Quick Chunky Minestrone

From my new revised Rose Murray’s Comfortable Kitchen Cookbook, this easy vegetable soup will help chase away any winter chills.

4 slices side bacon, diced

2 stalks celery, sliced

1 onion, chopped

1 carrot, thinly sliced

1 clove garlic, minced

5 cups (1.25 L) chicken broth

One   19-oz (540 mL)   can tomatoes (undrained)

1/4 tsp (1 mL) crumbled dried sage

1/4 tsp (1 mL) dried thyme

One 19-oz (540 mL) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed

1/4 lb (125 g) green beans, sliced*

1/3 cup (75 mL) uncooked macaroni

Salt and pepper

Freshly grated  Parmesan cheese

*If you don’t have fresh green beans on hand, use 1 cup (250 mL) frozen

In a large saucepan, cook the bacon over medium heat, stirring often, until crisp. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside. Pour off all but 1 Tbsp (15 mL) drippings.

In the same pan, cook the celery, onion, carrot and garlic for 5 minutes. Stir in the broth, tomatoes, sage and thyme, breaking up the tomatoes with the back of a spoon. Bring to a boil; reduce heat, cover and simmer for 5 minutes.

Add the chickpeas, green beans and macaroni; cook, uncovered, for about 10 minutes or until the beans are tender and the macaroni is tender but firm. Return the bacon to the pot. Season with salt and pepper to taste. (The soup can be cooled, covered and refrigerated for up to 2 days or frozen for up to 3 months.

Ladle into heated bowls with lots of cheese.

Makes 4 to 6 servings.












Smoked Salmon and Radish Spread
From my new A-Z Vegetable Cookbook this delicious and easy spread is a favourite of a friend who shared the recipe with me. Enjoy it spread on baguette slices or toasts; or fill endive leaves or tiny tart shells.
3/4 cup sour cream
1/2 cup low-fat pressed cottage cheese
1/2 cup softened cream cheese
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
4 oz (125 g) smoked salmon, finely chopped
1/2 cup finely chopped red radishes
1/3 cup finely chopped red onion
2 tbsp chopped chives

In a medium bowl, beat together the sour cream, cottage cheese, cream cheese, and salt and pepper to taste until smooth.
Stir in the salmon, radishes, red onion and chives.
Makes about 2-1/2 cups; 8 to 10 servings.

Mussel Fritters
Fritters of any kind are a specialty of New Zealand. I just made these again yesterday for friends with whom we had travelled in that country. Along with a homemade tartar sauce, they were very well received indeed! If you want to be really authentic, you can find frozen green-lipped New Zealand mussels in most supermarkets. Or, use Canadian mussels.
1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp each salt and pepper
3 eggs
1 cup chilled soda water
18 coarsely chopped cooked mussels
1/4 cup chopped fresh coriander or parsley
2 tbsp sweet Thai chili sauce*
3 tbsp canola oil
*Available in the international section of your supermarket

Stir together the flour, baking powder, salt and pepper; set aside.
In a large bowl, beat the eggs. Stir in the flour mixture and water alternately, making 3 additions of dry ingredients and 2 of the liquid. Stir in the mussels, coriander and chili sauce. Do not over mix.
In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium heat. Using about 3 tbsp or more per fritter, drop the batter into the pan and cook in batches for about 2 to 3 minutes a side until browned. Transfer to a platter and place in a warm oven until all the fritters are cooked. Makes about 8 pan cake-sized fritters.

Asparagus in Lemon-Mustard Sauce

2 lb asparagus, trimmed
1 hard cooked egg, shelled and halved
1 raw egg yolk*
1-1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 tsp grated lemon zest
1-1/2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
2 tsp well-drained capers
Salt and freshly ground white pepper to taste
1 tbsp finely chopped pimento or sweet red pepper (optional)
1 tbsp finely chopped parsley
Cook the asparagus until just tender, about 5 minutes. Drain and refresh immediately under cold water to stop further cooking and to retain its colour. Place the asparagus on a serving dish and let cool but don’t refrigerate.
For the lemon-mustard sauce, finely chop the hard cooked egg white and set aside. In a food processor or blender, process the hard cooked yolk, raw egg yolk and mustard until smooth.
With the motor running, slowly add the oil. Process until thick and creamy. Add the lemon zest and juice and pulse until well combined. Scape the sauce into a small bowl. Add the capers and season to taste with salt and pepper.
Spoon the sauce over the asparagus, leaving the tips exposed. Sprinkle with the reserved finely chopped egg white, pimento (if using) and parsley. Makes 6 servings.

*When using raw eggs in a recipe, choose Canada Grade-A eggs within their best-before date; these eggs have been properly handled and graded by a registered farmer.

Cream of Asparagus Soup

5 cups chicken broth
1 lb asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
1/4 cup each chopped onion and celery
2 tbsp snipped chives
1/4 cup unsalted butter
3 tbsp all-purpose flour
1 cup milk
1 cup 10% or 18% cream
2 tbsp dry sherry
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
Salt and freshly ground white pepper to taste
In a large pot, bring the broth to a boil over high heat. Add the asparagus, onion, celery and chives. Cover and bring back to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, covered, for 5 minutes.
With a slotted spoon, remove 12 asparagus tips and set aside. Continue cooking the asparagus mixture until the vegetables are tender, about 2 minutes. Cool slightly.
Use an immersion blender in the pot to blend the soup until smooth; or puree in batches in a blender. Set aside.
In a heavy saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the flour and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes. Remove the saucepan from the heat and gradually whisk in the milk. Return the saucepan to medium heat and cook, stirring constantly, until the sauce comes to a boil and thickens.
Add the cream, sherry and asparagus puree. Heat gently until very hot, but do not boil. Add the lemon juice and season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve hot or cold, garnished with reserved asparagus tips. Makes 5 to 6 servings.

Black Magic Squares

Work quickly when blending the ingredients because they will start to harden when the saucepan is removed from the heat.

3/4 cup (175 mL) unsweetened cocoa powder

3/4 cup (175 mL) liquid honey

3/4 cup (175 mL) peanut butter

1 tbsp (15 mL) butter

3-1/2 cups (875 mL) crispy rice cereal

1/2 cup (125 mL) chopped pecans

Line a 13- x 9-inch (3.5 L) baking pan with parchment to come up over the edges of the pan. In a large saucepan, combine the cocoa and honey; cook over medium heat until the cocoa has dissolved, about 2 minutes. Remove the saucepan from the heat; quickly stir in the peanut butter and butter until well combined. Stir in the cereal and pecans. Press into the prepared pan, using the moistened base of a measuring cup to flatten the surface. Let cool completely for about 1 hour. Lift the whole mixture out with the parchment paper and cut into squares with a sharp knife.  Makes 32 squares.

Harvest Corn Chowder

4 slices pancetta (unsmoked Italian bacon) or side bacon, diced

1 tbsp (15 mL) butter

2 stalks celery, diced

1 onion, diced

2 tbsp (30 mL) all-purpose flour

4 cups (1 L) chicken broth

1 large sweet potato, peeled and diced

1 tbsp (15 mL) chopped fresh thyme (or 1 tsp/5 mL dried)

3 cups (750 mL) corn kernels (approx 6 ears, or use frozen)

1 sweet red pepper, diced

1 cup (250 mL) whipping cream

2 cloves garlic, minced

Salt and pepper

3 green onions, thinly sliced

In a large saucepan over medium-high heat, cook the pancetta until crisp. With a slotted spoon, remove to drain on paper towels; discard all but 2 tbsp (30 mL) of the drippings form the pan. (Refrigerate the pancetta if making the chowder ahead.)

In the same pan, melt the butter over medium heat; cook the celery and onion until very soft, about 10 minutes. Stir in the flour and cook 1 minute, stirring. Gradually stir in the broth and bring to a boil. Add the sweet potato and thyme. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, cover and simmer until the sweet potato is tender, about 20 minutes. Stir in the corn, red pepper, cream, garlic, and salt and pepper to taste. Simmer until the corn is tender, about 4 minutes. (The soup can be cooled, covered and refrigerated fro up to 1 day.  Bring to a simmer to continue.)

Stir in half the green onions; simmer for 5 minutes. Taste for seasoning. Garnish each serving with some of the remaining green onions and reserved pancetta. Makes 6 servings.

