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Recently, while out walking near Granville Island, we stopped at a coffee bar and Rand bought a giant apricot oat cookie thingy. It was amazingly good! Chewy, flavourful and filling but wholesome tasting, by which, I suppose, I mean not too sweet.

I looked online and found a very similar sounding recipe, which was gluten free and vegan.

While we are increasingly experimenting with meat free menus, I don’t see my love affair with dairy ending anytime soon.

And I definitely can’t be bothered to stock all the specialty ingredients required by this recipe (almond milk, coconut sugar, coconut oil, etc.) or to soak dates and blenderize all this lovely dried fruit.

So today I came up with a simplified version, and they are so good. Excellent right out of the oven for breakfast, and they would be a wonderful addition to a road trip. Had to write my modified version down right away, so I can make them again and again.

Ingredients

1 1/4 cup rolled whole oats

1 cup flour, can include some buckwheat or whole meal…

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

Half cup or more sliced almonds, rough chopped

1/4 cup finely minced dried apricots plus….

3/4 cup chopped dried apricots

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup flaked coconut

1/4 cup melted margerine

1/4 cup buttermilk

1 tsp vanilla

Combine oats, flour, salt and baking powder in a large bowl. Stir in brown sugar and coconut.. then almonds, apricots.

Add vanilla to milk, stir into dry ingredients, along with melted butter. Stir to combine. If necessary, add another tablespoon or two of milk to get everything mixed. Use a 1/2 measuring cup to mold into 8 large or ten medium breakfast cookies.

Bake about 10 minutes, at 350F, then check to see if they are browned on the edges.

Cool on baking sheet for 10 minutes, then gobble ’em up.

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Went to look for this recipe on my blog today…and it’s not there. Let’s fix that!

Super easy, feeds a crowd and perfect for a fabulous weekend like this one.

Five ingredients, one pot, 10 minutes until its in the freezer. Caramel. Do you need more persuading?

INGREDIENTS

Two squares margarine or butter (1 cup)

1 cup brown sugar

7 cups rice krispies

1 – 2 litre carton vanilla ice cream

Caramel ice cream topping

Optional: sliced strawberries or bananas

METHOD

In a large pot on the stove top, combine margarine or butter with brown sugar and melt while stirring constantly but do not bring to boil. Remove from heat and stir in rice krispies, a cup or two at a time.
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Spoon half this mixture into a 13 x 9 inch pan and press down gently with back of spatula to smooth and compress into a smooth layer.  Unwrap brick of ice cream – no need to soften – then use a heavy chef’s knife to slice it into approximately one inch thick slices and cut to fit neatly in pan as required.
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Smooth briefly with a spatula, then pack remaining rice krispies mix on top and press down gently. Drizzle cake with some prepared caramel sauce to garnish, but not too much. This dessert is quite sweet already. Cover with foil and freeze at least six, and, ideally, 24 hours.

Best served with some lovely fresh fruit to give the impression it is good for you.

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Valentine’s Day falls on a Saturday this year, so why not pass on getting sucked into the commercial hype of it all and show your love with a unique breakfast treat.

This looks great just out of the oven and tastes even better. I adapted this slightly from a recipe given to me by Mary Wallgren, from the Idaho branch of my mom’s family.

You will need a blender and also a cast iron skillet. If you don’t have the skillet, perhaps you should? Next thing you know you will be making frittatas and oven-fried chicken.

If you are really frugal, pick up a grotty cast skillet at Value Village and recondition it. There are instruction for this process on-line. It is a bit of a dirty job.

INGREDIENTS

Filling:

2 apples, peeled,cored, sliced
2 T brown sugar
2 T butter or margerine
1 tsp lemon juice (optional)
1/2 tsp cinnamon, or to taste

Batter:

3 eggs
3/4 cup flour
1/4 tsp salt
1 T granulated sugar
1/2 tsp orange peel zest (optional)
3/4 cup milk

3 T butter or margerine
confectioner’s sugar for dusting

METHOD

In a bowl, stir together apples, cinnamon, brown sugar and lemon juice until apples are coated.

Melt 2 T butter or margerine in a regular skillet on the stove top, add apples and saute until apples are tender – at least 5 minutes. Turn off heat and set this skillet aside for now.

Place your 11 inch cast iron skillet into cold oven, and set to 400 degrees.

Now, into blender put your three eggs, and blend really well.
Reduce blender to low speed. Add flour, salt, granulated sugar and orange zest.
Then slowly add milk.
Stop blender and scrape down sides to ensure all flour is being combined.
Blend again for one minute.

