Posts Tagged ‘Recipes’

Chinese Chews

March 23rd, 2014 by Susan

Stirring it up!

These bars are quick and easy to make, perfect when you need a little something to go along with an afternoon cuppa. Dates add a special sweetness and walnuts give a nice crunch to each bite. This recipe does not call for any butter or shortening.

Ingredients:

tempting Chinese Chews.

Tempting Chinese Chews.

  • 2/3 c. all purpose flour
  • 1 t. baking powder
  • 1/4 t. salt
  • 3/4 c. sugar, white
  • 1 c. dates,  pitted and chopped
  • 1 c. walnuts, chopped
  • 2 eggs, well-beaten
  • 1/2 t. vanilla
  • confectioners sugar

Stir the flour, baking powder and salt together.

Add sugar, dates and nuts, then stir in the eggs and vanilla.

Spread about 1/2″ thick in a well greased or parchment lined 9″ x 9″ square pan.

Bake at 325°F  for 25 to 30 minutes.

Cut into small squares while still warm and dust with confectioners sugar.

Dishing it out:

Apparently this recipe was first published in Good Housekeeping magazine in 1917 but by all accounts, why the name Chinese Chews, remains a mystery. While this recipe may not be the same as the early version, my mom made these from a recipe in her trusty Five Roses Flour cookbook,  A Guide to Good Cooking. My copy of the same cookbook is filled with annotated recipes on well worn pages, several of which are held in the book with tape.  The recipe actually called for the squares, once cool enough to handle, to be rolled into balls then dusted with sugar. I never remember having them rolled but no matter the shape, the taste is great and they are chewy! One drawback though, they are so good they won’t last long!

German Pancakes

March 23rd, 2014 by Peter MacLaren

Stirring it up:

For all of you who have been after me for the recipe I use to make German Pancakes, here it is. This is a simple recipe for one serving and can easily be increased depending on how many hungry folks are at the table.

 Ingredients:

  • 1/4 c. all purpose flour or sifted bread flour
  • 1/4 c. milk (2% is just fine)

    Yumm, German pancake for breakfast.

  • 1 egg
  • 1 t. butter
  • pinch of salt
  • dash of cinnamon or nutmeg

This recipe is for one serving. Increase it by the number you are feeding. I have found that using a 10″  (25cm) round, pyrex pie dish and trebling the recipe makes 4 good servings.

Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C)

Place the butter in the baking dish (size is dependent on the number you are feeding) and place it in the oven when the oven reaches 400°F  (200°C). Leave it there while you proceed but be careful the butter does not burn.

Combine all the ingredients in a food process or blender and blend until just smooth. A wire whisk will do the job however the batter will not be as smooth.

When the butter has melted, remove the pan from the oven. Pour in the pancake batter and put the pan back into the oven. Be careful  as the butter and the pan are extremely hot and the batter may make the butter splatter a bit.  

Bake for 12-18 minutes depending on the size of your pancake. You want around the edges to be puffed up and the center to be just firm. I tend to use a lower temperature than similar recipes call for,   I find the pancake stays thicker in the middle while still being puffy around the edge.

The pancake will start to deflate as soon as it comes out of the oven so serve it immediately.

Top each serving with fresh fruit, some powdered sugar, and sausage or two along side, and you have a very yummy breakfast. Oh, and if you have a sweet tooth, add some real maple syrup.

Tip: Sometimes I dice apples or peaches, cook them in some butter in a separate pan until they are soft and add them to the batter once it is poured into the hot buttered baking dish. Makes a nice change from a plain pancake.

Dishing it out:

These are also sometimes called Dutch Babies. ‘Dutch’ relates to the German-American immigrants who were known as the Pennsylvania Dutch— Dutch being of course a corruption of the word Deutsch which is German for, well, German!  My great-grandmother, Ursula, came to the United States from Germany when she was a child and I can only imagine that she would have loved eating this wonderful eggy breakfast treat.

Chocolate Mint Cookies

June 16th, 2013 by Susan

Stirring it up:

IMG_2120

Help your self.

Who doesn’t like chocolate? And what about chocolate and mint? A yummy combination to be sure. These absolutely delicious chocolate cookies have just a hint of peppermint and pack a mouthful of chocolaty goodness.

Makes 36 cookies
Oven 350F
Bake 5 – 6 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1 c. white sugar
  • 6 T. canola oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 c. all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 c. baking cocoa
  • 1 T. baking soda
  • 1/4 t. salt
  • 1/4 t. peppermint extract
  • 4 T. milk (whole, 2% or fat free)

In a bowl, beat sugar and oil until crumbly. Add eggs and beat for 1 minute. Combine flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt and gradually beat into the sugar mixture. Add the milk and mix well

With lightly floured hands roll dough into 36 balls and place 2″ apart on a parchment lined or non-stick sprayed baking sheet. Flatten slightly with your fingers.