Anne’s Famous Chocolate Chip Cookies

This is the recipe my daughter Anne made when the family needed the cookie jar filled. She wrote out the recipe to have handy when she taught others how to bake them.

1/2 cup (125 mL) butter, softened

1/2 cup (125 mL) packed brown sugar

1/4 cup (60 mL) granulated sugar

1 egg

1 tsp (5 mL) vanilla

1 cup (250 mL) all-purpose flour

1/2 tsp (2 mL) each baking soda and salt

1 cup (250 mL) chocolate chips

1/2 cup (125 mL) coarsely chopped walnuts or pecans (optional)

In a large bowl, cream the butter; add the brown and granulated sugars and beat well. Beat in the egg, then the vanilla. Gradually stir in the flour, baking soda and salt. Blend in the chocolate chips and nuts (if using).

Using 2 teaspoons, drop by spoonfuls, 2 inches (5 cm) apart onto ungreased baking sheets. Bake in a 375 F (190 C) oven until golden brown, 8 to 10 minutes. Remove to racks to cool. Makes about 4 dozen.

Chilled Cucumber Soup with Walnuts

If chive or borage blossoms are available, they are lovely as a garnish for this easy cold soup. If not, use snipped chives or parsley sprigs.

3 medium field cucumbers (about 1-1/2 lb/750 g)


2 cups (500 mL) shaken buttermilk

2 cloves garlic

1 small onion, chopped

1/4 cup (60 mL) chopped fresh parsley

1 tbsp (15 mL) minced fresh chives

1 cup (250 mL) each plain low-fat yogurt and light sour cream

1 tbsp (15 mL) each fresh lemon juice and granulated sugar

White pepper

Pinch cayenne

1/2 cup (125 mL) toasted finely chopped walnuts

Peel the cucumbers and slice in half lengthwise. With a teaspoon, scoop out the seeds and discard. Chop the cucumbers coarsely; transfer to a sieve and sprinkle lightly with salt; let stand for 30 minutes.

Drain the cucumbers and pat dry. Place in a blender along with the buttermilk, garlic, onion, parsley and chives; purée until smooth. Transfer to a large bowl; stir in the yogurt, sour cream, lemon juice, sugar; salt and white pepper to taste and cayenne. Stir in the walnuts. Cover and chill for at least 1 hour or for up to 2 days,

Serve in chilled bowls garnished with blossoms or herbs.  Makes 6 servings.

Rhubarb Ginger Apple Crumble

Inspired by Nigel Didcock’s recipe in Eric Graham’s beautiful book Field to Table. Lovely served warm with vanilla ice cream.

4 cups (1 L) rhubarb in 1-inch (2.5 cm) pieces

2 cups (500 mL) peeled, cored apples in 1-inch (2.5 cm) pieces

2/3 cup (150 mL) granulated sugar

1 tbsp (15 mL) grated fresh ginger

1/2 tsp (2 mL) cinnamon

3 tbsp (45 mL) apple juice or water


1 cup (250 mL) all-purpose flour

2/3 cup (150 mL) packed brown sugar

1-1/2 tsp (7 mL) ground ginger

1/3 cup (75 mL) cold butter, cubed

In a greased 8-inch (2 L) glass baking dish, combine the rhubarb, apples, sugar, fresh ginger and cinnamon. Drizzle with apple juice, stir well and arrange evenly.

Topping: In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, brown sugar and ground ginger. Cut in the butter until crumbly and sprinkle evenly over the rhubarb mixture. Bake, uncovered, in a 375 F (190 C) oven until the fruit is tender and the top golden brown, showing no signs of white flour, 40 to 45 minutes. Makes 6 servings.

Spicy Shrimp with Fresh Coriander and Lime

Mound the cooked shrimp on a platter and supply picks for a living room (or deck) nibble before dinner.

1 lb (500 g) large raw shrimp, in their shells

1/2 cup (125 mL) lightly packed coriander leaves (no stems)

1 tsp (5 mL) grated lime zest

1/3 cup (75 mL) fresh lime juice

1/4 cup (60 mL) canola oil (or 2 tbsp/60 mL if grilling)

1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and coarsely chopped

1 clove garlic

1 tsp (5 mL) ground cumin

Pinch each of salt, chili powder and dried oregano

Fresh coriander sprigs

Peel and devein the shrimp, leaving the last segment of shell and the tails intact. Put the shrimp in a medium non-metallic bowl; set aside.

In a food processor, combine the coriander, lime zest, 1/4 cup (60 mL) of the lime juice, 2 tbsp (30 mL) of the oil, the jalapeno pepper, garlic, cumin, salt, chili powder and oregano; process until finely minced. Pour over the shrimp, tossing to coat evenly. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or up to 3 hours.

Remove the shrimp from the marinade, shaking off the excess; pat dry. If grilling, soak wooden or bamboo skewers in cold water for at least 1 hour.  Thread each shrimp on a soaked skewer by putting the skewer through the shrimp twice. Place on a greased grill over medium-high heat and cook until bright pink (no longer opaque) and just cooked through, about 2 minutes a side. If cooking inside, in a large heavy skillet over medium-high heat, heat the remaining 2 tbsp (30 mL) of oil until hot. Add the shrimp in a single layer and cook for 1 minute. Turn the shrimp; cook until firm and pink, about 30 seconds. Mound the shrimp on a serving platter. Sprink with the remaining lime juice; toss gently to coat. Serve warm or at room temperature, garnished with coriander sprigs. Makes about 35 pieces.

Spinach Caesar with Pine Nuts

3 tbsp (45 mL) light mayonnaise

2 tbsp (30 mL) fresh lemon juice

2 tsp (10 mL) each Dijon mustard and anchovy paste

2 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 tsp (2 mL) each salt, pepper and Worcestershire sauce

3 tbsp (45 mL) olive oil

1/3 cup (75 mL) freshly grated Parmesan cheese

8 cups (2 L) baby spinach

4 slices bacon, crisply cooked and crumbled

1/2 cup (125 mL) toasted pine nuts

In a small bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, lemon juice, mustard, anchovy paste, garlic, salt, pepper and Worcestershire sauce. Gradually whisk in the oil. Stir in the cheese and taste  for seasoning.

In a large bowl, toss the spinach with half the bacon and half the pine nuts. Toss with enough dressing to coat the spinach (any extra can be kept for several days, covered and refrigerated). Sprinkle with the remaining bacon and pine nuts. Makes 6 to 8 servings.


3 tomatoes, peeled and coarsely chopped

1 each sweet green and red pepper, coarsely chopped

1 English cucumber, peeled and coarsely chopped

1 small fresh hot pepper, diced (or 1/2 tsp/2 mL hot pepper sauce)

1 small onion, coarsely chopped

3 cloves garlic, chopped

2 tbsp (30 mL) each red wine vinegar and olive oil

1 tbsp (15 mL) Worcestershire sauce

3 cups (750 mL) vegetable cocktail

Salt and pepper

Garnish: Croutons (recipe follows), diced cucumber, diced green pepper, diced tomato

In a food processor or blender, process in batches the tomatoes, peppers, cucumber, hot pepper, onion, garlic, vinegar, oil and Worcestershire sauce until the vegetables are finely chopped. Transfer to a large bowl; stir in vegetable cocktail, and salt and pepper to taste. Cover and refrigerate for several hours to be well chilled or up to 5 days.

Taste and add more vinegar, salt or hot pepper if needed. Serve the soup in chilled bowls, passing small bowls of croutons, diced cucumber, green pepper and tomato for garnish. Makes about 6 servings.


2 tbsp (30 mL) butter

1 clove garlic, crushed

6 slices white bread, crusts removed and finely cubed

In a large skillet, melt the butter over low heat. Add the garlic, then bread cubes, stirring to coat. Cook until golden and crunchy, about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Makes about 1-1/2 cups (375 mL).

Scotch Eggs

As well as good picnic fare, these cold make-ahead treats are delicious with cheese, scones and fruit for a summer breakfast.

