Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Perennial Favorite

I received this plant as a thankyou gift ten years ago and every year it comes back to life, despite being frozen in the winters and dried out to dust in the summers. I can't tell you how much it cheers me to see these sweet blossoms pop open in the spring. Inspired me to bake a tasty pineapple cake ( not that I need a whole lot of prodding to do so!)

Pineapple Cinnamon Coffee Cake

Cinnamon Topping:
2/3 cup (175 mL) brown sugar
¾ cup (175 mL) chopped walnuts
1/4 cup (75 mL) all purpose flour
1 tsp (7 mL) ground cinnamon
¼ cup (50 mL) butter or margarine
1 (1) 14-oz (398 mL) can crushed pineapple
2 ¼ cups (550 mL) all purpose flour
1 tbsp (15 mL) grated lemon or orange rind
1 ½ tsp (7 mL) baking powder
¾ tsp (3 mL) baking soda
½ tsp (2 mL) salt
½ cup (125 mL) butter or margarine
1 cup (250 mL) sugar
3 (3) eggs
3/4 cup (250 mL) sour cream
¼ cup light cream
1 tsp vanilla

To make cinnamon topping: In small bowl combine brown sugar, walnuts, flour and cinnamon. Cut in butter or margarine until crumbly. Drain pineapple in a sieve, pressing with a spoon on top of fruit to drain excess juice; set pineapple aside. Reserve pineapple juice for another use.
On waxed paper, combine flour, lemon rind, baking powder, baking soda and salt. In medium bowl, cream butter or margarine with sugar until well mixed. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Stir in dry ingredients alternately with sour cream. Spread half the batter in a greased and floured 10-inch (25 cm) square baking pan or 13 x 9-inch (34 x 22 cm) baking pan. Sprinkle half the cinnamon topping over batter. Spread remaining batter on top. Spoon pineapple evenly over batter. Sprinkle with remaining cinnamon topping.
Bake in a 350º F (180º C) oven until toothpick inserted in centre comes out clean, about 50 minutes. Serve warm.
Makes about 12 servings

Friday, February 8, 2008

More treats for the grey days

Cream Cheese Coffeecake

Cake batter:

2 1/2 cups Flour
3/4 cup Sugar
½ cup butter
3/4 cup Sour cream
1/2 teaspoons Baking powder
1 Egg
1/2 teaspoons Baking soda
1/2 teaspoon Salt
1 teaspoon Vanilla

Cream filling:

1 package (8 oz.) cream cheese
¼ cup sugar
1 tablespoon Lemon juice
1 Egg
1 teaspoon Vanilla

Fruit topping:
1 cup Sliced apples
1/4 cups Sugar
1/4 cups Raisins
1 tsp Cinnamon
1 tablespoon Lemon juice
1 cup Reserved crumbs
1/2 cups Chopped nuts

Preheat oven to 350 F.In a large bowl, combine flour and sugar; cut
in butter using a pastry blender until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
Remove 1 cup for topping. To the remaining crumb mixture, add baking
powder, soda, salt, sour cream, egg and vanilla; blend well. Spread batter
over the bottom and 2" up the side of a greased and floured 9" springform
pan (batter should be 1/4" thick on sides).
For cream filling, in a small
bowl, combine cream cheese, sugar, lemon juice and egg; blend well and pour
over the batter in the pan. To make apple filling, mix all apple
ingredients together and carefully spoon over the cream cheese filling. In
a small bowl, combine reserved crumb mixture with the nuts and sprinkle
over the top. Bake at 350 degrees for 55-60 minutes or until cream cheese
filling is set and crust is a deep golden brown. Cool 15 minutes then
remove sides of pan. Refrigerate when cool. Sigh. My jeans are shrinking.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Cures for the February Blahs

On the advice of a writing friend I recently subscribed to a Canadian literary mag called The New Quarterly, and I'm glad I did!The current issue is a treasure box of poetry ( I know! me reading poetry!) stories ( damn good ones) and even articles about the mysteries of story structure. Very enjoyable. If you can't find this mag in your neck of the woods just let me know and I'll send you mine when I'm done with it :)

And that's not all! I'll even include a recipe, this time for eggless scones to have with your cup of tea while reading-

Dreamy Cream Scones

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup sugar
1 1/4 cups heavy cream
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Use an ungreased baking sheet.
Combine the flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar in a bowl, stirring with a fork to mix well. Still using a fork, stir in the cream and vanilla and mix until the dough holds together in a rough mass (the dough will be quite sticky).If the dough seems very dry, add a bit more cream.

