Recipes that are delicious and that always work!

You know these recipes are delicious because if I didn't think that they were fabulous . . . I wouldn't be showing them to you. You can also be sure that these recipes work for the same reason! The rest is simply a matter of taste.
I cannot endure to waste anything so precious as autumnal sunshine by staying in the house. So I have spent almost all the daylight hours in the open air.
~Nathaniel Hawthorne

Friday, 28 November 2014

Holiday Helps!

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It's hard to believe that Christmas is now less than a month away.  I don't know about you, but this year the holidays have crept up on me seemingly overnight.  I know, I know . . . I say that every year, but it's true!  It's down to the crunch time now, and I can tell you that I will be using whatever I can to help to make the holidays go as smoothly as I can in the kitchen over the coming weeks!

A Quirky Main . . . Corn Muffins with Chili Con Carne

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I want to tell you today about one of the most innovative products which I have been sent in recent months,  Quirky Bake Shapes.  Muffin tins with colourful silicone toppers that you fill with muffin batter, top with the toppers and bake.  I was so excited to get these!

Thursday, 27 November 2014

Temptingly Tasty Turkey Leftovers

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I know that all of my North American friends are cooking their Thanksgiving turkey's today.  I am also cooking a turkey Thanksgiving Dinner this year.   Tomorrow our fridges will be filled with all of the leftovers and we will be scratching our heads and trying to come up with new and interesting things to do with them.  Here are some tasty ideas this morning to help you use up some of those scrummy leftovers. Of course you could just have a reheat of the leftovers, but it's also nice to dress them up in a few different ways too!

You Brits and Canucks might want to bookmark this page as Christmas is less than a month away and you 'll be wanting to figure out what to do with your Christmas Turkey leftovers then!

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Proper Kitchen Management 101, part one . . . or Cleanliness is next to Godliness

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Of all the rooms in my home, the kitchen is the one which requires the most maintenance and management.  I see it as the heart of my home, as it reflects the overall spirit of where we choose to live.   Most of the action happens in our kitchen.  It's where we converse and gather . . .  where I spend many of my happiest hours.  Food and the preparation of food is really important to me and how I spend a great deal of my time and so it makes sense that I would like to keep it well organized, clean and manageable.   I also have a very tiny space to work in so this becomes even more important.   There is nothing nicer than a well groomed and organized kitchen . . .  and I cannot begin to tell you the pleasure which I get of an evening when I leave my kitchen for the last time for that day . . .  as I glance back and see everything cleaned and put away . . .  a nice glow emanating from the range hood . . .  it just does my heart so much good and gives me great satisfaction.

Egg, a culinary exploration of the world's most versatile ingredient

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There is nothing I like more than a new cookbook and I was really pleased to receive this latest one for review.  It is entitled Egg, a culinary exploration of the worlds most versatile ingredient, and is written by Michael Ruhlman, with photographs by Donna Turner Ruhlman, and is published by Jacqui Small.

A James Beard Award-winning author, Michael Ruhlman explains why the egg is the key to the craft of cooking.

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For culinary wizard Ruhlman, the question is not whether the chicken or the egg came first; it's how anything could be accomplished in the kitchen without the magic of the everyday egg.

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In this ground breaking book, he explains how to make perfect poached and scrambled eggs and builds up to recipes for brioche and souffles.

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Readers learn how to make their own mayonnaise, custards, quiches and cakes, mastering foods from sweet to savoury, from light as air meringues to hearty bread and homemade pasta.

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More than 100 recipes are grouped by technique and range from simple (Egg salad with Tarragon and Chives) to the sophisticated (Seafood Roulade with Scallops and Crab.)

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Multiple photographs guide the reader through this extraordinary journey which unlocks the secrets of the egg for the home cook.

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Also included is a removable four-colour poster of Ruhlman's innovative flowchart, showcasing the wide range of techniques and recipes that rely on the egg.

