Thursday, October 18, 2007

'The Joy of' Warm Potato Pancakes on a Cold Cold Day

I've been flipping through the joy of cooking for old faves. It's rainy and cold today and our heat is not working in our apartment (the landlord doesn't get back for a week!) So, what better excuse for warm comfort food? (and a fuzzy sweater straight out of the drier)? We used to make these when I was little; I've missed 'em! :0)

Makes about 12 three-inch cakes.
This recipe demands mature potatoes. (Russets that have been sitting in the cupboard for a while are great.) Potatoes don't do well in the fridge...

Peel and grate coarsely until you have:
2 cups grated potatoes (about 4 medium-sized mature russet potatoes)
Fold the gratings into a tea-towel and wring it to extract as much moisture from the potatoes as possible. Place them in a bowl. Beat well:
3 eggs
Stir them in the potatoes. Combine and sift:
2 tbsp all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt (and add a fresh grating of  and fresh ground pepper)
1 to 3 tsp grated onion (I like 2.)

I've changed the recipe to add:

1/4 tsp cayenne pepper, 
1/4 tsp paprika,
lemon zest
Chopped Fresh herbs of your choice:  I used rosemary & cilantro make a nice mix (or 1/2 tsp dill weed)
3/4 tsp Madras spice

1/2 tsp vinegar
Heat in a skillet (deeper is safer, I find):
1/4 inch or more canola oil
Place spoonfuls of the potato mixture in the skillet, forming them into patties 3 inches in diameter and 1/4 inch thick. I like them as thin as I can get them, since they puff up a little. Thinner makes them crispier, of course. Brown then turn and brown the second side until crisp. (Flip them gently and away from you to avoid splashing.) Place on a plate with paper towel and pat dry with another paper towel to remove extra oil.

These are very best served hot (but they can be cooked in advanced and re-crisped under the broiler with a watchful eye...) I love them served with sour cream; though, the "Joy of Cooking" book suggests applesauce (no thanks!) ;0) Maybe chutney though (and sour cream) , mmmmm... that with a little extra of the Madras (or curry powder) would be delightful. :0P


Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Cheddar Brocolli Soup with a base of Cheese Sauce (made with White/Béchamel Sauce)

This Broccoli Cheddar Soup starts with white sauce to which you just add cheddar & broccoli. :0)

The BEST White sauce or Béchamel sauce:
(from "The Joy of Cooking")

Very Basic: used not only for creaming foods like vegetables and fish but as a base for many other sauces.

Melt over low heat:
2 tbsp butter
For a delicate flavour, even commercial establishments have found no substitute for butter. Add and blend over low heat for 3-5 minutes:
1 1/2 to 2 tbsp flour
Stir in slowly:
1 cup milk
[For better consistency, you may scald the milk beforehand; but be sure--to avoid lumping--that the roux (flour & butter mixture) is cool when you add it. ]

1 small onion studded with 2/3 whole cloves 1/2 small bay leaf
Cook & stir the sauce with a wire whisk or wooden spoon until thickened and smooth. Place in a 350 degree oven for 20 minutes to cook slowly. (The oven interval also saves your time and hands for other kitchen jobs.) Strain the sauce.
Season to taste.
When I'm making cheese sauce, I add V.E. Giardino salt blend & four pepper blend. A grating of whole nutmeg, a sprinkle of paprika, 1/4 tsp dry mustard, and the tiniest pinch of Cayenne.

[For creamed dishes, use about 1/2 as much sauce as solids.]

Cheese sauce:

Prepare White/Béchamel Sauce
When it is smooth & hot, reduce the heat & add:
1 cup or less (or more) ;0) grated cheese
Stir the sauce until cheese is melted.

To make this into Broccoli Cheddar Soup, just add an extra cup of milk & gently steamed broccoli that has been diced. It's also great with Chinese Broccoli, Cauliflower, or Spinach.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Brown Rice & Cashew Patties with Coriander Sambal

This is indescribably scrumptious. I first had it when Esther (best m.i.l. ever) made it for Christmas, and we all started combining odd things to top it with. You will think I'm absolutely insane, but what we came up with is so good that I'll tell you anyway! Top it with the Coriander Sambal that is part of the recipe, Mango Chutney, and this is where it gets odd: Litehouse Ranch Dip (but with no bok choy.) If you hate it, you've only wasted one patty (and only endured one bite) so it's worth a try. ;0)

We like the patties smaller than they are in the picture above (Split that size into about three & serve it as a hot appetizer.)