1/2 lb (250 g) pork sausage meat

1-1/2 tsp (7 mL) each Dijon mustard and snipped fresh chives

1/4 tsp (1 mL) each dried thyme and salt

Pinch each dried sage and pepper

4 hard-cooked eggs, peeled

1/4 cup (50 mL) all-purpose flour

1/2 cup (125 mL) fine dry bread crumbs

1 raw egg

2 tbsp (30 mL) milk

2 tbsp (30 mL) vegetable oil

In a bowl, combine the sausage meat with the mustard, chives, thyme, salt, sage and pepper. Divide into 4 portions.  Wrap each portion of the meat mixture evenly around an egg, sealing well. Spread the flour and crumbs on 2 separate plates. In a bowl, beat the egg with the milk. Roll the sausage-encased eggs first in the flour, then in the milk mixture, then in the crumbs to coat well. Set aside on a plate in the refrigerator for 15 minutes.

In a large oven-proof skillet over medium-high heat, heat the oil;  fry the coated eggs, turning often, until the sausage is browned on all sides. Transfer the pan to a 350°F (180°C) oven and bake until the sausage is no longer pink, about 15 minutes. Or, fry the eggs over medium-low heat until the meat is cooked through and browned on all sides, about 10 minutes and omit the baking. Makes 4 servings.

Strawberries with Almond Cream Sauce

When I have flavourful freshly picked berries I like to present them simply—mounded in a dish to enjoy with cream and sugar or to eat out-of-hand perhaps with some sour cream or creme fraiche and a bit of brown sugar for dipping.

The following recipe is one of my favourites. It’s very simple, celebrating the rich flavour of ripe fruit. Yet there’s a touch of elegance that lends itself well to the finale of a dinner party.

5 cups (1.25 L) ripe strawberries

1/4 cup (50 mL) instant dissolving or berry sugar

1 cup (250 mL) light sour cream

2 tbsp (25 mL) Amaretto (almond-flavoured liqueur)

Rinse the berries; dry and hull them. If large, slice; if small, leave them whole. Place them in a sieve set over a large bowl. Sprinkle them with the sugar and refrigerate, covered, for 1 hour.

To serve, divide the berries among 6 serving dishes. Whisk the sour cream and liqueur into the juice that has collected in the bowl until smooth. Dividing it among the 6 dishes, pour the mixture over the berries and serve immediately. Makes 6 servings.

Small-Batch Strawberry Preserves

Because you want the fruit to stay whole, choose small, firm strawberries for these decadent preserves. Made in the microwave oven, they are so easy, you could even serve them warm with scones for a company breakfast.

4 cups (1 L) strawberries (abou 1 lb/500 g)

1-1/4 cups (300 mL) granulated sugar

1 orange

1 tbsp (15 mL) Cointreau or other orange liqueur (optional)

Wash the berries; dry and hull them. In an 8-cup (2 L) glass measure, combine the berries and the sugar. Let stand for 5 minutes.

Remove 1 tsp (5 mL) zest from the orange and set aside. Cut the orange in two and squeeze out the juice to make 1/4 cup (50 mL). Stir the zest and juice into the berries. Microwave, covered with plastic wrap, on High until boiling, 5 to 6 minutes; stir well. Microwave, uncovered, until thickened, 15 to 17 mintues, sitrring often and watching that the mixture doesn’t bubble over. Stir in the liqueur if using. Pout into a clean jar and if storing, cover when cool and refrigerate. Makes about 1-3/4 cups (425 mL).

Note: The recipe was tested in a 700 watt oven.

Fiddleheads Vinaigrette

This is one of my favourite ways to enjoy fiddleheads. When the ferns are not in season, the recipe can be prepared with one 10 oz (300 g) package of frozen fiddleheads.

8 oz (250 g) fresh fiddleheads

2 tbsp (25 mL) fresh lemon juice

1/4 tsp (1 mL) Dijon mustard

6 tbsp (90 mL) olive or canola oil

2 tbsp (25 mL) finely chopped shallots

Salt and pepper

Thin slices of lemon for garnish

Steam or boil fiddleheads just until tender (5 to 8 minutes). Drain and rinse under cold running water until fiddleheads feel cold to the touch. Wrap in a tea towel and let stand at room temperature or in the refrigerator if not using immediately.

In a small bowl, stir together the lemon juice and mustard. Gradually whisk in the oil; stir in the shallots, and salt and pepper to taste.

Just before serving, gently combine the vinaigrette and fiddleheads; garnish with lemon slices. Serve immediately since the ferns may turn brown if left standing. Makes 3 to 4 servings.

Three-Ingredient Creamy Coleslaw

6 cups (1.5L) finely shredded green cabbage

1/2 cup (125 mL) diced red onion

1/2 cup  (125 mL) diced (unpeeled) English cucumber


2/3 cup (150 mL) light mayonnaise

2 tbsp (25 mL) cider vinegar

4 tsp (20 mL) granulated or brown sugar

1/2 tsp (2 mL) salt

Pinch paprika

In a large bowl, toss together the cabbage, red onion and cucumber. To make the dressing, in a small bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, vinegar, sugar, salt and paprika until smooth. Pour the dressing over top of the vegetables and toss to coat well; cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or up to 4 hours. Makes 6 servings.

Classic Chocolate Brownies

1 cup butter

4 oz unsweetened chocolate

2 cups granulated sugar

4 eggs

1 tsp vanilla

1 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 tsp salt

1 cup coarsely chopped nuts (pecans or walnuts)

In a large stainless steel bowl or the top of a double boiler over barely simmering water, melt the butter with the chocolate. Remove from the heat and stir in the sugar until well combined. beat in the eggs, 1 at a time, stirring after each addition until the eggs are fully incorporated and the chocolate mixture is shiny. Stir in the vanilla. Gradually add the flour and salt; mix until well blended. Stir in the nuts. Pour into a greased 13- x 9-inch cake pan and bake in a 400°F (200°C) oven for about 18 minutes or until the brownies feel slightly firm and a tester inserted in the centre shows that the brownies are moist but doesn’t show raw batter. Cool in the pan on a rack. Cut into bars. Makes 32 brownies.

Variation: Double Chocolate Brownies For something even more decadent, stir 1 cup chocolate chips into the batter.


This is one of my very favourite dishes for special parties because it is easy, can be made ahead, looks great, and everyone loves it. Buy the freshest fish possible for this absolutely delicious Scandinavian cured salmon. Serve it with buttered rye or pumpernickel bread. It also makes a nice addition to salads or pasta.

2 fresh centre-cut salmon fillets (1 lb/500 g each), skin on

1 bunch fresh dill

3 tbsp (45) each coarse salt and granulated sugar

1 tbsp (15 mL) white or black peppercorns, coarsely crushed

Lemon slices and capers

Mustard-Dill Sauce (recipe follows)

Using a strawberry huller or tweezers, remove any bones from the salmon. Place 1 fillet, skin side down, in a glass dish. Reserving a few sprigs of dill for garnish, wash the dill, shake dry and cut up slightly. Place it on the fish. Combine the salt, sugar and pepper; sprinkle over the dill. Top with the other fillet, skin side up. Cover with plastic wrap. Top with a small platter and weight down with a brick or cans of food. Refrigerate for 3 days, turning every 12 hours and basting with accumulated liquid, separating halves to do so. To serve, scrape all the marinade and dill from the salmon. Pat dry. Place on a cutting board and slice salmon halves thinly on the diagonal, detaching each slice from the skin. Arrange on a platter, garnish with lemon slices, capers and dill sprigs. Serve with Mustard-Dill Sauce. Makes 8 to 10 servings.

Mustard-Dill Sauce

1/2 cup (125 mL) spicy brown prepared mustard

1/3 cup (75 mL) granulated sugar

1/4 cup (50 mL) white wine vinegar

2 tsp (10 mL) dry mustard

1/2 tsp (2 mL) black pepper

1/2 cup (125 mL) vegetable oil

1/2 cup (125 mL) snipped fresh dill

In a medium bowl, whisk together prepared mustard, sugar, vinegar, dry mustard and pepper until the sugar dissolves. Gradually whisk in the oil; stir in the dill. (The sauce can be prepared up to 4 days ahead, covered and refrigerated.) Makes about 1-1/2 cups/375 mL).

Cashew Chicken

This classic stir-fry is perfect for celebrating Chinese New Year. Serve over rice or noodles.

