Next-Level Scalloped Potatoes

Today’s recipe has a bit of a weird inspiration/backstory – it all started with a Boxing Day trip to Walmart to snag cheapo gift sets for an upcoming party and gift swap.

It was early enough that the store was blissfully empty and quiet, but we were in a rush to get home and get to work. We decided to pick up a couple food items needed for the coming days. En route to pick up the cheapest, smelliest tuna they had (the cats prefer it that way!), I noticed something from the corner of my eye: Jalapeno cheddar instant scalloped potatoes. It kinda stopped me dead in my tracks- why hadn’t I ever thought to put jalapeno in scalloped potatoes. It was an epiphany!

We ALMOST bought it, but (at least!) one too many childhood experiences with dehydrated “Hamburger Helper” type potato products got in the way. Besides, we had potatoes and almost a litre of heavy whipping cream at home left over from other recipes, I’d just make my own from scratch.

After adding everything I wanted to it – beer, because I LOVE beer as an ingredient when it comes to cheese (even if I won’t drink beer as a beverage!), onions, garlic… it was amazing. The sauce almost didn’t make it to the potatoes, from uh.. “quality control”. 🙂

The smell coming out of the oven was maddening. Why is it that the recipes that put out the most tantalizing smells seem to start doing so the earliest in their cook times, and have the LONGEST cook times? I was very frustrated, and was pretty ravenous by the time it finished cooking – maybe not the best thing to make first thing in the morning, for breakfast!

Actually, I lie. It WAS the best thing to make for breakfast. SO GOOD. I love potatoes almost any way you could come up with making them (Yes, I live up to most stereotypes for my Irish heritage!), but this was WAY beyond any scalloped potatoes I’d ever had/made before. Hey, let me ask my husband for a 6 am, getting ready for work, several days after the fact food review!

“Well, they’re obviously much better than anything I’ve had from a box, all fancy and shit. I liked the little bit of zip from the 2 large jalapenos – it was great heat level for breakfast or lunch. For dinner, I like this a little more spicy so would add more jalapenos.”

So there you have it. “All fancy and shit”. 🙂

Enjoy!

Jalapeno Scalloped Potatoes
Makes ~ 8 servings

2-3 large jalapenos, seeded and finely chopped
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, pressed or minced
1 Tbsp butter
1/4 cup white rice flour*
1 cup gluten-free beer*
3 cups heavy cream **
1 cup grated Monteray Jack cheese
Salt and pepper
4 lbs red potatoes, washed
Pan spray
1 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 400 F

In a medium or large saucepan, combine jalapenos, onion, garlic, and butter. Sautee for a few minutes, until onion and peppers soften up a little. Add rice flour, whisk until well distributed and free of clumps.

Add beer, whisking well until smooth. Add heavy cream, continuing to whisk, until smooth. Bring to a boil. As mixture starts to boil, add shredded jack cheese, continue stirring until melted and smooth. Remove from heat, season with salt and pepper to taste.

Peel potatoes if you like – we don’t bother, we like the skins! – and slice VERY thinly. Spray a 9 x 13 baking dish, and layer about a third of the potatoes in there. Pour a third of the sauce over it, tilting the pan to let it seep through the layers.

Layer another third of the potatoes, pouring another third of the sauce over it. Repeat one more time, using up the remaining potatoes and sauce. Cover with foil.

Bake for 1 hour. Remove foil, return to oven for another 20 minutes. Remove from oven, scatter cheddar cheese evenly over the top, and return to the pven for another 10 minutes, or until nicely browned.

Serve hot!

* You can use regular flour and/or beer if you don’t need this to be gluten-free

** You can use Half and half or milk, if you prefer.

Interested in Gluten-free cooking and baking? You’ll LOVE Beyond Flour: A Fresh Approach to Gluten-Free Cooking and Baking!

How many times have you come across a gluten-free recipe claiming to be “just as good as the normal version!”, only to wind up with weird textures, aftertastes, etc? Most gluten-free recipes are developed by taking a “normal” recipe, and swapping in a simulated “all purpose” gluten-free flour… whether store bought, or a homemade version. “Beyond Flour” takes a different approach: developing the recipe from scratch. Rather than swapping out the flour for an “all purpose” mix, I use various alternative flours as individual ingredients – skillfully blending flavours, textures, and other properties unique to each flour. Supporting ingredients and different techniques are also utilized to achieve the perfect end goal … not just a “reasonable facsimile”. Order your copy here.

Looking for even MORE fantastic gluten-free recipes? Beyond Flour now has a sequel: Beyond Flour 2: A Fresh Approach to Gluten-Free Cooking and Baking!

Imagine gluten-free foods that are as good – or better! – than their traditional, gluten-filled counterparts. Imagine no longer settling for foods with bizarre after-tastes, gummy consistency, and/or cardboard texture. Imagine graham crackers that taste just like the real thing. Crisp, flaky crackers…without the sandy texture. Hybrid tortillas that: look and act like flour tortillas, with the taste of fresh roasted corn! Imagine chewy, delicious cookies that *everyone* will want to eat! Imagine BAGELS. If you’ve cooked from “Beyond Flour”, you already know that these fantasies can be reality – it’s all in the development of the recipes. Order your copy here.

