Friday, 30 November 2012

Homemade Butter

Making your own butter is easy and if you bake a loaf of beautiful bread what better way to enjoy it than with some fresh homemade butter.  You can add some sea salt or leave it as is. Create some lovely compound butter by adding fresh herbs and lemon zest or add a pat on top of a beautiful steak. 

At holidays most people buy whipping cream for desserts and inevitably buy too much and have lots leftover, this is the perfect way to use whipping cream since you cannot freeze it. I make butter and then you can wrap and freeze the butter if you have too much or make different compound butters which store in the fridge or freezer for ages. It takes a few minutes and you can use any amount of cream you have on hand.

You will need:
  • 500 ml/2 cups whipping cream (any amount will work I have just used an amount for people who need an exact recipe)
  • 1/2 tsp salt -optional

  • a food processor
  • some cheesecloth

Step 1: never throw out whipping cream! take any amount you have and put it in a food processor. I have used 500ml/2 cups because that is what I had.

Step 2: turn on your food processor and let it go. It takes approximately 5-8 minutes. The cream will go through a few stages. First, it will become whipped cream, then it will become curdled and over whipped and finally it will separate solids from liquids. You will hear it change and it will sound all wet and sloshy (that's a technical term!) This is what it will look like. 

Step 3: place the butter in a sieve with a layer of cheesecloth lining it. Gather the cheesecloth and gently squeeze the butter to remove some of the liquid. Squeeze 5-6 times.

From my 2 cups of whipping cream 1 cup is removed from the finished butter. Discard.

Step 4: take your little package of butter and place in fridge for 5-10 minutes.

Step 5: remove from fridge and take some paper towel squeezing again to absorb any excess liquid remaining.

Step 6: add some nice sea salt (mine is grey salt) and fold in and mix with your clean hands until blended. If you want to add herbs or citrus zest do it here. The butter is nice and easy to blend.

put in a small crock to serve or wrap in wax paper and Ziploc bags to freeze for later.

TA DA!!! you made butter. Do it with your kids as an experiment and then slather it on a nice piece of bread and enjoy!

Thursday, 29 November 2012

Layered Vegetable Bake

You can make a lovely layered vegetable bake with your favourite vegetables. I just make sure to cook each layer before assembly. This way the final bake is just to heat and melt the cheese. It's like a vegetable lasagna but, without the noodles. You can also make one to eat and freeze one for a day when you don't feel like cooking. Just heat and serve

You will need:


  • 1 can 796ml/28oz. tomatoes-whole or diced
  • 1 tbsp Italian seasoning spices
  • 1 tsp dry oregano
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 2 cloves garlic crushed
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • optional: a handful of fresh basil leaves
  • 2 cups grated Fontina
  • 1 cup grated Gruyere
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan
  • 1 eggplant
  • 1 cup breadcrumbs
  • 1 tbsp Italian Seasoning spices
  • 1/4 grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup flour 
  • grapeseed/vegetable oil for frying
  • 1/2 onion -chopped fine
  • 10 mushrooms- sliced
  • 2 cups spinach
  • 4 cloves garlic- chopped fine
  • 4 potatoes- boiled and sliced
  • 1 tsp fresh chopped rosemary
  • 2 cloves garlic -chopped fine
  • olive oil
  • salt/pepper

When you have an abundance of vegetables why not make a vegetable bake with layers of different flavours.

Step 1: make the sauce. This is an unbaked sauce quickly made in a blender. Add your canned tomatoes, spices and seasonings, tomato paste, garlic, olive oil and fresh basil. Set aside.

Step 2: put potatoes in cold water and heat on high to boil and cook potatoes.

Step 3: grate cheeses and mix together. Set aside.

Step 4: slice eggplant. Generously sprinkle salt all over eggplant and let sit 10 minutes to draw out any bitterness. Rinse and pat dry on paper towels.

Step 5: create a breading station. In one bowl whisk eggs. In a second bowl add flour and in last add breadcrumbs Italian seasoning and grated Parmesan. Dip eggplant in flour, then egg, than in breadcrumbs to coat.

Step 6: pan fry in a thin layer of  grapeseed or vegetable oil and drain on paper towels. Set aside.

Step 7: in a small pan fry onions for a few minutes to start to brown with salt and pepper. Once they  start to brown add sliced mushrooms and saute until they start to brown. Remove from heat and set aside.

Step 8: in a small pan saute garlic in a bit of olive oil cook for 1 minute then add spinach and cook another 2 minutes until spinach wilts and some water evaporates. Remove from heat and set aside.

layer with sauce on bottom

then egg plant 

a sprinkle of cheese

your spinach

the sliced potatoes and another sprinkle of cheese.

a bit more sauce to keep it moist

Top with cheese and breadcrumbs

Bake in a 375 degree F oven until the top is browned and bubbling. Approx 20-30 minutes.

Enjoy with a glass of wine and a nice cool salad. Now that is getting your vegetables!

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Baked Chicken Tenders

Chicken Strips don't have to be fried to taste fantastic. I have breaded these and baked them. You can then drizzle with a Buffalo Hot Sauce or your favourite Plum or Sweet Chili Sauce. Less mess and better than frying.