2 tbsp (25 mL) vegetable oil

1 lb (500 g) boneless skinless Ontario Chicken, cut into 1-inch  (2.5 cm) pieces

1-1/2 cups (375 mL) sliced Ontario Carrots

1 cup (250 mL) sliced Ontario Onions

2 cups (500 mL) sliced Ontario Mushrooms

1 large clove garlic, minced

1 tbsp (15 mL) finely minced fresh ginger

1/2 cup (125 mL) chicken broth

1/2 cup (125 mL) drained, canned sliced water chestnuts

3/4 cup (75 mL) Ontario Bean Sprouts

1/3 cup (75 mL) sliced green onions

1/2 cup (125 mL) unsalted roasted cashews


1-1/4 cups (300 mL) chicken broth

1/4 cup (50 mL) soy sauce (preferably naturally brewed)

2 tbsp (25 mL) cornstarch

2 tsp (10 mL) sesame oil (optional)

In a large nonstick skillet, heat 1 tbsp (15 mL) of the oil over medium heat. Add chicken; cook, stirring often until lightly browned, 5 to 6 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon; cover and keep warm. Add remaining oil to the pan. Add carrots and onions; cook, stirring often, for 3 minutes. Stir in mushrooms; cook for 3 minutes. Stir in garlic and ginger; cook for 1 minute. add broth; cook for 3 minutes or until the carrots are tender and the broth has evaporated. Stir in cooked chicken and the water chestnuts.

Sauce: In a small bowl, whisk together the broth, soy sauce, cornstarch and sesame oil, if using; pour over the contents of the skillet. Reduce the heat to medium-low; cook, stirring occasionally, for about 4 minutes or until the sauce is thickened. Stir in the bean sprouts and green onions; cook for 30 seconds. Transfer to a serving platter and sprinkle the cashews over top. Makes 4 servings.  (Recipe courtesy of Foodland Ontario)

 Parsnip Bacon Rosti

This economic and delicious appetizer is courtesy of Foodland Ontario. Steaming the parsnips prevents them from being water-logged so that the little pancakes have a nice texture.

12 oz (375 g) Ontario Parsnips, peeled and cut into 2 pieces

3 strips lean bacon, cooked and crumbled

3/4 cup (175 mL) shredded Ontario Old Cheddar Cheese

1 egg

2 tbsp (25 mL) all-purpose flour

1/2 tsp (2 mL) each salt and pepper

1/8 tsp (0.5 mL) grated nutmeg

1/2 cup (125 mL) panko bread crumbs or regular bread crumbs

1/4 cup (50 mL) vegetable oil

Sour cream and chopped pickled beets or red pepper

In a steamer, cook parsnips until tender, about 15 minutes. Let cool; grate and/or mash. In a large bowl, combine parsnips, bacon, cheese, egg, flour, salt, pepper and nutmeg. Form by 1 tbsp (15 mL) into 1-1/2 inch (4 cm) cakes. Coat in panko crumbs. In a large skillet, heat vegetable oil over medium-high heat; in batches, fry rosti until nicely browned, about 2 minutes a side. Drain on paper towel. Serve garnished with a dollop of sour cream and a piece of chopped beet or pepper. Makes 18 to 24 rosti.

Potato Red Pepper Tortilla Cubes

This easy version of Spain’s famous tortilla is courtesy of Foodland Ontario, and a great way to make a number of inexpensive appetizers a day or two in advance.

1 cup (250 mL) diced peeled Ontario Yukon Gold Potato

1 cup (250 mL) diced peeled Ontario Sweet Potato

2 tbsp (25 mL) olive oil or vegetable oil

1/2 cup (125 mL) diced Ontario Greenhouse Sweet Red Pepper

3/4 cup (175 mL) diced Ontario Onion

Salt and pepper

4 eggs

1/4 cup (50 mL) 18% cream

On a greased baking sheet, toss Yukon Gold and Sweet Potato with 2 tsp (10 mL) of the oil. Bake in a 350°F (180°C) oven until tender, about 15 minutes. Let cool. In a medium skillet, heat 2 tsp (10 mL) oil over high heat; saute red pepper until tender, 4 minutes. Remove from the pan. In the same skillet, heat 2 tsp (10 mL) of the remaining oil over medium-high heat; cook the onion until tender and golden, 2 to 3 minutes. Let cool. Combine all the cooked vegetables; season with salt and pepper to taste.

In a large bowl with an electric mixer, beat the eggs with the cream. Mix in the cooked vegetables thoroughly. Pour into a greased 9-inch (2.5 L) square baking dish. Bake in a 350°F (180°C) oven until set, about 25 minutes. Let cool. Cut into cubes. Serve cold or reheat cubes in an oven. Makes 24 to 30 cubes.

Buttermilk Pear Ginger Cake

(Recipe courtesy of Foodland Ontario)

2-1/4 cups (550 mL) all -purpose flour

3/4 tsp (4 mL) baking soda

1 tbsp (15 mL) ground ginger

1 tsp (5 mL) cinnamon

1/2 tsp (2 mL) each ground nutmeg, allspice and salt

1/2 cup (125 mL) unsalted butter, at room temperature

3/4 cup (175 mL) packed brown sugar

1 egg

3/4 cup (175 mL) fancy molasses

1 cup (250 mL) buttermilk

3 Ontario pears, peeled, cored and chopped

Icing sugar (optional)

Spray 12-cup (4 L) Bundt pan with nonstick cooking spray. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice and salt.

In a large bowl, beat the butter on high until light. Beat in the brown suar until fluffy. Beat in egg then molasses. On a low speed, beat in the flour mixture alternately with the buttermilk, making 3 additions of flour mixture and 2 of buttermilk. Stir in the pears. Turn into the prepared pan, smoothing the top. Bake in a 350°F (180°C) oven until a tester inserted comes out clean, 45 to 55 minutes. Let stand in the pan for 15 minutes. Run a knife around the edges to loosen the cake, then turn it out onto a rack to let it cool completely. (If any parts stick to the pan, quickly take them and repair the cake while it is still hot.) Serve dusted with icing sugar if using. Makes 10 servings.



Wine Pickled Salmon

We often have a jar of pickled herring in the refrigerator for snacking; this is even better and very easy to make. For an appetizer, serve with sturdy crackers or cocktail pumpernickel slices with or without a dollop of creme fraiche or sour cream and perhaps a sprig of fresh dill.

1 cup (250 mL) white vinegar

1/2 cup (125 mL) water

2 tbsp (25 mL) granulated sugar

1 tbsp (15 mL) coarse pickling salt

1/2 cup (125 mL) dry white wine, preferably unoaked Chardonnay

1 lb (500 g) skinless salmon fillets

1 tbsp (15 mL) pickling spices

2 shallots, thinly sliced

In a small saucepan, combine the vinegar, water, sugar and salt; bring to a boil. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool. Stir in the wine. Cut the salmon into pieces about 1 x 3/4 inch (2.5 x 2 cm). In a glass jar, layer one-third of the salmon pieces, one-third of the spices and one-third of the shallots. Repeat the layers twice more. Pour the vinegar mixture overtop to cover everything. Seal and refrigerate for 3 to 4 days before using. To serve, remove the salmon pieces and shallots from the liquid, reserving the liquid (keep any unused salmon in the liquid for up to a week longer, refrigerated). Makes 12 servings.

Tarragon Buttered Beets

3 dozen tiny beets

1/3 cup (75 mL)  butter

1 tsp (5 mL) finely chopped fresh tarragon (or 1/2 tsp/2 mL dried)

1/2 tsp (2 mL) salt

1/4 tsp (1 mL) pepper

1/2 tsp (2 mL) finely grated lemon zest

2 tsp (10 mL) fresh lemon juice

1 tbsp (15 mL) chopped fresh parsley

Wash the beets and remove the tops except for 2 inches (5 cm) of the stems. Leave the roots on. Place the beets in a large saucepan and cover with boiling salted water. Cook, covered, until just tender when pierced with a fork (about 20 to 25 minutes for fresh young beets). Do not overcook. Drain and cool under running cold water. Rub off the skins and cut off tops and roots. (The beets can be prepared in advance to this point).

In a large, heavy skillet, heat the butter over medium heat. When the foam subsides, add the beets, tarragon, salt, pepper, lemon rind and lemon juice. Shake the pan well or stir gently and all the beets to heat though, about 5 minutes. Serve on a heated platter with a sprinkling of parsley. Makes 8 servings.