Southern Comfort Glazed Ham Recipe

Last week, we celebrated Thanksgiving. Well, the first of two, anyway – the joys of being a 2-nationality marriage! Last week was Canadian, then we celebrate US Thanksgiving in November. Life is good 🙂

Anyway, we decided to have a ham for Canadian, turkey for American this year. For the ham, we were trying to pick out which whiskey we wanted for my usual ham glaze – we didn’t have any Jack Daniels, and my husband’s usual whiskeys are too peaty.

I had a crazy idea: what about Southern Comfort? The fruitiness of it would work well with the flavours of both the ham, and my usual glaze ingredients.

…it was fantastic! I made a HUGE ham, using the leftovers for a big batch of French Canadian Pea Soup, one of my ultimate favourite comfort foods. (Just be sure to cut off the “crust” of the ham you’ll be using in the soup – I’m not big on mixing the flavours of the glaze into it!)

Enjoy!

A note on Southern Comfort: Southern Comfort is a spirit that is tends to be distilled from – in part – fermented wheat. While it doesn’t cause a reaction in MOST people with gluten sensitivities – and the leading Celiac associations have deemed it gluten-free – a few experts disagree. If you have noticed a reaction, or just want to play it extra safe, it could be a good idea forgo it in favour of juice, rum or brandy.

Southern Comfort Glazed Ham

1 fully cooked smoked ham
Whole cloves, optional
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 small onion, grated
3 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
1/2 cup southern comfort
2 Tbsp Dijon mustard
1 cup pineapple juice
1/2 cup packed brown sugar

Preheat oven to 350 F.

Carefully slice 1/2″ deep cuts across top of ham, spaced about 1 1/2″ apart. Cut another series of 1/2″ deep cuts crosswise to the first set of cuts, creating a diamond pattern all over the top surface of the ham. If you like, push a whole clove into each spot where the cuts intersect – I usually don’t bother, though. Place ham in roasting pan, along with about 1 cup of water – this will prevent the drippings from burning.

Follow the directions on the ham for baking – usually about 15 minutes per pound. Set your timer for 40 minutes less than the recommended baking time.

About 20 minutes before the timer goes off, prepare the glaze:

Heat oil in a medium saucepan. Cook onion and garlic in heated olive oil, until onion starts to go translucent. Add remaining ingredients, whisking until smooth. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, simmer for 5-10 minutes.

When the timer goes off, spoon half of the glaze evenly over the top of the ham, return to the oven for 20 minutes.

At the 20 minute mark, spoon remaining glaze over the ham, continue cooking for 20 more minutes. Remove from oven, allow to sit for a few minutes before slicing and serving.

Interested in Gluten-free cooking and baking? You’ll LOVE my latest cookbook, Beyond Flour: A Fresh Approach to Gluten-Free Cooking and Baking!

How many times have you come across a gluten-free recipe claiming to be “just as good as the normal version!”, only to wind up with weird textures, aftertastes, etc? Most gluten-free recipes are developed by taking a “normal” recipe, and swapping in a simulated “all purpose” gluten-free flour… whether store bought, or a homemade version. “Beyond Flour” takes a different approach: developing the recipe from scratch. Rather than swapping out the flour for an “all purpose” mix, I use various alternative flours as individual ingredients – skillfully blending flavours, textures, and other properties unique to each flour. Supporting ingredients and different techniques are also utilized to achieve the perfect end goal … not just a “reasonable facsimile”. Order your copy here.

Hoppy Citrus IPA Glazed Wings

Eek, it’s been over a week since I posted my Hoppy IPA BBQ Sauce Recipe… guess I should get to posting the other deliciousness that resulted from that day in the kitchen!

While the BBQ sauce was kind of a last minute “Ooh, you know what we should try making?” thought, these wings were a recipe idea I’d been tossing around in my head for a WHILE. We were actually in the grocery store buying ingredients to make these, when having the idea to make BBQ sauce!

I’ve said it before… I’m not a fan of drinking beer, but I do LOVE it as an ingredient. That BBQ sauce was amazing, Jalapeno Beer Peanut Brittle is probably my favourite brittle ever, and I frequently use beer as an ingredient in soups, fondues, sauces, etc. In these wings? Completely fantastic! The flavours went together so well, complex but coherent, and definitely unique. It was sweet and savoury with a little heat and a little bit of bitter hop bite – perfectly balanced, and so, SO good.

Let me share what the hop heads had to say about it, though:

“I would first like to say, I love hops, the more hoppy the beer the better. I however have never had anything really made with hops beyond a hop candy sold from my local brewing supply shop. I was excited for my first dive into cooking with hops, also nervous, I had never really heard of anything besides a tasty beverage made with hops.

Hop wings! These little treats were deep fried chicken wings and drummies, they were covered lightly in a light orange glaze, they looked really good. My first bite was a great crisp feel followed by first a nice honey taste, followed with the fresh taste of citrus from an orange, it was then all combined at the end with the bitterness from the hop. Very much like a very good beer the taste had the distinct front, middle and end tastes you would expect. It was truly delicious!”Trevor

“These hop wings are delicious! The flavors explode in your mouth, with sweet honey and orange popping up first and the slightly bitter citrus finish with a little bit of spice. I tore through my wings super fast, this is an addictive sauce! It’s not simply a variation of another sauce or a replication of a commercial sauce, this stands out on its own so well. I love trying new flavors of wings, but this is one where I’d keep coming back to it over and over, it quickly became my favorite.” – Porter

An interesting note about my husband: He has some weird “top of the food chain guilt” thing going on. He doesn’t mind eating meat, he just doesn’t want to be reminded that it used to be an animal… so he hates eating food off the bone, etc. I think this is the first time I’ve seen him seem totally OK with eating non-boneless wings!