250 g dried chickpeas (OR use canned like a normal human being! heehee)
2 tbsp reserved chickpea (cooking or can) liquid
3 cups (650 g/1 lb 5 oz) instant brown rice
1 tbsp oil
1 onion, finely chopped
125 g (4 oz) roasted cashew paste
1 egg
60 g (2 oz) tahini
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp turmeric
1 tbsp lemon juice
1vegetable stock cube
5 tbsp tamari
1 small carrot, grated
1/2 cup (40 g/1 1/2 oz) fresh wholemeal bread crumbs
oil, for shallow-frying
2 tbsp oil, extra
310 g (10 oz) bok choy, trimmed & washed

Coriander and Coconut Sambal:

90 g (3 oz) fresh coriander (cilantro) leaves
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 small fresh green chilli, seeded & finely chopped
1 tsp garam masala
2 tbsp lime juice
1/ cup (15 g/1/2 oz) shredded UNsweetened coconut


1. Drain can of chickpeas, reserving 2 tablespoons of the liquid and warm them (keep warm). Or Soak chickpeas in water overnight. Drain. Place in a large saucepan and cover with water. Bring to the bowl and cook for 1 to 1 1/2 hours, or until cooked. Drain, reserving 2 tablespoons of the liquid.

2. Meanwhile, bring a saucepan of water to the boil and cool the rice over medium heat for 10-12 minutes, or until tender. Rinse well & drain. Keep warm.

3. Heat 1 tbsp oil in frying pan & cook the finely chopped onion for 2-3 min/'til golden. Set aside.

4. Mix the chickpeas, cashew paste, egg, tahini, cumin, turmeric, lemon juice, lemon juice, stock cube, reserved chickpea liquid & two tbsp of the tamari in a food processor until smooth. Add the rice & mix for a couple of seconds. Transfer to a large bowl; add onion carrot and breadcrumbs & mix well.

5. Divide the mixture into 16 even portions and form into patties about 1.5 cm thick (or make em smaller for appetizers. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.

6. To make coriander sambal, finely chop all ingredients (in food processor) Refrigerate until use.

7. To cook the patties, heat the oil in a large deep frying pan over medium heat & cook in batches for 3-4 minutes each side (1-2 minutes for little appetizer size) or until golden & cooked through. Remove and keep warm. Wipe pan a paper towel. (You can skip the following bok choy step if you're making appetizers.)

8. In the same pan, heat the extra 2 tbsp oil and cook the bok choy, tossing for 1-2 minutes or until wilted. Pour on the remaining 3 tbsp tamari & toss through. Place the bok choy on serving plates and top with two patties. Spoon a dollop of chilled sambal on top and serve immediately.

[The recipe & picture is from "Vegetables: Best-Ever Vegetable Recipes" by Bay Books P. 98.]

Friday, October 5, 2007

Cheese Dip Delight for One or Two (Or a Crowd of You)

I've adapted a cheese dip, because I had no sour cream to make a traditional one. This really quick and easy recipe is rich and satisfying. It can replace lunch or dinner and is great with a salad or side veggie (especially cauliflower) to balance the richness and creamy texture. It is also scrumpdilitious as a topping to bake onto parboiled cauliflower or broccoli.


1/2 cup cream cheese (light if you like)
1/2 cup cheddar grated
3 tbsp mayonnaise (real is nicest, but light is an option)
3 tbsp goat cheese (or 2 tsp creamy feta crumbled)
1 small red pepper (diced)
2 green onions (just the tops unless you love it super oniony)
1 tbsp V.E. Pesto Artichoke Dip
2 pinches of V.E. Nonya seasoning (about 1/4 tsp) This is just a tiny bit spicy.
1 pinch dried dill (or 1 tsp fresh)
1 tsp fresh thyme (chopped & some for garnish) I don't like dried, but maybe use 1/4 tsp instead.


1. Warm the cream cheese in the microwave in a medium sized mixing bowl. (Mine takes 1 minute in high.)

2. Grate and add cheddar. Crumble & add goat cheese or feta. Add mayo, Pesto Artichoke dip, Nonya (if you like a tiny bit of heat), dill & chopped fresh thyme leaves.

3. Mix in diced red pepper & green onion. Reserve a small handful for garnish (pepper rings too?)

4. Hollow out buns of your choice. fill with cheese mixture and wrap buns in tinfoil like this:

If you're doing veggies, just layer on top of parboiled well-dried cauliflower/broccoli in a baking dish (avoids carbs.) 8-10 min. in 35o oven (or until it's melted); then, broil until golden.

5. If you are using buns, wrap them in tinfoil, like this, to prevent them drying out:

6. Bake (350 degrees) for 12 minutes. (Optional: add top rounds of your bread & broil 'til golden.)

7. Top with diced pepper& green onion (and garnish with rings & thyme, if you're into that!) :0)

This is a perfect party food served the way you would a spinach dip. Just cut a circle in the top of a round loaf (or oval loaf or thick baguette) of sour dough or pumpernickel or some other bread :0) Remove bite-sized pieces as you hollow out the loaf leaving about 1 inch thickness. Then stuff the bread with the cheese mixture. Wrap loaf in in tinfoil and serve with remaining bite-sized bread.
The topping can also be baked in ramekins/a baking dish (bread on the side.)

Happy nibbling,


Kim's 5-minute "One Bite Brownies" with Tiramisu (easy as it gets)

Okay, for once I'm not going to complicate a recipe, but that's because I didn't invent it. awesome friend Kim did.

