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Asian Slaw

Asian Slaw

This recipe I am sharing today is one that was a popular one with the ladies when I worked at the Manor.  That is not much of a surprise  as it is filled with an abundance of fresh flavours and a variety of crunchy textures!  Its also very colourful, at least on the first day at any rate.  It does tend to become singularly coloured with the red cabbage if left overnight, although the flavours are still really nice.

There are two kind of cabbage . . . crisp white cabbage, (also known as green in some places) and bright purple/red cabbage. Grated orange carrots . . .  sharp thinly sliced spring onions, along with coriander leaf and chopped dry roasted peanuts complete the salad mix.

The dressing is a lovely mix of Asian flavours . . . rice wine vinegar, soy sauce, honey, toasted sesame, gingerroot and garlic, whisked together with Dijon mustard (for sharpness) and a mild flavoured oil.

The dry roasted peanuts add another different texture and a hint of saltiness that goes very well with everything else.

The coriander (cilantro) leaf also adds colour and a hint of asian flavour that is very much at home in the mix.

The original recipe came from a Junior League cookbook called "The Life of the Party."  My boss always loved the Junior League Cookbooks.  I confess, I always liked reading hers and did photocopy a few recipes from out of them.

I also love Community Cookbooks, filled with everyone's favourite recipes.  You can find a few gems in those as well.   The more I look through cookbooks, and recipes collected through the ages, the more I realise that there is really nothing new under the sun, only new ways of doing things . . .  and fresher ingredients. We are so very blessed in these modern times to have ingredients available to us that our mothers could only dream of. 

*Asian Slaw*
Makes 6-8 servings

Fresh Oriental flavours with lots of colour and texture. This is really good.
For the Salad:
600g thinly shredded green cabbage (4 cups)
600g thinly shredded red cabbage (4 cups)
1 medium carrot, peeled and shredded
4 spring onions, peeled and thinly sliced
40g chopped dry roasted peanuts (1/4 cup)
3 TBS chopped fresh coriander leaf (Cilantro)

For the dressing:
3 TBS rice wine vinegar
1 TBS Dijon mustard
180ml canola or peanut oil (3/4 cup)
2 TBS soy sauce (I like the dark)
1 TBS honey
2 tsp toasted sesame oil
2 tsp minced fresh gingerroot
2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
To garnish:
additional chopped peanuts and coriander leaf

 Whisk together the vinegar and mustard for the dressing.. Slowly whisk in the canola/peanut oil. Whisk in the soy sauce, honey, and sesame oil.  Stir in the gingerroot and garlic.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Set aside.

Place both cabbages, carrot and spring onions into a large bowl. Pour the dressing over top and toss to coat. Add the peanuts and coriander leaf and toss again.  Once again taste and adjust seasoning as necessary. Cover and chill until you are ready to serve.  Scatter additional chopped peanuts and coriander leaf on top just prior to serving.

Left overnight, this becomes a delicious pickle that is great on sandwiches or with cold meats.  In any case, I am well happy to be coming into Spring when our food will start becoming lighter and fresher, for a time anyways!  Bon Appetit!  

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Marie Rayner
Brown Sugar Cream Pie

Brown Sugar Cream Pie


I have always found the chemistry of cooking fascinating.  The process of combining together a few (or sometimes many) ingredients, which on their own are not all that remarkable, or even very tasty oftimes, into something that is so incredibly delicious, so wow that you can scarce leave it alone . . . to me is like an mesmerizing magic that astonishes me at times.  I find myself wondering about the brain of someone who was intelligent enough to be able to take that leap of faith in the first place. Take this pie for instance . . . 

Other than the pastry shell you bake it in,  it uses only four ingredients.  Plain flour. (ever try to eat plain flour?  YUCK!) Soft light brown sugar. (Fab on rice crispies or in your tea, but wouldn't eat it by the spoonful) Butter. (Lovely on toast and baked potatoes and bread, etc. but  again, you wouldn't sit down and eat a pound of butter on it's own.) Double cream, or heavy cream to you North Americans . . .  (Something else which is good on or in things, but I couldn't just eat it alone.) Four. Simple. Singularly ordinary. Ingredients. Put them together in just the right way however, and bing, bam, boom!  MAGIC!!  Beautiful. Magnificent.  Amazingly tasty  . . .  magic!

 I am betting you have just about everything for this pie in your kitchen right now.  (I recommend my recipe for the crust here. It makes two crusts, but you can tightly wrap and freeze one disk for another time.)

