I will try the pan fried method next time.

Northern Pike Fish Cakes

2 lbs. cooked, flaked fish
1/2 c. mayonnaise
2 eggs
1 tbsp. Dijon mustard
2 tbsp. lemon juice
1/2 tsp. dried chile flakes
2 1/2 c. mashed potatoes
1 c. cooked wild rice
1/2 c. finely diced onion
butter, oil or your favourite fat for frying

Combine the fish, ptatoes and wild rice in a large bowl. Mix the remainder of the ingredients in another bowl. Add the sauce to the fish mixture and mix with hands until well combined.

Form into patties. Roll in cornmeal. At this point the patties can be placed on a baking sheet and frozen. Package in a freezer bag and use as needed. Fry in hot oil until the outside is crispy and the inside is hot. Serve with a green salad and an herbed aioli.


Wee Peek at my Sewing Projects

D-rings to make the neck adjustable.

It is very difficult to see but there are pockets! A narrow long one for your thermometer or pen and a large double pocket just below waist level.
Vintage Robin Hood flour bags made into aprons. They are larger because I did not want to discard any of the fabric. Only 2 of these.

Linen tote bags in different sizes. So far these are the two cottons I have chosen for lining.

100% linen bread or produce bags. I have also made some in the same linen as used in the tote bags.