A note about hops: While we used fresh hops – as that’s what we had readily available – you can also use dried. Use about half as many, if you’re going with dried. Dried (and sometimes fresh, too!) hops are available from home brewing supply stores everywhere.

Hoppy Citrus-IPA Glazed Wings

Vegetable Oil for deep frying
4 lbs chicken wings & drummies
Salt
1 cup IPA of choice
1/2 cup fresh hops, divided (We used Centennial)
1 cup liquid honey
1 jalapeno, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, pressed or finely minced
Juice and zest of 1 orange

Heat oil 375 degrees F. You can use a deep fryer, or a heavy pan. If not using a deep fryer, use a deep, heavy pot, filled to at least 3″ deep. Sprinkle chicken generously with salt, allow to air dry while preparing glaze.

In a medium saucepan, bring IPA and 1/4 cup of the hops to a boil. Turn heat down to medium-low, simmer until it has reduce to about half the original volume. (Just eyeball it!).

Once IPA has reduced, add honey, jalapeno, cloves, orange zest/juice, and a pinch of salt. Bring back up to a simmer, simmer for about 10 minutes. Add remaining hops, simmer for 5 more minutes. Pour glaze through wire strainer, discarding solids left behind. Return to pot and keep warm while preparing chicken wings.

Fry chicken wings in batches of about a dozen pieces each – allowing oil to come back up to temperature between each batch – until golden brown. (About 10-15 minutes per batch). Transfer fried wings to a large bowl, toss with glaze, and serve hot!

Fan of hops? You’ll LOVE my latest cookbook, Hedonistic Hops!

Hops are prized for their ability to impart varied, complex flavours to beer… but did you know they can also be used culinarily? While hops may seem like a bizarre or exotic item to cook with, it’s the same as using other herbs and spices in your kitchen… you just have to know what to do with them. Appetizers, main dishes, beverages.. even desserts can be uplifted with hops!

Even those who are not fans of beer will love the unique flavours that various types of hops can bring to their plate. Floral, earthy, peppery, citrusy… Cooking with hops is a great way to expand your seasoning arsenal!

Interested in boozy culinary experiments? You’ll LOVE my first cookbook, The Spirited Baker!

Combining liqueurs with more traditional baking ingredients can yield spectacular results.Try Mango Mojito Upside Down Cake, Candy Apple Flan, Jalapeno Beer Peanut Brittle, Lynchburg Lemonade Cupcakes, Pina Colada Rum Cake, Strawberry Daiquiri Chiffon Pie, and so much more.

To further add to your creative possibilities, the first chapter teaches how to infuse spirits to make both basic and cream liqueurs, as well as home made flavor extracts! This book contains over 160 easy to make recipes, with variation suggestions to help create hundreds more! Order your hard copy here, or digital edition here.

Hoppy IPA BBQ (“Hop-BQ”) Sauce Recipe

This past weekend, we finally got around to harvesting our hops. They’d grown *insane* this year, and it was a task that had been easy to procrastinate on. One look at the abundance of hops, twisted vines, and leaves everywhere… it’s hard NOT to say “eh… LATER!”. Luckily, one of our hop-head friends was willing to come help out, and we got it all done!

As the guys were picking and sorting hops, I was in the kitchen, busily developing from fresh hop recipes we’d conceptualized a while ago. It’s always exciting when we finally get to turn a crazy idea into reality! Both recipes we were looking to create turned out amazingly well, and we even ended up with a 3rd recipe. Well… half recipe, anyway. (Hard to look at 3 ingredients and like 30 seconds of work as a recipe, right?)

This is my Hoppy IPA BBQ Sauce. Based with IPA and fresh hops, it has a wonderfully complex taste, while still being a legit BBQ sauce. I’ll let the guys give you their two (four?) cents on the sauce…

“This is a delicious sauce that has a great complexity. It starts out sweet with hints of orange and pepper then fades away with a delicious hop flavor…

.. I don’t think you need to be a hop-head to enjoy this, but if you are – like I am! – then this will be right up your alley. The flavors compliment each other so well and will taste great on almost anything. I’m pretty sure I could just grab a spoon and dig into the jar when nobody is looking.” – Porter

“Being a Midwesterner, I had never had any seafood with BBQ sauce on it, sure ribs or pork slathered in the stuff but never any fish, let alone shell fish. I have to say the smell and look of the shrimp looked amazing, nicely seared with a light brushing of sauce. I was excited for the first bite. It was fantastic, the tangy smokey flavor was certainly making a showing, followed by the hot spicy flavors I love in any BBQ sauce, then the hops took the end and merged all the flavors with that of the shrimp. Just like a good hoppy pint of joy, the front, middle and end were present. Maybe it was because of the addition of the hops that I noticed this more than I have in other foods as a hop head I always look for more of a flavor profile in my beer than I usually do my food, but its addition definitely added excitement, taste and enjoyment. I was so surprised and would definitely keep an eye out for more foods and recipes with hops to try.”Trevor

With the citrussy notes in this sauce, it worked ridiculously well on some grilled shrimp and scallops we made that night. It would also be great on pork and chicken, in particular – though I’m sure you could enjoy it on just about anything!

