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Susan’s Apple Cream Coffeecake

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Susan’s Apple Cream Coffeecake


Here’s an old classic! Susan’s Apple Cream Coffeecake is a typewritten (!) recipe in my Cakes and Pies binder. I have often made it for company or for taking places as the pot luck contribution. I have absolutely no idea who Susan is – that was just the name of the cake. I looked the recipe up on the Internet and the closest I could get to a source is this. Even the woman who used it on her site says its from “a magazine”.

Despite all that, this recipe creates a delicious, moist cake that can be made ahead and frozen. The crunchy streusel topping contains walnuts, sugar and cinnamon. The cake itself is soft and tender with bits of apple, spice and brown sugar.


1/2 cup walnuts, chopped

2 tsp. ground cinnamon

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup soft butter

1 cup sugar

2 eggs

1 tsp vanilla extract

2 cups all purpose flour

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp baking soda

1 cup sour cream

1 medium apple


1. In a small bowl, mix chopped walnuts, cinnamon and 1/2 cup granulated sugar. Set aside

2. Grease a nine inch angel food pan with removable bottom.

3. Heat oven to 375F.

4. With an electric mixer, beat butter until creamy. Gradually add 1 cup sugar. Beat until light and fluffy.

5. Add eggs, one by one, then vanilla and beat until blended.

6. In large bowl, sift together (or use whisk to blend) flour, baking powder, salt and baking soda.

7. At low speed, beat flour mixture into butter mixture alternately with sour cream in 3 additions, finishing with the sour cream.

8. Spread half of the batter into the angel food pan. Top with pared, cored, thinly sliced apple. Top with HALF of walnut/sugar mixture. Next the rest of the batter, then the last of the walnut mixture.

9. Bake coffeecake 40 minutes or until cake tester inserted in the centre comes out clean.

10. Remove coffeecake and let it stand on a rack for 30 minutes. Next loosen the cake all around the sides with a metal spatula. Then by the top of the tube, lift cake still on base from the pan and let it cool completely.

11. Loosen it from the tube and carefully lift it to a plate or cake stand.

12. Sprinkle with sifted icing sugar, if desired.

Serves 10-12.



Chicken Tikka with Lentils, Spinach and Naan

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Chicken Tikka with Lentils, Spinach and Naan


Jamie Oliver is a genius. He knows how to combine spices and flavours and textures so that you can’t help but mmmmm and ahhhhhh with each bite. I have experienced this numerous times with his recipes (search jamie oliver on this site for more ideas) and this one is no exception.

As usual, it takes a lot longer than 15 minutes to prepare (even though it’s from his 15 Minute Meals cookbook.) But the flavour and overall result is worth the extra time.

I changed a few things. I simmered whole chicken breasts – I did not pound them out flat.

I couldn’t find tikka paste so I bought and used tikka sauce. Flavour was very good.

I served the naan separately after toasting it in a 350F oven for 5 minutes just before serving.

Chicken Ingredients:
2 skinless chicken breasts
2 heaped tsp tikka paste
4 chestnut mushrooms (I used button mushrooms)

Salad Ingredients:
4 spring onions
1 fresh red chili with seeds
1 heaped tsp mustard seeds
½ tsp cumin seeds
olive oil
1 x 250g pack of ready-to-eat Puy lentils (I used canned lentils, drained and rinsed)
1 ripe tomato
red wine vinegar
1 big bunch of fresh coriander, very well washed
2 lemons
4 tbsp fat-free natural yoghurt
1 heaped tbsp raw cashew nuts
1 heaped tbsp mango chutney
1 tsp turmeric
2 naan breads
200g baby spinach
½ a cucumber
1 carrot
30g feta cheese (I crumbled a generous amount of sheep feta on top)

1. Heat a pan to cook the chicken. Add a glug of olive oil.
2. Toss the chicken breasts with salt, pepper and the tikka paste or sauce. Simmer on med-low until cooked through but not dry.
3. Saute the mushrooms in butter in a separate pan, until golden brown. Remove from heat.
4. Heat another pan for the lentil mixture.
5. Trim and finely slice the spring onions and half the chilli.
6. Put the mustard and cumin seeds and 2 tablespoons of oil into the second pan, followed by the sliced spring onion and chili.
7. Tip the lentils into the pan, squash in the tomato and add a pinch of salt and pepper and a splash of red wine vinegar.
8. Stir occasionally for a couple of minutes, then turn the heat off.
9. In a food processor, add coriander stalks, the juice of 1 lemon, the yoghurt, cashews, mango chutney and turmeric, then whiz up until smooth. This is going to be your dressing.
10. Place the baby spinach on a serving board or platter, scatter over the lentils, speed-peel the cucumber and carrot over the top and add the mushrooms.
11. Slice the chicken and remaining chili and arrange on top, then crumble the feta over top of those and spoon on the dressing.
12. Finish with the coriander leaves and lemon wedges. Serve with hot naan bread

Serves 4.