Brown Sugar Cream Pie.  Something magical that happens when you combine those four simple ingredients together.  Totally hedonistic and totally delicious. Totally N-A-U-G-H-T-Y, but in a totally scrumptious way.

Rich, smooth, sweet, and unctuously delicious.  Not something you would want to eat every day, but something which you will totally not be able to resist digging your fork into, again . . .  and again  . . . when you do cave in and decide to bake it.

This pie is the type of dessert that  you would not hesitate to serve to a guest . . . or some hungry missionaries who are not bothered about calories . . . because, well . . . they walk them all off during the day anyways, and what your guests don't know don't hurt!! They say what the eye don't, see the heart don't grieve!

It's blatantly scrumdiddlyumptiously glorious and so seriously very easy to put together, that literally all you have to do is to whisk  these few simple ingredients together and pour them into an unbaked pie shell.

The hardest part is waiting for it to cool down and set enough to eat. A couple hours in the refrigerator does the trick. You will want to serve it in thin quivering delectable slices, along with . . .  yes  . . .  a dollop of softly whipped cream on top to garnish it. In for a penny, in for a pound  . . .

*Brown Sugar Cream Pie*
Makes one 9 inch pie

Creamy and delicious and not for the faint of heart! 

one 9-inch unbaked pie crust
47g plain flour (1/3 cup)
125g butter, melted (1/2 cup)
200g soft light brown sugar (1 cup, packed)
1 pint (480ml) of double cream (2 cups) 

Preheat the oven to 190*C/375*F/ gas mark 5.  Whisk together the melted butter, brown sugar, flour and cream until well blended.  Pour into the crust.  Bake in the heated oven for 50 to 55 minutes.  The centre should be still jiggly, but not liquid.  Allow to cool completely before cutting into wedges to serve, with or without a dollop of whipped cream on top! 

True, its not is something that you want to eat too often, as the calorie and fat count must be so well off the Richter Scale of what's good for you that you don't really wanna know.  This truly is a once in a blue moon treat, but once in a blue moon . . .  its a beautiful way to indulge your naughtier side.  Bon Appetit! 

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Marie Rayner
Irish Whiskey and Ginger Cake

Irish Whiskey and Ginger Cake

 I had my DNA done several summers ago and when I got the results, I was surprised and very pleased to discover that I was 27% Irish. It brought a whole new meaning to Saint Patrick's Day because now I could actually participate in the wearing of the green with pride in my ancestry and where my roots came from.   Happy Saint Patrick's Day and what better way to celebrate than with a delicious cake!  And not just any cake, but an Irish Whiskey and Ginger Cake!

This is a dense and moist cake that is really filled with lots of ginger flavours!  Almost like a ginger pound cake, it goes really well with any hot cuppa.  You get a real ginger whammy from the abundant use of ground ginger along with crystallized ginger. I love ginger of any kind, but I adore crystallized ginger! 

Crystallized ginger is sometimes known as candied ginger or ginger chews. With its soft, toothsome texture and sweet, spicy taste, crystallized ginger can be added to cookies and cakes, as well as eaten on its own. You can buy crystallized ginger in some grocery stores, and health food stores and Asian grocers often carry it. Chewing on a piece of it when you have an upset tummy or are suffering from motion sickness is usually a huge help.  I always have a large container of it in my cupboard. It is rather high in sugar however, so don't overdo it! 

It really shines in this beautiful cake however . . . moist, dense and buttery, and studded throughout with golden jewels of the crystallized ginger.

Most of the ginger gets soaked in some warm Irish whiskey for a time before you fold it into the cake.  Its a very pleasant addition, however if you didn't want to do that, you could just marinate it in some flat gingerale. This ginger gets folded into the cake batter.

The rest gets scattered across the top of the cake prior to baking, like little gold glistening stones.  It doesn't sink down too far, thankfully . . .

It just sits there on top, like shiny gold pebbles in a brook.  This cake is beautiful with hot drinks. I can imagine it would go down really well after a meal with an Irish Coffee, cut into thin slivers.  Oh, I am thinking a nice sliver of Cashel Blue would be really nice served with this.  I will have to bake another one now, just so I can see.  The thought of that combination has my tastebuds tingling!

*Irish Whiskey & Ginger Cake*
Serves 8 to 10
This is about to become your favourite teatime cake.  It is fantastic, with a warm golden colour and a pleasant sweet spicy flavour. 