Buy the "one Bite Brownies"
(of course, you could always make your own or use another type of dessert. This is also amazing between/on cookies. (Shortbread are lovely!)

This recipe makes enough for a few dozen brownies or to have the topping on brownies & plenty left for dipping fruit. It will keep for at least a week in the fridge. It has a mild cheese cake-y flavour and is even good with pretzels. (Just ask Kim's 4 year old twins!) :0)

Mix the following:

1/4 cup sour cream (lite if you prefer)
1 cup plain yogurt
2 cups lite or ultra lie Cool Whip
2 tablespoons V.E. Tiramisu Fruit Dip Mix
V.E. Mocha Beans (5/6 beans are the equivalent to one cup of coffee, so no need to worry too much about the caffeine) ;0)

The only real trick to this is to defrost your cool whip, mix well, & let it sit for 20 minutes or so in fridge (to marry the flavours.)



Thursday, October 4, 2007

Swedish Chef versus Lobsters

Canned crab is much easier to deal with! Try Hot Crab and Artichoke dip below. :o) Mel

Hot Crab & Artichoke Dip (No crab is good too)

This is from the Epicure Fall/Winter 2007 catalogue, so they get every lick of the credit. It's nice to serve a hot appetizer that's this easy & tasty, so I thought I'd put it on here for those of you who do not have the catalogue (or just want to print this 'easier to read' recipe out...)

[I have changed four things --'cause I'm a fussy pants! :0P-- I add 2 tablespoons of the mix instead of three. I chop the bottoms of the artichokes coarsely and the tops finely (since I find the tops can be chewy otherwise.) I add a tablespoon of Parmesan cheese to the mix, and last, but not least, I crumble 4 Ritz crackers for the top (instead of breadcrumbs.)]

To Make 2 cups (500 ml) Hot Crab & Artichoke Dip:

1 14oz (398ml) can of artichokes (drained and chopped)
1 8oz package cream cheese (or light)
2 tbsp V.E. Pesto Artichoke Dip mix
1/2 cup real mayonnaise (or low-fat)
1 tbsp Parmesan cheese.
1 5oz can of crab meat (excess liquid drained) Opt to leave this out for vegetarians
4 Ritz crackers (crumbled finely over the top)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Put cream cheese in microwave safe mixing bowl. Heat it in microwave until just soft for super easy mixing ( I found it took 5o seconds, but I have an old microwave...)

3. Drain and add chopped artichokes (bottoms of the artichokes coarsely and the tops finely.)
Add mayo, dip mix, Parmesan cheese, and drained can of crab. Stir well.

4. Put dip into an attractive oven proof serving dish. Crumble Ritz crackers finely (a baggy works well if you want to keep your hands clean.) Sprinkle the cracker crumbs on top.

5. Bake in your 350 degree oven for 25 minutes. Turn on broiler & broil 'til top is golden brown.

Serve with baguette (toasted or not) and or crackers. Warning: the serving dish may be hot!

Seven-Layer Mexican Dip

This is a crowd pleaser and can be given a little bit of heat (or a huge kick!) if you like it like that.
This seven-layer dip using Victorian Epicure products has seven easy steps (I know, duh...Imagine that!)

The first four layers can be made ahead:

1. Prepare Pueblo Bean Dip (according to the directions on the jar.) Spread it in a serving dish.
(A clear glass one looks nifty.)

2. Prepare Cheese & Jalapeño Dip and layer it on top of the bean dip.

3. Prepare Guacamole (I prefer a different recipe to the one on the jar; my good friend Kim does too. ) Prepare this part ahead, stir well and let it sit for at least a half an hour (overnight is awesome): Combine 1/2 cup sour cream and 1 tbsp mayonnaise and 2 tbsp guacamole dip mix. Then, before serving add the sour cream mixture to two mashed avocados with the juice of half a lemon (I like it really lemony.) For a more creamy version (that makes a great salad dressing see this Taco Supreme Salad post.

4. Prepare salsa according to the directions on the jar (or see my Epicure salsa recipe.) Layer on!
Choose your heat: Use V.E. Poco picante Salsa or Caliente. Add jalapeños & fresh cilantro maybe?

Before serving:

5. Chop iceberg lettuce & layer over. If you like, add mescaline mix for more flavour & nutrients.

6. Grate cheddar (or the cheese you like) and spread over lettuce.

7. Dice red pepper and green onion & add to the top. (Tomato and parsley will do instead.)

Serve with tortilla chips, toasted baguette or bagel rounds, or baked pita triangles. You'll need a spoon and some serving plates if you make a deep one (as I have in the picture above.) I should have spread it in a much larger more shallow dish for easy dipping. :0)

Happy munching!

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Easy PEASy Chicken Pot Pie.

It ain't pretty, but it tastes that way! Yes, that is an aluminum pie plate from a store bought crust. I'm no Martha. (Also, if you like pretty crusts, don't let an unseasoned shopper buy your pie crusts for you. They come home cracked, LOL.) Tastes the same though, and saves you doing the shopping (Wee!)

