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Cookies and Kickstarter

13 Mar

I’m embarrassed to see how long it’s been since I’ve posted anything. Last time I posted,  I said something about how I was going to start to (slowly) work on some new cookbooks. I did actually keep that promise,  but then my world turned topsy-turvy.

Not long after I posted,  a family looking for a new location for their business came to look at Desserts Plus and quickly made us an offer on our building. We accepted for many reasons, and starting looking for a new space. We had no idea how long it would take us.

Since moving our of our building 13 (!) months ago,  we’ve had a pop-up store for Passover,  rented a kitchen to cater a few major events and even had a booth at a farmer’s market for part of the simmer.

All along we worked on finding our space,  which we did last summer. Several delays kept construction from starting until early this year (you can see a lot of our updates on our Instagram account).

In fact,  we even have a  kickstarter campaign going to try to get the final push we need to finish our space.

(You can read more about our campaign on our Facebook page, instagram or kickstarter.)

Meanwhile,  while all of that was going on,  I was slowly working on my next cookbook.

Last month I published Pam’s Cookie Collection:

This is smaller than my other books with just 40-something recipes, but I’m proud of this one!  It’s got lots of recipes that I’ve been baking at Desserts Plus over the years, along with lots of others that I created in my home kitchen.

You can get copies here:

Createspace
amazon. com
amazon. ca
And here’s a wonderful write-up by the equally wonderful Norene Gilletz in the CJN.

If you don’t have any of my books but you’ve wanted them,  now is a good time to get them!  For the next week one of the rewards for our kickstarter campaign is a cookbook collection.  You can get one copy of each of my three books – signed if you like! (It’s listed twice – once if you’re able to pick them up at our new café and once if you need them shipped throughout North America.)

I’ll try not to be such a stranger!  Thanks for stopping by and reading.

Get it done. .

26 Aug

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My first cookbook came out in 2004. Since then I’ve written one more (Passover)  plus some new recipes for the second addition of Soup-A Kosher Collection.  But in in addition to the books, I’ve developed lots and lots of recipes for newspapers, magazines, my blog and recipes that haven’t been published anywhere but I use all the time at home or at work (Desserts Plus ).

I’ve been talking about the next cookbook for ages,  but life keeps delaying things.  So the other day I  decided that enough was enough. It’s time to just get it done.  I opened the program where I store most of my recipes and printed them off, organized and categorized them.

It’s going to take time to get even one done, but I have a lot of great recipes to work from for a number of books.

Between working 10+ hours a day,  the holidays fast approaching and trying to sell my condo and hopefully move,  there isn’t a lot of extra time to work on recipes,  but just know that I am.

So many people have asked me when the next book will be available.  I don’t know for sure, but I do know that I’m committing to squeezing out time to test and test and test and get the next one out there. And then the next! 

Simple Side: Corn Pancakes

8 Nov

My mom used to make corn pancakes when I was young. She started a catering business when I was in elementary school and became very busy, very quickly. Fast recipes to make at home were a necessity and the ingredients needed for these corn cakes could be kept in the cupboard so they could be put together very quickly.

I realized I hadn’t had one of her corn pancakes in years (10-15 years, probably) and had a hankering. I set out to make my own version, tweaking it a bit and adding frozen corn. If fresh corn is in season, please use it! But the beauty of this recipe is that if you keep a bag of frozen corn and a can of creamed corn on hand, they are a great side to whip up quickly in the winter when it’s so cold you don’t want to leave the house.

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14 oz.  can creamed corn (about 1 1/2 cups)
1 large egg
1 1/4 tsp. salt
1 Tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1 cup frozen corn kernels

canola oil for frying

Simply mix all of the ingredients in a mixing bowl with a large spoon.

Pour enough oil in the bottom of a large frying pan so you have approximately 1/4-inch of oil. Heat over medium.

When the oil is hot, carefully spoon batter into the oil (depending on the size of your pan,fry 3 to 5 pancakes at one time). Let the pancake cook 2-3 minutes, until the edges start to brown and little bubbles appear on the surface of the pancakes. Gently flip over with a spatula and cook on the second side another couple of minutes, or until golden brown on the second side.

Remove from the pan and drain on paper towel. Continue with the rest of the batter.

 

Other Simple Sides for you:

Apple Pecan Baklava

19 Sep

I love baklava, especially made with pecans (I’m highly allergic to pistachios and not overly fond of walnuts, but you can use either of those or a mixture) and I also love apple strudel made with light, crispy phyllo dough.  I realized that combining the two couldn’t be bad and created this Apple Pecan Baklava.

