Ice Cream Cake Roll

Rotolo al Gelato

When I was a teenager I made ice cream roll cakes at least once a week. My parents almost never bought sweets, so we all devoured the homemade desserts my mom and I made. The freezer was always stocked with ice-cream, so I guess I was doing something right!

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I rediscovered my old recipe recently and found that I could make the cake lighter and airier than before (see tips below). Add premium ice cream and even a splash of your favourite liqueur (if you’re feeling grown up) and it’s a real treat.

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*Carla’s secret baking tip*: Tiny air bubbles in the mixing batter are a good sign–treat them with care! Using a rubber spatula, gently cut through the batter mixture to the bottom of the bowl and slide the spatula along the bottom and up the side, bringing some of the heavier mixture up and over with the spatula. Repeat the procedure until the flour is evenly distributed into the batter.

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Ice Cream Cake Roll

  • Servings: Approximately 6
  • Time: Approx 5 1/2hrs--including cake in freezer
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Ingredients

  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 5 eggs
  • Pinch fine salt
  • 2/3 cup of granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup oil
  • 2 1/2 Tbsps icing sugar
  • 1 L ice-cream (approximately), left at room temperature until slightly softened about 30 minutes
  • extra ice-cream (optional) for serving on the final dessert

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven at 325F
  2. Line a 15 x 10 x 1-inch jelly-roll pan with parchment paper.
  3. In a small bowl sift the flour and combine with baking powder. Set aside.
  4. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the eggs with salt until light, about 2 minutes. Gradually beat in the sugar. Beat at medium to high speed for about 8 to 9 minutes, or until the mixture thickens,turns pale and triples in volume.
  5. Add the vanilla and oil, folding liquids just until combined.
  6. Gradually spoon flour mixture to the egg batter, fold with a large spoon or with rubber spatula  until all flour is added and batter is blended and light.
  7. Carefully pour the batter into the prepared pan, using a spatula to evenly spread. Bake in oven for about 12 to 15 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.
  8. Meanwhile, evenly sprinkle icing sugar on a clean towel. Using a knife loosen the edges of the cake; turn onto towel.
  9. Gently peel paper away and discard. Trim edges. While still warm, starting at short edge, roll up cake in towel, seam side down. Set aside to cool completely.
  10. When cool, unroll cake and spread with softened ice cream within about 1-inch of edges. Re-roll cake carefully around ice-cream, using a layer of foil lined with waxed paper to hold cake and ice-cream in place. Roll tightly and place cake in the freezer. Freeze for at least 4 hours before serving.
  11. Leave cake out for 20 to 30 minutes before serving. Slice into 2 – inch (or to taste) pieces of cake. I like to serve a slice of the cake with an extra scoop of ice cream over top.

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Polenta al Forno

Baked cornmeal // Polenta al Forno

It may not seem as authentically Italian as pasta, but polenta (ground cornmeal) was a lot easier find after the war, when pasta was hard to come by. Polenta became a staple in my family meals. My mom grew to love polenta, but didn’t perfect her recipe until she had moved to Canada.

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The Italian ladies my Aunt Elda worked with at a factory in Canada shared their polenta secrets. They suggested that my Aunt cook her polenta in a saucepan until creamy, and finish by baking it in the oven topped with with tomato sauce and cheese. My Aunt shared this with my mom and I soon fell in love with this new, lasgna-style polenta.

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Polenta is prepared throughout Italy. In the Molise region of Italy, where my mom is from, it is served creamy in a bowl. In the North of Italy it is served firm and crusty with olive oil and sometimes mushrooms and gorgonzola cheese.

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Carla’s tip: Look for medium to coarse grind yellow cornmeal that is also known as polenta.

*Bonus Tip: For an easy, delicious, and gluten free snack, buy a prepared polenta roll (found at your local grocer). Slice, grill and serve with olive oil and sundried tomatoes (and even a bit of goat’s cheese!). My sister shared this treat with me.