Handy List of Kitchen Hacks

Need some kitchen tips and shortcuts that really work? Want to know a few recipe substitutions to use in a pinch? Over the past few months I have been collecting ideas and came up with this list.
Aluminum Foil
A crumpled ball of foil can be used to polish a stainless steel sink. Scrub the sink with the foil and water and the oxidation comes off. Finish by washing with soapy water.
A sheet of aluminum foil with very hot water and a tablespoon (15 mL) of baking soda cleans silver cutlery in a snap. Place a sheet of foil in the bottom of the sink. Fill with very hot water and mix in the baking soda. Lay cutlery on the foil without touching each other. Remove and rinse when the tarnish disappears. This is much faster than polishing with paste.
Baking pan substitutions
Note: baking time may need adjustment. Deeper pans may need longer baking time.
A 10-inch x 3 1/2-inch (25 cm x 9 cm) Bundt pan = two 8-inch x 2-inch (20 cm x 5 cm) rounds
A standard 12-cup muffin tin = one 8 1/2-inch x 4 1/2-inch (21.5 cm x 11.5 cm) loaf or one 9-inch x 1 1/2-inch (23 cm x 4 cm) round or one 8-inch (20 cm) square pan
One 10-inch x 2-inch (25 cm x 5 cm) round = one 9-inch (23 cm) square pan
One 9-inch x 2-inch (23 cm x 5 cm) round = two 8-inch x 1 1/2-inch (20 cm x 4 cm) rounds or one 10-inch x 15-inch (25 cm x 38 cm) jelly roll or one 8-inch (20 cm) square pan
Brown Sugar
Make your own by adding one tablespoon (15 mL) of molasses to one cup (250 mL) of white sugar. Use an electric mixer on low speed or a food processor to incorporate. Adjust the shade of the sugar by adding more or less molasses.
Make light brown sugar by mixing half dark brown sugar with half white sugar. Using dark brown when the recipe calls for light brown sugar will give too much molasses flavour.
Soften brown sugar by placing in a microwave safe bowl. Cover with several layers of damp paper towel. Microwave for 45 seconds on medium-low heat. Break up lumps with a fork. Flip and repeat as many times as necessary.
Clarify a stock
The easiest way to produce a crystal clear chicken or beef stock is to first freeze it. Then place the block of frozen stock in a fine sieve lined with two layers of cheesecloth. Place over a bowl and thaw in the refrigerator. A gelatinous blob will remain after all the liquid has melted into the bowl. This blob will catch all the impurities and discard it. 
Shredded coconut is dry? Lay it on a baking sheet and toast in a 350 F (175 C) oven for added flavour. Use to garnish iced cakes or in baking.
Select a can of coconut milk by shaking it. You do not want one with a lot of watery liquid. Choose one that is more solid.
Double boiler
You don’t have a double boiler and need one. Place a metal or glass mixing bowl over a saucepan containing water. Heat to a gentle simmer. Use the bowl as the upper pot.
Use a cut corner from an envelope as a funnel to fill salt and pepper shakers. Snip the tip so it fits the shaker opening.
A cut corner of envelope is also a handy page marker for a cookbook.
Flour substitutions
For a cake flour substitute place two level tablespoons (30 mL) of cornstarch in a one-cup (250 mL) dry measure. Fill with all purpose flour. Sift or whisk to blend evenly.
Self-rising flour can be made by placing one and a half teaspoons (8 mL) of baking powder and a half teaspoon (3 mL) of salt in a one-cup (250 mL) dry measure. Fill with all purpose flour. Whisk to blend evenly.
You need softened butter and all the butter is cold and hard? Grate it and it will quickly soften.
Mozzarella is easier to grate if it is frozen first.
Use a fine grater rather than painstakingly mincing garlic and ginger. Grate it directly into the salad or dish.
How many cups in a pound (450 g)
All purpose flour = 4 cups (1 L)
Cake flour = 4 3/4 cups (1100 mL)
Granulated sugar = 2 1/4 cups (530 mL)
Icing sugar = 3 1/2 cups (820 mL)
Honey = 1 1/3 cups (315 mL)
Cheese = 4 cups grated or shredded (1L)
Potatoes = 2 1/2 cups cooked or 3-4 potatoes (625 mL)
Dried navy beans = 2 1/3 cups uncooked, 8 cooked (550 mL)
Dried kidney beans = 2 2/3 cups uncooked, 7 cooked (630 mL)
Lentils = 2 1/3 cups uncooked, 8 cooked (550 mL)
Corn meal = 3 cups (750 mL)
Rice = 2 1/8 cups (50 mL)
Jar with lid
Great for mixing up cornstarch or flour with cold water to use as a sauce or gravy thickener.
Measure all ingredients for salad dressing into jar and shake to mix.
Ketchup bottle
An empty and clean large plastic ketchup bottle works well as a pancake dispenser. If you don’t use all the batter at one time it can be stored in the same container.
Lemons and citrus
Before squeezing warm the lemons or oranges to room temperature and roll under your palm on the countertop. If necessary, microwave the fruit for 10 seconds before juicing. Warming the fruit and breaking the inner membranes will bring out more juice from the fruit.
Clean your microwave easily by placing a dish of lemon juice in it. Microwave for two to three minutes and it will clean easily.
Freeze extra lemons by cutting in wedges and placing in a sealed freezer bag. Take out as needed.
Take out the extra rack from your oven before preheating. It can be used as a cooling rack on your countertop.
Pan toasting
Toast grains like quinoa or barley in a dry pan before cooking to bring out their nutty flavour.
Toast whole or ground spices in a dry pan before using to intensify their flavours. This works especially well if spices are old.
Fresh ginger is easily peeled by rubbing with the edge of a spoon.
Use a spoon to get under the shell when peeling hard boiled eggs.
Peel a kiwi fruit by cutting off both ends. Then carefully slide a spoon under the skin and push it around the fruit while holding it in your hand. The kiwi should slide out whole.
Too salty
Add a raw potato to a soup or stew to absorb excess salt. Discard potato.
Vegan and Allergy Substitutions
For butter use margarine, olive oil or any vegetable oil
Whole eggs in baking can be substituted in chewy baked goods like brownies with one ripe banana for every egg in the recipe. One tablespoon (15 mL) of applesauce can replace an egg in most recipes.
Substitute buttermilk with soymilk soured with a teaspoon (5 mL) of apple cider vinegar or lemon juice.
Sweetened condensed milk is best substituted with coconut milk.


Pigeonneau Fermier Roti aux Epices Douces

This month we are going to the Oscars. Food can be associated with most movies in one way or another. I like the real hard-core food movies. The only movie, not only foodie movie, but the only movie I saw this year was the One Hundred Foot Journey. It was nominated for the Golden Globes but didn't meet Oscar competition.