  Tarragon-Dressed Corn and Bean Salad

This pretty salad was part of a menu called “A Farmers’ Market Supper” that I developed after a trip to our plentiful Cambridge Farmers’ Market one August Saturday morning. The entire menu that includes two other salads, a soup, grilled farmer’s sausage with polenta and Peach Tarte Tatin for dessert,  is from my book Hungry for Comfort.

3 ears of corn, shucked

3/4 lb (375 g) green beans, trimmed and sliced

1 stalk celery, sliced diagonally

1/2 cup (125 mL) mayonnaise

1 small clove garlic, minced

2 tsp (10 mL) fresh tarragon leaves

1/2 tsp (2 mL) Worcestershire sauce

Salt and pepper

1 tbsp (15 mL) capers, rinsed and drained

1/4 cup (50 mL) toasted pine nuts

Cook corn and beans in a large pot of boiling water for 3 to 4 minutes, until just tender. Drain and cool under running water. Cut the kernels from the corn and add to the beans and celery in a large bowl. In a small bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, garlic, tarragon, Worcestershire sauce, and salt and pepper to taste. Stir in the capers. Pour the dressing over the vegetables and toss to coat well. Refrigerate, covered, for at least 30 minutes. Stir in pine nuts just before serving. Makes 6 servings.

Down-Home Potato Salad

I could sit down to a big plate of this delicious salad and ask for nothing more. It does, however, go awfully well with ribs or chicken. (First published in my book A Year in My Kitchen.)

5 potatoes

2 tbsp (25 mL) white wine vinegar

1 tsp (5 mL) granulated sugar

4 hard-cooked eggs, finely chopped

1/4 cup (50 mL) each diced red onion, celery and sweet green pepper

2 cornichons (or 1 small dill pickle), minced

1 cup (250 mL) light mayonnaise or Old-Fashioned Salad Dressing (recipe follows)

1 tbsp (15 mL) Dijon mustard

Pinch cayenne pepper

Salt and pepper

Peel and quarter potatoes. Cook them in boiling, salted water until tender, about 20 minutes. Drain well and coarsely chop. Place in a bowl and combine them with the vinegar and sugar while still hot. Add eggs, onion, celery, green pepper and pickles; toss gently. Stir together the mayonnaise, mustard, cayenne, and salt and pepper to taste; stir into the potato mixture. Serve warm or cover and refrigerate for up to 8 hours; bring to room temperature to serve. Makes 6 servings.

Microwave Old-Fashioned Salad Dressing

If you wish to make this old-fashioned dressing in a double boiler, mix all the ingredients in the top of the double boiler, place over boiling water and cook for about 10 mintues, stirring constantly at first, then frequently until thickened. The dressing will thicken more upon cooling.

1/2 cup (125 mL) granulated sugar

3 tbsp (45 mL) all-purpose flour

1 tbsp (15 mL) dry mustard

1 tsp (5 mL) salt

2 eggs

1 cup (250 mL) each milk and water

3/4 cup (175 mL) white vinegar

In an 8-cup (2 L) microwaveable measuring cup, combine sugar,  flour, mustard and salt; beat in eggs. Stir in milk, water and vinegar. Microwave at Medium-High (70%) for 6 minutes. Stir and microwave at High for 5 minutes or until bubbly and thickened, stirring halfway through. Let cool at room temperature for a few minutes, stirring often. (Dressing can be stored in a covered jar in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.) Makes 2-3/4 cups (675 mL).

 Spaghetti Puttanesca with Cherry Tomato Sauce

Cherry tomatoes add a lovely sweetness and a rustic texture to this spicy pasta dish, said to be named after Italian “ladies of the night”.

2 tbsp (25 mL) olive oil

4 cloves garlic, minced

1/4 tsp (1 mL)  each hot pepper flakes and dried oregano

3 cups (750 mL) whole cherry tomatoes

Salt and pepper

4 anchovy fillets, chopped

1/4 cup (50 mL) pitted black or green olives, sliced

2 tbsp (25 mL) capers, rinsed and drained

8 oz (250 g) spaghetti

1/4 cup (50 mL) chopped fresh parsley

In a large deep skillet, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the garlic, hot pepper flakes and oregano; cook for 3 minutes, stirring.  Add the tomatoes, 1/2 tsp (2 mL) salt and 1/4 tsp (1 mL) pepper. Cook until the tomatoes start to split, 7 to 10 minutes, stirring often. Stir in the anchovies and cook for 5 minutes. Add the olives and capers; cook for 3 to 4 minutes longer until the sauce is thickened. Taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary.

Meanwhile, in a large pot of boiling salted water, cook the spaghetti until tender but firm. Drain well and toss with the sauce and parsley. Makes 2 to 3 servings.

Pilar Cabrera’s Guacamole

2 ripe avocados

Juice of 1 lime

2 tbsp chopped fresh coriander

2 tbsp minced white onion

1 jalapeno, seeded and finely diced

1 clove garlic, minced


Cut the avocados in half lengthwise; remove the pits and scoop out the flesh into a medium bowl.  Add the lime juice and, with the back of a large spoon, mash the avocado until it is fairly smooth with a few small chunks. Mix in coriander, half the onion, half the jalapeno, garlic and salt to taste. Transfer to a serving bowl and sprinkle with the remaining onion and jalapeno. Accompany with tortilla chips.  Makes 4 servings.

Risotto Primavera

Primavera means springtime, and this delicious risotto certainly celebrates the season with lots of fresh vegetables. If you own a pressure cooker, start the recipe in that and add 3-1/2 cups (875 mL) stock. Lock the lid in place; bring to high pressure over high heat. Lower the heat just enough to maintain high pressure; cook for 5 minutes. Quickly reduce the pressure according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Remove the lid, tilting it away from you to allow any excess steam to escape and continue with the recipe as below.

1 tbsp (15 mL) olive oil

1 large onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

1-1/2 cups (375 mL) Arborio rice (short grain)

4 cups (1 L) hot chicken stock (approx)

1 lb (500 g) asparagus, cut in 1-inch (2.5 cm) pieces

1/4 lb (125 g) sliced prosciutto, chopped

1 cup (250 mL) frozen peas, thawed

4 green onions, sliced

1/4 cup (50 mL) chopped fresh basil

2 cups (500 mL) freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Salt and pepper

In a large saucepan or deep skillet over medium heat, heat oil; cook onion and garlic for 2 minutes. Stir in rice to coat well. Add stock, 1/2 cup (125 mL) at a time, stirring constantly and waiting a few minutes until stock is mostly absorbed before adding more; keep rice at a brisk simmer. The risotto should always be moist. After 12 to 15 minutes, stir in the asparagus and half the prosciutto; cook over medium heat, stirring constantly and adding more stock if needed to keep it soupy, for about 5 minutes or until the rice is tender but slightly firm and the mixture is creamy. Stir in the peas and green onions; cook, stirring, for 2 minutes. Stir in half the basil, remaining prosciutto and 1-1/2 cups (375 mL) of the cheese. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve garnished with the remaining basil. Pass the remaining cheese separately. Makes 4 servings.


Maple Lace Cookies

These crisp, lacy cookies are elegant and extremely quick to make. They go wonderfully well with sorbets or ice cream. Use a darker maple syrup for best flavour and substitute chopped maple sugar for the brown sugar if it is available. If you don’t have maple syrup at hand, use corn syrup instead.

1/2 cup (125 mL) EACH unsalted butter, packed brown sugar and maple syrup

1 cup (250 mL) all-purpose flour

1/2 tsp (2 mL) vanilla

3/4 cup (175 mL) finely chopped pecans

In a heavy saucepan, combine the butter, brown sugar and syrup; bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring just until the sugar is dissolved. Remove from the heat; stir in the flour, vanilla and nuts. Drop scant teaspoonfuls (5 mL) of the mixture 4 inches (10 cm) apart onto greased baking sheets. Bake in a 325°F (160°C) oven for 8 to 10 minutes or until set and lightly browned. Remove from the oven and let cool on the pans for 2 minutes. Remove to let cool perfectly flat on finely meshed racks or waxed paper. Store in an airtight container with waxed paper between the layers. Makes 5 dozen.


Maple Creme Brulee

As you will see from my home page blog, our daughter and her family near Orillia have embarked on the maple syrup production that is a Canadian rite of spring. This easy, but elegant creamy maple syrup dessert gains a whole new dimension of flavour when finely grated maple sugar is caramelized on top. You can usually find maple sugar candy in the shape of maple leaves where maple syrup is sold; just grate some for this recipe.