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Polenta al Forno

  • Servings: 3-4
  • Time: Approx 2hrs
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Ingredients

  • 5 cups water or chicken stock
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup  cornmeal, medium or coarse grind
  • 2 1/2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 3 1/2 cups Mom’s tomato sauce (add extra to serve on the side)
  • 1 cup Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, grated
  • 1 cup mozzorella cheese, grated
  • 2 cups mushrooms, sliced  (optional) such as crimini, shittake or portobello
  • 2 Italian garlic sausages (optional)

Instructions

  1. Add water (or a blend of chicken stock & water, as you prefer) and salt to a heavy saucepan over high heat.
  2. Whisk in cornmeal until well blended, bringing mixture to a boil. Stir frequently at a boil, cooking at a high (medium-high) heat until mixture is thickened and begins to splatter.
  3. Reduce heat to low and continue cooking and stirring until texture is thickened and reduced, about 20 minutes. (Keep in mind that the polenta will cook further in the oven.)
  4. Remove polenta from the heat and add olive oil, 1/2 cup Mom’s tomato sauce, 1/4 cup each of Parmigiano and mozzorella cheeses, mix well after each addition.
  5. If using mushrooms, cook them in a skillet with an additional 1 Tbsp oil and 1 Tbsp melted butter, until golden and cooked (5 to 8 minutes). Remove from heat and add about 1/2 cup of mushrooms to polenta and mix well.
  6. If using sausages, grill, pan fry or bake in a 375 oven for about 20 minutes, turning often, until the sausage is evenly browned and warmed through, and the liquid runs clean. Slice the sauce into rounds and add about 1/3 of the sausage to the polenta and mix well.
  7. Line the bottom of an 13- x 9 -inch greased baking dish with about 1/2 cup of Mom’s tomato sauce. Spoon the polenta over the sauce using a spatula to evenly spread. Top with about two cups of tomato sauce and remaining mushrooms and sausages if desired. Sprinkle with about 1/2 cup each of the Parmigiano Reggiano and mozzorella cheese.
  8. Bake in a preheated 350F oven for 30 minutes until polenta still jiggles when you shake, or 10 minutes if you prefer a firmer polenta. Let the polenta cool for about 20  minutes before cutting and serving.
  9. Serve with additional tomato sauce and additional Parmigiano Reggiano cheese if desired.

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French Toast with Port and Cinnamon

Fatias dourada ou Rabanadas

“Golden slices” in English, Fatias dourada are a comforting treat to cozy up with on cold winter days. I found day-old sweet bread at my local supermarket and decided now was a good time to open the bottle of Port wine I received for Christmas.

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My friend Fatima Silva traditionally makes this on Christmas Eve, but there’s no limit on when you can enjoy this cinnamon-y dessert!

The golden slices, piled high into a pyramid, drip and form a delicious cascade of sugar, cinnamon, and Port wine. Fresh berries or fruit are a delicious addition and, for a special occasion, add a dollop of sweetened whip cream.

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Brief frying gives the slices of bread a crispy outer layer while retaining its creamy milk and Port centre. Make sure the bread is at least one day old so that it can tolerate the soaking without falling apart.

*Carla’s tip*: You can use a variety of breads when the recipe calls for “French loaf”. Try sweet egg bread or raisin bread. And if this is too much dessert for you to handle at once, the recipe can be cut in half.

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I’m happy to introduce Tayler Rozon, a certified Sommelier, as the blog’s new wine expert. She got a tough first assignment — French Toast! Let’s see what she recommends:

“Wine is not always an immediate thought when it comes to having dessert. However, there are a number of wine options that can take a familiar dessert to the next level. The basic rule when pairing wine with sweets is that the wine must be sweeter than the food. For this Portuguese French Toast a natural choice would be Port! If you are looking to get more adventurous I would recommend a Hungarian Tokaji Aszu. The Tokaji’s flavours of orange marmalade, apricot, and honey would meld well, especially if using a raisin or nut bread for the toast. A final suggestion would be Canadian Cabernet Franc Icewine. The intense favours of strawberries, raspberries, and rhubarb will pair beautifully with the red fruit flavours of the port. Cheers!”