There's frozen peas in this recipe. Wanna know why there's no peas in the picture? They're camera shy (nyuk nyuk!) Actually, I forgot them (and they're my favourite part! I like the pop they make in your mouth.) If this tragedy happens to you, just nukerwave them and serve 'em on the side (with a teensy little bit of butter and salt.) Charles (my other-half) says he like em better that way now, so there ya go!

Necessary food stuff to make one Large pot pie:

Standard store bought pie crust
1 can Campbell's cream of celery soup
1 tsp butter
and 1 tsp cooking oil
Three chicken thighs
2 medium-sized carrots (peeled and diced)
4 medium-sized potatoes
3/4 cup frozen baby peas
1 small (or half a medium) onion
1 small clove of garlic
1 teaspoon poultry seasoning (or adjust to taste)
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon white vinegar (weird I know, but trust me!)

I also add a half of a small jalapeño pepper (no seeds & minimum veins for a little bit of heat.) Try it if you like a medium heat.

Last but not least is an ingredient worth searching out (in my humble opinion)
3/4 tsp of this seasoning I love:

It's an unusually intoxicating Hungarian spice-blend bought at specialty shop by my m.i.l. called "Pride of Szeged: the world's best chicken rub seasoning" If you can't find it just add a little pinch of dried Basil and Oregano (they keep the other spices a secret!)


1. Preheat oven to 400.

2. Peel potatoes & carrots, chop them (medium dice), chop the onions (medium dice), celery and garlic (fine dice.) Keep ingredients separate from each other. Chop chicken into medium small pieces & put back in fridge. Even if you don' t normally use chicken thighs, please consider giving them a chance. They are much more tender and moist. Try 'em these even if you normally like white, just one bite? ;0)

2. Put a medium-sized sauce-pan on filled with water (slightly salted with a tbsp of the onions in) to boil the potatoes.

3. Boil the potatoes 'til tender, while you prep & pre-bake the pie crust. Poke holes into the bottom crust with a fork or knife and put it frozen into preheated 400 degree oven and bake until browned (takes about 7 minutes.) Leave the top crust out to defrost a little.

4. Prepare the filling, by adding 1 tsp butter & 1 tsp cooking oil to a decent-sized frying pan. Set the pan to medium high. Add carrots first & cook for about three minutes or so (stirring often to prevent burning.)

5. Turn down the heat to medium & add onions, celery & seasonings. Cook until onions are clear & carrots are tender (Keep on stirring those seasonings can burn.) Add and garlic at the last minute & stir.

6. Move veggies to outside of pan & put a little oil in the middle turn pan up to medium high (I put it on high, but I'm a whacko.) Let the pan heat a tiny bit (30 seconds or so); then, add chicken pieces to the pan & brown them. When the chicken is almost cooked, turn the heat down to medium low. Now add the can of cream of celery soup (put a little water 3 tbsp in the can & mix--dump that into your pot pie filling. ) Time for the peas too. Heat until just warmed through (2-3 minutes should do it.)

7. Pour the filling into the Pre-baked crust & add the uncooked top. Cut vent holes in the top & pinch/fork the edges together.

8. Turn your oven onto broil (do not preheat; chuck it in there right away.) Broil the top of the pie crust. My oven takes 8-10 minutes, but you may want to watch yours while you broil 'til lightly golden. Turn off oven & let it coast for 5 minutes (unless you have the broiler from hell; I wouldn't wanna make you burn dinner!)

Serve hot on a warm plate. (Goes great with a side-salad.)

:0) Mel

Ingredient of the Day: Garden Peppers

A little eye-candy for you. Look like your usual peppers, right? Nope, these are homegrown baby! and the one on the left is an unusual variety 'a Fajita pepper', grown by Jay--my (primo) father-in-law--and by Esther my marvelous m.i.l.; they're gardeners-extrordinaire. (Yes, I'm bragging, but I'm so damned lucky! If you knew, you'd be soooooo jealous.)

These hapless little suckers were delicious in salad and the last of their kind will be scrumptiously devoured in a future stir-fry (Recipe to follow; if you drink wine, buy some. In my humble opinion, no stirfry should ever be made without a wee glass o' vino to accompany your cooking. Besides, it's good for you!)

;0P Mel

Banana Bread (Berry Nutty optional)

This banana bread (topped with brown sugar and walnuts) is another ultra-easy baked goody that I've loved for as long as I can remember (though this is admittedly a version of it that I got from a friend who was in weight-watchers--but this is so rich that you'd never know that it was good for you!) I've also added the berries and the nuts (omit them, of course, if you dislike 'em.) It's a great way to get some fruit into kids. This also makes great muffins. (Just cook for less time--watching them and testing to see when toothpick stuck in the center comes out clean.)

Enough talking, let's bake!