If you don’t follow the tradition of not eating nuts for Rosh Hashana, this would make a lovely dessert for  the holiday — if you do, then just save this and make it for another occasion.  Enjoy!

                          Apple Pecan Baklava

apple baklava

  • 1      lb.  phyllo dough
  • 1/2  cup  butter or margarine — melted

                        Apple Layer

  • 2     lb.  Granny Smith apples — peeled, cored and diced
  • 2     Tbsp.  honey
  • 1      Tbsp.  cinnamon
  • 1     Tbsp.  flour

                        Nut Layer

  • 4   cups  pecan halves — approx. 3/4 lb.
  • 2   Tbsp.  sugar
  • 2   tsp.  cinnamon

                        Syrup

  • 2/3   cup  honey
  • 2/3   cup  sugar
  • 1 1/4   cups  water
  • lemon zest — from 1 lemon
  • orange zest — from 1 orange
  • 2  Tbsp.  fresh lemon juice
  • 2  Tbsp.  fresh orange juice

Preheat oven to 375ºF.

Apple layer:  Place the apples, honey and cinnamon into a non-stick skillet, stirring over medium heat. Cook for about 10 minutes, or until any liquid has evaporated and the apples have softened.  Remove from the heat and add flour, stirring until it’s mixed in.  Cool.

Nut Layer: Place the pecans, sugar and cinnamon in the food processor.  Pulse until the pecans are coarsely ground.  If you start with ground pecans (3/4 lb.) just mix them with the sugar and cinnamon in a bowl.

Assemble: Melt the margarine/butter and use a pastry brush to coat a  3 qt. or 13x9x2″ baking dish.  Cut the phyllo sheets in half, then lay one sheet on the bottom of the baking dish.  Lightly brush with butter/margarine and repeat with another 5 layers of phyllo.  Sprinkle 1/4 of the nut mixture (about 1 cup) over the phyllo, and layer another 5 sheets of phyllo, continuing to brush each sheet with butter/margarine. Repeat the nut mixture and another 5 sheets of phyllo, then add all of the cooked apples, spreading them out in an even layer.  Top with another 5 sheets of phyllo, 1 cup of nuts, 5 sheets of phyllo, 1 cup of nuts and then top it off with the final 7 sheets of phyllo.

Use a serrated knife to carefully cut the baklava into pieces.  Traditionally, baklava is cut diagonally, so that the pieces form diamonds.  Make sure you cut right through to the bottom.

Place in a preheated oven and bake for 45 minutes or until a dark golden brown.

Syrup:  As the baklava bakes, prepare the syrup.  Place all of the syrup ingredients into a pot over medium-high heat and stir. Once it comes to a boil, reduce the heat to low and simmer for 5 minutes.  Keep the syrup warm (on a very low element) until the baklava has finished baking. Remove the baklava from the oven and carefully pour the syrup through a strainer, over the baklava.  Once the liquid hits the baklava, it may start to boil and splatter, so be very careful.

Let the baklava cool for at least an hour before serving.  Can be made a day ahead.

 

 

Sneak Peek: Tahini Cookies

13 Jan

The cookie cookbook is rolling along and I hope to be done soon, so I thought it was time to share a new recipe — a sneak peek, so to speak.

I love sesame seeds, sesame paste (tahini) and sesame oil — basically any form of sesame works for me, but usually in a savory dish.  When I was brainstorming ideas for the cookie book, tahini made it to the notepad, though I’ve never baked or even tasted a cookie made with it.  I was trying to decide which other flavours I would use with the sesame — maybe cardamom or Chinese five spice? — but  I decided the first thing I should do was try baking a cookie that didn’t introduce more flavours and then go from there.  When I first tasted these, I was so happy with the results that I decided they didn’t need anything else.

If you like sesame, these cookies are for you. They’re deceptively simple to make, but the double dose of flavour from the tahini and the sesame seeds is delicious. They’re light, yet rich — perfect with a cup of tea.

Once baked, these cookies are delicate, so handle with care. They freeze beautifully in an air-tight container. Keep them parve by substituting a good quality non-dairy margarine for the butter.

sesame cookies

6 ounces butter — softened (3/4 cup)
1 cup tahini — well stirred
4 ounces powdered sugar — (1 cup)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
10 ounces flour — (2 cups)
1 cup sesame seeds, for rolling

Preheat your oven to 350ºF.