1-1/2 cups (375 mL) whipping cream

1/4 cup (50 mL) maple syrup

4 egg yolks

1/3 cup (75 mL) finely grated maple sugar

In a small heavy saucepn, heat the cream and maple syrup together until bubbles just start to form around the outside. Remove from the heat. In a bowl, whisk the egg yolks slightly without allowing them to foam. Very gradually pour the hot cream into the yolks, stirring constantly. Strain the custard through a fine sieve into a pitcher or measuring cup. Pour into six 1/2-cup (125 mL) heatproof ramekins. Place them in a baking pan just big enought to hold them; pour hot water into the pan to come two-thirds up the sides of the ramekins. Cover with foil; bake in a 325°F (160°C) oven for about 25 minutes or until the custards are just set but still slightly jiggly in the centres. Remove the ramekins to cool on a rack; refrigerate until very cold. (Custards can be prepared a day ahead.)

Just before serving, sprinkle the custards with the maple sugar; broil on the rack nearest the heat for about 3-1/2 minutes, watching carefully, or until the sugar caramlizes to golden brown. (Or, use a kitchen blow torch for the process.) Serve immediately. Makes 6 servings.


Baked Cinnamon Chipotle Catfish with Sweet Pepper Slaw

Cinnamon and catfish? You bet? U.S. Farm-Raised Catfish is top-fed grain and soy, so it has a mild taste that complements this sweet-with-a-bit-of-heat rub. Combine the catfish with this speedy slaw for a nutritious weeknight meal the kids will love.  This recipe is courtesy of the U.S. Farm-Raised Catfish. Check out other recipes on their website

Sweet Pepper Slaw:

1 bag of shredded slaw mix (app. 1 lb/500 g)

1 large seedless cucumber, diced

1/2 sweet red pepper, in strips

1/4 cup (50 mL) cider vinegar

2 tbsp (25 mL) Creole mustard or other mild grainy mustard

1 tbsp (15 mL) granulated sugar

Salt and pepper to taste

Cinnamon Chipotle Rub:

1 tbsp (15 mL) brown sugar

1 tsp (5 mL) kosher or sea salt

1 clove garlic, crushed or 1/2 tsp (2 mL) garlic powder

1/2 tsp (2 mL) chipotle powder*

1/2 tsp (2 mL) ground cinnamon

3 tbsp (45 mL) olive oil

4 U.S. Farm-Raised Catfish fillets, 6 to 8 oz (175 to 250 g) each

*available in the spice aisle of most supermarkets

Sweet Pepper Slaw: In a medium bowl, combine slaw mix, cucumber, sweet pepper, vinegar, mustard, sugar, and salt and pepper to taste. Set aside and if making ahead, refrigerate, covered.

Cinnamon Chipotle Rub: In a small bowl, combine well brown sugar, salt, garlic, chipotle powder and cinnamon;  set aside.

Lightly brush a baking dish with some of the olive oil, then lightly brush the catfish fillets with olive oil. Sprinkle fillets with the rub and set aside. Heat a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Add remaining olive oil. Add fillets and cook for 1 minute a side.

Place the fillet in the baking dish and bake in a 425°F (220°C)  oven until the fish flakes easily with a fork, 7 to 9 minutes. Remove from the oven and let rest 3 to 5 minutes. Place the sweet pepper slaw on a warm platter or individual plates and top with the baked catfish fillets. Makes 4 servings.

Roasted Cherry Tomato Clafoutis

This easy recipe was first published in my casserole cookbook and agin in A Year in My Kitchen. Traditional clafoutis (a kind of cake-like custard) is made with black cherries or other fruit and is served as a dessert. I’ve added cheese and chosen cherry tomatoes as a savory version that would be just right for a company breakfast, perhaps with some back bacon and interesting bread.

2 cups (500 mL) cherry tomatoes (1 lb/500 g)

2 tbsp (25 mL) olive oil

1 tbsp (15 mL) chopped fresh thyme (or 1 tsp/5 mL dried)

2 cloves garlic, crushed

2 tsp (10 mL) granulated sugar

Salt and pepper

1 cup (250 mL) light cream

3 eggs

2 tbsp (25 mL) all-purpose flour

1/2 lb (250 g) mozzarella cheese, shredded (about 2 cups/500 mL)

Remove the stems from the tomatoes. Arrange in a single layer in a shallow 6-cup (1.5 L) baking dish. Drizzle with the oil; sprinkle with the thyme, garlic, sugar, 1/2 tsp (2 mL) salt and 1/4 tsp (1 mL) pepper. Roast in a 400°F (200°C) oven for 10 to 15 minutes or until the skin shrivels slightly. In a blender, blend the cream, eggs and flour until smooth; pour over the tomatoes. Sprinkle with the cheese. Reduce the temperature to 350°F (180°C); bake for about 25 minutes or until puffed and golden. Serve  immediately. Makes 4 servings.


Red Tomato Mould

Do you remember jellied tomato aspic from the 60s? A popular company dish, this recipe is from Edna Staebler’s Food That Really Schmecks: Mennonite Country Cooking.

4 cups (1 L) tomato juice

1/3 cup (75 mL) chopped onion

1/4 cup (50 mL) chopped celery leaves

2 tbsp (25 mL) brown sugar

1 tsp (5 mL) salt

2 small bay leaves

4 whole cloves

2 tbsp (25 mL) plain unflavoured gelatin

3 tbsp (45 mL) fresh lemon juice

In a small saucepan, combine 2 cups (500 mL) of the tomato juice, onion, celery leaves, sugar, salt, bay leaves and cloves. Simmer, uncovered, for 5 minutes. Strain into a heatproof bowl. Meanwhile, soften gelatin in 1 cup (250 mL) of the remaining cold tomato juice; dissolve it in the hot tomato mixture. Stir in the lemon juice and remaining cup (250 mL) of tomato juice. Pour into a rinsed 5-cup (1.25 L) ring mould or into individual moulds; chill until firm, at least 6 hours. Makes 6 to 8 servings.

Baked Beets

This simple recipe for beets is from Savella Stechishin’s Traditional Ukrainian Cookery published in 1982, but quite a definitive cookbook when you need an authentic Ukrainian recipe. You will need to decide quantities since it is merely a guide to the dish. However, it is an excellent use of the storage beets that are still good and firm.

Wash, peel and grate raw beets. (I use the grating attachment on my food processor.) Layer them in a greased baking dish. Sprinkle each layer with some salt, pepper, sugar and mild vinegar or fresh lemon juice. Dot the top layer with butter. (I sometimes do this ahead several hours and refrigerate the dish.) Bake, covered, in a 375°F oven for 45 minutes.

  Homemade Tomato Soup with Blue Cheese Garnish

This is one of my favourite recipes from my newest book A Taste of CanadaWhen you feel like a steaming bowl of homemade soup, look in your cupboard and I’m sure you will find all you need to make this one in minutes.

2 tbsp (25 mL) butter

1 onion and 1 stalk celery, chopped

2 cloves garlic, chopped

1 tsp (5 mL) smoked Spanish paprika (or regular paprika)

1/2 tsp (2 mL) each dried oregano, salt and pepper

Pinch cayenne

1 can (28 oz/796 mL) diced tomatoes (undrained)

4 cups (1 L) chicken broth, preferably low-sodium

1/2 cup (125 mL) crumbled blue cheese

2 tbsp (25 mL) cream cheese, softened

In a large saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat; cook the onion and celery until softened, about 8 minutes, stirring often. Add the garlic and cook 1 minute. Remove the pan from the heat; stir in the paprika, oregano, salt, pepper and cayenne. Add the tomatoes and broth. Return to the heat and bring to a boil; reduce the heat, cover and simmer for 15 minutes. Cool slightly, then puree with an immersion blender or in batches in a regular blender. (The soup can be prepared to this point, cooled, covered and refrigerated.) Return to the saucepan and heat gently to serve. In a small bowl, stir together the blue cheese and cream cheese. Top each serving with a dollop of the mixture. Makes 4 to 6 servings.