Dry Bowl:
2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda (get out any lumps)
2 tsp baking powder
1 pinch salt

Wet Bowl:
3 RIPE bananas mashed (I put over-ripe bananas in the freezer, mash 'em & let 'em sit 'til they are room-temperature.)
1 cup mayonnaise (light)
1 tsp real vanilla (V.E.)
1 cup sugar
1 splash of milk

1/2 cup V.E. Cherries and Berries (there are blueberries & cranberries in there too!) :0P
1/2 a cup walnuts/pecans/your fave

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour a loaf pan.

2. In a good-sized bowl, mash ripe bananas; add sugar and mayo.

3. In another good-sized bowl, mix with a fork (or sift) dry ingredients (flour baking soda & baking powder, and pinch o' salt.

4. Add dry to wet in parts, add splash of milk, and mix well. Mix in the berries and cherries & the nuts if you're adding these. Save a few nuts for the top if you like.

5. Pour into prepared loaf pan & bake (in your 35o degree preheated oven) until a tooth pick stuck in the center comes out clean.

If you'd like your banana bread extra-moist, cover after it cools slightly (on a cake plate or with a tea-towel.) If it's been over-baked and is a wee bit dry--who me? overcook sumthin???--just put it in a plastic baggy.

Enjoy! :0)

Swedish Chef: Cake (heeheehee) Bake out those frustrations!

My Mom's Recipe for Zucchini Bread (from "Good Housekeeping" p.429) :0)

I've been making this since I was a kid and LOVE it madly; hence the doubling of the recipe that I've written in. (I used to grow a lot of zucchini, what can I say?) This also makes snookum muffins. (Just cook for less time--watching them and testing to see when toothpick stuck in the center comes out clean.)

(3) or 6 cups flour
(1 & 1/2) or 3 cups sugar
(1) or 2 cups wallnuts (optional) I like to make one with one without so people have a choice...
(4& 1/2 tsp) or 9 teaspoons baking powder
(1 tsp) or 2 tsp salt
(4) or 8 eggs
(2/3) or 1 cup & 1/3 vegetable oil
(2) or 4 cups grated zucchini
(2 tsp) or 4 tsp lemon rind (When zesting try to avoid the white part; it's bitter sans flavour.)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly butter (or oil) and flour (one or) two loaf pans.

2. In a medium bowl-with a fork-mix dry ingredients: flour, sugar, nuts, baking powder & salt.

3. In a medium bowl-with a fork-beat eggs slightly; stir in vegetable oil, zucchini & lemon zest.

4. Stir liquid mixture onto flour mixture just until flour is moistened; spread evenly in pans (oiled and floured or non-stick.)

5. Bake one hour (at 350 degrees.) Cool pans on wire rack for 10 minutes. Serve warm or cold.

Amazing Carrot Cake & Cream Cheese Icing

This is amazing, I promise. I've made it so many times and never get sick of it (just ask my butt, LOL.) My Great Grandma used to make a variation & always called it "Care-OaTs cake" in her Hungarian accent. Hers had canned pineapple which I love but am allergic to (try it if you like.)

I love using the whole spices which, if you have an old coffee maker/micro grinder, grind easily and make all the difference with this cake (real Vanilla is awesome too.) This recipe also makes delicious cupcakes (just cook for less time--watching them and testing to see when toothpick stuck in the center comes out clean.)

"Care-OaTs Cake"

1/3 cup boiled water
2 cups finely shredded carrots (about 4 medium carrots)
2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/4 cups sugar
1 1/4 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 tsp ground nutmeg (a tiny bit less of the spices if freshly ground)
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 cup vegetable oil
3 eggs
1 tsp vanilla

1/2 cup walnuts ( I LOVE em, but these are optional, of course)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly butter (or oil) and flour a 13x9 oblong pan

2. Pour boiling water over grated carrots. ETA: Ok, this is kinda crazy, but I was just in the middle of making this cake and found a solution to the only part that bugs me in making it: grating the carrots. If you don't have a food processor, you can use a container style grater. (Ikea has great ones.) The trick is to go in circles with the carrot. You can even do two at a time! SO much easier & super fast :0) GRIN!

3. Beat carrots and remaining ingredients (dry ingredients sifted) on low speed, scraping bowl constantly, for one minute. Beat on medium speed, scraping bowl occasionally for 2 minutes. Pour into pan.

4. Bake until wooden pick inserted into center comes out clean (approximately 45 minutes.)

5. Let cool and frost with cream cheese icing. (For an extra moist cake cool under a tea-towel--it traps the moisture)

Cream Cheese Icing:

8 ounce package of cream cheese
1/4 cup margarine
1/4 cup butter
1 tsp vanilla
1 pound icing sugar sifted (=16 oz/2 cups)

Beat all ingredients until well-blended and velvety. Spread on cooled cake and enjoy! (It's great for breakfast, LOL.)

:0) Mel

Cool Cucumber Canapés. (They're 5-star & super easy)

Don't let the fancy word canapé fool you; this is just a modernized version of deviled eggs!