Bake at 425° F for 5 – 6 minutes just until the edges are set and the tops crack. Cool a couple of minutes before removing to cooling racks. Enjoy as excellent plain chocolate cookies or make cookie sandwiches with some fluffy vanilla butter icing or you could make larger cookies and make ice cream sandwiches with them – now that would be great for a 4th of July party!

Dishing it out:

Outside our Garden Room we have an herb garden which at this point is growing like crazy because of all the rain we have been having. The first crop of chives has been snipped and dried in the oven for use in the winter and the remaining sprigs have flowered. The flowers make a lovely garnish and are good in soup and cream sauces as well. You’ll see in the photograph that I have put some mint along with the cookies. This isn’t just ordinary mint but chocolate mint. It looks like “regular” mint but it has a chocolate brown stem and it actually smells and tastes like chocolate mint—like the cookies! While I considered chopping the mint and mixing it into the cookies I wasn’t sure how guests would react to bits of green stuff in their cookies. Maybe I’ll try that another time. In the meantime, this mint is really nice floating in black tea or just in hot water. A real treat is mint with strawberries and some whipped cream. There is a tasty summer watermelon salad that has mint, feta cheese, english cucumber among other ingredients—you’ll find that in the June 13, 2010 blog. Happy munching.

Fantastic Pancakes

February 12th, 2013 by Susan

breakfast

Stirring it up: Pancakes…just the name conjures up the sights and smells of a marvelous breakfast. These Ricotta Pancakes are easy to make and will provide you with great taste, fluffy pancakes and enough energy to tackle a day on the slopes.

Ingredients:

1 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
1 t. baking powder
1/4 t. baking soda
1/4 t. salt
1 1/2 T.  sugar
1-2 t. finely grated orange zest
4 T. melted butter
1/2 c. ricotta cheese
1 lg egg
1/2 c. orange juice
1/3 c. milk (or almond milk or silk)
1/2 t. vanilla extract

In a large bowl, combine the flour with the baking powder, soda, salt,  orange zest,  and sugar. In another bowl, whisk together the butter, ricotta cheese, egg, orange juice, milk, and vanilla. Combine the wet into dry ingredients until just blended,  the batter will be thick and you may add a bit more milk if you wish but you still want it to be fairly thick.  Onto a lightly greased, medium-hot skillet pour about 1/4 c. of batter for each pancake. Flip when bubbles appear on the top of the pancake. Serve with all the fixings and don’t forget the maple syrup.

Dishing it out: In our house they were flapjacks. My dad was a great flapjack maker and we loved the mornings when we would smell them cooking. Dad would tell the story of Paul Bunyon and flapjacks: Paul Bunyon was a giant of a lumberjack. Paul’s lunber jack friends (who were also very large) loved flapjacks too so Ole the Blacksmith, made a griddle so large you couldn’t see across it when the smoke was thick. Sourdough Sam had fifty men with pork rinds tied to their feet skating around the griddle to grease it. The batter was mixed in large barrels and it took a strong cook just to turn the flapjacks, let alone get them to the table. Check here for more Paul Bunyon stories. We would always ask Dad if he would  make Paul Bunyon sized flapjacks for us. He never made them  quite that large but they were delicious and we gobbled them up just the same. I think Paul Bunyon would have liked Dad’s flapjacks!

Whether you call them pancakes, hotcakes, flannel cakes, drop scones (Scottish),  oatcakes (English), griddle cakes, or flapjacks this is one breakfast that will surely hit the spot.

Fluffiest Cornbread Ever

January 30th, 2013 by Susan

Bring on the honey-butter!

Stirring it up! Cornbread is often thought of as a southern US food and seldom served in the northern states which is a pity. This cornbread recipe has become a favorite of our guests especially when served warm with honey-butter and along side an eggy breakfast casserole. Can’t say where I found this recipe as it’s been in my collection for ages.

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 c. butter, melted
  • 1 c. yellow cornmeal  (I use coarse cornmeal)
  • 3/4 c. flour
  • 2-3 T. Sugar
  • 4 t. baking powder
  • 1/2 t. salt
  • 1 can creamed corn (8oz)
  • 1 c. milk
  • 1 large egg lightly beaten

Turn the oven temp to 450°F. Pour 2T. of melted butter into an 8×8 pan and bake for 5 minutes until the cake pan is very hot. While the pan is heating, whisk together the cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Make a well in the center of the mixture and pour in the creamed corn, milk, egg and the remaining 2 T. of melted butter. Stir until smooth then pour into the hot cake pan. Bake for 30 – 35 minutes or until golden brown and tests done in the center. Let stand for about 10 minutes before serving. Makes 9 pieces.

