Sunday, April 25, 2010

Meringue with fresh fruit - week 17 of 52

This week I tried a recipe for meringue shells and fresh fruit. Meringue is a type of dessert made from whipped egg whites and sugar.

I got the recipe from the Better Homes and Garden cookbook my sister got me last year. This was the main cookbook my mom had when we were growing up and for good reason – it has all your basic recipes and a great selection of other recipes!

Did you know (A little Alton Brown moment ): Cream of tartar is a chemical that helps beaten egg whites in the meringue recipe get to stiff peaks. When egg whites are beaten, some of the hydrogen bonds in the protien break, causing the protein's structure to unfold. This change in structure leads to the stiff consistency required for meringues. Cream of tartar is required to additionally denature the proteins to create the firm peaks, otherwise the whites will not be firm . Thank you Wikipedia!

This is a very easy recipe to make and would go well with any fresh berries which are available. I have substituted fresh whipped cream for the low-fat yogurt – who doesn’t like strawberries and whipped cream? The meringue is light and airy, with a little bit of crunch and with the tart strawberries and sweetened whipping cream, it makes a nice light dessert for spring or summer!

The recipe will take some time because you have to allow the meringues to sit in the over after baking for an hour to allow it to dry. I suggest making it even the day before – but don’t fill them with fruit or the filling, otherwise will get soggy.

Bon appétit!

Meringue shells with fresh fruit - 4-6 shells



2 egg whites
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/8 teasoon cream of tartar
1/2 cup sugar
1 8-ounce carton fruit-flavored low-fat yogurt
2 cups sliced strawberries

Allow egg whties to stand at room temperature for 30 minutes. Line a large baking sheet with foil or parchment paper. Draw six 3- to 4-inch circles on the paper; set aside.

For meringue, in a medium mixing bowl beat egg whites, vanilla, and cream of tartar with electric mixer on medium speed until soft peaks form. Add sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, beating on high speed until very stiff peaks form and sugar is almost dissolved (about 7 minutes). Spread or pipe meringue over circles on paper, building up sides to form shells.

Bake in a 300 degree F. oven for 35 minutes.

Turn off oven; let meringue dry in oven with door closed for 1 hour. Do not open oven. Lift meringues off paper.

To serve, spoon yogurt into shells. Arrange fruit atop yogurt. Makes 4-6 servings.

Make ahead directions: Carefully wrap meringue shells in foil. Freeze up to 6 months.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Seafood Orzo Paella - week 16 of 52

On request from a loyal follower in the US, I have decided to feature a savory dish this week. I was inspired to make this recipe by the Seafood and Orzo paella Daily Special at Buster’s Sea Cove, a small restaurant at St Lawrence Market.

Did you know: Paella is a Valencian rice dish that originated in its modern form in the mid-19th century near lake Albufera, a lagoon in Valencia, on the east coast of Spain. Generally paella is made with rice, but this recipe uses orzo. Orzo is a small pasta in the shape of rice, made of semolina wheat flour.

I changed a couple of things in the recipe – instead of mussels, which generally come in large bags, I used clams instead. I had some issues with the clams cooking in the paella, so I had to steam them separately before putting into the paella. I like the texture of the orzo a little better than rice. Just a tip – this paella not great the next day, so no leftovers for this one.

Bon appétit!

Seafood Orzo Paella - serves 6

• 1/2 cup chorizo; sausage
• 1 cup chicken breast meat, diced
• 2 tablespoons olive oil
• 1/4 cup onion, diced
• 1 teaspoon fresh garlic, chopped
• 1/2 cup tomato, seeded and diced
• 2 tablespoons parsley, fresh chopped
• 1/2 cup red bell pepper, large dice
• 8 ounces orzo (I used about 1 ½ cups)
• 1 pinch saffron threads
• 3 cups chicken stock
• 1/2 pound medium size shrimp, peeled and deveined with tails on
• 1/2 cup fresh scallops
• 1/2 cup fresh calamari
• 6 to 8 fresh mussels
• 1/2 cup garden peas, fresh or frozen
• Salt and pepper to taste

Prepare and wash clean the shrimp, mussels, calamari and scallops. Sprinkle with a pinch of salt and pepper . Reserve.

In a large heavy skillet, saute chicken and chorizo and chicken over medium-high heat until cooked. Add some olive oil depending on how much grease the sausage has in it; the pan may be too dry. Transfer chorizo and chicken to a plate from skillet and set aside Stir-fry garlic and onion in olive oil for 3-4 minutes. Add red pepper, tomato, parsley and saute for an another 2 minutes.

