Recipes

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Welsh Griddle Cakes
At some point in every renovation, time grinds to a halt. And for us, that would be last week. Nothing happened. At least not structurally. Over Easter I painted the kitchen  -- first with a soul-crushing, jail cell grey tinted primer and then with a deep garnet red. Outside, the daffodils bloomed, the mourning doves hatched chicks, my patio junk gathered more dust and comments. But inside, except for a splash of colour, things remained unchanged. You see, the contractor was off site doing carpentry work. And then got the flu. And in the midst of all of this structural nothingness, the stove arrived.
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French Bittersweet Chocolate Mousse
It's official. We are the neighbourhood hillbillies. The stove, doormat, counter top, sink and fake plant have been in the back patio for two weeks -- or a fortnight as the British would say. Doesn't "Our unwanted kitchen items have been sitting about for a fortnight," sound more civilized than "we dumped our junk the backyard for a couple of weeks"? Maybe the plaster dust is affecting my brain, but the word "fortnight" conjures images of summer vacations with days spent wandering the beach and nights spent at swishy cocktail parties -- not used appliances and bits of furniture. To counteract the junk-laden karma of our reno, I made a very decadent dessert for Easter. Regan Daley's  In the Sweet Kitchen arrived just in time for the long weekend and I took it as a sign. Since I often browse cookbooks back to front, one of the first recipes I came upon (page 548) was for chocolate mousse. Real chocolate mousse. With hand-whisked egg whites,  top-end chocolate and a vanilla bean. Does this decadent dessert settle the score?
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Mixed Greens with Maple-Glazed Nuts
When it comes to salad. I've let myself go. Sure, I might dress things up with Nectarine and Plum Chicken or make an extra effort with a new dessert like Coconut Cream Pie Ice Cream.  But leafy side dishes? I'm sad to say, the spark has gone. Until recently. I admit, before this week, salad usually meant a bowlful of Mesclun mix and a splash of homemade dressing. Sure it was satisfying. Better than a wedge of iceberg doused in store-brand Thousand Island. But it was safe. Predictable. Dare I say... Boring. I knew that if I kept this up,  Andrew's eye would inevitably stray towards more exciting side dishes. Like that tart of a potato salad all decked out in bacon bits some shameless hussy brought to last year's picnic. And I can't have that. So when Jeanelle Mitchell's For the Love of Salad arrived, I was more than ready to spruce things up a bit. Scared, but ready. But there was no need for fear. Notice how her book title doesn't have a secondary heading? It's not For the Love of Salad: 99 Tempting Ways to Rekindle Your Love Affair with Lettuce. Or For the Love of Salad: Discovering the Saucy Sides of Dinner.
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Honey and Cumin Braised Carrots
Me: How much broccoli should I cook? Andrew: How much Cheez Whiz do we have? Me: How long to you want to remain married? Andrew:  [...] Okay, moving onto safer territory -- carrots. I got the idea for these after dining in a restaurant when the accompanying vegetables outshone the forgettable duck confit. While the poultry disappointed, I was so impressed with the sweet yet savory carrots I had to recreate them at home. I usually find cooked carrots a source of frustration. Plain are boring but when I jazz them up with ginger, certain extended family members complain they're too spicy. But these? They should make everyone happy -- even without Cheez Whiz.
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Chocolate Chip Mousse
Easy Chocolate Chip Mousse - TheMessyBaker.com Late on Sunday afternoon I did the unthinkable. I made chocolate mousse without high-end chocolate. Company was coming.  The oven was occupied with Apple Roasted Chicken. And I had very little time to devote to dessert. So, I opened the baking cupboard and grabbed the first thing I saw -- a bag of semi-sweet chocolate chips. What can you do with chocolate chips, a stove top and half an hour kitchen time? Make mousse. And dang, if it didn't turn out more than a little okay.
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Sparkling Ginger Daisy

Sometimes things fall together so smoothly you just know it's meant to be. Months ago, Diva on a Diet told me about Domaine de Canton Ginger Liqueur. Alas, it is unavailable in Ontario. So when I went to the Roger Smith Food Writer's conference in New...

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Dried Apple Breakfast Bars
Winter in Ontario. It either comes in cloudy grey lined with depressing slush or dazzling blue edged with blinding white snow. But there's a new colour this season. Red.Very fitting for a Canadian-grown fruit. These Red Prince apples are a new variety grown just a couple hours away from me -- in ski country no less. Here the Jonathan meets the Golden Delicious. And this is truly a prince of an apple. You can bake with it, cook with it or just eat it as is. Me? I decided to try something I'd never done before. I dried mine. Pretty, aren't they? The resulting dried apples are at once sweet and tart. A bit like a dried cranberry. Only without the added sugar. The brilliant red skin even makes them look a bit like cranberries. But the tiny blocks shown above are just plain old apples, slowly dried in the oven. They're so tasty I had to stop myself for gobbling them by the handful.
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Healthy Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

EJSGHPK2KBS4 Huh? What is that gobbledy-gook in the previous line? If you thought this was going to be about oatmeal chocolate chip cookies, be patient. Apparently, this cryptic code is the high-tech way one "claims" their blog on Technorati. For some reason it refuses to recognize...

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Swiss Chard with Raisins and Pine Nuts
I fall easily into a vegetable rut. If it weren't for this blog I'd happily get my daily quota of greens from string beans, broccoli and mesclun mix salad. I once ate Basil and Walnut Green Beans every night for a week.  When I stopped I swear, the stock for California walnuts plummeted. But I have promised you a vegetable dish a week in 2010. That's 52 distinct recipes. Since I can't come up with that many variations with only three base ingredients, I am branching into scary territory. Swiss chard. And I'm pleased to report it's not all that scary. I feared it would be slimy or bitter or boring. It was none of these. As luck would have it, a copy of Everday Food: Fresh Flavor Fast by the good people at Martha Stewart Living arrived just in time for me to fulfill my vegetable obligations. Make fun of Martha all you want, but when she decides to do something, she does it well. This book is no exception. No chi-chi recipes for wedding cakes, truffles or finicky hors d'oeuvres that will take the better part of a week to make. Just simple recipes, fresh ingredients and delicious results. Even the photography is clean and simple -- but beautiful. This dish was one of four Winter Vegetable dishes offered on a single page. While all looked enticing, I tackled Swiss chard because I can't say no to the combination of garlic, balsamic vinegar and nuts. Each winter vegetable recipe required six ingredients (or fewer) and nothing more exotic than pine nuts. And it's within an everyday budget. You won't be forced to visit six specialty shops and the bank for a second mortgage. Best of all,  I had the chard plated and ready for the camera in about 15 minutes.
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Savory Cheese Cookies
You will see no pancakes here today. No stacks of blueberry buttermilk griddle cakes dripping with maple syrup. No golden latkes dotted with sour cream or slathered in apple sauce. Not so much as a waffle. Crepes? Forget it. Instead, I'm offering you little disks of fat in the form of  savory cheese cookies. The biscuits above were made by -- I kid you not -- Elizabeth Baird. Herself. Yes, the food editor for Canadian Living, author of more books than I have digits and all-round culinary guru baked these. Let me be clear. This not a case where I baked a batch using her recipe. These very cookies emerged from her oven, mixed by her hands.

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