250g crystallized ginger, diced (approximately 2 cups)
3 TBS Irish whiskey
150g butter (2/3 cup)
100g caster sugar (1/2 cup)
3 large free range eggs
70g ground almonds (1/2 cup)
2 TBS ground ginger
150g plain flour (1 cup plus 1 1/2 TBS)
50g self raising flour (1/3 cup)

Place the 3/4 of the crystallized ginger into a bowl. Reserve the remainder for later. Warm the whiskey and pour over top of the ginger in the bowl. Let sit for fifteen minutes. 

Preheat the oven to 150*C/300*F/ gas mark 2. Butter and line a 7 inch round baking tin with baking paper.  Set aside.

Cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Beat in the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Stir together both flours the ground almonds and the ground ginger. Stir this ito the creamed mixture along with the soaked ginger and the juices from the soaking bowl.  Spoon into the prepared baking tin, smoothing over the top. Sprinkle the reserved ginger over top.

Bake in the preheated oven for 80 minutes, or until a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean. Remove from the oven and turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely.  This cake keeps well for 7 to 10 days in a tightly covered container.

This is a farmhouse type of cake . . .  the kind of cake that keeps well in the larder and the kind of cake you will find yourself thinking about in the middle of the night.  Perfect for elevensies, coffee break, tea time . . .  well anytime, but especially nice on this special day when we celebrate everything Irish!   

May the road rise to meet you,
may the wind be ever at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face,
and the rains fall soft upon your fields.
And until we meet again,
may God hold you in the palm of his hand.

Happy Saint Patrick's Day! 

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Marie Rayner
Mom's Tuna Casserole

Mom's Tuna Casserole

 I was feeling very nostalgic today, thinking back on the days when I was raising five children. Some days I didn't know whether I was coming or going. It was a very busy hectic time. It seemed like I had a bottomless basket of laundry to wash, fold, dry and put away. I never seemed to be able to keep ahead of it. Then there was the house work, making beds, hoovering, dusting, etc. and of course cooking.  I did not mind the cooking part.  In all truth I didn't mind any of it.  Being a mom and housewife was all I had ever aspired to and I was living my dream.

With five children, three of them boys, I spent a lot of time cooking. And I had to be economical with my cookery also, as there was not a lot of dosh available to be spent. Food took up a large part of our budget after the rent. Here is a funny (now) story. (It wasn't so funny back then.)

My ex-husband was a Military Police Officer, in the Canadian Military, and at one time we were stationed at the British Army Training Unit Services in Suffield, Alberta.   This was the major training area for the British Army in Canada at the time.  The Brits would be going out into the "field" on exercises all the time and when they came back in from the "field" all the unused rations would be dumped. (I know what a gross misuse of government money)  Some of the boxes would have only a few things missing and some would have not even been opened at all. There would be tins containing stewed meat, cheese, vegetables, chicken, fish, crackers, candy, chocolate, apple pie, fruit, etc.

My ex used to retrieve them from the dump and we would clean and sterilize them. We had a nice cabinet filled with them down in the cellar.  Somewhat of a surprise as well, as we never knew what was in what tin until we opened it.  It was always a bonus day when it ended up being a sweet tin! One day a friend was asking me where we did our grocery shopping and my oldest son piped up, "We get our food at the dump! (He was about 4 at the time.)  Talk about being embarassed. Kids, they'll drop you in it every time!

Anyways, I digress.  This tuna casserole was a real favourite that I used to make back in the day, and that my children loved. It uses things I always had in my cupboard, and that were affordable,  boxed macaroni and cheese dinner, tuna, tinned soup and tinned tomatoes.  OH, and some extra cheese, which, when the kids were growing up  was more than likely Velveeta or cheese whiz. Now I use real cheddar, and while I was not afraid to use butter or potato chips to top it back then, I now use crumbled crackers and cooking spray.  Even so, this is some good.  All you need on the side is a salad and perhaps some bread and butter.

*Mom's Tuna Casserole*
Serves 4

This is something I used to make when my children were growing up. (I had to double it back then!)  Its a bit of a cheat in that it uses some convenience foods, but it is delicious, so I hope you will forgive me for that!
1 box (4 serving size) macaroni and cheese dinner
1 (295f) tin of condensed mushroom soup (10 3/4 oz tin) undiluted
1 (400g) tin of whole tomatoes, drained and chopped(14 ounce tin)
1 (170g) tins flaked tuna in water, drained ( 2-6oz tins)
1 small onion, peeled and finely minced
1/2 tsp each oregano, basil and parsley flakes
181g grated strong cheddar cheese (1 1/2 cups) divided
salt and black pepper to taste
cracker crumbs
spritz of cooking spray

Preheat the oven to 180*C/350*F/ gas mark 4.  Spray a 7 by 11 casserole dish with cooking spray.  Set aside. 