… and for those who don’t grow hops at home, they’re usually available for purchase at most homebrew supply stores – and they’re in season right now!

Hoppy IPA BBQ Sauce

1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 small red onion, grated or finely chopped
1 small jalapeno, grated or finely chopped
1 cup IPA of choice
1/2 cup fresh hops, divided (We used Centennial)
2 garlic cloves, pressed or finely minced
2 cups ketchup
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
2 Tbsp fresh OJ
Zest of 1/2 or 1 orange
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
2 Tbsp granulated sugar
1 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp mustard powder

Saute onion and jalapeno in olive oil until translucent. Add beer, 1/4 cup of hops, and garlic, simmer for 5 minutes.

Add all remaining ingredients except for the 1/4 cup of reserved hops. Stir well, turn heat down to low, cover simmer for 1 hour – stir frequently.

Add remaining hops, simmer for 5 more minutes. Press sauce through wire strainer, discarding solids left behind. Chill until use.

Fan of hops? You’ll LOVE my latest cookbook, Hedonistic Hops!

Hops are prized for their ability to impart varied, complex flavours to beer… but did you know they can also be used culinarily? While hops may seem like a bizarre or exotic item to cook with, it’s the same as using other herbs and spices in your kitchen… you just have to know what to do with them. Appetizers, main dishes, beverages.. even desserts can be uplifted with hops!

Even those who are not fans of beer will love the unique flavours that various types of hops can bring to their plate. Floral, earthy, peppery, citrusy… Cooking with hops is a great way to expand your seasoning arsenal!

Interested in boozy culinary experiments? You’ll LOVE my first cookbook, The Spirited Baker!

Combining liqueurs with more traditional baking ingredients can yield spectacular results.Try Mango Mojito Upside Down Cake, Candy Apple Flan, Jalapeno Beer Peanut Brittle, Lynchburg Lemonade Cupcakes, Pina Colada Rum Cake, Strawberry Daiquiri Chiffon Pie, and so much more.

To further add to your creative possibilities, the first chapter teaches how to infuse spirits to make both basic and cream liqueurs, as well as home made flavor extracts! This book contains over 160 easy to make recipes, with variation suggestions to help create hundreds more! Order your hard copy here, or digital edition here.

Grownup Hot Chocolate & Hot Cocoa

The weather here has been pretty miserable for the last little while – TONS of rain, heavy winds, and pretty cold on top of it. Many of my friends have flooding in their homes, and I’m just super thankful we live up on the hill.

We spent yesterday morning running errands in that nonsense, and ended up soaked to the bone while grocery shopping in a walk-in fridge. Getting home from THAT, all I wanted to do was make a big pot of boozy hot chocolate.

As I whipped it up, I realized that I’d promised some friends my hot chocolate recipes a few months ago. Whoops. I’ve been super swamped with “Beyond Flour – A New Kind of Gluten-Free Cookbook“, and with costuming orders. It’s been a while since I posted anything at all – sorry about that! Things should clear up in a month or two, I expect you won’t be able to shut me up, then!

Anyway – hot chocolate. I actually have two recipes for you today, because I do differentiate between “hot chocolate” and “hot cocoa”. “Chocolate” using chocolate, and “cocoa” using cocoa. Easy, eh? 🙂

Both of these recipes are the way *I* like it – so ridiculously rich, that 1 coffee mug is enough. I would never be able to drink these in huge, gas station sized cups. It’s diabetes in a cup! When it’s cold and rainy, though – perfect. Feel free to thin them down with additional milk, if you’d like something a bit more … chuggable.

Also, while I advocate always having a baggie of vanilla beans on hand (they can be obtained from Amazon at reasonable prices!), I get that not everyone does. SO, if you don’t have a bean, just add one tsp of really good vanilla extract right before serving.

Grownup Hot Chocolate

Mini Marshmallows
Liqueur of choice*
3 cups milk
2 Tbsp packed brown sugar
1 vanilla bean
1 cup good quality chocolate chips
Pinch salt

Place a handful of mini marshmallows in each mug, top with about 1 oz of liqueur per mug. Allow it to soak while you prepare the hot chocolate:

In a saucepan, whisk together milk and brown sugar. Split vanilla bean in half lengthwise, scraping the seeds into the pot – throw the bean into the pot when you’re done scraping it out!

Add chocolate chips and salt to the pot, then turn the heat on. Bring the mixture up to just barely a simmer, stirring frequently. Once the chocolate has all melted and is well incorporated, remove from heat.

Pour hot chocolate over marshmallows and booze, serve immediately!

Grownup Hot Cocoa

Mini Marshmallows
Liqueur of choice*
1/4 cup cocoa
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
Pinch salt
1/4 cup hot water
3 cups milk
1 vanilla bean

Place a handful of mini marshmallows in each mug, top with about 1 oz of liqueur per mug. Allow it to soak while you prepare the hot chocolate:

In a saucepan, whisk together cocoa, brown sugar, and salt. Add hot water, whisk to form a thick paste. Slowly add milk, whisking to fully incorporate it.

Split vanilla bean in half lengthwise, scraping the seeds into the pot – throw the bean into the pot when you’re done scraping it out!

Bring the mixture up to just barely a simmer, stirring frequently. When hot enough, pour hot cocoa over marshmallows and booze, serve immediately!

* SO many liqueurs work in this, it really is whatever you want. I love Rumchata, Amarula, or Amaretto, while my husband leans more towards whiskey. Kahlua, any of the cream tequila liqueurs, pistachio liqueur, Grand Marnier – if it works with chocolate, toss it in!