You will need:
  • 2 chicken breasts- cut into slices
  • 1/2 cup flour 
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp onion powder
  • 1/4 tsp ground ref pepper flakes
  • 1/2 tsp hot paprika
  • 2 eggs plus 1 tbsp water
  • 1/2 cup regular breadcrumbs
  • 3/4 cup panko breadcrumbs
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 tbsp Italian Seasoning spices
  • 1 tbsp garlic powder
  • Olive oil to drizzle on breaded chicken
  • 1/3 cup Frank's red Hot Sauce
  • 1 tbsp melted butter
  • 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
Or your favourite plum sauce or store bought sweet chili

Step 1: slice chicken into similar sized strips (so they cook evenly in the oven) 

Step 2: create three part breading station. In one bowl add eggs and water and whisk. In second bowl add flour, garlic powder, red pepper flakes, paprika. Stir to combine. In the last bowl add breadcrumbs, olive oil, Italian seasoning and garlic powder. Stir and then place each piece of chicken in the flour mix first, then the egg, then the breadcrumbs. 

Step 3: Place breaded tenders on a piece of parchment paper on a baking sheet. Drizzle the tops with olive oil.

Step 4: bake in 375 degree F oven until golden and crispy. Approx 20 minutes, flip after 10 to get crispy on both sides.

Sunday, 25 November 2012

Panetttone- Sweet Italian Bread

Panettone is a sweet Italian bread originally from Milan and always available in stores at Christmas and New Year. Growing up in Toronto I always remember giant displays of Panettone in big fancy boxes. It is a sweet bread like a brioche with lots of eggs, butter and usually with candied orange and raisins. My version turned out exceptionally well and is filled with butter, eggs, dried blueberries and homemade candied orange and lemon. It is a 2 day process but, it is so worth it! The bread is tall and fluffy and scented with vanilla and orange. It is wonderful served warm with more butter and makes great toast or french toast!

Instead of buying one this year think of how special your family will feel if you make it fresh!

You will need:


  • 1 cup flour -all purpose
  • 2/3 cup warm water
  • 1/2 tsp dry active yeast
  • 4 cups flour -all purpose flour (+ 1/2 cup just before adding fruit pus more for counter)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • 2 1/2 tsp dray active yeast (or 1 package yeast)
  • 3 eggs
  • 6 egg yolks
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1 cup dried blueberries
  • 1/4 cup raisins
  • 1/4 cup brandy
  • 1 cup chopped orange and lemon peel (see recipe link to make candied peel)
  • 4 tbsp honey
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • zest of 1 orange
  • 1 vanilla bean- seeds scraped out 
  • 12 tbsp unsalted butter- chopped into small chunks- room temperature (12 tbsp = 1 1/2 sticks of butter or 3/4 cup)
  • 2 tbsp butter to grease pans 
  • 1/2 cup hazelnuts
  • 1/2 cup icing sugar
  • 2 egg whites
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • course sugar to sprinkle on top (optional)

Step 1: the day before you want to bake your panettone prepare your poolish which helps with the nice high rise of the bread. The long time provides a good ferment time which creates a richer beautiful bread.
 In a small bowl add the flour, the warm water and the yeast. Cover and put in fridge for 10 - 18 hours before using. I make the poolish at night and started the bread the next morning.

Step 2: The morning of baking remove your starter from the fridge, stir and let come to room temperature (1-2 hours) When at room temperature add 1 cup flour and 3/4 cup warm water to your starter to get it foaming and active again. (1 hour) Remove your poolish from fridge and let come to room temperature while your starter gets active. Use 1 cup of starter for this recipe and return the rest of the starter to the fridge. You will be using all of the poolish.

Step 3: In the bowl of a stand mixer with the dough hook add dry ingredients: flour, sugar, salt and yeast.

Step 4: in a large bowl you will put all your wet ingredients. Add your  1 cup of starter and all of the poolish.

Step 5: Add 3 eggs, 6 yolks and milk. Keep 2 egg whites in a small bowl for the glaze and you can freeze the other egg whites for another use. 

Step 6: take the blueberries and soak in 1/4 cup of brandy for 20 minutes, then discard the brandy before using.

Step 7: chop your orange and lemon rind into small dice.Place in a small bowl. Slice the vanilla bean in half (lengthwise) and scrape out the black seeds and into the bowl. Zest lemon and orange. Add honey and olive oil.

Step 8: add the wet ingredients from the large bowl into the dry ingredients in the stand mixer. Start machine on slow and mix on medium speed until incorporated 5 minutes. Turn off machine and leave mixture for 20 minutes to rest.

Step 9: Beat on medium/high for 6-8 minutes until dough starts to pull away from the sides of the bowl. Add butter a few pieces at a time until mixed in. Add candied peel and blueberry mix and 1/2 cup additional flour. Once mixed a few times pour mix out on floured counter to mix by hand to make sure fruit gets mixed in but is not damaged by machine. Once smooth and incorporated place in a buttered bowl (very large)

Step 10: Cover with plastic wrap and put in fridge for 10-18 hours until doubled in size.

Step 11: On a floured counter turn out your dough and form into 2 balls. Generously butter your baking pans. I used 2 tall 7 inch pans that are 3 inches high and worked perfectly. You can buy cardboard moulds or make them and butter them before placing the cuff around your pans to make a tall loaf.

Step 12: in a food processor make glaze. Add hazelnuts and icing sugar and pulse until finely ground. Then add egg whites and olive oil until it creates a thick paste.

Step 13: place half the glaze over each bread and let bread rise for final rise until doubled. This may take 3-4 hours on a warm counter. Sprinkle with course sugar.

Step 14: Bake in 375 degree F oven for 40 minutes until brown and fragrant. Let cool for 5 minutes and then remove from pans, you may need to carefully loosen to remove as some sugar might stick to sides. Place on  a cooling rack for at least 15 minutes. Then slice and enjoy! 

Truly spectacular bread!!