Lightly flour a board and transfer the dough to it. Knead the dough 8 or 9 times. Pat into a rectangle about 7 by 9 inches and cut into about ten scones. Brush tops with a bit of cream and sprinkle with a little sugar.
Bake for about 12-15 minutes, or until golden brown. These are excellent with jam or as shortcakes with fruit and whipped cream.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Birthday Pie

Happy Birthday dear Lyle, happy birthday to yooooo!

Instead of cake, Lyle requested this for dessert. Man, these Scots and their sweet-tooths! If you're in the mood for sugar overload, this is the pie for you!

Crispy Apple Pie

9 inch single pastry crust, unbaked
1 1/4 cups brown sugar
1/2 cup flour
1 tsp cinnamon
1/3 cup butter
6 Granny Smith apples, peeled and sliced
1/4 cup whipping cream

Pre-heat oven to 425 degrees. Combine brown sugar, flour, and cinnamon in medium bowl and cut in butter til crumbly. Place one third of this mixture in the pie shell. Arrange apple slices evenly over it then sprinkle the remaining sugar-butter mix on top. Press it down a bit with the palm of your hand then carefully pour the whipping cream over it so that it runs in little rivulets into the apples. Bake pie at 425 for 15 minutes then reduce heat to 350 and bake for about another 25 minutes. I like a small scoop of French Vanilla ice cream with my little slice of this pie.

Today's listening pleasure, Led Zeppelin, Houses of the Holy, four and a half stars.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Melange a trois

I really should write this down before I forget...sometimes I think I'm the prize vegetable in my kitchen! This is what happened...I was feeling hermitlike but wanted to make soup...the carrots and leeks were just hangin' in the crisper so thought they might like to get together, then who shows up but the yam, who had never gotten over a previous relationship with the carrots (but that's another soup).
The result was...

Curried Carrot and Leek Soup

4 carrots, peeled and coarsely chopped
2 leeks, white and light green part only, well rinsed and chopped
1 yam, peeled and chopped
bit of butter (or light olive oil)
1 tablespoon curry paste or to taste
3 cups chicken (or vegetable) broth
1/2 tsp dried thyme leaves
salt and pepper to taste
touch of light cream or milk, optional

Saute the veg in the butter or oil til slightly soft, stir in curry, broth and thyme. Simmer about 30 minutes then puree to desired smoothness. Salt and pepper if you wish. Swirl in a bit of milk or cream. Ridiculouly simple but to me, simply delish. Hope you enjoy it too!

Today's listening pleasure-
Una voce poco fa: A Portrait of Teresa Berganza , four stars

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

One for me and one for you

Speaking of chocolate (of course we were!) the other day I finally found some of my favorite dark chocolate treats, Baci. When I was little we had these at Christmas time and loved them, even though they were horribly stale and dusty tasting after being tucked away on a back shelf of our local Italian grocery from one year to the next. But they were Italian and therefore special and I used to love being able to read the words of wisdom on the little waxed paper inserts in two of the languages there :)

Just a few years ago I tasted for the first time a fresh Bacio. What a revelation! Please have one or two, I insist!

Sunday, January 20, 2008

So far, so good

I've designated 2008 as my year of living wisely and well. I've successfully left a lot of stuff behind me and am movin' on up :)
In the food department, I've been making lots of wonderful winter soups. The latest one , Curried Carrot and Leek, was so simple and soooo good I'm almost embarassed to mention it. I didn't even take a pic! But I'm sure I'll be making it again very soon and will remedy that oversight.
My story writing is going pretty well and you can read me online at
and A Fly in Amber, http://aflyinamber.net/?p=57
And some of my very simple but kinda pretty jewellery designs are actually selling locally at a gift shop called LadyBugs. Incredible.I have a little online showcase at Etsy, http://www.etsy.com/shop.php?user_id=5530432
And the sun even came out today! Glorious! I spent most of the afternoon out in the crisp cold air, doing a bit of yard work. Does it get much better than this?