AMARETTI COOKIES . . .

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An Amaretti cookie is a cookie with attitude.    It is an elegant bite of crunchy, chewy wonderfulness,   heady with the perfume of almonds,  perfect with exactly the right amount of sweetness.

Amaretti cookies are definitely not your common, home-baked cookie one encounters in North America.   This Italian confection dates as far back as the 1700s, and is ancestor of the ubiquitous French macaron.   It is a cookie equally at ease with a cup of coffee or tea, or a glass of sparkling Prosecco.

Amaretti cookies  have the same almond base and deliciously chewy texture of a French macaron, but unlike the macaron it is a snap to make.  One simply whips up egg whites, folds in sugar and ground almonds and rolls the morsels in sugar.  There’s very much a Christmas feel about amaretti cookies.    They are so decadently,  deliciously different.

Don’t wait for Christmas to bake these cookies.  This is stoned fruit season, and these cookies are a marriage made in heaven when you serve them with home-made peach ice cream.

 

AMARETTI COOKIES . . .
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: cookie
Cuisine: Italian
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: 24-32
A simple to make cookie with an almond base and a slightly chewy texture. Keeps well stored in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.
Ingredients
  • 3½ cups almond flour (ground almonds available at bulk food stores). Store any unused almond flour in your refrigerator or freezer to ensure freshness.
  • 1¼ cups granulated sugar
  • A sparse ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 3 large egg whites at room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon almond extract (not artificial almond)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • For the coating:
  • 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 3 tablespoons icing sugar(also called powdered sugar, confectioners' sugar, 10X sugar)
Instructions
  1. Position the racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven. Preheat your to 350F.
  2. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
  3. In a medium bowl whisk together the ground almonds, sugar and the whisper of salt.
  4. In the bowl of a stand mixer using the whisk attachment, whisk the egg whites JUST until they hold stiff peaks. It is important you do not over whip the egg whites. They will become dry and impossible to fold into the almond mixture.
  5. Transfer the egg whites to a large, wide shallow bowl and gently fold in half of the almond mixture. Then fold in the remaining almond mixture.
  6. Gently fold in the almond and vanilla extracts. The dough will be like a thickish paste.
  7. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and chill for a good 45 minutes.
  8. Place the granulated sugar and icing sugar on two separate large plates.
  9. Portion the dough and roll into 1-inch balls. A small ice cream scoop works beautifully.
  10. Roll each ball gently, first briefly in the granulated sugar, then generously in the icing sugar, and place on the lined baking sheet about 3 inches apart. The cookies don't really spread but you want them to bake evenly.
  11. Use the back of a spoon to LIGHTLY press down the top of each ball to flatten them every so slightly.
  12. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until lightly golden on the edges. For even baking, rotate the sheets front to back and top to bottom halfway through.
  13. Allow the cookies to cool slightly on the baking sheets before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.
  14. The cookies can be stored in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.

 

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ZUCCHINI AND SWISS CHARD GRATIN

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All through the long and glorious summer the garden  rewarded us with fresh, fresh vegetables.  I  walk from the kitchen across the long stretch of grass and into the garden.  It is another world of vegetables going quietly about their … Continue reading

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ZUCCHINI FRITTERS WITH FETA

I have a magic  zucchini factory in the garden.   One minute beautiful yellow flowers, then POOF elegant slender zucchini.

.  They can be served as an hors d’oeuvre or a starter course.  They don’t need a sauce.  Simply sprinkle some flaky sea salt and crumbled feta cheese on top of these crispy darlings.

Have enough oil in you pan, and the pan at the correct temperature to saute these fritters to a perfect crispness.

 

 

 

 