Interested in Gluten-free cooking and baking? You’ll LOVE Beyond Flour: A Fresh Approach to Gluten-Free Cooking and Baking!

How many times have you come across a gluten-free recipe claiming to be “just as good as the normal version!”, only to wind up with weird textures, aftertastes, etc? Most gluten-free recipes are developed by taking a “normal” recipe, and swapping in a simulated “all purpose” gluten-free flour… whether store bought, or a homemade version. “Beyond Flour” takes a different approach: developing the recipe from scratch. Rather than swapping out the flour for an “all purpose” mix, I use various alternative flours as individual ingredients – skillfully blending flavours, textures, and other properties unique to each flour. Supporting ingredients and different techniques are also utilized to achieve the perfect end goal … not just a “reasonable facsimile”. Order your copy here.

Looking for even MORE fantastic gluten-free recipes? Beyond Flour now has a sequel: Beyond Flour 2: A Fresh Approach to Gluten-Free Cooking and Baking!

Imagine gluten-free foods that are as good – or better! – than their traditional, gluten-filled counterparts. Imagine no longer settling for foods with bizarre after-tastes, gummy consistency, and/or cardboard texture. Imagine graham crackers that taste just like the real thing. Crisp, flaky crackers…without the sandy texture. Hybrid tortillas that: look and act like flour tortillas, with the taste of fresh roasted corn! Imagine chewy, delicious cookies that *everyone* will want to eat! Imagine BAGELS. If you’ve cooked from “Beyond Flour”, you already know that these fantasies can be reality – it’s all in the development of the recipes. Order your copy here.

Bananas Foster Pavlova

Just flew back from an INSANE trip to Dallas this past week. Stayed with friends, enjoyed great company, great food, … Vanilla Ice, Ninja Turtles.. drunkenly prank calling some of my MasterChef “prison buddies” with Matt Orsini (remember him from my videos?).. and more. Truly epic trip.

One thing that I was particularly looking forward to, was meeting Ben Starr for the first time. As you may recall, Ben was my “Haymitch”, as I prepared for my brief stint on MasterChef. I realized this week that it’s been almost a year and a half since first contact!

After I arrived in Dallas, we planned to meet up on our second last night in Dallas – he would have my husband and I over for dinner, along with John – one of our friends that we were staying with. I was honestly kind of nervous – meeting people always makes me nervous, but Ben was even beyond that – someone I owed a good chunk of my sanity to, over the whole course of the past year and a half.

I don’t *ever* get star struck, but apparently I DO get “Starr” struck!

So, with a few hours to go before dinner, I texted him to once again ask if there was anything I could bring, hoping that I could get my mind off of “Man, I wonder what this whole thing would have been like, if I’d never contacted him”. I offered to bring dessert, and he accepted. Yes! Distraction!

Relief soon turned to stress, as I realized that I was in a kitchen that was not my own, with no real access to grocery stores, not a whole lot in the way of available ingredients, and only a few hours to go. Yay for speaking before thinking things out, eh?

We’d purchased the stuff to make a bananas foster bread pudding the following day – erring on the side of too much in the way of ingredients, as I hadn’t created the recipe yet. I quickly worked things out and could tell I had enough to make a bit of bananas foster… and I could easily make a pavlova. Done and done – and Pavlova IS my favourite dessert ever, afterall. Less than 10 minutes later, the pavlova was in the oven, and the wonderful aroma of bananas foster was wafting off the stovetop.

The hour+ drive to his house, I was so nervous. Would I say something stupid? What if I got really emotional about the last year and a half and just bawled on sight? What if he really hated my dessert?

Then, he answered the door in his underwear. I’d actually been so nervous I didn’t even notice, til he pointed it out. We laughed, and my social tension disappeared!

His business partner – from his underground dining venture, “Frank” – Jennie was there. They were both all kinds of awesome. Later on, Ben’s partner Christian arrived, and HE was all kinds of awesome. The whole evening was unbelievably awesome, and yes – I know I’m overusing awesome. IT WAS AWESOME. So much laughter. Such great food! An illicit absinthe collection, a chicken on the table… good times!

Anyway, I could yap all day about that evening (Did I mention that we had an AWESOME TIME?)… but I’m here to share a recipe!

So, here’s the bananas foster pav. Contrary to my early worries, it went over VERY well with the others!

This recipe is a bit different from a normal pavlova, in that I swap out half of the white sugar, for brown. This changes the texture – the inside of the meringue ends up almost cakey! It’s delicious, and is naturally gluten-free. Also, as has been road-tested… it’s a great recipe to pull out as a last minute sure-to-impress dessert!

Ok, I’m going to go get some sleep now…

Bananas Foster Pavlova

Meringue:
4 large egg whites
1/2 cup super fine / castor sugar *
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
Pinch of salt
1 tsp Vanilla extract
2 tsp white vinegar
1 tsp Cornstarch

Bananas Foster:
2 Tbsp butter
1 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup amber rum
1 tsp cinnamon
4-5 bananas

Whipped Cream:
1 1/4 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup (loose, not packed!) brown sugar
1/4 cup amber rum

1/2 cup toasted pecans

Get ready: Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Remove eggs from fridge and allow to warm to room temp (about 5 minutes). Line a baking (cookie) sheet with parchment paper, and set aside. Fit your electric mixer with the whisk attachment.

