Guest Post : Barley Risotto with Porcini Mushrooms

Extra special guest post today – not only is it our first celebrity guest post.. but the guest poster is one of my favorite foodie tweeps.

We bonded over our mutual affection for a fictional character – Jean Valjean – and our excitement over an upcoming movie featuring Hugh Jackman (yum) playing him. We’ve since found out that we have the same knives. Small world! I digress.. Mairlyn Smith is pretty awesome.

She’s also hilarious – the only professional home economist who’s also an alumnus of the Second City Comedy Troupe. As a cookbook author, and is well known for her warm personality and the wit she brings to her many TV appearances in Canada. Also? She’s adorable!

Mairlyn’s email signature – “Peace, Love, and Fibre” – hints at her culinary passion: healthy eating. Her latest cookbook, “Healthy Eating Starts Here!” is a masterpiece. Huge, beautifully photographed book featuring 140 recipes that are not only healthy, but delicious and accessible.

Today’s blog post marks another first – the first time in my life that I’ve ever followed a recipe to the letter! No adding/subtracting ingredients, or otherwise screwing with it! I’m not sure if I should be proud of that newfound ability, or mourn the loss of the claim.

Let’s go with “proud”. The recipe – from “Healthy Starts Here!” – was fabulous, and didn’t need to be messed with at all. By the time I had the ingredients simmering, my husband was circling the kitchen like an impatient shark, repeatedly declaring how awesome it all smelled, and how hungry he was. The final product did NOT disappoint! Tons of flavor, great texture, and very satisfying!

Anyway, enough of my swooning, let me turn this all over to Mairlyn! (more…)

Clodhoppers Recipe: Cheap, Quick, Easy, ADDICTIVE Candy!

Here’s another one of those recipes that is so minimalist in both ingredients and preparation, I’m a little embarrassed to post it. Much like my Honey Dill Dipping Sauce Recipe, it may be simple and easy, but it’s a hometown memory for me.

I always enjoy exposing people to “new” ideas – even if only new to them!

Clodhoppers are a very well known candy back home in Canada. One Winnipegger wanted to market his grandmother’s candy, got together with a childhood friend of his, and got to work. Within a few years, the candy was selling all over Canada.

The candy is apparently no longer made in Winnipeg, having been sold to a company on the West Coast – and I’ve since become allergic to gluten, rendering these treats toxic to me – but I’ll never forget em. Super, super addictive stuff.

Was thinking of them, the other day. I’ve never seen them here in the USA, so I decided to create a homemade version for my husband. The proportions turned out beautifully!

Clodhoppers have only 3 simple ingredients – white chocolate, cashews, and graham crackers – and they whip up in no time. Have bowls of this out at holiday parties, or package them up for a hostess gift, stocking stuffer, or “Thank you” that your friends and family will love!

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!

Honey Dill Dipping Sauce Recipe

Honey dill sauce is one of those things that I think of as being ubiquitous… and then end up disappointed when it’s not. When you grow up with something THAT popular, it’s weird when you move somewhere that’s never even heard of it.

So, let me introduce you to honey dill sauce. This is VERY much a Winnipeg thing, and “popular” doesn’t even begin to describe it. If you order chicken fingers anywhere in Winnipeg, there IS honey dill sauce. Actually, not even “there IS”, more like “There MUST BE”. Major chain restaurants, little diners, festival food trucks, school cafeterias… it’s just what you do. Kids love it, adults love it… and after putting together this post, I’m gonna NEED to make some for supper tonight!

I once saw a list of “You know you’re from Winnipeg WHEN”, and one of the statements was “You dip everything in Honey Dill sauce”. Well, while I wouldn’t go so far as to say “everything”, it really is a versatile condiment. The most popular use, as I mentioned, is for chicken fingers. It’s also great on roasted potato chunks, steamed carrots, salmon, egg rolls, perogies, for crudite plates … and as a french fry dip! (more…)

Going Ananas – French Martini Upside Down Cake Recipe!

They say that inspiration can come from anywhere, and this recipe is a great example of that.

A few days ago on Twitter, Jann Arden made a fairly innocuous – and accurate – statement. A few people jumped on her, she retweeted my snarky response about the whole thing (!!!), and I made a handful of new friends.

One of those new friends, Christin Jerome tweeted something a little bizarre, which ended up being a case of autocorrect taking over. I joked with her that I’d seen she was from Montreal, and had written it off as being a result of that. One of the comediennes in either This Hour Has 22 minutes or Royal Canadian Air Farce – I’m assuming it was Mary Walsh – once quipped about Francophone culture being completely incomprehensible to the rest of Canada, and.. she wasn’t far off! We laughed, and ended up discussing bizarre Francophone children’s programming… and talking pineapples.

Have you heard of “TeleFrancais”? It’s, um… wildly fascinating, if you’re in the right mindset:

– Talking pineapples.
– Dancing skeletons.
– A stoned (?) pilot.