ZUCCHINI FRITTERS WITH FETA ... (aka KEFTEDES)
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: appetiser
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: 4
Keftedes can be made with tomatoes, chickpeas, ground meat, and zucchini. They can be served as an hors d'oeuvre or a starter course. They don't need a sauce. Sprinkle some salt and crumbled feta on top
Ingredients
  • 2 medium zucchini (about 1 pound)
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 generous tablespoon chopped fresh mint
  • 1½ tbsp chopped fresh dill,
  • ½ cup finely chopped onion
  • 2 generous tbsp chopped flat leaf parsley
  • 2 fat garlic cloves minced
  • ¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper (be generous)
  • 4 ounces (around 1 cup) feta cheese, coarsely chopped or crumbled
  • Grated zest of l lemon
  • l large egg
  • ¼ cup (or more if required) all-purpose flour
  • Canola oil, for pan-frying
  • ½ cup Greek yogurt (if desired for garnish)
  • Fine sea salt, for finishing
Instructions
  1. Grate the zucchini on the large holes of a grater onto a clean kitchen towel. Sprinkle with the kosher salt and let it rest while you gather and prep the remaining ingredients.
  2. Wrap the zucchini in the towel and wring as much liquid out of it as possible, discarding the liquid.
  3. In a large bowl, combine the zucchini, mint, parsley, dill, onion, garlic, pepper, feta, and all but l teaspoon of the lemon zest.
  4. Stir in the egg and flour and mix until well combined. If your mixture seems to have a little too much liquid add additional flour.
  5. Put the canola oil into a large shallow pan; you want about ¼ inch or enough so that when all the fritters are in the pan, the oil comes halfway up their sides. Place the pan over medium-high heat.
  6. Form fritters by hand or using a ¼ cup measure, and fry them in the hot oil in batches. Cook until the fritters are golden brown on each side, 4 to 6 minutes in total. Drain on paper towels.
  7. Trans the fritters to a plate and garnish with a dollop of
  8. Green yogurt and a sprinkling of dill, the reserved lemon zest, and some sea salt.

 

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DECADENT DATE SQUARES … aka MATRIMONIAL SQUARES

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I will never forget the first time I tasted date squares.  I was still in public school.    My best friend’s Mom was an excellent cook and baker.   One day after-school she served us a treat that  had me over the moon.  A sweet square that looked a little crumbly around the edges .  One bite and I was swooning over a rich, buttery, caramel enhanced oat crumb with an intensely exotic filling of dark, sweet dates.  She called these magical morsels matrimonial squares.   Even the name was wonderful.  Matrimonial squares.  Were these a special creation for weddings?  Or did they bring about marriage?

Date squares (matrimonial squares) were my first introduction to baking squares.  None of my cookbooks had a section for “squares”.    My cookbooks were published in the thirties and early forties and were all that was available.    I had started baking around l945.  I asked for the recipe and these many years later I  am still baking Mrs. Rybka’s Matrimonial Squares.

 

DATE SQUARES ... aka MATRIMONIAL SQUARES
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: squares
Cuisine: Canadian
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: 36
An old fashioned but wonderfully decadent squares. It's deliciously healthy with a intense date filling and buttery oatmeal base and topping. An easy, fool proof treat.
Ingredients
  • 2½ generous cups pitted dates
  • 1 cup water
  • 3 tbsp. lemon juice
  • ½ tsp. baking soda
  • 1½ cups large-flakes rolled oats (not quick cooking)
  • ¾ cup all-purpose flour
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • ½ tsp fine sea salt
  • ¼ tsp baking powder
  • ¾ cup unsalted butter cut into small chunks - room temperature.
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to350F. Grease an 8 inch square baking pan with butter and line with parchment paper.
  2. Combine the dates (there is no need to chop them up, water, brown sugar and lemon juice in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium and stir in the baking soda. Continue to cook stirring occasionally until the dates are soft and lose their shape (about 5 min.).
  3. Remove from heat and allow the filling to cool completely.
  4. To make the crumble topping whisk together the oats, flour, salt and baking powder until combined.
  5. Add the butter and mix in with your hands until it forms a crumble.
  6. Divide the crumble in half and firmly press into the bottom of the baking pan using the flat base of a measuring cup.
  7. Gently spread the cooled date mixture over this base then sprinkle with the remaining crumble topping, pressing lightly.
  8. Bake for 50-60 minutes or until the topping is a light golden colour. For even baking rotate the pan from front to back halfway through.
  9. Allow to cool completely in the pan on a wire rack before removing from the pan and cutting into squares.
  10. The squares can be stored in an airtight container for about two 2 weeks.
  11. CHEF'S NOTE: For a delicious and different alternative you an use equal amount of prunes in place of the dates.

 

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CHICKEN LIVER PATE WITH FRESH HERBS

IMG_3331You know when Edith Piaf is singing in your kitchen something wonderful will be cooking on the stove.  But first you must wander  into the garden and snip a basket of fresh herbs … some sage, a little marjoram and a few branches of thyme.  These fragrant herbs are the stars of this chicken liver pate that is dead simple to whip up,  costs next to nothing and is very, very French.

HERBED CHICKEN LIVER PATE is best served a day or two after you’ve made it.  You can also freeze half the recipe, which makes it just about the most perfect “appy” to have on hand.

This recipe has you simmering the chicken liver in melted butter just until it turns pink. Then everything is turned out into a food processor and puréed until silky smooth.  It really is easy as one-two-three.   Serve is with lots of crusty bread or crackers.