Can't remember where I got this recipe--a magazine? Anyhow, it's nutritious and has a surprisingly wonderful texture. It's best if you assemble it at the last minute, but that takes no time at all. The topping is easily made ahead and it keeps well. (Makes great sandwiches too.)

1 tbsp Spanish Onion, finely minced
3 tbsp Mayonnaise (the real stuff makes all the difference)
2 tsp. Dijon Mustard (we hatesesss it preciousss! I substitute mustard powder-1/2 tsp)
Approximately 1 tsp Dried Dill (fresh is even better--1 tbsp then)
Approximately 1 tbsp fresh flat-leaf parsley (dried if you don't gots it)
Pinch o' salt
fresh ground pepper
4 hardboiled eggs, finely-minced (love those Born3 eggs!)
4 radishes finely minced
1 large cucumber scored (with a fork/zesting tool) & sliced (a wavy cutter looks cool & helps the topping stay on.)

Combine finely-minced onion with mayo, mustard of your choice (Dijon, dry, French's, or none; it's good like that too.) Save a wee bit of radish and herbs (only if fresh or they feel pasty) for garnish. Add dill, parsley, salt & pepper, and finely chopped radishes.

Finely mince the hard boiled eggs & combine with above; mix it up! :0)

At the last minute:
Score and slice your cuke. Pat the tops dry a wee bit. Use star tip in piping bag to pipe onto cukes (or use a plastic baggy as a piping bag or plop it on with a spoon.) Garnish with the chopped parsley & fresh herbs.

Alternatively: egg mix can be piped into red bell pepper wedges or celery sticks
One small shredded carrot can be substituted for radishes (that offers a nice texture too.)

[Chicken variation (though I can't vouch for this one, not sure I like canned chicken--kinda dry): Substitute 2 cans (6 ounce/170g ea) chunk white chicken (drained & finely chopped) for eggs. Increase mayo to 4 tbsp and add 2 tbsp milk to the chicken mix.]

:o) Mel

Mini Quiche (Great make-ahead Party food, not low-fat)

This also works as a large Quiche or a Brioche and reheats very nicely.

Prep. time 20 min. To make 12 mini quiche or one large quiche use the amounts here...

Bacon (1/3 package)
Spinach (fresh baby organic is my fave) (1/2 package)
(12) Premade mini or full size pastry shells (unless you're Martha)
Creamy Feta Cheese (Superstore has a great one) (20 small pieces)
Pinch o' salt. Fresh ground pepper
Eggs (I love Born3 eggs) (4)
Dash of cream (optional)
Pinch of paprika

Put pastry shell(s) on a cookie sheet. Poke pastry shell(s) with a knife/fork and bake in a preheated 400 degree oven 'til lightly golden; set aside.

Break/cut feta into small chunks,
add to a bowl with the beaten Eggs.

In a medium-large frying pan add bacon (cut into small pieces) and fry; drain all of the fat. Add slightly chopped spinach with no stems (if using baby or medium chopped for large spinach) and fry until lightly wilted. Cool the bacon-spinach mix.

Add bacon and spinach to eggs; grind in pepper & add a pinch of salt (or your favourite V.E. sansel/seasoning.) Cook until eggs are done and serve warm.

Compliments ensue: "buttery!" "melt in your mouth."
and they look nice with a little herb bouquet on the plate.

For a vegetarian option: omit bacon, add 1 tbsp butter to saute spinach in & then add 3 small roasted red peppers (minced), 1 tbsp spanish onion (minced.) And sauted minced mushrooms if you like them.

Fresh Salsa & Roasted Almond Baked Goat cheese (on Sourdough Baguette Rounds)

I was going through my recipe hoard and found this one. (I haven't cooked from recipes in ages. I miss it a lot--Charles does too; occasionally he whines to be fed.) I swear I am like a bear. I wanna hibernate in a culinary kind of way come fall.

When I found this I remembered how I stole it from The Keg (well, intuited it from them, since I invented the recipe based on advice from my taste-buds.) And I also remembered it was really popular with company, so I'm glad I wrote it down, and maybe you will be too. :0)

Necessary Foodstuff:

Sourdough Baguette
Fresh Tomatoes
Bit o' Onion (white and Green)
Splash of Vinegar (I love V.E. White Balsamic)
1 tsp Ketchup
1 clove or less (or more) Fresh Garlic
Italian (flat-leafed) Parsley
1/2 tsp or less of Chili Flakes (hydrated) or paste (tube at grocer's)
Salt & Pepper

Make slightly ahead (or well ahead) SALSA:

Very finely chop the tomatoes, shallots, onion (white and green), the parsley and basil.
Mix these and the remainder of the ingredients. Put in a strainer to drain the tomatoey water (concentrates taste & keeps your salsa from sogging your bread rounds.)


Lightly butter and broil the sourdough rounds (I like mine sliced about a 1/4 of an inch thick and not too toasted... (so they don't hurt when you eat 'em, LOL) .