Thanks, Tayler! I’m going to have to hunt down a bottle of Tokaji

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French Toast with Port and Cinnamon

  • Servings: 12 pieces of French toast
  • Time: Approx 1hr and 40min
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Ingredients

  • 1 day-old French loaf (See “Carla’s Tip” above!)
  • 2 cups port
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 5 Tbsp ground cinnamon
  • 6 eggs
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • Vegetable oil for frying
  • You’ll also need 3 shallow bowls, 1 flat dish, and a large skillet

Instructions

  1. Cut the bread into 1 1/2″ slices and set aside. You should have about 12 slices of bread without the ends, depending on the loaf size.
  2. Prepare 3 shallow bowls, each large enough to fit one bread slice. In one bowl place the port, in another bowl combine the milk and 2 Tbsp of the cinnamon, and in the third bowl whisk the eggs. Set aside.
  3. In a flat dish, combine the sugar and the remaining 3 Tbsp of cinnamon.
  4. In a large skillet, add 1/2″ of oil and heat to 375F
  5. Working one slice at a time (and on both sides), dip each first in the Port bowl, then the milk mixture bowl, then the egg bowl. The bread should be wet but not soggy. If it becomes too soggy or heavy in either of the first two bowls, gently squeeze out the excess liquid from the bread before dipping into the eggs.
  6. Using two forks, carefully place the egg-covered slices into the hot oil, 2 to 3 slices at a time. Cook for 1 to 2 minutes per side or until browned all over; if necessary, adjust the heat to keep the bread slices from browning too quickly.
  7. Briefly drain each piece on paper towels and then roll in the cinnamon sugar, coating all over, while the bread is still hot.
  8. Repeat the process with the remaining bread slices. If necessary, add more oil or, if the oil is becoming too dark with bits of cinnamon, change the oil midway through frying.
  9. If you’re feeling fancy, place 4 slices of cinnamon toast on a plate and build layers of overlapping slices to form a tiered pyramid. Set aside for at least an hour before serving to allow the syrup to drip and pool. (I usually can’t wait this long and like to eat the French toast slices while still warm!).

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Turkish Bread

This irresistible and decadent Turkish flatbread combines my friend Terra’s passion for Turkish food with her love of baking. Terra’s recipe perfectly blends her Canadian and Turkish roots to make a delicious bread.

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Terra often triples this simple recipe and freezes most of it, so she can pull some bread out of the freezer at anytime to accompany her wonderful dips and stews (we’ll have to get those recipes later!)

This Turkish bread isn’t heavy, as you might expect a bread with potatoes to be. In fact, it’s light and airy!

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*Carla’s Tips*:

  • Use russet potatoes and boil with skin on for minimal water absorption. Peel and mash just before using.
  • Keep all ingredients at room temperature and slightly on the warm side before using, this is guaranteed to make your dough very airy.
  • This recipe’s instructions can be easily adapted for a mixer.

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Turkish Bread

  • Servings: three 10 x 7
  • Time: approx 4-4.5 hrs
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Ingredients

  • 2/3 cup whole milk, heated and brought to room temperature
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp butter, melted and brought to room temperature
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp fine salt
  • 1 tsp granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup lukewarm water
  • 1 package active dry yeast (1 Tbsp)
  • 1 cup, mashed potatoes
  • 1 egg, room temperature
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 to 3 Tbsp chopped herbs Rosemary, oregano and thyme (fresh or dried)
  • 1 Tbsp kosher salt

Instructions

  1. In a bowl mix the milk and butter together and set aside.
  2. In a separate bowl, mix the flour and salt together and set aside.
  3. In a measuring cup, dissolve the sugar in the water. Sprinkle and stir in the yeast and let stand for about 10 to 15 minutes. Yeast mixture should be doubled in volume and foamy.
  4. In a large bowl, whisk together the mashed potatoes, milk mixture and eggs. Stir the yeast vigorously with a fork and stir into the potato-milk mixture. Add the flour mixture and gradually mix to make a soft and somewhat sticky dough.
  5. Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic,about 10 minutes, dough becomes less sticky with kneading. Shape the dough into a ball and place in a lightly greased bowl and turn to grease all over. Cover and let rise in a draft-free place for 2 1/2 hours or until doubled in bulk. Punch down the dough; turn out onto a lightly floured surface.
  6. Divide the dough into 3 equal pieces. Shape each portion into an foccacia-type oblong, flatbread to fit your baking sheet. (Approximately 10 x 7-inch width and length.)
  7. Place on baking pan lined with parchment paper. Make about 9 indentations with your thumbs on each bread and rub the top of bread with oil, sprinkle with all of some of the herbs and salt. Set aside to rise for about 20 to 30 minutes.
  8. Bake in 500F oven for about 8 to 10 minutes, check that bottom is golden brown. Broil for about 2 minutes further or until the top of bread is browned. Transfer to wire rack to cool.
  9. If not using immediately, cool the bread completely and wrap in plastic wrap and freeze for about 4 months

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Papa’s Baked Apples

Mele al Forno

The smell of baked apples brings me back to my childhood, and to my dad’s joy as he pulls a dish of baked apples from the oven. He wasn’t much of a dessert guy and hardly a baker, but he loved his apples and especially delighted in preparing them for our family.

