Recipes

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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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How to Roast Vegetables
[caption id="attachment_2470" align="alignnone" width="640"]A Trio of Roasted Vegetables - The Messy Baker Sweet Potatoes roasted with rosemary[/caption] I got a bit carried away. I was experimenting with roasted vegetables for today's CTV appearance and ended up making five variations. I just couldn't make up my mind which version I liked best, so I made them all. Well, almost all. Having recently posted about Herb-Roasted Potatoes I felt I could skip this one and try some less obvious options. While I know that steaming is the most healthy option, I think of it as more of a summer technique. Light, bright vegetables suit the sunny weather. But during the dull, grey days of winter? I require more depth of flavour, more variation. And roasted vegetables are the ultimate free-style side dish. Not only does roasting caramelize the natural sugars and make the dish delightfully sweet, the options are almost limitless. You can roast almost any vegetable, combine them in any way you like and season them as the mood fits. Just follow the basic steps and you can't really go wrong. To properly roast vegetables you need a:
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Black Forest Chocolate Cookies
Sneaking in under the wire. It's still Groundhog Day. And all I can think of is Bill Murray sitting in a Punxsatawney diner, stuffing his face full of donuts with impunity. According to the groundhog, we have six more weeks of winter coming, which makes me want to stuff my face with donuts, too. Only I know that if I do, I won't start the next day as if nothing happened. Impunity for gluttonous digressions is not part of my Groundhog Day reality. Wanting something decadent, but reasonably healthy, I decided to make some chocolate cookies. Looking in my cupboards I found what I needed. Cocoa is always low-fat, dried cherries are full of antioxidants and nuts are good for you. Add a glass of milk and it's practically a whole meal.
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Vegetable Tagine
In the comment section recently, Leslie asked about eggplant. She's tired of it drowned in tomato sauce or swimming in oil.  Joe Girard of Rouxbe Online Cooking School provided some great answers, but even his professional advice didn't get me off the hook. I'd promised Leslie I'd look into other ways of cooking it, and a promise is a promise. During my research I came across a tomato-less, non-oily recipe that included eggplant. Best part? I didn't need to salt the eggplant and leave it for a half hour to draw out the bitter juices. Now Leslie, I know this doesn't exactly fit your request for eggplant "in a more natural state", but the weather's been so cloudy and miserable lately, I couldn't resist this warm, sweet Moroccan dish. You can almost taste the sunshine...
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Slow-Cooked Beef with Red Wine
I sat beside Ricardo, Canada's most popular culinary celebrity, at the Canadian Culinary Book Awards a few months ago. He's got his own Food Network show, Ricardo and Friends, three cookbooks and a self-titled magazine -- all in two languages. When he was seated beside me I was simultaneously thrilled and panicky. What would I say to him after hello? Turns out I needn't have worried. He sat down, rubbed his palms on his impeccably tailored suit, looked at me and said, "I'm so nervous." Throughout the  2 1/2 hour award show, Ricardo proved to be just as charming as his television persona. When Elizabeth Baird took the podium, he leaned over and said, "I love her. I just her. She was so good to me." When I didn't understand one of the nominated French cookbook titles, he translated. And when his book, Ricardo: parce qu’on a tous de la visite: cuisiner en toutes circonstance, won gold for best French language cookbook, he was genuinely thrilled. After all, this collection of recipes wasn't thrown together in a rush to appease adoring fans. It took 3 years to compile the seasonal photographs. Fortunately, they made an English version of the book, Ricardo: Meals for Every Occasion. I love that he addresses the fears of hosting without talking down to hear readers or offering Martha-esque presentation advice. Instead, his chapters revolve around soothing the "feeling of dread brought on by the sound of the door bell." This guy admits what every host politely denies -- "Having people over for dinner is tough. You dirty tons of dishes -- mostly the nice, fragile stuff that doesn't go in the dishwasher. You get stains on your best white tablecloth. You discover a pile of potato chip crumbs under the sofa cushions." Does he resent the imposition? Not at all. He embraces it.  As he says, "After all. We love 'em to pieces." You don't need to have company to enjoy his delicious, not-too-challenging recipes. Ricardo covers soups, salads, mains, desserts, drinks, snacks and breakfast., but delivers them in chapters entitled:
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Vanilla Cupcakes
Why the pretty cakes? I'm celebrating.  I finally hit Murphy where he lives. Thinks he can break my oven on Christmas morning and get away with it? No way. Sure, he wagged a $300 repair bill under my nose and then pulled it and the rug out from under me by making the parts obsolete. I admit, I was shaken at the prospect of months of nothing but stove top dinners and crockpot suppers. But I looked Murphy straight in the eye and said, "Bring it on!" How did I do this? With a little help from cyber-pal and fellow food blogger, Cheryl Arkison of Backseat Gourmet. When I served up Spicy Green Beans, lamenting my fate, Cheryl was the voice of reason and suggested I find a used one on Kijiji. Ki-what-what? It might be a nonsensical name, but the site delivered! In less than four hours, the replacement was sitting in my mudroom. Within four days it was installed. And all this happened for less than the estimated cost of repairs. Take that Murphy! I was so happy I emailed Cheryl with my thanks. Her response? "In a long convoluted way you have the Okanagan Food and Wine Writers Workshop to thank for your new stove." Okay. Thank you Okanagan Food and Wine Writers Workshop. And thank you Cheryl. Dying to know the back story, pop on over to her blog and find out why Kijiji Rocks!. In the meantime, here's my gratitude expressed in cupcakes.

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