Anyhoo, we are here to sit down and enjoy more wonderful food.

I made the 'oh so' elegant Pigeonneau Fermier Roti aux Epices Douces. Yes, this translates as pigeon. The culinary world has chosen a more appealing moniker of squab. Wouldn't we rather eat squab than pigeon? Pigeonneau is a young pigeon.

This recipe was the test for the young Indian chef to work with restaurateur Helen Mirren. He earned the restaurant a third Michelin star.

These restaurants were literally across the street from each other, hence, the one hundred foot journey. He left his family's Indian restaurant to serve haute cuisine and move his career forward.

The sauce with this dish is dazzling. This will be on my fine dinner 'go to' list of choice. And it you think you can forget the madeira, in one word, don't. The subtle sweetness adds another layer of complexity to the flavour.

I did not find pigeon and used pheasant as a substitute. It was delicious.

Into the Woods Bean Soup  with Jerry at A Life, Lived. Movie inspiration is, of course, Into the Woods.

Pimento Cheese Sandwiches from Shelby at Grumpy's Honeybunch. Movie inspiration is Shelby's all time favourite movie, The Help.

Cranberry Orange Trifle by Val at More Than Burnt Toast. The movie inspiration is The Queen with Helen Mirren. She is popular. She is also the leading actress in One Hundred Foot Journey.

Fontal Polenta with a Mushroom Saute is Sandi's contribution from The Whistlestop Cafe. Her movie inspiration is Eat, Pray, Love.

Pegonneau Fermier Rȏti aux Epices Douces

2 tablespoons butter
fine salt
freshly ground black pepper
Preheat oven to(400 °F). Melt the butter in a frying pan over high heat. Season pigeon halves with salt and pepper. Brown one side. Turn the halves over, and place the pan in the oven. Cook for 7 minutes.
Place the baked pigeon halves on a plate, tent with foil, and set aside to rest for five minutes. While the pigeon is resting, continue to reduce the sauce until thickened. Taste the sauce and season with salt, as required. Also, place the serving plates with the vegetables in the oven for a couple of minutes until the vegetables are reheated.
When the meat has rested, slice each half on the bias in four places. Arrange the pigeon slices on the serving plates. Top with the reduced sauce.

Sauce de Pigeonneau
1 small shallot, minced
1 tablespoon butter
100 milliliters Madeira wine
150 to 200 milliliters fond de pigeonneau
Fond du Pigeonneau
bones from 2 young pigeons (squabs)
1 plum tomato, seeded and chopped
1/2 white onion, chopped
1 small carrot, peeled and chopped
1/2 stalk celery, peeled and chopped
Preheat oven to 260 °C (500 °F). Scatter the reserved bones in a baking dish and bake for 15 minutes.
Scatter the vegetables over the bones and bake for an additional 15 minutes.
Transfer the cooked bones and vegetables to a saucepan. Add some water to the roasting pan and deglaze over heat. When all the caramelized partials are loose, transfer them along with the water to the saucepan.
Add sufficient water to the saucepan to cover the bones plus another 50 percent. Bring the water to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer. Simmer the contents for about 2 hours until the liquid is reduced by half. Skim any scum that forms on the surface. When reduced, strain the stock through a strainer and then through a chinois. Check the volume of the stock. If it is greater than about 200 milliliters, reduce further. Refrigerate strained stock until needed. Remove and discard any fat that congeals during cooling.
Sweat the shallot in butter in a saucepan over low heat.
Add the Madeira wine and reduce almost totally. Add the fond de pigeonneau and reduce substantially. Strain and return the sauce to the saucepan. Finish reducing the sauce per the main recipe.


Easy Salads for Nutritious Meals

Salads are not only for warm weather. Even green salads.

My simple dinner this evening is crisp iceberg lettuce and tomatoes. Drizzle with tarragon vinegar and olive oil. Add a dash of sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Butter fry fish, cod in my case. OceanWise cod. Seasoned simply with same sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. After topping greens with sauteed cod drizzle with the brown butter from the pan.

Guilt-free dinners are nice once in awhile.