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Since my childhood I’ve run across baked apples in all shapes and sizes. My mother-in-law likes to load them with raisins and nuts, and top them with cinnamon sticks. Upscale restaurants serve their baked apples with a biscotti crumble filling and a dollop of mascarpone.

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All of these inspired me to make a simple baked apple treat that I know my dad would have loved. It’s easy and fast, and will fill your house with the sweet scent of baked apples.

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My current favourite apple is Honey Crisp, one of the sweetest you can find. It’s perfect for eating and baking–sweet and crisp, and it holds it’s shape while baking. Other good baking apples include Braebarn, Jonagold, Empire, Granny smith, Cortland, Mutsu and Gala. There’s a lot of them! Keep your apples in a plastic bag in the refrigerator until you are ready to eat or bake.

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*Carla’s tip* They’re delicious with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and a helping of Amaretto liqueur!

Papa's Baked Apples

  • Servings: 4
  • Time: approx 60min
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Ingredients

  • 4 large cooking apples
  • 4 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 2 Tbsp pecans or hazelnuts, chopped (optional)
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 3 Tbsp butter (approx.), softened
  • 2 Tbsp Almond liqueur
  • 3 Tbsp water

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 375F.
  2. Using a paring knife, or apple corer (if you’re a keener!), core the apples (**but not completely! Try and leave one side in tact so the apples act like a container). Core them about an inch wide–removing the stem, core, and seeds.
  3. Grease 9-inch baking dish (with about 1 Tbsp of butter), and place apples in it, upright.
  4. In a small bowl, combine the sugar, nuts (if using) and cinnamon. Sprinkle about 1 Tbsp of the sugar mixture into each apple core, as well as on top of and around the apples.
  5. Divide up remaining 2 Tbsp of butter and add a bit to each apple, to your taste.
  6. Combine liqueur and water and place in the bottom of the apple’s baking dish. Loosely cover the dish with foil and place in 375F oven. Bake the apples for 45 to 60 minutes.
  7. During baking, baste* the apples twice. (*Basting here means to pour all the juices from the bottom of the pan back on top of the apples.)
  8. 15 minutes before end of baking, remove foil to colour the apples.
  9. Apples are ready when tender but not to the point of falling apart (or to your preference). Some apples take longer than others, so use your judgment.
  10. Best served warm, drizzled with some of the juices from pan.

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Italy’s secret condiment: Pickled Green Tomatoes

My mom has been making pickled vegetables for as long as I can remember, including these Pomodori Verdi Sott’Olio.

As a teen, my sandwiches were layers of prosciutto, mortadella, and mozzarella cheese with a helping of mom’s pickled vegetables stuffed into a crusty bun. Since then, I’ve helped my mom make her pickled vegetables. The type of vegetable always varied, from eggplant and asparagus, to today’s recipe: green tomatoes.

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Writing her recipe out now, I’ve realized two things:

1. It’s a lot easier to make than I remember
2. It’s intuitive and doesn’t fit nicely into exact measurements

How much oil do you need? “Enough to cover the vegetables”. What about salt? Vinegar? “You know, enough to cover everything”. It’s very much an authentic, old-school Italian recipe.

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While my mom and I were fine tuning the recipe, she called her sister in Italy to make sure I had the best possible recipe. We tapped straight into the source: the modern Italian home cook! Along the way we even found out that some in Italy substitute white wine for water. Who knew?

Keep in mind that the “exact” ingredients I list below are approximations and will vary. The classic amount is “enough to cover”, but that can change depending on the width of the bowl and jar you’re using. It’s better to add a little too much salt/vinegar/water/oil than the opposite.

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Find a cool, dark place to store these when finished and you can enjoy them year round in sandwiches and hamburgers, or with different appetizers. Try it on toast with ricotta cheese and roasted ripe tomatoes. Yum.

Don’t be intimidate by all those recipe steps below! Most of it is letting the ingredients sit around (they’re pickling) and draining liquid once in a while.

