Tiramisu

IMG_6056This is my basic Tiramisu recipe, which has morphed into many versions for different events. As long as you have the basic principle of layering different ratios of whipped cream & mascarpone (or an alternate) between moistened savoiardi (ladyfingers), it allows you to create a version appropriate to the time of year, or the event.

This is the traditional version with espresso & mascarpone, I’ve added in a bit of brandy. It needs to be made the day before the event to allow it to set, and for the savoiardi to become cake-like. Continue reading

Persian Potato Cakes ~ Kookoo

IMG_8422We went out in the boat this week for a late afternoon trip over towards the Secretary Islands.   So often the channel between Thetis and the small island group is very choppy, but that day it was beautifully calm. We were able to look at all the amazing rock formations, centuries old yew trees, and an abundance of seals.

It’s rare not to see a seal when you’re in these waters, but there were more than usual. Whether they were resting on rocks or in the water, they were all around. I suppose the fishing was good!

It was a lovely prelude to our fish & chips at Vesuvius, trying to squeak another wonderful dinner at the Seaside Restaurant before the days are too short.

The trip back was full of a late summer’s evening light, resting on the sandstone cliffs of Tent & Penelakut Islands. We could all feel the bit of chill in the air, reminding us that autumn isn’t far off.IMG_8314

September is our month for getting all those outside jobs done before fall really does set in, easy suppers, served late, and quickly getting back outside to do evening chores before dark. Meals have to be quick on these days, so I’m always looking for new ways to make that happen. Working on the middle-eastern menu for the island’s recent Summer Soiree, I found the lovely Persian vegetable & egg cakes called Kookoo. They are so versatile, and easy to make. We did a potato version as one of the appetizers. Our Gypsy-King musician, Barra, was so excited to have these treats from his heritage. His enthusiasm made them a hot item!

Somehow I’ve gone from centuries old yew trees and seals to middle-eastern traditional cuisine, but it all fits; a dish that is new to us, but traditional to others. It’s all about where we come from, and where we are today. Continue reading

Glazed Polenta & Almond Cake with Stewed Lemons

IMG_8024The blackberries are dripping off the bushes. The air is heavy with their scent as I walk by, reminding me that I have to get serious about picking them while they’re still plump and sweet. This summer has been so busy; add to that the heat and mosquitoes, and I haven’t really felt the urge to do much picking.

While I still have time for the blackberries, the Transparent Apples are just about done, the horses and cattle getting most of them so far. I need to go out and get enough for half a dozen pies, as they are my favourite pie apples. Mix them with the blackberries, and I’m over the moon! In the cold, dark days of winter, pulling a pie filled with summer fruit from the freezer, and cooking it, not only fills the house with summer smells, but gives us one more chance to eat that sweet summer goodness.

Picking for pies and freezing is a commitment of time that I need to build into an already busy day. But to pick a few cups takes no time at all, to enjoy with ice cream or a baked dessert like this wonderful, very grown up, polenta & almond cake. This citrusy version is a perfect complement to the summer berry crop. Continue reading

Dutch Baby

IMG_6567For a few summers when in my teens, I was fortunate to be taken along to the Okanagan for a few weeks to babysit.  Besides spending hours on the beach and boating, I soon took over the morning breakfast ritual.  Out behind their cabin was a wood oven with a ¾” sheet of steel for a cooking surface.  I would go out early, and get the fire going, until the steel was just the right temperature.  Previous summers lighting the woodstove on Thetis gave me the necessary skill set at the ripe old age of 14.

The first day I made French toast.  I’d been told that the children weren’t fond of it, but went ahead anyhow.  I love French toast, especially when sprinkled with sugar and drizzled with lemon.  I won the kids over the first go; they’d just never had it with a custardy center.  By the end of our second week there, the neighbours had started “dropping” by at breakfast, often with a loaf of bread or some eggs.  One morning I made breakfast for 20.  This was most probably my first catering gig.

Even though this is not a recipe for French toast, it is a recipe for an easy breakfast dish that tastes great with sugar and lemon!

The Dutch Baby is basically a huge popover.  You can use a small cast iron pan, enameled bake ware, or a plain cake pan, anything from 8-9” in diameter.   All you need is equal volumes of eggs, milk and flour, with a bit of butter.  When it comes out of the oven, its sides will have risen up well over the edge of the pan.  Simply invert it onto a plate and serve with a sprinkle of sugar and a drizzle of lemon ~ fresh fruit, a dollop of preserves or a bit of syrup work well, too.  Plan on sharing one between two, or one each for hungrier folks. Continue reading

Gâteau au Chocolat Épicé

IMG_6434I’ve always loved the exotic combination of chilies & chocolate.  The two flavours are perfect together, and have been used together for far longer than I’m sure the history books show.  Whether it’s adding a bit of cocoa to a robust chili con carne, or having a chili infused piece of chocolate, it all works for me.

I was working on a Mexican menu for an event once, and needed to finish with a cake.  Starting with a basic flourless cake recipe, I added different amounts of various spices until I finalized the recipe with this mix.  Because it is flourless, it stands well as the gluten-free dessert selection on a buffet.  It is a grown-up cake, and is good as part of a menu that requires something less sweet, that is also intriguing.

Usually I serve the cake precut into wedges, with raspberry coulis and a bowl of whipped cream alongside.   When you’re done, remember to thank the Mayans. Continue reading