In your mixer bowl, beat egg whites together with salt until glossy peaks form. Slowly add in the sugars, and continue whipping until stiff peaks form. Turn off mixer, remove bowl.

Sprinkle vanilla, vinegar, and cornstarch over meringue, gently fold in till combined.

Heap meringue onto the center of your baking sheet. Use a spatula to spread the meringue out to approximately an 8-9″ circle. I like to have my meringue a fairly even depth throughout – some like a mound, some like it to be a little concave. If you want to get really fancy, put the meringue into a pastry bag and pipe it out as a mass of swirls that form your 8″ circle! It’s really up to you!

Put the baking sheet into your oven, and turn the temperature down to 250 degrees. Bake for 1 hour and 20 minutes. Once your timer goes off, turn the oven off and let the meringue cool in the oven for several hours. The baking of the meringue can be done the day before, if needed!

AS THAT IS BAKING:

Make your Bananas Foster topping:

In a medium saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Add brown sugar, cinnamon, and rum, stirring until well combined. Add banana slices, and cook for about 5 minutes, or until desired texture. Remove from heat, allow to cool to room temperature.

Just before serving, whip the heavy cream, along with the brown sugar. Once it’s just about thick enough, turn the speed down and add the rum. Once rum is fully combined, turn up the speed and whip until it reaches a good, thick texture.

Mound the whipped cream on your pavlova, and top with bananas foster and toasted pecans. Serve immediately!

Serves 4-6. (Or 2 Pavlova fanatics!)

* Super fine / castor sugar is granulated sugar with a much finer grain size than regular granulated sugar. It is NOT powdered / icing sugar! Super fine sugar is usually sold near the sugar in the baking aisle, in small boxes – sometimes resembling milk cartons. If you aren’t able to find actual super fine sugar, you can process regular granulated sugar in your food processor until fine. Measure AFTER you process!

Interested in Gluten-free cooking and baking? You’ll LOVE Beyond Flour: A Fresh Approach to Gluten-Free Cooking and Baking!

How many times have you come across a gluten-free recipe claiming to be “just as good as the normal version!”, only to wind up with weird textures, aftertastes, etc? Most gluten-free recipes are developed by taking a “normal” recipe, and swapping in a simulated “all purpose” gluten-free flour… whether store bought, or a homemade version. “Beyond Flour” takes a different approach: developing the recipe from scratch. Rather than swapping out the flour for an “all purpose” mix, I use various alternative flours as individual ingredients – skillfully blending flavours, textures, and other properties unique to each flour. Supporting ingredients and different techniques are also utilized to achieve the perfect end goal … not just a “reasonable facsimile”. Order your copy here.

Looking for even MORE fantastic gluten-free recipes? Beyond Flour now has a sequel: Beyond Flour 2: A Fresh Approach to Gluten-Free Cooking and Baking!

Imagine gluten-free foods that are as good – or better! – than their traditional, gluten-filled counterparts. Imagine no longer settling for foods with bizarre after-tastes, gummy consistency, and/or cardboard texture. Imagine graham crackers that taste just like the real thing. Crisp, flaky crackers…without the sandy texture. Hybrid tortillas that: look and act like flour tortillas, with the taste of fresh roasted corn! Imagine chewy, delicious cookies that *everyone* will want to eat! Imagine BAGELS. If you’ve cooked from “Beyond Flour”, you already know that these fantasies can be reality – it’s all in the development of the recipes. Order your copy here.

Butter Tart Liqueur!

A while back, I was craving butter tarts .

That’s nothing new, I’m a Canadian away from home – I’m always craving something that I either can’t get at all, or will have to make myself.

What was new is that I was drinking at the time, (Ok, THAT part isn’t new!)… and got it in my head that “Butter tart” would make a lovely flavour for a liqueur or cocktail. I immediately set about working through some ideas, deciding which way would be best to go.

In the end, doing a custom infused spirit and then turning it into a liqueur made the most sense.

This takes very little in the way of ingredients or effort, and the result will make any butter tart fan – or general Sweet Tooth – very happy!

Also: there is time to make this as a Christmas gift!

Buttertart Liqueur

1 cup dark raisins
2 vanilla beans
3 cups decent quality vodka
2 1/2 cups brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/2 cup water

Place raisins in a large, clean jar.

Slice vanilla beans lengthwise, scoop the seeds out. Add beans and seeds to the jar, top with vodka, and shake well. Store in a cool, dark place for about 4-7 days, shaking daily.

After a few days, taste. If the flavour is good and strong (it’ll likely be!), strain out raisins and vanilla, discard.* If you want more flavour, allow it to sit for another week or so, shaking daily.

Combine brown sugar, maple syrup, and water in a pot. Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until sugar is fully dissolved. Remove from heat, allow to cool.

Combine infused vodka with maple-brown sugar syrup, stirring or shaking well to combine. Bottle in clean wine or liqueur bottles.

After bottling, you should let it age for about a week in a cool place before drinking it – IF you have that kind of patience! Aging results in a smoother, more mellow flavor.

* Saving a few vodka raisins to place in the liqueur bottle makes for a cute presentation idea.

With 2017 being Canada’s 150th birthday, it’s about time I wrote the Canadian cookbook I’ve been planning for YEARS.

“More than Poutine” will be a Canadian cookbook like no other – written by a Canadian living away, it includes both traditional homecooking recipes, as well as homemade versions of many of the snacks, sauces, convenience foods, and other food items that are hard to come by outside of Canada!