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This a unique framework which begins with the whole egg at the top and branches out to describe its many uses and preparations -- boiled, pressure-cooked, poached, fried, coddled, separated, worked into batters and doughs, and more.  

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This book is beautiful and chock full of useful information that the recipes almost seem superfluous. His method for making hard boiled eggs gave perfect results.  It truly is a gorgeous book and I know that I will refer to it often.

As you know I always like to try out a recipe in the books I show you because I believe that the proof of the pudding is in the eating.  This time I chose  Creme Brulee with excellent results!

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*Creme Brulee*
Serves 4

A delicious recipe adapted from the recipe in "Egg" by Michael Ruhlman. 

240ml of milk (1 cup plus 1 tsp)
240ml double cream (1 cup plus 1 tsp)
pinch salt
1 vanilla pod, split lengthways
100g plus 50g caster sugar (1/2 cup plus 1/4 cup)
8 egg yolks 

Preheat the oven to 150*C/300*F/gas mark 2/  Place four 120 to 150 ml  (1/2 cup to 3/4 cup) ramekins in a large roasting tin and fill the pan so that the water comes up 3/4 of the way of the sides of the ramekins.  Remove the ramekins and place the tin of water in the oven. 

Combine the milk, cream, salt and vanilla pod in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium high heat.  Remove from the heat and let the pod steep for 15 minutes.   With a paring knife, scrape the seeds from the pod into the milk/cream mixture.  (Put the empty pod i your sugar bowl or bag to gently infuse the sugar.) 

Combine the 100g (1/2 cup) of the sugar and the egg yolks in a medium bowl and whisk vigorously for 30 seconds or so.  This will help the sugar begin to dissolve and will also help the egg to cook more evenly.  Slowly pour the cream mixture into the uolks, while whisking constantly. 

Pour the custard into the ramekins.  Cover each with a piece of parchmet paper, followed by foil and put them in the water bath.  Cook the custards until just set, about 30 minutes.   Uncover them and allow to cool.  (If you plan on using them the next day, cover them again once cold and refrigerate them; remove from the refrigerator for several hours prior to serving to allow them to come to room temperature.) 

Top each custard with enough of the remaining 50g (1/4 cup) of sugar to coate the entire surface and pour off any excess.  With a blow torch, heat the sugar until it melts, bubbles and caramelizes.  When it is cool, the browned sugar should create a delicate crust.  Serve immediately.

If you have a keen foodie on your Christmas list, this book would make a lovely gift.

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Michael Ruhlman started writing about the lives of chefs twenty yeras ago, and he soon became interested in training as a chef himself.   His groundbreaking and successful food reference books include The Book of Schmaltz, Ruhlman's Twenty, Ratio, The Elements of Cooking and Charcuterie (with Brian Polycyn), and he co-wrote Thomas Keller's The French Laundry Cookbook, Ad Hoc at Home and Bouchon cookbooks.  He lives in Cleveland, USA, with his wife, Donna Turner Ruhlman, who has done the photography for many of his books and is the sole photographer for his blog,

A Culinary Explortion of the
World's Most Versatile Ingredient
by Michael Ruhlman
ISBN 978-1-909342-85-9
Hardback 236 pages
colour photographs
UK £25.00
Published by Jacqui Small Llp

Note - although I was sent a book for review for free, any and all opinions are my own.

Potato and Bread Stuffing

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This stuffing is the stuffing my mom always made and my ex mil always made and through the years it has been the one I always make.   It's simple and it's easy.   A tiny bit different than the usual stuffing, in that it uses potatoes, which makes it a bit heavier, but that's how we like it.

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Of course I have made some changed and adaptations to it through the years  . . . making it my own. My mil and mother never really used celery.  I like the extra colour, crunch and flavour of celery.

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My mother never really cooked hers for that long, it was more or less just heated through  . . .  the onion was always had a bit of a bite, which I do like, but not a of people are that fond of the harshness of raw onion.   She also used torn bread instead of crumbs.  I do sometimes long for hers . . . but somehow mine never ever does taste like hers anyways.  No matter what.  I don't know why that is.