We agreed that it would probably be hilarious to watch after a few drinks… and the idea to make a cake based on this conversation was born.

I call it “Going Ananas*” in honor of the trippy talking pineapple. but this is more formally a French Martini Upside Down Cake. When I think “French” and “Pineapple” together, I immediately think “French Martini” – one of my favorite cocktails ever. I am a HUGE fan of Chambord (Black Raspberry) liqueur, afterall!

Interested in making wickedly delcious cakes? You’ll LOVE my second cookbook, Evil Cake Overlord! We’ve long been known for our “ridiculously delicious” moist cakes and tasty, unique flavors. Now, you can have recipes for all of the amazing flavors on our former custom cake menu, and many more! Bake your moist work of gastronomic art, then fill and frost your cake with any number of tasty possibilities. Milk chocolate cardamom pear, mango mojito.. even our famous Chai cake – the flavor that got us into “Every Day with Rachel Ray” magazine!

Feeling creative? Use our easy to follow recipe to make our yummy fondant. Forget everything you’ve heard about fondant – ours is made from marshmallows and powdered sugar, and is essentially candy – you can even flavor it! Order your copy here.

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.

Wherein our Heroine Waxes Poetic on Canadian Living

Back in December, my husband and I took an 8 hour drive to my hometown of Winnipeg. It’s a trip we’ve made a good number of times since I moved to Minnesota for him, but this time was different.

All the previous times, we had driven up to visit my grandmother. She had still lived in the house she’d lived in my entire life. It was the house that I’d pretty much grown up in, having been raised by my grandparents for most of my childhood. My room had remained largely unchanged, along with the neighbourhood in general. It was nice to have that sense of familiarity to go back to, especially with living in a foreign country. (more…)

Butter Tarts

As I’d mentioned back in my Poutine recipe post, my coming out of the closet as an immigrant has had quite the positive effect on this blog. You now have my poutine recipe, a crazy original recipe for Pumpkin Spice Nanaimo Bars, as well as my original (was stil closeted at the time!) recipe post for Mocha Nanaimo Bars.

Well, today I’d like to introduce you to another delicacy from my homeland – Butter Tarts!

Yep, these are the goodies mentioned in Len’s “Steal my Sunshine” (in the radio version, anyway, not this video!). They’ve been around forever, and you can get them anywhere in Canada… Tim Horton’s.. gas stations.. even boxes of factory made ones, sort like Little Debbie stuff.

Because they’ve been around forever, there are about a million versions of it. Some use brown sugar, some use white… most use corn syrup, I use maple… you get the idea.

butter tarts recipe

Maple Butter Tarts

Pre made tart shells, pie crust, or 1 batch pastry crust (recipe follows)

1/2 – 1 cup raisins
1/3 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup light brown sugar, packed
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
2 large eggs, whisked

Preheat oven to 375 F (190 C)

Prepare tart shells recipe, if using. If using pre made pie crust, roll cut out and prepare tart shells per directions in the tart shells recipe below.

Divide raisins among tart shells – I personally like to have a fair amount of raisins in my buttertarts, so I use 1 cup. (1/2 cup is probably closer to average!). Set aside.

Combine butter, brown sugar, and maple syrup in a medium saucepan. Beat until smooth. Add in eggs, beat once more until well combined.

Heat mixture on medium, stirring constantly. Bring mixture JUST to a boil, remove from heat. Carefully pour mixture into prepared tart shells.

Bake for 15-20 minutes, until filling has set and the pastry is lightly browned. Remove from oven and allow to cool. These are usually served at room temperature, but some prefer them chilled! Makes about 12 tarts.

Pastry Crust (Pate Brisee)

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 Tbsp white sugar
1/2 cup unsalted butter, chilled
1/8 to 1/4 cup ice water

Combine flour, salt, and sugar in a food processor. Chop chilled butter into small cubes, add to flour mixture, and process 15-20 seconds, until it resembles fine gravel.

While running processor, stream 1/8 cup of ice water into the flour mixture, just until dough holds together when pinched. If necessary, add more water.

Dump dough out onto a work surface, gather into a disk shape. Wrap with plastic wrap, chill for 1 hour.

Lightly flour your work surface, roll chilled dough out pretty thin – 1/8″ to 1/4″, depending on your tastes – some prefer a thinner shell, some thicker. Cut 4″ rounds from the pastry – you’re aiming for 12.

Carefully transfer the pastry rounds to a muffin pan. I like to flatten the bottom against the tin, and work out from there, flattening the whole round to be flush with the muffin pan cavity – it holds the most filling! Feel free to get decorative about it – flattening the bottom of the dough against the muffin pan, gently ruffling the edges… it’s up to you! Chill the pan of prepared tart shells until ready to use.

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!