Dishing it out!  When I was about 10 years old, a friend and I decided to start a cooking club with only ourselves as members and our moms as consultants. We took turns week about in each other’s kitchens and choose recipes from our mom’s recipe collections. With their  blessings we’d cook up a storm and of course have to clean up after, this part was not nearly as fun as the making part!  I cannot remember what we made or how long we did this but I do remember we enjoyed the time in the kitchen.  I wonder if Brenda still loves to bake?

Chestnut Soup

December 25th, 2012 by Susan

 

Hearty soup and artisan bread, what a meal!

Stirring it up! Until a few weeks ago I had never cooked with chestnuts. Many years ago I had chestnuts roasted on an open fire  (as one does at Christmas time!) from a street vendor in Toronto but nothing since then. I purchased some a few weeks back, sautéed them with some bacon and red onion and the results weren’t bad at all. The  next day however,  I decided that left-over chestnuts weren’t going to be on my list of favourite foods. Always ready for an experiment though I decided to try making some Chestnut Soup. I opened the pantry and this is what I came up with.

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb chestnuts, precooked and roughly chopped
  • 1 small red onion, diced
  • 1 small yellow onion, diced
  • 4 slices bacon cut into 1/4″ bits
  • 1 medium potato, diced
  • 2 c. chicken stock or vegetable stock
  • thyme, a couple of good shakes
  • salt & pepper

In a heavy bottom saucepan, sauté the bacon bits till cooked but not quite crispy.  Add the red and yellow diced onions and continue to sauté until the onions are soft and the bacon is crispy. Add the diced potatoes, chestnuts, thyme and stock. Cook on low heat until the potatoes are soft then simmer for a bit so the flavours can blend. Using a hand blender, purée the soup to a smooth thick consistency. Use caution when blending the hot soup and do NOT pour hot soup into a blender or processor to purée it.

Dishing it out! My dad was the soup maker in our family and his experiments in making vegetable soups were renowned amongst our friends. Dad could make soup out of just about anything and it was always “terribly healthy”. Although at the time we often thought  “Not soup again”, recently a homemade soup experiment  is often dinner for Peter and myself. Dad would be proud!

Winter Wedding

November 29th, 2012 by Susan

Ryan & Jeff married by Greg Trulson, Justice of the Peace

 

With early season snowflakes whirling about them, and the temperature sitting at about 28°F, Ryan and Jeff were married in the meadow at West Hill House B&B. Our favorite Justice of the Peace, Greg Trulson officiated at the wedding making it a very meaningful occasion, as he always does. Following the ceremony,  the newly married couple asked Peter to continue taking photos as they enjoyed a short stroll around our wintery gardens.

Warming up by the fireplace a few minutes later Ryan and Jeff enjoyed an intimate wedding reception complete with wedding cake, made here at West Hill House, and a bottle of  Champagne. They were kind enough to invite Greg and Peter and Susan to join them.

Ryan loves experimenting with recipes. Check out her food blog called Skinny Supper. It’s a fun site with lots of photos to help you along.

Soft Ginger Cookies

June 29th, 2012 by Susan

A yummy treat.

Stirring it up! While cleaning rooms the other day I clicked on the TV and found The Barefoot Contessa featuring a batch of the Ultimate Ginger Cookie. They looked absolutely scrumptious so after finishing the rooms I cleaned up and headed off to the kitchen to cook up a batch for our weekend guests. Unfortunately I didn’t have all the ingredients called for in that recipe so I made my own version of ginger cookies.

Ingredients:

  • 2 1/4 c. all purpose flour (I use King Arthur Flour)
  • 1 t. baking soda
  • 2 t. ground cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 t. ground cloves
  • 1/2 t. nutmeg ( I grate nutmeg so  just eyeballed the quantity)
  • 1/2 t.  ground ginger (I used a tiny bit more than this)
  • 1/4 t. fleur de sel
  • an additional 1/3 c. granulated sugar for rolling cookies in before baking
  • 1 c. light brown sugar, lightly packed
  • 1/4 c. canola oil
  • 1/3 c. unsulfured molasse
  • 1/4 c. to 1/3 c. crystalized ginger, chopped into small pieces
  • 1/2 c. raisins (optional)
Preparation:
Set the oven to 350°F. The cookies will bake for about 12-14 minutes. I made 22 cookies.