Set aside with a tea-towel over to keep warm while you bake the cheese. (If you want 'em really nice and warm, then just prepare the cheese and toasts ahead and bake one right after another.)

BAKED GOAT CHEESE (with roasted almonds):
You can use pine nuts in place of almonds; they're lovely.

One goat cheese (soft)
Almonds (raw & whole with skin)
Bit o' butter

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Place the goat cheese in/0n an oven-proof dish (If it's suitable dish, you can serve on it to keep your baguettes and cheese hot.)

(You can do this step ahead of time to save on preparation time)
Chop the raw almonds. (a medium fine chop is great.)
Add a small amount of butter to a small frying pan. On medium-high heat, roast your almonds 'til they are nicely browned. Be sure to stir constantly and turn heat down if it seems too much (I am infamous as a high-heat cooker.) Lightly salt the almonds.

After your almonds have cooled (just enough for you to touch 'em) pour them over the goat cheese and pat them into it. (Overflow is just hunkydory.)

Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 10 minutes or so ('til hot) :0)

I love to serve the toasts around the baked goat cheese with the the salsa at room temperature in a dish on the side. The mix of temperatures and textures is supremely satisfying.

Chocolate-Covered Strawberries, an Incredibly Simple (and tremendously popular) Dessert

I first made these for my grade eight graduation; I took a book out of the
school library and followed the simple directions. I still remember the
teachers having the kids spread all of the food out on different mixed plates.
When it was time to eat, kids were running up and down the hallway
looking for the chocolate strawberries. Let me tell ya,people still do that.
Try serving it to company; I personally guarantee success. These are SO simple,
(I just make it sound hard :0) because I'm obsessed with the details)

Here are a few little tricks...

Warm chocolate for dipping:

You can just melt the chocolate in the microwave and dip strawberries if you like
them warm. (or any other fruit. The chocolate stays liquid for a surprisingly long time)

Microwave melting:

Try a mix of dark chocolate and milk chocolate; it'sdivine. I don't usually like
dark chocolate, but I actually prefer V.E.'s dark to the milk.

Use a relatively deep small bowl for ease of dipping (stone-wear or ceramic keeps
nice and warm if you have it): 1 cup of the V.E. chocolate 'chips' takes just under
a minute. Stir every 20-30 seconds to prevent burning. (Time depends on how
powerful your microwave is.)

To make chilled strawberries:
  1. Lightly butter (or margarine) a plate--(or use a tray covered in wax=paper.)
  2. Chill plate in freezer for a couple of minutes.
  3. Wipe strawberries thoroughly with a paper towel (don't wash in water or the chocolate will not stick well.) Leave tops on.
  4. Melt chocolate (as above) and dip strawberries into it. Twirling them in the chocolate gets an even line.
  5. Let excess drizzle back into bowl and set strawberries on chilled plate or wax paper tray.
  6. Chill in fridge for 10-15 minutes or until desired hardness.

Decorating & other Options:
  • You can drizzle more of the left-over chocolate on the hardened strawberries to make a little raised design (and/or on the plate for prettiness.) Garnish with mint if you have it...
  • Before serving, loosen the berries from the plate by giving them a little poke with a knife (so all of the chocolate comes off the plate and into your mouth!) :-) Or just loosen off of wax paper and put on a serving plate.
  • Alternative fruits that work great dipped (if dry enough) nectarine, raspberries on a toothpick (small but delctable)banana dipped all the way (to prevent them browning.) :-)
  • This same process works great for dipping cookies too (or mixing into cookie recipes like chocolate chip peanutbutter...)and the chocolate makes incredible nut or V.E. berries & cherries clusters: just throw nuts/fruit in the melted chocolate and spoon out clusters onto the chilled sheet. (Perfect for holiday gifts.)
  • It's definitely the great chocolate that makes the difference; use the finest quality you can afford. Yummmm!

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Swedish Chef: Making Eggs (I LOVE LOVE LOVE this!)

This brings back some memories!!!

Mel's Taco Supreme Salad (my favourite Guacamole & Salsa recipe)

This satisfying (low-carb) salad has 3 easy parts and it makes great left-overs, 'cause the ingredients can also be served as soft tortilla wrap fillings or crispy taco stuffings (or go crazy! and have a crispy taco inside a soft one)

Victorian Epicure Products this salad uses are: Taco Seasoning; Guacamole Dip Mix; and Salsa mix: choose your heat: Poco Picante (Medium) Caliente (hotchacha); sea salt and pepper. Optional time savers: toasted onion and red bell peppers.