**Carla’s tip: You can change the seasoning to your preference. Experiment with fresh rosemary or thyme and double or reduce the garlic. These also make unique gifts for the foodie in your life! (Try using 1/2 cup jars).

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Pickled Green Tomatoes

  • Servings: approx 4 cups
  • Time: approx 41 hrs (Most of this is sitting around waiting for the pickling magic to happen. Hey, good things in life are worth waiting for 🙂 )
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Ingredients

  • 8 cups (2L) sliced green tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup (60 mL) coarse salt (approx)
  • 3 cups (750 mL) white wine vinegar (approx)
  • 1 cup (250 mL) water
  • 2 or 3 small green, red or yellow peppers and 1 carrot chopped, optional
  • 2 cups (500 mL), olive oil (approx)
  • 6 garlic cloves, cut in slivers or whole
  • 2 tsp (10 mL) dried oregano
  • 2 Tbsp (30 mL) cracked black pepper

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Instructions
It’s not as bad as it looks!

  1. Using a sharp knife trim off any blemishes from tomatoes. Slice the green tomatoes into roughly 1/2-inch slices.
  2. Lay out tomatoes in layers in a large ceramic or glass bowl, sprinkling salt in between each layer.
  3. Cover the tomatoes with a plate and a clean kitchen towel and leave to stand in a cool, dark place for 24 hours.
  4. After those 24 hours, take the tomatoes out of the bowl drain them in a colander. Squeeze tomatoes gently and leave in colander for about 20 minutes more, or until most of the liquid has been drained.
  5. Get out another bowl and mix together vinegar and water. Place tomatoes (and green pepper and carrots, if using) into the vinegar/water bowl, making sure the liquid covers all of the vegetables. Cover with a plate and a dishcloth and set aside for approximately 12 hours.
  6. After these 12 hours, drain the liquid from the tomatoes/vegetables/vinegar/water bowl using a colander.
  7. Keep the tomatoes/vegetables in the colander and place a small plate over them, so that the vegetables are being pressed down (and drained through the colander in the bottom.) Add some weight to the top of the small plate so it adds extra pressure to the pickled veggies (I used a brick). Leave it like this for 3-4 hours.
  8. In a separate bowl, mix olive oil, garlic, oregano and cracked peppers. Blend with a spoon and get ready to pack everything up into jars!
  9. Once the veggies have finishes their 3-4 hour colander draining, stuff them into sterilized preserving jars (1 cup/ 250 mL jars are a good size). Pour the oil mixture over the green tomatoes, leaving 1/2 inch (1 cm) head space.
  10. Make sure that all vegetables are covered with oil mixture and seal tightly.
  11. Don’t be afraid to push the vegetables into jars firmly and remember what I said: these measurements aren’t exact! You might need a little less more more of the olive oil mixture to make sure the veggies are covered and fit well in the jar.
  12. Keep the jars in a refrigerator or cool dark room until ready to use. When you remove vegetables to eat, make sure all vegetables left behind in the jar are covered with oil, adding additional oil if necessary. Keep for 6 months.

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Irresistible Chocolate Chip Cookies

The response from my family was immediate: I had to hide these from my husband and my son hid them from himself. You might want to err on the side of caution and double the recipe, or you’ll be wondering where all your cookies went!

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Eat Your Words cookbook store recently hosted an evening with Daphna Rabinovitch as she offered samples from her new book, The Baker in Me. Daphna has three decades of culinary experience and it shows in her new book. Filled with great recipes and helpful baking tips, I choose these cookies to kick start my holiday baking and they’ve proved to be a rich and decadent treat.

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The chopped chocolate is a nice touch, adding pleasing texture and unevenness to each bite–well worth the extra work. That said, hand chopping the chocolate is a bit time consuming and tiring, so you can substitute it for regular chocolate chips if you like (or bribe a daughter/son/wife/husband/stranger to do it in exchange for cookies 😉 )

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You can reduce the sugar by one third and they’ll still taste great in lunches or as after school or work snacks.

*Carla’s cooking tip*: If you have time, set the cookie batter aside for 6-8 hours before baking for an added boost to flavour.

A big thank you to Eat Your Words for inviting me along for the night!