Put the first 7 ingredients into a large bowl and set it aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer,  mix on low speed, the brown sugar, canola oil and unsulfured molasses. Note that the dough is fairly stiff so I don’t recommend using a hand mixer. With the mixer still on low speed add the egg, mix for about 1 minute and remember to scrape the sides of the bowl – stop the mixer first. Without changing the mixer seed, very gradually add the dry ingredients which are in the first bowl. If the mixer is going too fast you will find yourself and the mixer covered in a fine white dusting of flour! Increase speed and mix on medium speed for about 2 minutes. Add the crystalized ginger and raisins (optional) and mix until incorporated. Make dough balls about 1 T. in size and roll in the reserved 1/3 cup of sugar. Place dough balls on a parchment lined jelly roll pan or cookie sheet and flatten slightly with your fingers.

Bake until the cookies are crackled on top but still soft to the touch. Cool cookies on the pan for a few minutes then transfer to a cooling rack to complete cooling. These freeze well if they last long enough for you to get them into containers!

Dishing it out!  One sunny summer day, my dad and I decided to take a drive along a nearby lake so stopped off first at the grocery store for sustenance for the journey. While I choose a well aged cheddar cheese, my dad went off to find crackers or so I thought but back he came with a box of gingersnaps. Supplied with these items and the thermos of tea from home, we set off on our adventure. This was the day that I learned how well cheddar cheese and crunchy gingersnaps go together. While these ginger cookies are soft, they are still pretty darn good with a cup of tea and a chunk of strong cheddar cheese.

Enjoy!

Ajver

December 12th, 2011 by Peter MacLaren

Homemade Ajver

This past summer we were delighted to get to know Martina and Tanja, university students from Macedonia. While they were here I purchased a jar of Ajver for them. I had no real idea of what it tasted like but it looked good and I wanted to give them a small taste of home while they were so far away. The four of us sat around the table and enjoyed this tasty treat along with hearty bread and cheese while the two girls told us of how Ajver is made and how in the fall, the wonderful aroma of roasting red peppers wafts through the villages.

Having some red peppers on hand, I looked up Ajver recipes on line, chose one and yesterday made some beautiful looking Ajver. While it looked right, it lacked that special taste. Martina and Tanja, what’s the magic ingredient? Help!

Pecan Snowballs

December 8th, 2011 by Peter MacLaren

Stirring it up! Special baked goods play a key role in many of the winter holidays whether it be Christmas, Chanukka, Pancha Ganapati, Kwanzaa, Chinese New Year or any  number of others celebrations. Here’s a yummy recipe for cookies to help us encourage winter, Pecan Snowballs.

Ingredients:

  • 2 c. pecans
  • 1 c. butter, softened
  • 1/4 c. icing sugar
  • 2 c. all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 t. salt
  • 1 1/2t. vanilla
  • 1 c. icing sugar (for rolling cookies in)

Preparation:

  • On a baking sheet, bake the pecans at 350° for 7 to 9 minutes, or until fragrant, stirring once. Let cool then chop finely and set aside.
  • In a large bowl, cream butter with sugar until smooth.
  • Beat in vanilla.
  • With a wooden spoon, stir in flour, salt and pecans using your (clean!) hands to finish the mixing and to form the dough into a mound.
  • Wrap in plastic wrap, cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
  • Form dough into 1 inch balls and place 1 inch apart on an ungreased baking sheet.
  • Bake at 325° for 18 – 20 minutes or until lightly golden.
  • Remove to racks and let cool for 5 minutes.
  • Using the 1 cup of icing sugar, roll baked cookie balls in icing sugar then return to rack to cool completely.
  • Roll once again in icing sugar.
  • Snowballs can be stored in an airtight container for up to one week or frozen for up to 3 months.

Makes about 40.

Dishing it out! My first Christmas in Texas, my friend Jacquie invited me to a cookie exchange at her home. While I can’t remember the exact number of guests, I believe were each to make 5 dozen cookies of the same recipe, bring them festively wrapped in groups of four,  along with 12 copies of our recipe and a cookie tin for our own collection of cookies. One dozen of the cookies were for refreshments at the party, the others were for sharing,  4 of each variety went into our tins. We visited over glasses of wine and plates of cookies – what a wonderful variety of delights for so little work!. I’m not sure how Jacquie managed to organize it, but after several years there were, I think, upwards of 30 ladies at the cookie exchange. No, we didn’t have to make 30 dozen cookies – Jacquie did some mathematical magic and we each went home with a super selection of our friends’ baking. Thanks, Jacquie, for your recipe for Pecan Snowballs.

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