here and there

Monday, September 30, 2013

Penguin Birthday Cake

As a young Mom, I use to make birthday cakes without using a form cake pan. My thought being, when would you use the form pan again!  I had great fun drawing out the form on paper and then figuring out the types of pans needed for the shape.  Sesame Street characters like Grover and Oscar the Grouch were easy enough and these I made for the school.  Few kids were allergy to all the food items they are now, so there were little restrictions. Although using the liquid dyes to tint the buttercream icing were not the best to get the deep colors required for Oscar or Grover.  I remember picking up my son and seeing a few blue or green tinted mouths.  

My grandchild loves Penguin, pictures from the net was the inspiration for this penguin cake. Before beginning you may want to be sure you have Black Food coloring as it is difficult to find and difficult to make from any food. 

Remember to freeze your cake for easier icing!

What did we do before Mr Google!
 Mixing Brown and Blue do not make Black 

Actually had to run out and find Black to get the black color for the Penguin.

Penguin was the theme!

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Beet Rolls, a sign of summer

The theme for this month's challenge for the Canadian Food Experience Project is cherished recipes.  My son who always has had an interest in cooking attributes this to his grandmother and James Barber. James Barber was a frequent guest on CBC's Morning side Radio Show hosted by Peter Gzowski.

My son's memories of his grandmother are most memorable. A kitchen with a dessert or a pie on the counter and a pot of soup on the kitchen stove. In the late summer, jars of perserves of jellies and pickles were lined up on the counter on a tea towel.   The kitchen was the heart of her home, full of love and laugher with people always dropping in to see her. His cherished recipe is my Mom's recipe for Beet Rolls. 

To him the serving of these rich creamy goodness was a sign of summer and a garden full of vegetables for picking.  The combination of cream and dill to him was most delicious and addicting as the sauce was soaked up in the beet rolls. 

Beet Rolls

As a kid growing up, I always thought this was something my mother had invented out of necessity as nothing was every wasted.   I was surprised to find that others did the same recipe.  My Mom baked bread frequently and since she had a big garden, the two ingredients necessary for this recipe were always present.

The secret to this recipe is the sauce which is heavy cream and chopped onions that is brought to a boil and then the temperature quickly reduced and simmered until the onions are cooked.  The beet rolls are added along with fresh dill and heated until warm.

Yes, this is a very rich dish that oozes with flavor and the first the sign of summer!

Chicken Pot Pie with a modern twist.

The theme for this month's challenge for the Canadian Food Experience Project is cherished recipes. 

Having just returned from Nova Scotia, I thought of my Mother In Law Mary when I saw a Chicken Pie made by her granddaughter Martha for her father.   Martha talked about her mother making the pie and how she now makes it using rotisserie chicken from the supermarket and frozen veggies. Martha was making this pie as a comfort food for her father. 

Chicken Pie made by Granddaughter

Savory Pies were not made by my mother and I wondered after seeing chicken pie sold in the Deli at Jo-Ann's Deli Market and Bake Shop if this was an Eastern thing as I do not generally see chicken pies sold in Western supermarket. 

Jo-Ann's Deli Market and Bake Shop

Chicken Pie at Jo-Ann's

Chicken Pie at Jo-Ann's

This recipe brings memories of first meeting my in-laws and the beautiful dinner party hosted in my now husband's apartment.

My husband and friend Peter had rented a fully furnished apartment in Winnipeg.

Bill and Peter's apartment never looked so grand with the chandelier light dining room sparkling with the crystal and fine china on a white tablecloth.

The meal began with fresh grapefruit served in their own shells garnished with a cherry on top. Below are family pictures taken in the Maritimes during the Christmas season with beautifully set table with grapefruit as the starting dish!

Christmas Family Meal in the Maritimes with fresh grapefruit 

Beautifully set table for Christmas Dinner in NB, fresh grapefruit as the starting dish

Christmas Dinner 

The steaming hot Chicken Pie was served in the pyrex dish it had been baked in.
The pie was filled with a cream and chicken based mixture with carrots, potatoes, mushrooms and peas topped with pastry cut outs, garnished with fresh parsley.  I later learned that this was Mary's signature dish.

The meal was finished with a slice of Homemade Lemon Chiffon Pie and tea.

On my first visit to the Maritimes, I did see Mary prepare this dish in her own kitchen.  The recipe below is more technique and guide than actual measures.

Chicken breasts were pre-cooked in a pressure cooker.  Having never seen a pressure cooker being used before, I must say I was uneasy especially when the lid was released and the steam hissed out!
The cooked Chicken breasts were cut into cubes.  

A basic white sauce was made for the chicken.

Carrots, celery and potatoes were diced and pre cooked in the pressure cooker.

Peas, carrots, celery, potatoes and mushrooms were mixed into the white sauce as was the cubed chicken

The mixture was added to a greased pyrex rectangular dish.

Pastry was made and cut out using a three inch circular cutter.  

The pie was baked until the pastry was golden brown.

Her daughter, has this to say about her Mom's Chicken Pot Pie in a recent email.
Mum either parboiled the veggies (which is what I do for 1/2 time) or most  likely did them in the pressure cooker.  She had carrots, potatoes and frozen peas. Also celery and diced onions. She always put mushrooms (canned) in one end only since the kids didn't eat them.  She used a 2 1/2 inch round cookie cutter for the pastry - made with lard - for each serving.  This was her company dish and we all loved it.
I make it with a white sauce using white wine. I love it cold the next day! Martha
Mary and Jack with their grandchildren in Montreal (1977)  
This recipe has evolved in my kitchen as a way to use left over chicken or turkey
Frozen peas and carrots are used.  