Cook the macaroni from the dinner mix according to package directions.  Drain well. Return to pan and stir together with the cheese powder from the box, undiluted soup. tomato pieces, onion, herbs, seasoning, drained tuna and 120g (1 cup) of the cheese. Mix together well and then spread in the prepared casserole dish.  Top with the remaining cheese and a handful of crushed cracker crumbs. Spritz a couple of times with cooking spray.

Bake in the preheated oven for 35 to 40 minutes, until bubbling and golden brown.  Serve hot.

Our Spanish daughter Ariana happened by not too long after we had eaten and happily took home the leftovers to enjoy with her husband Jose. I might be able to get Todd to eat it once, but eating it twice is really pushing it for my pasta hating now- husband.  At least I am lucky enough that once in a while I can get it past him at least once!  He's a sweetiepie.  Bon Appetit!

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Marie Rayner
 Baked Potato Wedges

Baked Potato Wedges

We love potatoes here at our house, in any way shape or form. I may have told you this already or at least in any case I don't think I've ever made a secret of it! My man is a meat and potatoes man and I am a potato woman . . . a day without eating a potato in one way, shape or form is just a day that is sadly lacking for me!

I think my oldest daughter is very much like me.  Most days when I am talking to her I will ask her what has she had for her lunch and she will say potato wedges.  She will be the first one to say that she doesn't really like potatoes, but what she really means is that she isn't fond of mashed potatoes, or baked potatoes, or boiled potatoes, but fry them and she is quite keen. (Who isn't?)

The frozen food aisles of the grocery store are filled with bags of frozen potato wedges. You know what I mean . . . right next to the chips, but cut into chunky wedges with the skins left on, and soaked in artificial flavours, trans fats and colouring agents.

A lot of people like to serve their wedges with a dip of some sort, usually a sour cream dip. Even that golden arch establishment sells their wedges with a sour cream dip. You know why that is???  It's bedause they are a sadly lacking in flavour and texture.

 At least that's my opinion! These are infinitely better and you won't be looking to mask the lacklustre flavour with a dip of any kind, although in all honesty for presentation purposes I have shown them with dip. 

They are not the most attractive pencil in the box and just looked rather sad sitting there on the plate all on their lonesome.

These tasty little wedges are very simple to do. The hardest part will be slicing them down through without going all the way through the skin, but never mind if you miss a few times . . . those extra little bits get nice and crispy and extra delicious if I don't say so myself!

This time I made a few using sweet potatoes also because sweet potatoes are low GI.  They worked really well, and I confess, I liked them even more than the regular ones. There is a picture of them right at the very bottom of my post.  They cooked a tiny bit quicker than the regular potatoes did.

They probably aren't something that you would want to have really, really often because of the butter, but as a once in a blue moon treat they go down really well.

*Baked Potato Wedges*
Serves 4 to 6

These delicious potato wedges are a bit more trouble to put together than others, but trust me, the end result is well worth the effort.  Crispy edged potatoes, with a combination of delicious flavours that go right down to the skins. 

4 TBS butter, melted
2 fluid ounces of tomato ketchup (1/4 cup)
1 tsp prepared french mustard
1/2 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp freshy ground black pepper
4 large baking potatoes,unpeeled 

Preheat the oven to 220*C/425*F/ gas mark 7.  Combine the melted butter, ketchup, mustard and seasonings.

Scrub the potatoes and dry well.  Cut each into 4 wedges. lengthwise.  Slash each wedge crosswise at 1/4 inch intervals, but don't cut all the way through the skin.  Place on a foil lined baking sheet.  Brush with 1/3 of the butter mixture.

Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until the potatoes are fork tender, with crispy browned edges.  Baste periodically with the remainder of the butter mixture.

Serve hot.

Note - Sweet Potatoes are also done nice this way.

Oh boy but these were some good. I hadn't made them in a really long time so they were long overdue. We had them with some rotisserie chicken that we had picked up at Costco and some broccoli.  I hope you will give them a go!  Bon Appetit! 

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Marie Rayner

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