Buche de Noel (Yule Log)

A reader who had lost the last page of my recipe apparently can’t get through the holidays without making my Yule Log (which she refers to as “amazing”) . Thank you Karen; this is for you. This is a traditional Christmas Eve dessert in Quebec, and I published this recipe first in my book Canadian Christmas Cooking.

Cake:  1 cup (250 mL) cake and pastry flour

1-1/4 cups (300 mL) granulated sugar

4 eggs, separated

1/4 tsp (1 mL) salt

1 tsp (5 mL) vanilla

Icing sugar

Rum Syrup: 1/4 cup (50 mL) granulated sugar

1/4 cup (50 mL) water

1 tbsp (15 mL) dark rum

Coffee Cream: 2/3 cup (150 mL) granulated sugar

1/2 cup (125 mL) water

3 egg yolks

1 cup (250 mL) softened butter

1 tbsp (15 mL) very strong coffee

4 tsp (20 mL) dark rum

Chocolate Butter Icing: 1/4 cup (50 mL) softened butter

2 cups (500 mL) sifted icing sugar

Pinch salt

1/2 tsp (2 mL) vanilla

2 tbsp (25 mL) light or whipping cream

2 oz (50 g) unsweetened chocolate, melted

Candied cherries and citron peel or angelica

Cake: Grease a 10- x 15-inch (2 L) jelly roll pan with butter. Line it with parchment paper; grease the paper and sprinkle it with flour. Set aside. In a medium bowl, combine the flour with 1 cup (250 mL) of the sugar. In a large bowl, beat egg whites and salt until they hold stiff peaks. Gradually beat in the remaining 1/4 cup (50 mL) sugar. In a separate large bowl, beat egg yolks until thick; beat in vanilla. Fold in the egg whites. Gradually fold in the flour mixture. Turn the batter into the prepared pan, spreading it evenly. Bake in a 400°F (200°C) oven until the cake springs back when lightly pressed, 12 to 15 minutes. Sprinkle a clean tea towel with icing sugar. Turn the hot cake out onto the tea towel; carefully remove the pan and paper. Using a knife, trim off any hard edges. Starting from the long edge, carefully roll up the cake and towel together. Set aside on a wire rack to cool.

Rum Syrup: In a small saucepan, combine the sugar and water. Bring to a boil; boil for 3 minutes or until syrupy. Let cool; add the rum and set aside.

Coffee Cream: In a small saucepan, boil the sugar and water until a candy thermometer registers 240°F (115°C) or until a small amount of the mixture dropped in a bowl of cold water forms a soft ball; remove from the heat. In a medium bowl, beat the egg yolks until thick. Beat the hot syrup into the yolks; continue beating until the mixture is lukewarm. Beat in the butter, a little at a time; beat in the coffee and rum. Let cool completely. If the mixture seems too runny to spread, chill briefly in the refrigerator. Carefully unroll the cake. Brush with half of the rum syrup. Reserving 1/4 cup (50 mL),  spread coffee cream evenly over the cake. Roll up as you would a jelly roll. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill 1 hour or until the coffee cream is firm.

Chocolate Butter Icing: In a medium bowl, cream the butter until light. Add half the icing sugar; beat until fluffy. Add the salt and vanilla. Stir in the remaining sugar alternately with the cream. Blend in the chocolate. Beat until the icing holds stiff peaks. If it is too stiff, add a little extra cream. Using a serrated knife, cut a small digaonal slice from each end of the cake. The will serve as knots in the log. Brush the outside of the cake and knots with the rest of the rum syrup. Attach the knots to the cake. Spread reserved coffee cream on the ends of the knots and ends of the log. Spread the rest of the cake with chocolate butter icing. Run a fork along the surface of the cake to make marks to resemble bark. Decorate the finished log with candied cherries and citron peel cut to resemble holly leaves. Store the finished cake in the refrigerator for up to 1 day. Let the cake come to room temperature before serving. Makes 8 to 10 servings.

Light Orange Almond Fruitcake

3 cups (750 mL) mixed candied fruit

2 cups (500 mL) golden raisins

1-1/2 cups (375 mL) halved candied cherries

1-1/2 cups (375 mL) coarsely chopped candied pineapple

1-1/2 cups (375 mL) finely chopped blanched almonds

1 cup (250 mL) candied citron peel

2 cups (500 mL) all-purpose flour

2 tsp (10 mL) baking powder

1/2 tsp (2 mL) salt

1/2 cup (125 mL) butter, softened

1 cup (250 mL) granulated sugar

3 eggs

1 tbsp (15 mL) coarsely grated orange zest

1 tsp (5 mL) almond extract

1/2 cup (125 mL) orange liqueur or orange juice

Grease two 9- x 5-inch (2 L) loaf pans; line the bases and sides with a double thickness of brown or parchment paper. Grease the paper. Set aside.

In a larg bowl, combine the mixed fruit, raisins, cherries, pineapple, almonds and citron peel; toss with 1/2 cup (125 mL) of the flour and set aside.

Stir together the remaining flour, baking powder and salt; set aside.

In a large bowl, beat the butter with the sugar until fluffy. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, then the orange zest and almond extract, beating well. Add the flour mixture alternately with the liqueur, making three additions of dry and two of  liqueur and mixing just until the flour is incorporated. Fold in the fruit mixture. Scrape into the prepared pans., smoothing the tops.

Set a shallow baking dish half full of boiling water on the bottom rack of the oven. Bake the cakes on the centre rack in a 250°F (120°C) oven for 2-1/2 hours or until a cake tester inserted into the centre comes out clean, covering loosely with foil if the cakes begin to crack.

Let the cakes cool completely in their pans on racks before removing them  from the pans. When cool, the cakes can be wrapped in cheesecaloth moistened with brandy or another spirit, then in waxed paper, then foil and stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for several weeks. Makes 2 cakes, about 90 small pieces.

Marinated Mussels

Make these colourful mussels a day ahead and serve as an appetizer at your next dinner party.

2 lb (1 kg) mussels (about 40)

1/4 cup (50 mL) chopped onion

1 lemon, cut in wedges

1/4 cup (50 mL) olive oil

3 cloves garlic, minced

3 tbsp (45 mL) red wine vinegar

2 tbsp (25 mL) chopped fresh parsley

1 tbsp (15 mL) sweet red pepper, minced

2 tsp (10 mL) small capers

1/2 tsp (2 mL) each paprika and grated lemon zest

Salt and pepper

Scrub mussels well, removing beards. Discard any that do not close tightly when tapped against a hard surface. In a large saucepan, bring 1/2 cup (125 mL) water, onion and 1 lemon wedge to a simmer. Add mussels, cover and steam until mussels open, 4 to 5 minutes. Discard any that do not open. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the mussels to a bowl. Boil cooking liquid to reduce to 1/2 cup (125 mL), about 3 minutes. Remove lemon wedge.

In a large skillet, heat oil over medium heat; cook garlic for 2 minutes. Add mussel liquid, vinegar, parsley, red pepper, capers, paprika, lemon zest, and salt and pepper to taste. Pour into a medium bowl. Remove the mussels from their shells and add to the bowl, reserving one half of each shell in the refrigerator. Cover the mussels and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or preferably for 24 hours.

To serve, arrange reserved mussel shells on a platter. Place one mussel on each shell. Pour marinade over the mussels. Garnish the platter with the remaining lemon wedges. Makes 6 servings.


Old-Fashioned Chili Sauce

This was my mother’s recipe for chili sauce—that old-fashioned relish that is like no other. My husband waits in great anticipation each year to come home to the heady aroma of a great pot of sauce bubbling away on the stove. In Ontario, we still find tomatoes in baskets (quarts and litres) at the market, but in some areas tomatoes are weighed. I chop everything but the tomatoes in the food processor.

6 quarts (6 L) very ripe tomatoes (about 10 lb/4.5 kg)

8 onions, chopped

5 sweet red peppers, chopped

3 cups (750 mL) chopped celery

1/4 cup (50 mL) finely chopped hot red peppers

1 cup (250 mL) cider vinegar

2 tbsp (25 mL) coarse pickling salt

1 tsp (5 mL) each black pepper, ground cloves, ground allspice, ground ginger, cinnamon, freshly grated nutmeg and celery seed

2 cups (500 mL) packed brown sugar

Dip tomatoes into boiling water for 15 to 30 seconds, then into cold water; slip off the skins. Cut out the cores and chop coarsely. Place in a large heavy stainless steel saucepan. Add onions, peppers, celery, hot peppers, vinegar, salt, pepper, cloves, allspice, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg and celery seed. Stir to mix well. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, for about 2-1/2 hours or until the sauce is dark red and thickened; stir often.