Maple-glazed BBQ Salmon with Brown Rice, Cashews and dried Cranberries

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Maple-glazed BBQ Salmon with Brown Rice, Cashews and dried Cranberries


We found a super recipe online for a maple syrup glaze for salmon. I decided that my old recipe (cut from the local newspaper years ago) for Brown Rice with Cashew Nuts and Cranberries would go along very well as a side dish. To round it out and for extra colour, I served sauteed asparagus tips and carrots.

The sweet/tangy taste of the glaze was perfect with the fruits and nuts in the rice.


1/4 cup maple syrup
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon garlic salt
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 pound salmon

1. Mix ingredients together.

2. Spread over salmon and marinate in the refrigerator for 30 minutes – 1 hour.



Brown Rice recipe:

1 pound brown rice (2 1/2 cups; medium or long grain is best, but any can be used)
2 tablespoons canola oil
1/2 Spanish onion, chopped
2 tablespoons minced ginger
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup dried cranberries
1 cup roasted unsalted cashew nuts
Salt, to taste
1/2 cup minced parsley
3 scallions, diced

1. Place the rice in a large skillet and toast over a high flame for 1 minute, stirring constantly to prevent burning. Add 6 cups water and bring to a strong simmer. Add really good pinch of salt. Cover and cook for 30 minutes, or until the rice is tender. Set aside.

2. Heat the oil in a large skillet over a high flame. Add the onion and saute for 2 minutes. Add the ginger and saute for 1 minute, then add the garlic and cranberries and cook for another 2 to 4 minutes, or until heated through.

3. Add the rice, cashew nuts and salt, to taste. Cook for 30 seconds, stirring constantly.

4. Remove from the heat and stir in parsley and scallions. Serve immediately.

Makes 8 servings.

(Recipe adapted from Luiz Ratto’s “The Healthy Table,” ReganBooks, 2003, $27.50.)

Sauteed Asparagus Tips and Carrots

1. Peel carrots and cut diagonally into 1″ chunks.

2. Wash asparagus, snap off the tips and some of the stems into 2″ pieces. Discard the tough, woody ends of the asparagus.

3. In a mix of olive oil and butter (1 T each), saute the carrots first for about 5 minutes until almost tender.

4. Add the asparagus and saute all until just crisp tender. Serve immediately.




Tequila-Lime Shrimp and Quinoa Bowls

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Tequila-Lime Shrimp and Quinoa Bowls


I invited a friend to lunch recently and served Tequila-Lime Shrimp with Quinoa. Not only did she enjoy the salad but said: who could not like shrimp marinated in tequila?? True, eh?

This is a colourful summer-y recipe that I got from a super site called Iowa Girl Eats. The site’s author, Kristin Porter, says she combined about 4 recipes to come up with this one.

I changed it a bit myself: I had accidentally bought cooked shrimp instead of raw so I marinated them in the tequila before adding to the rest of the ingredients before cooking. You could really taste the tequila, which was a good thing! But I’m sure her method would be excellent as well.

Remember to rinse the quinoa well before cooking to get rid of the bitter residue that’s on it. Her quinoa cooking method and time produced perfectly cooked, soft, chewy separated grains of quinoa.

1 cup quinoa, rinsed
1-3/4 cups chicken broth (you could use vegetable broth or water)
15oz can corn, drained (or 1-3/4 cup fresh or frozen-then-thawed corn)
15oz can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 avocado, chopped
1/2 red onion, minced
1/4 cup chopped cilantro

For the Tequila-Lime Shrimp:
3/4lb (12oz) raw peeled and de-veined shrimp
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup tequila
juice of 2 limes
1 Tablespoon honey
1 shallot, chopped
1 garlic clove, chopped
1/2 teaspoon cumin
salt and pepper (LOTS!)

For the Chili-Lime Vinaigrette:
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 Tablespoons honey
juice of 1 lime
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
salt and pepper


1. Bring chicken broth to a boil in a saucepan then add quinoa and place a lid on top. Turn heat down to medium-low then simmer until quinoa is tender and broth has been absorbed, about 15 minutes. Fluff with a fork then transfer to a large bowl to cool slightly.