High quality gluten-free versions of most recipes will be included.

The Kickstarter for “More Than Poutine is live, here. Please consider backing, and sharing the campaign with your friends!

Interested in boozy culinary experiments? You’ll LOVE my first cookbook, The Spirited Baker!

Combining liqueurs with more traditional baking ingredients can yield spectacular results.Try Mango Mojito Upside Down Cake, Candy Apple Flan, Jalapeno Beer Peanut Brittle, Lynchburg Lemonade Cupcakes, Pina Colada Rum Cake, Strawberry Daiquiri Chiffon Pie, and so much more.

To further add to your creative possibilities, the first chapter teaches how to infuse spirits to make both basic and cream liqueurs, as well as home made flavor extracts! This book contains over 160 easy to make recipes, with variation suggestions to help create hundreds more! Order your hard copy here, or digital edition here.

Interested in Gluten-free cooking and baking? You’ll LOVE Beyond Flour: A Fresh Approach to Gluten-Free Cooking and Baking!

How many times have you come across a gluten-free recipe claiming to be “just as good as the normal version!”, only to wind up with weird textures, aftertastes, etc? Most gluten-free recipes are developed by taking a “normal” recipe, and swapping in a simulated “all purpose” gluten-free flour… whether store bought, or a homemade version. “Beyond Flour” takes a different approach: developing the recipe from scratch. Rather than swapping out the flour for an “all purpose” mix, I use various alternative flours as individual ingredients – skillfully blending flavours, textures, and other properties unique to each flour. Supporting ingredients and different techniques are also utilized to achieve the perfect end goal … not just a “reasonable facsimile”. Order your copy here.

Looking for even MORE fantastic gluten-free recipes? Beyond Flour now has a sequel: Beyond Flour 2: A Fresh Approach to Gluten-Free Cooking and Baking!

Imagine gluten-free foods that are as good – or better! – than their traditional, gluten-filled counterparts. Imagine no longer settling for foods with bizarre after-tastes, gummy consistency, and/or cardboard texture. Imagine graham crackers that taste just like the real thing. Crisp, flaky crackers…without the sandy texture. Hybrid tortillas that: look and act like flour tortillas, with the taste of fresh roasted corn! Imagine chewy, delicious cookies that *everyone* will want to eat! Imagine BAGELS. If you’ve cooked from “Beyond Flour”, you already know that these fantasies can be reality – it’s all in the development of the recipes. Order your copy here.

Tropical Fruit & Rum Cookies!

Tropical Fruit Rum Cookies Recipe

(Makes 20-24 LARGE cookies)

3 cups mixed dried fruit*
1 cup shredded coconut
1 cup amber rum **
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
2 eggs
Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 lb. cashews, chopped

A day or two before baking the cookies, chop dried fruits into pieces, mix in rum, and cover.

Preheat oven to 325F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper, or coat well with baking spray. Strain dried fruit mixture, leaving it in your sieve to drain while you prepare the rest of the cookie batter.

Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs and zest, continue beating until eggs are fully incorporated and mixture is once again smooth and fluffy.

In a separate bowl, combine flour and baking soda. Add to the butter & sugar mixture, beat gently until well combined. Add strained fruit and cashews to the cookie batter, mix well.

Use a tablespoon, cookie scoop, or small ice cream scoop to drop rounded spoonfuls of the batter onto prepared baking sheets. Bake for 15-20 minutes, until golden brown. Allow to cool on sheets for 5 minutes or so, before gently transferring to baking racks to finish cooling.

Once cookies are cool, keep them stored in airtight containers.

* I used a combination of dried papaya, dried pineapple, some banana chips (I’d smashed them up a bit), and golden raisins.

** I prefer amber rum for this, but it would also work really well with spiced rum or dark rum!

Interested in boozy culinary experiments? You’ll LOVE my first cookbook, The Spirited Baker!

Combining liqueurs with more traditional baking ingredients can yield spectacular results.Try Mango Mojito Upside Down Cake, Candy Apple Flan, Jalapeno Beer Peanut Brittle, Lynchburg Lemonade Cupcakes, Pina Colada Rum Cake, Strawberry Daiquiri Chiffon Pie, and so much more.

To further add to your creative possibilities, the first chapter teaches how to infuse spirits to make both basic and cream liqueurs, as well as home made flavor extracts! This book contains over 160 easy to make recipes, with variation suggestions to help create hundreds more! Order your hard copy here, or digital edition here.

Boozy Raspberry-Peach Bread Pudding

I’ve been really lazy DISTRACTED FROM blogging lately.

Two books off to the publisher this month, one debuting next month, working on a Kickstarter (A gluten free cook book WILL happen!), and then product development for something fun in the new year. WHEW!

Have a recipe 🙂 This one is particularly ridiculous and amazing.. yum!

Boozy Raspberry-Peach Bread Pudding
Makes 8-10 servings

1 Loaf of day old French or Italian bread
1/4 cup butter, melted
2 1/3 cups milk
2/3 cup Peach schnapps
6 eggs, beaten
1 1/2 cups sugar
2-3 fresh peaches, sliced
1 cup fresh raspberries
1/2 cup butter, melted
1 cup sugar
1 Egg
2/3 cup Chambord

Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly grease 9″ x 12″ square baking pan with vegetable shortening or butter.