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Daphna's Irresistible Chocolate Chip Cookies

  • Servings: about 3 dozen
  • Time: approx 60min
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Ingredients

  • 2 cups (500 mL) all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp (5 mL) baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp (1 mL) salt
  • 1 cup (250 mL) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup (250 mL) brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup (60 mL) granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tsp (5 mL) vanilla
  • 1 cup (250 mL) semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1 1/3 cups (330 mL) coarsely chopped semisweet chocolate

Instructions

  1. Whisk together flour, baking soda, and salt in a bowl; set aside.
  2. In a separate large bowl, with an electric mixer, beat the butter for 1 minute. Beat in both sugars until the mixture is light– about 3-5 minutes. Be sure to scrape down the dough from the edges of the bowl!
  3. Beat in the eggs and vanilla, one at a time, until well combined.
  4. Using a wooden spoon, stir the flour mixture slowly into the butter mixture, until a smooth dough forms. Stir in the chocolate chips and chopped chocolate.
  5. Time to form the cookies! Aim for 2 heaping tablespoons per cookie, added onto cookie sheets lined with parchment paper. Shape them roughly into balls, flatten them slightly, and be sure to leave about 2 inches space in between them.
  6. Bake cookies in the centre of a 375F (190C) oven until set and lightly browned around the edges, 8 – 10 minutes.
  7. Remove cookie sheet and place on wire rack for 1-2 minutes, to let cookies set. Transfer each cookie from sheet onto wire rack to continue cooling.
  8. Store cookies in cookie tin. Will keep at room temperature for up to 5 days.

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Italian Peas and Mushrooms

No matter how many summer peas we picked from the vegetable garden as kids, there never seemed to be enough for mom to make her Italian peas and onions. It was mostly my siblings and I to blame, sneaking freshly shelled peas when no one was looking. I’m not sure mom minded–we were getting our vegetables either way!

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When peas were out of season, mom used frozen peas which are flash frozen at the height of their freshness. They’re not the same as freshly picked, but still tasty, nutritious, and sweet.

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For a quick after-work dinner, add a fried egg or two to this recipe for added protein. Throw in a few slices of toast and you might as well be back in the Italian countryside. Buon appetito!

*Carla’s Tip*: Chop onions and mushrooms the same size, so that you can taste and see the peas, onions and mushrooms on your fork. Adjust cooking time to how small or large you cut the vegetables.

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Italian Peas and Mushrooms

  • Servings: 2-3 as main meal, 4-6 as side dish
  • Time: approx 30min
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Ingredients

  • 3 cups (750 mL) peas, fresh or frozen
  • 3 Tbsp (45 mL) olive oil
  • 1 red onion, diced
  • 6 to 8 brown cremini mushrooms, chopped
  • 3 to 4 sprigs fresh thyme, or your favourite herb
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. If using frozen peas, place them in a colander under cold running water until defrosted; drain and set aside.
  2. In a large skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Add the onion and cook for about 3 to 4 minutes or until softened. Add the mushrooms and cook until softened and vegetables golden, 5 to 6 minutes. Add the peas, herbs, salt and pepper to taste.
  3. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes further, stirring to scrape up any brown bits from the bottom of the pan and peas are tender. I like to cover peas and set aside while I prepare the rest of the meal, which gives time for the flavour of vegetables and seasonings to develop. You can also serve immediately.

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Chocolate Peanut Butter cookies

Chock full of peanuts and chocolate, these cookies are a delicious end of day snack. Pair them with sliced fruit and watch them disappear once children, and their friends, return from school.

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When my friend Aileen offered her all-time favourite peanut butter cookies recipe, I knew that I was in for a real treat. They have a rich, shortbread texture that are best enjoyed with a glass of milk or a cup of tea. You can substitute butter for the coconut oil if you want something lighter.

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Bake these cookies until they’re golden on the edges and look almost uncooked when pulled out of the oven. If you prefer them crispier, leave a batch in the oven a few minutes longer, until the edges have browned.

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*Carla’s Tip*: Stay close to the oven when you bake these cookies as they can brown quickly (I learned this the hard way!). Also,though all-natural peanut butter is great for toast, it’s not the best for baking. Use Skippy, or another creamy and consistent peanut butter.