For the Tequila-Lime Shrimp:

Whisk together all ingredients except shrimp in a large bowl then add shrimp and marinate for 10 minutes. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat then mist with olive oil or nonstick spray. Add shrimp, being careful not to crowd the pan (may need to do 2 or 3 batches,) then saute for 1-2 minutes on each side or until cooked through. Add to bowl with cooked quinoa.
For the Chili-Lime Vinaigrette:

Combine ingredients in a jar with a tight-fitting lid or in a small bowl then shake or whisk to combine and set aside.
Add corn, black beans, avocado, red onion, and cilantro to the quinoa and shrimp then drizzle with Chili-Lime Vinaigrette. Toss to combine then taste and adjust salt and pepper if necessary. Serve warm or refrigerate and serve cold.

Serves 4-6.
*For the entire recipe you’ll need 3 limes



Boston Cottage Cheese Toss

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Boston Cottage Cheese Toss


I need a few open-minded foodies here to try this salad. My family has enjoyed it for years but if you list the ingredients separately – cottage cheese, avocado, pickle – you might not think they taste good together…but they DO! It’s the type of salad that folks try and say: “This is great – what’s in it???”

Anyway – it’s quick and easy and goes with chicken, beef or pork. A nice summer salad.


1 head of Boston or Bibb lettuce (I have used romaine hearts successfully as well), washed, spun dry and ripped into bite-size pieces

1 T salad oil

1 T red wine vinegar

1 cup small curd cream-style cottage cheese

1 medium dill pickle, coarsely chopped

2 T chopped green onion

1 medium avocado, seeded, peeled and diced

2 hard cooked eggs, sliced



1. Hard boil 2 eggs. Allow to cool. Slice.

2. In large bowl, sprinkle lettuce with a little salt and pepper

3. Whisk together oil and vinegar. Toss lettuce with oil/vinegar mixture

4. Add cottage cheese, pickle and green onion. Add avocado right before serving.

5. Toss lightly to mix.

6. Garnish with hard-boiled eggs.

Makes 4 servings


Recipes and Fresh Herbs

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Recipes and Fresh Herbs

As you may be aware, I run 2 blogs: this one and a garden blog.
This year, instead of planting tomatoes in the back raised beds, I decided to plant my herbs (I usually plant them in pots on the deck.) I realize that it will take more time to trek to the back 40 to get a handful of dill or parsley when I need it, but oh well. Always a pleasant walk.

It hit me this morning that it might be interesting to overlap the blogs because not all readers of one are readers of the other. I grow herbs for the sole purpose of cooking with them so here comes a post that mentions a specific herb and then a recipe to go with it!


DSC_0239 DSC_0240

Tarragon Chicken with Grapes and Walnuts




Warm Fennel Salad with Olives, Pine Nuts and Orange








Greek Pasta Salad




Halibut with Balsamic Cherry Tomatoes and Basil




Swedish Meatballs with Dill




Lamb Burgers with Raita




Zucchini and Summer Squash Gratin with Parmesan and Fresh Thyme




Sausage Gnocchi with Warm Kale and Bean Salad


Happy Eating and Happy Gardening!!

Chocolate Apricot Torte

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European tortes are often multi-layered cakes filled with cream, buttercream, mousse or jam. This is a family recipe that’s called a torte but is more like a flan. It not only tastes fantastic but can be made in stages. The filling can be made 2-3 days ahead and stored in the frig. The whole torte can be made a day ahead and chilled. It also freezes very well.

It does resemble a European cake in that the filling is more tart than sweet. The pecan/chocolate/brown sugar crust is to die for……..


1 lb. dried apricots, coarsely chopped

1/2 cup sugar

1 1/2 cup water

2 T. fresh lemon juice

1 1/2 tsp. arrowroot or flour


2 cups pecans

1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips

1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp vanilla

3/4 cup light brown sugar (firmly packed)

3/4 cup COLD unsalted butter (cut into pieces and put into the freezer for about 10 minutes)

Make Filling:

1. In saucepan stir together chopped apricots, sugar, water, lemon juice, and arrowroot.

2. Cook over low heat, stirring frequently until thickened and most of the liquid is absorbed, about 10 minutes.

3. Remove pan from heat, dump filling onto flat plate and cool.

Make Dough:

1. In a food processor, combine nuts and chocolate chips. Pulse until mixture is coarsely chopped.

2. Add flour, salt, vanilla, brown sugar and cold butter and chop until mixture forms a crumbly dough

Preheat oven to 350F.

Assemble Torte:

1. Spray 9 1/2″ springform pan with PAM.

2. Press 2/3 dough across bottom and about 1 1/2″ up the sides.

3. Spread filling evenly over crust and crumble remaining dough over the filling.

4. Bake torte in the middle of the oven for 50-60 minutes or until golden.

5. Cool completely and remove side of the pan.

6. Dust with sifted icing sugar, if you wish.

7. Serve warm or chilled. Serves 8-12.



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