Rip bread into bite sized pieces (about 6 cups worth). Cover with melted butter and milk, stirring to coat the bread pieces. Allow all of the milk to soak in, then arrange into prepared baking pan.

Combine peach schnapps, beaten eggs and sugar in a mixing bowl. Whisk until fully combined and smooth. Pour over bread, stirring lightly so that all of the bread is covered. Gently stir in peach slices and raspberries. Bake in the preheated oven for 45 minutes, or until set. Edges should be golden, and easily pull away from the side of the pan.

Combine melted butter, sugar, and egg in a small saucepan, whisking until well blended. Whisk constantly, cooking over low heat until mixture thickens – do not allow mixture to come to a simmer. Whisk in Chambord, remove from heat – sauce should be smooth and creamy.

Serve bread pudding hot, with sauce poured over each serving. Best eaten the same day it is made.

Interested in boozy culinary experiments? You’ll LOVE my first cookbook, The Spirited Baker!

Combining liqueurs with more traditional baking ingredients can yield spectacular results.Try Mango Mojito Upside Down Cake, Candy Apple Flan, Jalapeno Beer Peanut Brittle, Lynchburg Lemonade Cupcakes, Pina Colada Rum Cake, Strawberry Daiquiri Chiffon Pie, and so much more.

To further add to your creative possibilities, the first chapter teaches how to infuse spirits to make both basic and cream liqueurs, as well as home made flavor extracts! This book contains over 160 easy to make recipes, with variation suggestions to help create hundreds more! Order your hard copy here, or digital edition here.

Basic Seafood Risotto Recipe

The other day, the awful midwest heat wave finally broke … and I was finally in the mood to cook again. Extreme heat just really does nothing for my desire to be in the kitchen!

My husband looked pretty ecstatic when I offered to make a seafood risotto for supper that night – not only was it the first time I’d cooked in a few days, but it was also the first time I’d made risotto since getting all kinds of risotto’ed out in Training for MasterChef last winter. I’d made so much risotto back then – it was something I hadn’t made before getting accepted for the show – that I was pretty sure I never wanted to make it again.

So, here’s what I whipped up: a great basic seafood risotto. I used what we had on hand, but there is plenty of room to adapt this recipe to your own tastes, or what YOU have on hand. Add some saffron, add some fresh or dried herbs of your choice, or add some clams or mussels… even crab. Yum!

This makes a fair amount of risotto, but it freezes pretty well – Porter loves to bring leftovers to work for lunches.

Enjoy!

Basic Seafood Risotto
Makes about 6 servings

1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 Tbsp butter
4 cloves garlic, pressed or minced
1 lb arborio rice
1 1/2 cups dry white wine
5 cups well seasoned chicken or seafood stock – simmering *
Zest of 1 lemon
Salt & pepper
1 lb raw shrimp, shelled
1 lb bay scallops
3/4 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
1/3 cup chopped fresh parsley

In a large pan, sweat onions in butter until translucent. Add garlic and rice, stir well.

Add half of the wine, stirring until wine is almost completely absorbed by the rice. Repeat.

Add stock, about 1/2 cup at a time, stirring constantly. As rice absorbs one ladle of stock, add another and continue stirring.

Once rice is almost cooked stir in as much of the lemon zest as you want (we like it really lemony, and use all of it), and season with salt and pepper to taste. Add scallops and shrimp along with one final scoop of simmering stock. Stir gently until seafood is cooked through. Remove from heat.

Stir in parmesan cheese and parsley, just until well incorporated and smooth. Serve hot, garnished with more parsley and parmesan.

* For seafood stock, I like to flavor basic chicken broth just before making the risotto. I’ll bring some standard chicken stock up to a simmer, and add shrimp shells, celery, some onion, etc and let it simmer. I like to save little baggies of raw shrimp shells in the freezer for when I need to make some seafood stock.

Interested in Gluten-free cooking and baking? You’ll LOVE Beyond Flour: A Fresh Approach to Gluten-Free Cooking and Baking!

How many times have you come across a gluten-free recipe claiming to be “just as good as the normal version!”, only to wind up with weird textures, aftertastes, etc? Most gluten-free recipes are developed by taking a “normal” recipe, and swapping in a simulated “all purpose” gluten-free flour… whether store bought, or a homemade version. “Beyond Flour” takes a different approach: developing the recipe from scratch. Rather than swapping out the flour for an “all purpose” mix, I use various alternative flours as individual ingredients – skillfully blending flavours, textures, and other properties unique to each flour. Supporting ingredients and different techniques are also utilized to achieve the perfect end goal … not just a “reasonable facsimile”. Order your copy here.

Looking for even MORE fantastic gluten-free recipes? Beyond Flour now has a sequel: Beyond Flour 2: A Fresh Approach to Gluten-Free Cooking and Baking!

Imagine gluten-free foods that are as good – or better! – than their traditional, gluten-filled counterparts. Imagine no longer settling for foods with bizarre after-tastes, gummy consistency, and/or cardboard texture. Imagine graham crackers that taste just like the real thing. Crisp, flaky crackers…without the sandy texture. Hybrid tortillas that: look and act like flour tortillas, with the taste of fresh roasted corn! Imagine chewy, delicious cookies that *everyone* will want to eat! Imagine BAGELS. If you’ve cooked from “Beyond Flour”, you already know that these fantasies can be reality – it’s all in the development of the recipes. Order your copy here.