Cream the butter, tahini and powdered sugar together in a stand mixer until smooth. Add the salt and vanilla and mix through.

Scrape the sides of the bowl down, add the flour and mix on low until it’s thoroughly mixed in and forms a dough.

I use a 1 ounce (2 Tbsp.) scoop to portion the dough, then roll them into balls. Roll the balls in the sesame seeds then place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Gently press the balls down until they are approximately 1/2″ thick. Leave an inch between cookies because they will puff up a little as they bake.

Bake one pan of cookies at a time on the middle rack of the oven for 10 minutes. Turn the pan and bake another 10 minutes or until the bottom and edges have lightly browned.

Makes 24-30 cookies.

Radio Silence and Cookies

16 Dec

Haven’t posted in a while, because I’ve been busy working on recipes for the next book!

Yep, Cookies it is.  These are just a few images of what’s been going on in my home kitchen recently.

Much more to come! And between you and me, this is a really delicious book so far.

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Cranberry Sauce

13 Oct

Cranberry sauce is one of those things that is really, really easy to make, but i think a lot of people forgo making it and opt for opening a can instead.  If you have access to fresh cranberries (or frozen,  depending on the season) don’t question it — make a batch yourself and see how easy and delicious it is.

I always make it with orange or mandarin juice because I like the flavor combo. You can use water if you prefer.  I also like the addition of some ground, dry ginger.  I’ve tried it with fresh ginger, but it was too strong for my taste.  You can omit the ginger altogether, or substitute cinnamon, clove, nutmeg or allspice.  And if you’d like even more of a citrus kick, add some zest,

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Happy Thanksgiving!

  • 3 cups (or one 12 oz. package) fresh cranberries
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup fresh orange or mandarin (or tangerine or . .) juice
  • 1/2 tsp. dry ginger

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Wash and pick through the cranberries.  Add everything to the pot and place over medium-high heat.  Once the liquid comes to a simmer, reduce heat to medium and let cook for 5-7 minutes, or until the cranberries have all popped and the sauce has thickened.  Pour into a dish to cool.  Can be served warm or cover and keep refrigerated for up to one week.

Makes 2 cups.

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Pumpkin Pie

7 Oct

Pumpkin Pie

‘Tis the season and all.  Canadian Thanksgiving is next week — with American Thanksgiving (and Chanukah) coming in late November. Add to that the fact that pumpkins are available everywhere, it’s the perfect time for pumpkin pie.

I love pumpkin pie and my recipe is nothing crazy — just a good, classic pumpkin pie.  I’ve tested the recipe with cream and non-dairy creamer — both are good. You can also substitute soy, almond or coconut milk if you want to keep it parve and prefer one of those options.

I’ve done taste tests with this recipe using fresh pumpkin that I’ve roasted and pureed myself versus canned pumpkin puree. While I can detect a difference and prefer the fresh pumpkin, the results were split right down the middle by my testers.

If you choose to use fresh pumpkin, use a sugar or pie pumpkin – they contain less liquid than the ‘regular’ pumpkins. Cut the pumpkin in half, scrape out all of the seeds and stringy membranes, place cut side down on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and bake in a 375 oven for 45-60 minutes, until the flesh is fork tender. Allow to cool then scoop the flesh out of the skin and puree.

pumpkin pie

1 x 9 inch pie crust

1 1/2 cups pumpkin puree
1 cup brown sugar, packed
pinch salt
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1/2 cup half and half of non dairy creamer, soy, almond or coconut milk

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. After docking, blind-bake a 9″ pie crust (store bought or home-made) for 10 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside until the filling is ready.

Place all of the filling ingredients into the bowl of a food processor and process until all of the ingredients are well incorporated. Or place all of the ingredients in a bowl or large measuring cup and use an immersion blender to puree and combine.  Pour the filling into the par-baked pie crust and return to the oven.

Bake for 45-50 minutes, until the filling no longer jiggles and the top has browned slightly. Cool and serve.

pecan pumpkin pie slices

Pumpkin Pecan Pie

This is a slight variation on the Pumpkin Pie recipe above, exchanging some of the brown sugar for corn syrup and replacing some of the pumpkin with pecans.   I think I might actually like this one more. . shhhh.

pecan pumpkin pie

1 x 9 inch pie crust
1 cup pumpkin puree — fresh roasted or canned
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup dark corn syrup
pinch salt
1/2 cup half and half, non-dairy creamer, soy or almond milk
2 large eggs
2 tablespoons flour
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
3/4 teaspoon allspice
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon cloves
1 cup pecans

Preheat the oven to 375 and blind bake the docked pie crust for 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and prepare the filling.