CHICKEN LIVER PATE WITH FRESH HERBS
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: Appetiser
Cuisine: French
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: 8-10
A buttery rich, silk smooth chicken liver pate seasoned with fresh garden herbs. It's super easy to make and costs next to nothing.
Ingredients
  • ¾ cup (6 oz) unsalted butter
  • 1 cup finely chopped onion
  • 1 tb finely chopped garlic (l large garlic clove)
  • 1 lb chicken livers - trimmed
  • 1 generous tsp minced fresh thyme (or ¼ tsp dried)
  • 1 generous tsp minced fresh marjoram (or ¼ tsp dried)
  • 1 generous tsp minced fresh sage (or ¼ tsp dried)
  • ½ tsp ground allspice
  • ½ tsp freshly grated nutmeg (do not use dried)
  • a couple of pinches of powdered cloves
  • a couple of pinches of cayenne pepper,
  • ¾ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp freshly ground pepper (or more to taste)
  • 4 tbsp brandy, sherry, port
Instructions
  1. Melt ½ cup (4 oz) butter in a large skillet over moderate heat.-
  2. Add the onion, garlic and ¾ tsp salt stirring until softened - about 5 to 7 minutes.
  3. Add the herbs, pepper, seasonings and livers and cook stirring until livers are cooked outside but still pink when cut open - about 8 minutes. It is important you do not over- cook the livers. I like to see them still pink around the edges. You are basically poaching the chicken livers in butter.
  4. Stir in the brandy, sherry or port and remove from heat.
  5. Puree mixture in food processor until smooth.
  6. Taste the pate for seasonings and add more brandy, salt and or pepper at this time.
  7. Transfer the pate to two 1 cup crocks or 4 small ramekins and smooth tops.
  8. Melt the remaining ¼ cup (2 oz) butter in a very small saucepan over low heat, then remove pan from and heat and let butter stand 3 minutes. If you are using the small ramekins you may need a little more butter.
  9. If using herb garnish put sprig on top of pate.
  10. Skim froth from butter, then spoon enough clarified butter over pate to cover its surface, leaving milky solid in bottom of pan.
  11. Chill pate until butter is firm, about 30 minutes then cover with plastic wrap and chill at least for 2 hours. Pate will keep well in refrigerator for one week. Once butter seal has been broken cover its surface with plastic wrap.
  12. To freeze double wrap with plastic wrap. To use defrost in refrigerator for 4 -5 hours.
  13. T

 

 

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Posted in Appetizers and Starters, Baking, Breads, Chicken, Christmas Food Ideas, Fish and Seafood, Recipes | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

PORK RIBS ASIAN STYLE

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More than forty  years ago ROXY’S BISTRO served French cuisine with a decided Asian flavour.  Today they call it fusion.  We called it “Andy’ style”.   WHERE TO EAT IN CANADA listed ROXY’S BISTRO in the one hundred best restaurant … Continue reading

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ORANGE CHOCOLATE GLAZED COTTAGE CAKE

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Bundt cakes generally have a dense crumb the better to hold the exotic turban shape of the bundt pan.  This is also the reason that bundt cake pans have a centre hole.  It allows the cake to bake more evenly.  If you haven’t a bundt cake pan an angel food cake pan will do the job.

To show off the bundt cakes beguiling curves we serve the cake up-side-down.  If the cake cooks too quickly or the oven is too hot the cake will develop a decided hump on the top crust.   You’ll have to slice this off but it does make nice nibbling for the cook.  Baking this cake ( or practically any other cake) at a 325F temperature instead of the suggested 350F generally eliminates this problem.  Start checking your cake after 35 minutes to see if your tester comes out dry.  Be prepared to bake your cake (depending on the size) for up to an hour or more.    When you start smelling the delicious aroma of  cake you know your it is just about ready to  come out of the oven.  The cake should have shrunk ever so slightly away from the edges of the pan.

 

 