At first, I used a can of mushroom soup, but now make my own white sauce.

Pastry was first used, then I moved to mashed potatoes and now covering the chicken mixture with thinly sliced potatoes.  

The pie is baked at a moderate oven covered with tin foil until the potatoes are baked. 

Browning the top under a broiler.  Grated cheese can also be added before broiling.
Scalloped Potatoes as the topping!

Chicken Pot Pie is certainly a comfort dish full of rich tasting goodness, full of good memories and showcasing local ingredients.

Chicken Pie

2-3 cups of cooked cubed chicken
1 cup of chopped celery 
1 onion, chopped
frozen peas and carrots
thinly sliced potatoes for the top
butter to dot on top of potatoes
1 cup of grated cheese for topping (optional)

White sauce
1/3 cup of butter 
1/3 cup of flour
1 cup of warm milk

Friday, September 13, 2013

Rubber Duck Cake

After posting pictures of the Rubber Ducky Cake I made for my grandchild for her second birthday on Facebook,

I realized what memories the cakes I had made for my children for their birthday had made for them and others.  

My grandchild likes ducks and I decided to do a rubbery ducky theme for her second birthday. 

The Betty Crocker site has easy directions for making a Rubber Ducky cake without using a performed pan.. 

I had made similar cakes for my children for their birthday parties and for school.  Grover, Oscar the Grouch, Tigger, Barbie doll, BatMan and monster cakes all come to mind.  These cakes are easy to make and are unique and remembered as seen by the Facebook comments.
The only thing to remember is all the kids want the eyes, so need to add extra candy to decorate the cake so each kid is happy

This cake was fun to make.  I am not sure that you had to use two different circular pans as it didn't seem to make a difference. I think the head could have been higher and larger, but it worked.. I used a circular bowl with the brim of 10 cm wide.

A trick my mom always used with layer cakes was to spread melted jelly on her cakes before assembling them.  I find it adds an extra layer of flavor to do this.

Buttercream icing was used as the icing.  Cream 1 cup of shortening ( 1/2 c of butter and 1/2 c of shortening can be used) and 1 tsp Vanilla with 2 T of milk, add your icing sugar gradually until light and fluffy.  I used about 3 cups of sugar and needed to add more milk to have an easy to spread icing.

I could not find the orange wedges, although I did find orange slices in the bulk food area of the grocery store.  I used Cheezies for the tail which was a hit with my granddaughter!


Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Lobster, Digby Scallops and Shrimp Chowder

Lobster and Haddock Chowder in Chester at the Kiwi Cafe

After tasting the chowder at the Kiwi Cafe and since there was one lobster left from the previous evening meal, I decided to make a chowder.  The chowder at the cafe was very rich with huge pieces of haddock, chunks of potatoes and lobster. My only suggestion would have been to heat the soup more as the ingredients had not married in the mixture and tasted like lukewarm cream with delicious pieces of fresh seafood and new potatoes!

Lobster, Digby Scallops and Shrimp Chowder

2 pounds of potatoes
olive oil
 1 onion, chopped
1 cup of diced celery
1 green pepper diced
1 red pepper diced
salt and pepper 
1/4 cup flour
1/4 cup butter
1 left over lobster 
package of fresh Digby scallops
Uncooked tiger shrimp
2 cans of evaporated milk

Parboil potatoes

Add olive oil to frying pan and sauté celery, onions and peppers

I did add scallops to the pan once veggies were softened, but not necessary according to my Maritime husband as scallops cook quickly.

I made a roux with 1/4 cup of butter and flour and then added the 2 cans of evaporated milk.  I had  picked up some cream but the mixture was rich enough and did not need the extra cream added.

Add the scallops and shrimp, add cooked lobster last

The mixture was brought to a hot temperature but I did not let the soup boil. The soup was served when the shrimp turned pink.

Garnish with fresh chopped Parsley

Yes, I waited in eager anticipation while my Maritime husband and relatives took their first sip of the chowder.  It passed the test as my brother in law said he'd serve the left over chowder to his friends' the next night. I suggested he add more seafood to the chowder for his friends.  I would also add some heat such as a jalapeño to my next chowder.

A perfect setting over looking the Mahone Bay to enjoy the seafood chowder.

Recipe Box

Recipes especially those handwritten that are given to me are like small treasures as I remember the individual when I make the recipe!

I love going through my recipe box which is filled with hand-written recipes and memories!

This is a email I have written to my cousin who also enjoys cooking and blogging about her recipes and memories.

You asked me which recipes of Aunt Katie's I was looking for.
 I remember these from my childhood..  Mom always said Aunt's were the best.. but she never gave out recipes.. 

I did ask her for the recipes and she said she would give them to me when I visited her. Sadly she died shortly after this conversation. 

I think one was called Pineapple Delight, Mom said she used sour cream in it.. It was three layers with crushed pineapple.. not very sweet with a graham wafer topping. I have found many versions but none with sour cream or three layers 

The other was a walnut bar called Walnut Dream Bar.. full of nuts, also three layers, most delicious.

Do you remember any of these recipes?

On my list of recipes to find are also the following

Cloud cake.. a German cake with a meringue and lemon filling.. I think I may have found this one... 

Ukrainian Torte a woman used to do this incredible torte with ganache filling, 8 layer for our church Easter Tea Raffles- She made two, one for tasting , the other for the was incredible in looks and taste. the tickets went quickly as did the sample cake.

The other one was made by a Hungarian lady who was part of the cleaning staff at the Misericordia Hospital in Winnipeg.  She brought this small dense bundt cake full of flavor-lemon, poppy seeds and spice for a Christmas Party, so lovely.