Stir in sugar and continue to simmer for another 30 minutes, stirring more often.

Ladle hot sauce into warm clean sealers, leaving 1/2-inch (1.25 cm) headspace. Process in a boiling water bath for 15 minutes. Remove to a rack and let cool for 24 hours. Store in a dark, cool place. (Refrigerate any jars that do not seal, but this is unusual if new discs and bands are used and the sauce is processed as indicated.) Makes about 10 (2-cup/500 mL) jars.


Onion and Stilton Soup

I cheat and use the slicing blade on my food processor to thinly slice the onions for this interesting and easy soup.

2 tbsp  (25 mL) butter

1 tbsp (15 mL) vegetable oil

2 lb (1 kg) onions, thinly sliced

2 cloves garlic, minced

8 cups (2 L) chicken broth

1-1/2 cups (375 mL) dry white wine or dry vermouth

1/4 tsp (1 mL) each dried marjoram and thyme

1-1/2 cups (375 mL) light cream

Salt and pepper

6 oz (175 g) Stilton cheese, crumbled

2 tbsp (25 mL) chopped fresh parsley

In a large saucepan, melt the butter with the oil over medium-low heat; cook onions and garlic for 3 minutues, partially covered. Uncover and cook for 20 to 35 minutes or until onions are browned, stirring often. Add broth, wine, marjoram and thyme; bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, partially covered, for 30 minutes.

Remove 1-1/2 cups (375 mL) of the onions and set aside. Puree the soup in batches in a blender or food processor. Return to the pan and add reserved onions. (The soup can be prepared to this point, covered and refrigerated for up to 1 day.) Stir in the cream, and salt and pepper to taste. Reheat gently, but do not boil. Transfer to heated soup tureen or warm soup bowls. Meanwhile, stir together the cheese and parsley; sprinkle about 1 tbsp (15 mL) on each serving. Makes 8 servings.

Garlicky Portobello Mushrooms

Flavourful, meaty-textured portobellos are heavenly cooked on the grill.

16 small (or 8 large) portobello mushrooms

2 tbsp (25 mL) olive oil

1 tbsp (15 mL) fresh lemon juice

4 cloves garlic, minced

Salt and pepper

Cut the stems off the mushrooms just below the caps; reserve for another use, such as stir-fry or soup. Wipe the top of each cap with a damp towel. Stir together the oil, lemon juice and garlic; brush all over the mushroom caps or toss together in a large bowl. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Palce, underside down, on a greased grill over medium-high heat; cook for 5 minutes. Turn and cook until very tender when pierced, about 5 mintues longer. Slice or serve whole. Makes 8 servings.


When field tomatoes and cucumbers are in the market, my husband like to make batches of this refreshing summer soup.  This recipe is from my 2003 cookbook Hungry for Comfort. Serve the soup in chilled bowls, passing small bowls of croutons, diced cucumber, green pepper, tomato and onion for garnish.

3 tomatoes, peeled and coarsely chopped

1 each sweet green and red pepper, coarsely chopped

1 English cucumber, peeled and coarsely chopped

1 small fresh hot pepper, diced (or 1/2 tsp hot pepper sauce)

1 small onion, coarsely chopped

3 cloves garlic, chopped

2 tbsp each red wine or sherry vinegar and olive oil

2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce

3 cups vegetable cocktail (approx)

Salt and pepper

In a food processor or blender, process in batches the tomatoes, peppers, cucumber, hot pepper, onion, garlic, vinegar, oil and Worcestershire sauce until vegetables are finely chopped. Transfer to a large bowl; stir in the vegetable cocktail and salt and pepper to taste, adding more vegetable cocktail if you wish a thinner soup. Cover and refrigerate for several hours to be well chilled or for up to 5 days.

Taste and add more vinegar, salt or hot pepper sauce if needed. Makes about 6 servings.

Schnippled Bean Salad

This recipe for a popular Waterloo County specialty is one of Edna Staebler’s and found in the first of her popular cookbooks, Food that Really Scmecks. A Kitchener friend of mine and I preserve fresh beans every summer so that we can make this salad all winter….a taste of summer when gardens are snow-covered.  I’ll write it out in Edna’s conversational style.

1 quart wax or green beans (about 3/4 lb)

1 smallish onion

Salt and pepper


1 tsp each granulated sugar and vinegar (white)

3/4 cup sour cream

Cut the stems off the beans, wash them, then schnippel them—that means cutting the beans on a slant in very thin slices, one bean being cut into 3 or 4 long slices. Put the beans into boiling salted water and cook them just long enough to be barely soft (3 to 4 mintues for garden- or market-fresh beans). Drain and cool them. Meantime, peel and slice the onion and sprinkle it liberally with salt and stir it around; let it stand at least 15 mintues, giving it a stir now and then. In a bowl large enough to contain the beans, put the sugar, vinegar, 1/2 tsp salt, a good sprinkling of pepper and sour cream. Stir all together. Now take the salted onion into your hand and with the other hand squeeze as much of the juice out of the onion as you can. Put the squeezed onion into the dressing, pour the drained beans into the bowl and mix with the dressing till all the beans are generously coated—you might need more cream. (Edna adds “if by some strange miscalculation the bean salad isn’t all eaten, you can put it in your fridge and keep it for a day or two”. She doesn’t say how many this serves, but does say that people always eat more than they think they can.)


White Coconut Fruitcake

This small white fruitcake has been one of my favourites for years. It is very moist and filled with fruit and nuts.

3 cups diced mixed candied fruit

3 cups golden seedless raisins

1-1/2 cups halved red and green candied cherries

1-1/2 cups diced candied pineapple

1 cup desiccated coconut

1 cup blanched slivered almonds

2 cups all-purpose flour

2 tsp baking pwder

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 cup butter

1 cup granulated sugar

3 eggs

1 tsp almond extract

1/4 cup each orange juice and brandy

Prepare two 2 L (9″ x 5″) loaf pans by greasing them with butter and lining them with buttered parchment paper.

Combine all the fruit and nuts in a large bowl and dredge them with 1/4 cup of the flour. Sift or stir the remaining flour togther with the baking powder and salt. Set aside.

In a large bowl, cream the butter; add the sugar and beat until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the almond extract. Stir in the orange juice and brandy alternately with the sifted dry ingredients. Fold in the floured fruit and nuts. Turn into the prepared pans and bake in a 250°F oven until a skewer inserted in the middle of each cake comes out clean, about 3 hours.  Cool for 30 minutes on a rack, then turn out onto the rack. Carefully remove the paper and cool completely. Makes 5 lbs cake.

 Whipped Potato Casserole

This recipe first appeared in my Christmas Cookbook in 1979 and has been declared a favourite by many readers during the holiday season. It is a do-ahead version of creamy mashed potatoes.

10 to 12 medium potatoes, peeled and quartered

1/4 cup butter

8 oz cream cheese, cubed

1 cup sour cream

Salt and pepper

2 tbsp melted butter

1/4 cup dry bread crumbs

Place the potatoes in cold water, bring to a boil, add salt, bring back to a boil, reduce the heat, cover and simmer until tender, 20 to 30 minutes. Drain and return to low heat briefly to dry.

Mash the potatoes with the butter.  Add the cream cheese, sour cream, and salt and pepper to taste. Using an electric hand mixer, beat until creamy.

Spoon into a greased 2-quart (2L) casserole. Combine the melted butter with the crumbs and sprinkle evenly ton top. Cool, then cover tightly and refrigerate until needed.

Remove from the refrigerator 30 minutes before reheating. Bake, covered, in a 350°F oven until hot throughout, about 20 to 30 minutes. Makes 10 servings.


2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Pamela Orlando  |  November 4, 2009 at 6:26 pm

    Just wanted to know if you have written any books regarding “cooking for one” as my mother is alone now and would like to know how to cook for one. Thanks you.


  • 2. Christine Crossman  |  December 21, 2016 at 8:55 am

    Could I please get your recipe for lemon squares that appeared in Homemaker’s magazine? They are THE BEST!!! Thank you 🙂


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