Place all of the filling ingredients into a food processor except for the pecans (or use an immersion blender in a large measuring cup or mixing bowl). Puree until everything is well incorporated. Pour the filling into the par-baked crust and sprinkle the pecans on top of the filling.

Bake for 40-50 minutes, until the filling has puffed up a bit and has browned.  Remove and cool completely before serving.

Maple Pecan Biscuits

30 Jul

Unless I’m working on a recipe, or baking something for a holiday, I don’t often bake at home.  But sometimes the mood hits and I want the house to fill with the aroma of something delicious baking in the oven. Generally, this means I want a simple recipe , something that’s easy enough to prepare during the week, but special enough to make for Sunday morning brunch or to enjoy with a hot mug of tea.

These Maple Pecan Biscuits are just the thing.  A really easy recipe that doesn’t require any special equipment and only takes a short time to assemble and bake.  These are on the rustic side, so don’t waste time trying to make them look perfect.  The dough shouldn’t look uniform when it’s ready to bake — you should be able to spot little pieces of butter mixed in with the chunks of pecans.  And when they’re done, eat them while hot and crumbly with a little butter and a warm drink to wash it down.

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Maple Pecan Biscuits

  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • 1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 Tbsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 2 Tbsp. brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter, chilled and cubed
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup milk (2%)

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Preheat the oven to 350°. Place the pecans on a baking sheet in a single layer and toast the nuts for 5-7 minutes, or until they are just starting to brown.  Set aside until cool.  Increase the oven temperature to 400°.

1pecanmaple

In a mixing bowl, stir the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and brown sugar together.  Add the butter and use a pastry cutter, forks or your fingertips to work the butter into the dough. You want the work the butter into pea-size or slightly smaller pieces, but not completely incorporated into the flour.
maple pecan 2

In a measuring cup combine the maple syrup and milk and mix.  Pour into the dry ingredients and use a fork to combine.  Use your hands to bring the dough together and then turn it out onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.  Pat the dough into a rectangle that has a uniform 1″ thickness.

maple pecan 3

Cut the rectangle into 8 squares, then cut each square in half, into triangles.  Move the pieces around on the tray so that there’s room between all of them.

Place in the preheated oven and bake for 16-20 minutes, or until golden brown.

maple pecan 4

Serve hot out of the oven on their own or with some butter.  Though they will keep for a couple of days if they’re well wrapped, these really are best when served fresh and still warm.

Granola

17 Jul

I’m going to be honest with you.  I love my homemade granola so much that I think I had it for breakfast every day for about six months (with some Greek yogurt and fresh berries) until I finally got sick of it and (thought I) never wanted to see it again.  Then, after going on a granola fast for a few months, I woke up one day and realized that I really missed it.

Here’s what I love about it: it’s filling and delicious and flexible.  I’m sharing a recipe with you (below), but just take it as a guide. Add or replace nuts, spices, grains or anything else you like.  Just stick with the basics — start with oats, add nuts and or coconut, spices, grains, some fat and a sweetener. You can add dried fruit, but don’t add it at the beginning.  Stir it in for the last 10 minutes of baking.  And make big batches — in a freezer bag or container this stuff can hang out in the freezer for a couple of months.

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Granola

  • 5 cups large flake oats
  • 2 cups shredded unsweetened coconut
  • 2 cups slivered, blanched almonds
  • 2 cups pecans, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 Tbsp. cinnamon
  • 2 tsp. allspice
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 2 tsp. vanilla
  • 1/2 cup corn syrup

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Preheat your oven to 325°.

In a large mixing bowl, use a spoon to mix the oats, coconut, almonds, pecans, salt, cinnamon and allspice.

Add the oil, vanilla and corn syrup and mix until everything is well incorporated.

Spread the mixture out on two baking sheets lined with parchment paper.  Bake for 20 minutes, then stir. Switch the position of the trays around, then bake another 20 minutes and stir. Switch the trays around one more time and bake another 20 minutes or until golden brown (if you’re adding dried fruit, add it after 50 minutes or total baking time — then bake another 10 minutes or until done).

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Let cool completely and package in freezer bags or an air-tight container.  Can stay on your counter for a couple of weeks or in the freezer for a couple of months.

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My favorite way to have this is with some Greek yogurt and lots of fresh, ripe berries.

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