Stir in orzo. Add 3 cups chicken broth and saffron. Simmer until 3/4 of liquid is absorbed, about 10-12 minutes. Add shrimp, calamari, mussels and scallops. Continue to simmer until fully cooked. Add peas then immediately remove from heat, cover with towel for 5-7 minutes before serving. The liquid must be absorbed into the ingredients.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Lemon Cranberry Loaf - week 15 of 52

This week I wanted to use up some lemons I had in the fridge and came across this recipe in a cookbook a friend had given me for my birthday - "The Rest of The Best". They have a recipe for lemon loaf, in which I substituted cranberries for the walnuts. It is a very easy recipe - and the lemony drizzle really gives the loaf some great flavour!

Bonne appetit!

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Good eats!

Happy Easter and Joyeuses Pâques!

Hot Cross Buns - week 14 of 52

Hot Cross Buns – Week 15 of 52

Happy Easter everyone! This week I wanted to make Hot Cross Buns for Easter and make a yeast bread successfully to recover from the cinnamon bun experience (see week 5).

Did you know : A hot cross bun is a sweet, yeast-leavened, spiced bun made with currants or raisins and candied citrus fruits or lemon zest, marked with a cross on the top. The cross can be made a number of different ways including: of pastry; flour and water mixture; rice paper; icing; two intersecting cuts. They are traditionally eaten at Easter. In many historically Christian countries, buns are traditionally eaten on Good Friday, with the cross representing a symbol of The Crucifixion. Thank you Wikipedia – I had no idea!

The recipe is another one from Canadian Living. This time, I am happy to say that the recipe worked out great! Since week 5, I’ve been a little nervous to try another yeast recipe, because of the unsuccessful attempt at cinnamons. To my co-workers and friends who ate tea biscuit-like cinnamon buns, I am sorry! I think the cinnamon buns didn’t work out because it wasn’t quite warm enough for the dough to rise - thanks for the tip Heather G! This time, I warmed up my oven a little bit and then turned it off and put the dough in there for the first proof (proofing means to allow the bread dough to rise). After an hour, I the dough had risen to twice it’s size. Success! I really think the warm oven did the trick!

I changed the recipe a little bit because I like my hot cross buns with extra fruit – I added about ¾ cup of currents and ½ cup of the fruit.

Bonne appétit!

Nursery school rhyme:
Hot cross buns! Hot cross buns!
One a penny two a penny - Hot cross buns
If you have no daughters, give them to your sons
One a penny two a penny - Hot cross buns

Hot Cross Buns - makes 9-12 buns



1/2 cup (125 mL) granulated sugar
1/4 cup (50 mL) warm water
1 pkg (15ml) active dry yeast
3-1/2 cups (875 mL) all purpose flour
2 tbsp (25 mL) cinnamon
1 tsp (5 mL) nutmeg
1/2 tsp (2 mL) salt
1/4 tsp (1 mL) ground cloves
3/4 cup (175 mL) milk, warmed
1/4 cup (50 mL) melted butter
1 egg
1 egg yolk
1/2 cup (125 mL) dried currants
1/4 cup (50 mL) chopped candied peel, mixed

2 tbsp (25 mL) granulated sugar
2 tbsp (25 mL) water


1/2 cup (125 mL) icing sugar
2 tsp (10 mL) water


In small bowl, dissolve 1 tbsp (15 mL) of the sugar in warm water. Sprinkle in yeast; let stand for 10 minutes or until frothy. Meanwhile, in large bowl, blend together remaining sugar, flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt and cloves; make well in center. Whisk together milk, butter, egg and egg yolk; pour into well. Pour in yeast mixture. With wooden spoon, stir until soft dough forms.
Turn out dough onto lightly floured surface; knead for 8 minutes or until smooth and elastic. Place in greased bowl, turning to grease all over. Cover with plastic wrap; let rise in warm draft-free place until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.
Punch down dough; turn out onto lightly floured surface. Knead in currants and peel. Shape into 12-inch (30 cm) log; with serrated knife, cut into 9 pieces, Shape each into ball, stretching and pinching dough underneath to make tops smooth. Place 2 inches (5 cm) apart on greased baking sheet. Cover and let rise until doubled in bulk, about 35 minutes. Bake in center of 400ºF (200ºC) oven for about 15 minutes or until golden brown.

Glaze: In saucepan, stir sugar with water over medium heat until dissolved; brush over buns. Let cool in pan.

Icing: Stir icing sugar with water. Using piping bag fitted with round tip, pipe cross on top of each cooled bun.