Carefully remove cast skillet from oven using two oven mitts.
Place on cold stove top and add 3 T butter or margerine, moving it around with a spatula until melted but not browned. Carefully add batter from blender, then distribute cinnamon sugar apples on top and return to oven using two oven mitts. Bake 25 minutes, until edges are puffed and brown. Test centre with finger to ensure fully cooked.

Dust with icing sugar, cut into wedges and serve with maple syrup.
Caution: Don’t forget and touch the pan. Hot!

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Makes 5 dozen: These are going to my son and his room mates at UVIC

Makes 5 dozen: These are going to my son and his room mates at UVIC

What makes a good Valentines Day recipe to show your love to those special people in your life?

That depends on where you are in life. If you are in your 20s you probably want something beautiful and decadent to impress your partner (See the Food of Love 2012.) In you’re in your 70’s it might involve prunes (See Plum Clafouti.)

I have one son at university and another about to go. This year the Food of Love demands something delicious but easy; involving inexpensive ingredients and producing a big batch. This is for all the students out there.

If, like my son, you are on a budget, buy an inexpensive brand of peanut butter when it is on sale, get your chocolate and butterscotch chips and your oatmeal from the bulk section, and buy a box of margarine squares to keep in your freezer. These are pre-measured half cups perfect for baking and also sub in when you run short of regular tub margarine.

INGREDIENTS
1 cup margarine (2 sticks or squares, softened)
1 cup peanut butter
2 cups brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1.5 cups flour
1.5 cups quick oats
1 tsp baking soda
1 cup chocolate chips
.5 cups butterscotch chips

METHOD
Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Combine softened margarine, peanut butter, brown sugar, eggs and vanilla in a large mixing bowl.
Beat until very light and fluffy. Fluffier!

Combine flour, oats and baking soda in a smaller bowl, stir to mix.
Add into creamed ingredients and mix well.
Add in chocolate and butterscotch chips; stir.

Scoop dough into golf size balls on greased or parchment lined baking sheets.
Bake 10 minutes. If not browning slightly, give them 2 more minutes.
Cool on rack. Turn off the oven, Hon!

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Ready for a taste of summer? This is it. The natural sugars caramelize to give this easy sauce a sweet, straight-from-the-garden taste.

You’ll need 18 or so Roma tomatoes, your favourite fresh chili pepper (I had a jalapeno – too mild!), a large cooking onion, several cloves of garlic, salt and pepper, olive oil and balsamic vinegar and that last splash of red wine you were just eying. Or the first splash from a new bottle if you prefer…

Cut tomatoes in half lengthwise and place cut side up in a single layer in a large spray-oiled casserole. Toss in a half dozen peeled whole garlic cloves and a chili or two. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, and that big onion, chopped. Drizzle generously with olive oil, and less generously with balsamic vinegar. Pop it in the oven at 275- 300 degrees uncovered and let it all roast for at least an hour and two is better.

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Remove from oven and cool slightly. Transfer to deep bowl and use an immersion blender to combine – but not too much, as you want it to have some texture. Add a bit of that red wine to deepen the flavours. Heat 10 minutes, adjust seasonings to suit and serve over your favourite pasta.

roasted pasta sauce

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Spent part of this evening at El Camino’s on Main – where all the hip people are if you’ve been missing them. Subtitled as Central American Streetfood. Packed on a Monday night when decent 2 oz margaritas are 5$. Tapas size portions great for sharing. Awesome music too – if you have great hip retro tastes like me, that is: vintage Bowie, the Knack, The Cars and Blondie. Very cool crowd, but we got good service even without toques, porkpie hats or large colorful spectacles!

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The Cottager is technically Irish, so with St. Patrick’s Day falling on the weekend, it seemed a good time to invite the neighbours in. Everyone brought something, and it was a fine meal with lots of laughs on the side.

We started with a cheese plate featuring marbled Guinness cheese. Very pretty and mild. Andy made soda bread, which arrived warm. I made a dip with corned beef, dill and cream cheese.

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Next up was two types of barbecued sausages, served along with brown onion gravy, green salad, and colcannon, a traditional potato dish with cabbage and bacon mashed right in.

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Then there were two great cakes. I made Nigella Lawson’s dense Chocolate Guinness cake – I’d make it again, but I would try it in a tube or bunt pan another time as it sunk a bit in the middle. It has a cream cheese icing that makes the cake resemble a glass of Guinness.

My neighbour, Margaret, made a fabulous Bailey’s cake that apparently starts with a yellow cake mix but took it to another level. When I get the recipe I’ll post it.

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