The three parts are:

1--The Salad & Toppings
2--The Dressing
3--The Tortillas


Chop or tear:
Iceberg lettuce (for the crunch; you can add the greener/more red varieties for flavour and vitamins)

a red pepper (or use V.E. red bell peppers to save time)

old cheddar (or your choice of cheese)
Season to taste with V.E. Sea Salt & V.E. Pepper to taste

Chunky fresh salsa--"kicked up a notch!":

2 tablespoons V.E. salsa mix (Poco Picante (medium) or for the brave: Caliente (hot)
1/2 a finely chopped Spanish onion
2 fresh tomatoes (chopped coarsely)
1 can of tomatoes drained and chopped
1/2 a pepper finely-chopped (green or yellow look best)
fresh cilantro chopped (to taste)
1/2 a lime juiced
salt and fresh pepper to taste
Optional for heat and flavour: fresh jalapeño

Let flavours marry and seasonings hydrate for 1/2 an hour. This keeps very well and is a fantastic low-fat, lycopene-filled topping/filling for: wraps, sandwiches, Mexican recipes, meats, eggs, hot dogs, hamburgers. Salsa's also a vegetarian's best friend for flavour.

P.s. This makes a large amount of salsa; half it if you need to.

Meat or Vegetarian Taco Topping:

Brown prepared mix of:

2 tablespoons V.E. Taco seasoning

1 lb lean ground beef/chicken/turkey... or 20 medium-sized finely chopped mushrooms. (adjust

the seasoning to taste.)

1 clove garlic

1/2 a finely-chopped medium onion

--If you immediately mix all ingredients above with the seasoning (before the meat/mushrooms are cooked) it tastes much better, I swear; something about already cooked things not absorbing flavour--don't know the technical name ;-)

salt and pepper to taste.


This dressing is also topping! It's a Creamy Guacamole Dip
set free!
(use light products if you like)

My ultimate favourite Guacamole recipe:

2 tablespoons guacamole dip mix
3/4 cup sour cream
1/4 cup mayonnaise

Let this mix sit for 1/2 an hour (or you can leave it in your fridge overnight, or until you need it.)

Before serving add the sour cream mix to a bowl with:

2 ripe avocados (leave some chunks if you like em.)
1/2 a fresh green jalapeño pepper finely diced (optional of course) You can always try a wee bit for great flavour or add a lot.
and the Juice of half a small lemon

To turn into a dressing just add 2-3 tablespoons water; that way, you can have both guacamole dip and dressing on hand by only adding liquid to the amount of dreesing you need to dress your taco salad.


My favourite to serve with this is white or yellow taco shells heated in the oven and broken into triangles. The warm crunch is a great texture against the smoothness of the guacamole dressing and the fresh bite of the lettuce and they make perfect scoopers: a fun party food and an answer to the messy eating of 'normal' tacos.

Other options are tortilla chips, warmed or not. Low-fat versions include any crisp bread, toasted pita or thinly sliced toasted baguette.

OR Try making Cajun Tortilla Chips

(Yield 32 chips) A low-fat treat that pairs well with spicy salsa. Spray vegetable oil instead of butter to reduce the amount of saturated fat (or coconut oil: it doesn't turn into a trans fat when heated & the flavour is heavenly!):

4 - 8" (20 cm) tortilla rounds1 Tbsp (15 ml) melted butter1 - 2 tsp (5 - 10 ml) VE Cajun Seasoning
2 tsp (10 ml) Parsley, Sea Salt, to taste

1. Preheat oven to 400° F (205° C).

2. Whisk together melted butter (or oil), Cajun Seasoning and Parsley.

3. Cut each pita round into 8 even wedges and arrange on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Brush with prepared butter and sprinkle with Sea Salt.

4. Bake for approximately 8 minutes, or until chips are crisp and slightly browned. Serve with taco supreme salad or a selection of prepared Dips.


This salad is just as easily served as a layered dip:

Simply mix 1 8oz pkg of cream cheese and 1 cup sour cream with a tbsp of herb and garlic dip mix and spread in a dish, then pile the goodies on top.

Leave your guacamole as a dip (instead of the dressing) and voila!

I layer in this order:

cream cheese base-->guacamole-->salsa-->lettuce-->(and save some diced peppers and cilantro to top with; green onions is another optional addition).

E.T.A: If you're avoiding red meat, chicken makes a great substitute for the hamburger.


Oulala Vanillalicious French Toast (with Simple Fruit Whip Topping)

Does anything smell more like homemade than Vanilla? Mmmmmmmmmmmm........sigh

Mel's French Toast


Sour dough bread (or desired bread)

in a whisked mix of:

two eggs

1/4 cup milk (or light cream)

1/2 teaspoon V.E. Apple pie spice/ cinnamon

1 teaspoon V.E. Vanilla

Serve with any selection of fresh berries or fruit and

Simple Fruit whip Topping:

(use entirely light/ultra-light products if you like)


3 tablespoons V.E. summer berry or lemon chiffon fruit dip

1/2 cup sour cream

a single serving size plain yogurt (or 1/3 cup)

stir well and let sit for half an hour or as long as you need it to wait: within reason ;-)

Fold in

1 1/2 cup light/ultra-light Coolwhip, or real whipped cream. If using real fold gently & serve asap

and enjoy on top of french toast OR pancakes, waffles, OR as a dip/toppping for any fruit or dessert.