Recipes

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Recipe: Plum, Chocolate & Frangipane Pie
Had the pears held up I would likely be writing about broccoli or Swiss chard. Health food fans lament; pie lovers rejoice. On Saturday, with guests arriving and the clock ticking loudly in my ears, I tossed my dessert plans into the garbage along with the perfect-on-the-outside, punky-on-the-inside pears. Unable to rest upon the laurels of a well-tested dessert, the pressure was on. With little on hand but plums and leftover ingredients from my recent stone-fruit baking exploits, I tossed components together like Dr. Frankenstein creating a new life from. All that was missing were lightning flashes and ominous organ chords. The crust was the leftover pate sucree dough (which froze beautifully). I sprinkled in a layer of chocolate borrowed from the Pear Chocolate Tart,  slathered on butterless frangipane lifted from the recent Peach, Apricot & Plum Galette and topped it all with a generous coating of sliced plums. Using the only egg left in the fridge I whisked in some cream for a custard to hold it all together.
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Recipe: Caramelized Apple Pancake Syrup
Don't get me wrong, I like pancakes. But sometimes the expression "Flat as a pancake," describes my enthusiasm for this dish. Unadorned, they're pallid, uneven, and large-pored. This describes my skin without make-up. It's not something you should be serving guests before noon. Oh, sure I can drizzle them with maple syrup, but sometimes you need to shake things up a bit. It's apple season and since I put apples in the pancakes, why not put apples on the pancakes as well. The results?  A pan of goopy, butterscotchy fruit that cooked in the time it takes to make a supporting batch of flap jacks. So decadent and sweet, it's enough to make the maple syrup sulk.
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Recipe: Plum Frangipane Tart
Plum Frangipane Tart by The Messy Baker Little Jack Horner's got nothing on me. What's he got? A corner, a thumb and a nursery rhyme no one understands. Me? I've got fresh plums and frangipane. That's right. You heard me. Frangipane. I know. It sounds like a resort cocktail, but it's really just fancy food talk for a filling made with ground almonds. And plums and almonds go together like boozy fruit-based cocktails and tiny paper umbrellas --  or sneaky little boys and pies -- so this was combination seemed obvious. I had pastry left over from the annual Thanksgiving Concord Grape Pie -- enough to make a 6-inch tart. So, I got creative with the plums. Compared to the in-your-face-I'm-a-GRAPE pie, this one is subtle. But subtle's good. Good enough to stick your thumb in.
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Recipe: Roasted Squash and Pear Soup
I missed the last of the season's peaches on Saturday by THIS much. You can't see it but I'm holding my thumb and index finger about 4 inches apart. The universal translation for this gesture is one hour of time for each inch of empty air. I got to the Farmers' Market just after 10:00 AM and the grower told me the last few baskets of peaches went "first thing." Since the only 6 o'clock I'm acquainted with arrives at supper hour, I decided my plans for the peaches were just not meant to be. So I grabbed some pears and plums and shuffled home to fill the peach void with something equally luscious but so different I wouldn't feel cheated. As I walked in the kitchen and slammed the door, the large butternut squash on the counter rolled over like a surrendering puppy. The answer was  soup.
Spicy Quinoa-Stuffed Peppers - The Messy Baker
Recipe: Spicy Quinoa-Stuffed Peppers
  Spicy Quinoa-Stuffed Peppers - TheMessyBaker.com I admit it. I'm lazy and messy. Thee mere thought of  forcing gobs of unruly stuffing into tall, wobbly-bottomed peppers is an open invitation to Murphy. But, I got smart, knocked the suckers on their side and stuffed them full without so much as an "oops." Anyone who's grappled with a towering stuffed pepper will thank me for this culinary cheat. There's no embarrassing spillage in the kitchen. And at the table? Hungry eaters can dig in without drafting a plan of attack that involves advanced physics and an extra limb. Nope. Just grab your knife and fork and dig in. As a bonus, the shallow version cooks faster. Everybody wins. Except Murphy. With fall in full swing and a bounty of big, sweet, inexpensive peppers at hand, I'm sharing my stuffed pepper tips with Kyle Christie (no relation). Tune in to Kitchener's CTV News at Noon if you can. There'll be not-so-deadly nightshades, oh-so sharp implements and the ever-present danger of spillage. And that's before I even reach the studio.
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Recipe: Gluten-Free Ginger Cookies
I kid you not. These ginger cookies are gluten-free and chewy. Truth. I swear to you on my Aunt Hilda's marble rolling pin. Don't believe me? If you live in or near the bustling metropolis of Guelph, ON, pop down to The Bookshelf on Saturday, October 2nd between 11:00 AM and 1:00 PM and try some. Dan The Bookseller is baking up bunches of these gluten-free cookies from GEMS of Gluten-Free Baking for you to sample. While you're nibbling, pick up a complimentary copy of Off The Shelf and read my book review. Like the cookies and concept? Pick up the book itself. Dan's arranged for extra copies on hand. For those who can't take advantage of Dan's baking skills, I'm giving away two copies of GEMS of Gluten-Free Baking by Wendy Turnbull. Two copies. Two ways to enter. Here's how.
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Recipe: Blueberry Peach Yogurt
I'm going to steal President Barack Obama's campaign slogan, "Yes, we can!" Hope he won't mind. It's for a good cause -- yogurt. You see, while I love my homemade yogurt, for almost a year I've been frustrated. The instructions on my electric yogurt maker clearly state, in bold text and ominous wording,  to add nothing to the yogurt but starter. Despite the machine's packaging, which shows little pots of pastel coloured (and presumably fruit-flavoured) yogurt, it was designed to incubate plain yogurt only. Their options for adding flavour involved stirring in sweetened fruit post fermentation, which I already do. So imagine my delight when Pat Crocker's newest book, The Yogurt Bible, arrived complete with recipes for flavoured yogurt. Yogurt full of fruits and spices you add before you fill those little bottles and hit "start." When I read this I wanted to shout to all the frustrated homemade yogurt fans out there, "YES, WE CAN!"
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Recipe: Pear and Chocolate Tart

When you do nothing to your pear tree but leave it be, you can expect trouble. And trouble came to my friend in the form of dozens and dozens and dozens of bug-free, blemishless, picture perfect pears. Her punishment? Driving some over to me. That'll...

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Recipe: Pate Sucree

This is -- or rather was -- Aunt Hilda's pastry board. It's now mine and I'm hoping her tenacity and good baking karma will transfer to me through this well-loved board. Not only was Aunt Hilda a fabulous cook, she never stopped learning. After years...

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Honey Roasted Pears Recipe
I'm telling you up front, this cookbook scared me when it arrived. I haven't the patience to make confit, wouldn't touch foie gras if you paid me and can't even begin to tell you where to get quail eggs. Venison, bison and Cornish hens have never been, and likely will never be, on my grocery list. And quite frankly, I'm a bit afraid of pickled eggplant. But despite all this, Simply In Season: 12 Months of Wine Country Cooking by Tony de Luca is just the kind of cookbook I need. Yesterday, while Stick Figure Charmian was falling off a treadmill, Real Life Charmian was looking for ways to break out of her comfort zone. And the path to culinary inspiration was sitting right on my shelf.

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