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My MIL always cooked hers in the chicken.  I prefer to cook mine in a buttered casserole dish.  That way you get some crispy bits, which I really like.  I dot it with butter which adds more flavour.   This is my stuffing of choice every year.   I love it, I really do.  I am betting you will too.  For a turkey, I double or triple it.   Of course that all depends on how many I have sitting around my table. ☺

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*Potato and Bread Stuffing*
Makes enough to stuff one large roasting chicken
Printable Recipe

This was my ex mother in law's recipe for stuffing.  I always doubled and tripled the recipe as the stuffing was always my family's favourite part of the meal.  You can use it to stuff a chicken or a small turkey, or you can do as I normally did and bake it in a casserole dish.

2 cups fine dry bread crumbs (245g)
1 1/2 cups mashed potatoes (use no butter or milk) (about 4 large potatoes, peeled, cooked and mashed)
1/4 cup melted butter (60g)
1 small onion, peeled and chopped finely
1 stalk of celery, chopped finely
1 tsp poultry seasoning (see side column for recipe)
1 tsp summer savoury (can use a mix of sage, parsley and marjoram)
salt and black pepper to taste

Place the butter, onion and celery in a plastic container.  Cover with cling film and then cook on high in the microwave for 1 1/2 minutes.  Place the mashed potatoes in a bowl.   Stir in the onion/butter mixture and the bread crumbs, along with the poultry seasoning, summer savoury and some salt and pepper.  Taste and adjust as necessary.  You may need more of the herbs or seasoning according to your own individual taste.  The dressing is now done and ready to cook as you wish.

If you wish to, you may use it to stuff a large chicken or a small turkey, cooking as per the instructions for cooking a chicken or turkey.  If you wish to cook it separately then do as follows.

Butter a casserole dish well.  Crumble the stuffing into the casserole.  Spoon a little warm chicken broth over top and dot with butter.  Cover and bake in a moderate oven (160*C/350*F) for 30 to 40 minutes.  You can uncover the last 10 minutes of baking if you want some crunchy bits.

Note - if you are baking it in a buttered casserole dish, dot it with some butter before baking.

Tuesday, 25 November 2014

Savoury Sweet Potato Casserole

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For years and years when I cooked at the Manor each November I was charged with cooking a huge Thanksgiving feast for upwards of about 25 people.  It was quite an undertaking and usually consisted of a first course (normally pumpkin soup which the Mrs loved), the main dinner of course with the turkey and all of it's side dishes and at least two desserts, but more often three . . .  oh and homemade rolls.  

Monday, 24 November 2014

"Stuffing" Stuffed Onions

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I am really excited because I am going to be cooking Thanksgiving Dinner this year as a kick off to my holiday season and I have invited the Sister Missionaries over to share it with us.  So I have spent a few days test driving a few recipes in anticipation of the holiday meal!

Sunday, 23 November 2014

Gingerbread Rolls

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I think one of my absolute most favourite things is Gingerbread.  Gingerbread cake.  Gingerbread loaf.  Gingerbread Cookies.  Gingerbread Brownies . . .  and NOW these scrumptious Gingerbread Rolls!  Yes, Gingerbread rolls!

Saturday, 22 November 2014

Apricot and Prune Puddings with a Lemon and Butterscotch Sauce


Apricots and prunes have a natural affinity for each other.  One is rich, sticky and sweet, almost toffee-like . . . the other plump and  almost tart . . . and in it's dried state . . .  nicely chewy, almost leathery.  Steep them in some tea or sherry . . . and they take on an almost angelic texture . . . most satisfyingly moreish.

They quite simply . . . belong together . . . much like  Elizabeth Bennet and Mr Darcy . . .

I love puddings . . . that is what they call dessert over here . . . pudding . . .  It's one of the things that I love most about this country . . . these different  little words and phrases that are used to describe the ordinary.   This word "pudding" has such a deliciously beckoning sound . . . much more so than "dessert,"  don't you think???