Chocolate Peanut Butter cookies

  • Servings: ~30 cookies
  • Time: approx 1hr
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Ingredients

  • 1 1/4 cups (300 mL) all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp (2 mL) baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp (2 mL) baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp (1 mL) salt
  • 1/4 cup butter (60 mL) butter, room temperature
  • 1/4 cup (60 mL) coconut oil (or other oil)
  • 3/4 cup (185 mL) brown sugar, packed
  • 1/4 cup (60 mL) granulated sugar
  • 1 cup (250 mL) peanut butter, creamy
  • 1 egg,room temperature
  • 1 tsp (5 mL) vanilla
  • 1/2 cup (125 mL) chocolate or peanut butter chips

Coating:

  • 1/4 cup (60 mL) granulated sugar (optional)

Instructions

  1. Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a small bowl.
  2. In a large bowl, cream butter, oil, sugars and peanut butter until well combined. Add egg and vanilla, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
  3. Gradually add the flour mixture until no visible white streaks can be seen. Stir in chocolate or peanut chips.
  4. Cover and refrigerate for about 30 minutes or until cold.
  5. Portion the cookies–about one heaping tablespoon per cookie–rolling each into a ball. Place remaining granulated sugar into a small bowl and coat each cookie thoroughly.
  6. Place onto a greased baking sheet, leaving about 2 inches (5 cm) between cookies. Using a fork, slightly flatten cookies, making a criss-cross pattern.
  7. Bake in the middle rack of a preheated 375F (190C) oven for 8 to 10 minutes, until cookies are golden around the edges, but still soft in the center. Remove from oven, and let cool on baking sheet 1 to 2 minutes.

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Fish wrapped in Prosciutto with Pine Nut Sauce

Truta com Presunto em Molho de Pinhoes

Trying to get more fish in your diet? Here’s an easy recipe with crispy prosciutto, tender fish, and a dash of rich pine nut sauce.

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It’s a salty, fragrant Portuguese classic.Wrapping the fish in a thin layer of prosciutto seals in the fish’s moist juices and enhances the flavour. The pine nut sauce adds a touch of decadence and is a great match for the salty fish and prosciutto. Grab a bottle of chilled, Vinho Verde and you’re in for a treat.

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From the north of Portugal (where it’s presunto thank you very much), this recipe is traditionally made with cold water fish, but I like it with any firm, white fish. Try rock fish, European sea bass or even salmon. Trout fillets, skinned and deboned, also work. My favourite is sea bass.

*Carla’s Tip*: Buy the freshest fish possible.The eyes of the fish should be completely clear, never cloudy or sunken.The flesh should be firm, spring back when touched, and smell fresh with no strong odour. Gills should be bright red.

Fish in Prosciutto

  • Servings: 1-2
  • Time: approx 20-30min
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Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup (60 mL) olive oil (approx)
  • 1 1/2 lb (750 g) 1 whole fish, cleaned and trimmed
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1/4 cup (60 mL) chopped fresh parsley
  • 3 to 4 thin slices of prosciutto
  • 1/2 lemon, sliced and cut into wedges (optional)

Pine Nut Sauce (optional)

  • 1/4 cup (60 mL) olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp (15 mL) butter
  • 1/2 cup (125 mL) pine nuts

Instructions

  1. Line a baking dish large enough to hold the fish with parchment paper. Grease with about 1 Tbsp (15 mL) olive oil.
  2. Using a sharp knife, make 3 shallow diagonal cuts about 1/4 inch (6 mm) deep along both side of the fish. Season both sides and cavity with salt and pepper. Tuck half of the parsley into the diagonal cuts and the cavity of fish.
  3. Rub 1 Tbsp (15 mL) of olive oil around and inside of fish. Wrap prosciutto around the body of the fish; secure with toothpicks or butcher’s twine, to hold prosciutto in place. Place fish onto prepared baking dish and and pour about 1 Tbsp (15 mL) of oil over fish.
  4. Bake in a preheated 450F (230C) oven for 10 minutes per 1-inch (2.5 cm) thickness of fish.
  5. Halfway through cooking, carefully turn the fish over with a lifter and sprinkle with remaining 1 tbsp (15 mL) of oil. Bake until the fish flakes easily when pierced with tip of sharp knife or fork and prosciutto is crispy.
  6. To make the pine nut sauce. In a small saucepan over medium heat, heat the oil and butter just until the butter is melted. Add the pine nuts and cook until the pine nuts begin to brown, stirring frequently, about 1 to 2 minutes. Keep warm.
  7. Transfer the fish to a serving platter and, remove and discard the excess parsley (if desired) , and pour the warm pine nut sauce (if using) overtop, garnish with parsley and lemon slices (if desired

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