ORANGE CHOCOLATE GLAZED COTTAGE CAKE
4.0 from 1 reviews
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: easy to make bundt cake
Cuisine: baking
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: 12-14
Two pans and basic pantry ingredients make this a simple to make cake. The crumb is fragrant and dense and the ganache glaze compliments the fresh orange flavour,
Ingredients
  • for the pan
  • 1 tbsp soft unsalted butter
  • 1½ tsp all-purpose flour
  • for the batter
  • 1½ cups granulated sugar
  • 2 tbsp orange zest
  • 2½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp kosher sea salt
  • 4 eggs at room temperature
  • ⅔ cup canola oil
  • ⅔ cup strained orange juice (2 oranges) at room temperature
  • ⅓ cup buttermilk
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • for the glaze
  • ⅔ cup finely chopped bittersweet, semi-sweet or dark chocolate
  • ⅓ cup whipping cream (35% cream)
  • 2 tsp honey or light corn syrup
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 325F. Arrange rack in center of oven.
  2. Brush the inside of a 10-cup Bundt pan, two 5-cup double Bundt pans, or a large tube pan with the mixture of blended butter and flour.
  3. In a large bowl rub and sugar and orange zest with hands to release the natural oil.
  4. Whisk in the flour, baking powder and salt.
  5. In a second large bowl whisk eggs then add the oil, orange juice, buttermilk and vanilla and whisk again to combine.
  6. Pour the egg mixture into the flour mixture and stir JUST until combined.
  7. Pour into prepared pan (pans)
  8. Bake until a tester inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean, 45 to 60 minutes.
  9. If you are using the double Bundt pans your cooking time will be shorter. Start checking at 35 minutes. The large pans will take longer.
  10. Cool the cake in the pan on a rack for twenty minutes, then turn out and cool another forty minutes.
  11. to make the glaze
  12. Place the chopped chocolate into a small bowl.
  13. Heat cream in a small saucepan over medium-high heat until bubbles start to form. Watch carefully.
  14. Pour over the chocolate and let stand one minute. Stir until smooth.
  15. Stir in the honey or corn syrup then drizzle generously immediately over cake.

 

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CRUNCHY SPICED CHICKPEAS

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This is a Mediterranean version of Japanese wasabi peas.  Perfect for serving with cocktails.   They are salty, spicy, lemony and loaded with fresh herbs.    My herb garden is lush with these aromatic herbs, a perfect time to make … Continue reading

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FLEUR DE SEL DOUBLE CHOCOLATE COOKIES

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This is a cookie recipe that goes together rather quickly.  It is very important that your butter is quite soft and that you whip the butter and sugar until it is very well combined and light and fluffy.

Choose a good quality semi-sweet chocolate.  I use Callebaut chocolate.  If you prefer you can  substitute a generous cup of chocolate chips.

When adding the flour be careful not to over mix. Just until it is combined.  When adding the chopped chocolate (or the chips) again mix just  until combined.

You don’t have to chill this dough as it scoops and bakes best at room temperature.    Avoid adding too much fleur de sel.  Hold you hand about a foot above the baked cookies and allow the salt to fall evenly.

FLEUR DE SEL DOUBLE CHOCOLATE COOKIES
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: cookie
Cuisine: dessert cookies
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: 48
A rich short-bread like cookie using both cocoa powder and coarsely chopped semi-sweet chocolate. After baking coarse sea salt is sprinkled on the cookies. This recipe does not contain eggs.
Ingredients
  • 1¾ cups all-purpose flour
  • ⅓ cup cocoa powder sifted
  • ¾ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 cup (8 0z) unsalted butter ROOM TEMPERATURE
  • ¾ cup loosely packed brown sugar
  • ⅓ cup granulated sugar
  • 4 ounces semi-sweet chocolate coarsely chopped (or substitute 1 generous cup chocolate chips)
  • 1 tablespoon coarse sea salt or fleur de sel for garnish
Instructions
  1. Center oven rack and preheat the oven to 350F.
  2. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
  3. Whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl.
  4. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, c ream the butter and the sugars on medium speed until light and fluffy, about three to five minutes.
  5. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the flour mixture to the well creamed butter mixture, mixing until just combined.DO NOT OVER MIX.
  6. Add the chopped chocolate (or chocolate chips) and mix just until incorporated, scraping down the sides of the bowl at least once.
  7. Roll the cookie dough into one-inch balls using your hands using an ice-cream scoop to portion the dough.
  8. Arrange 24 balls on each lined baking sheet, leaving ample space between them. GENTLY press the balls with the bottom of a cup until they are approximately ½-inch thick. Do not flatten these cookies too much.
  9. Bake for 12 to 14 minutes or until the cookies are firm to the touch. For even baking rotate the sheets from front to back halfway through.
  10. Remove the cookies from the oven and IMMEDIATELY sprinkle each cookie with a pinch of coarse sea salt or fleur de sel.
  11. Allow the cookies to cool slightly on the baking sheets before transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely,.
  12. The cookies can be stored in an airtight container for up to two weeks.

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FRENCH LEMON TART

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This traditional dough recipe for French tart is not difficult to make.  You must use a stand-mixer.  A hand-held mixer is not heavy enough to mix the dough.  The buttery dough makes a  delicate,crisp cookie-like crust.   The recipe makes enough … Continue reading

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