Panino con Salsiccia


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I hope you all had a wonderful holiday with your loved ones, filled with good cheer, lots of laughter and loads of great food! I am slowly getting my mojo back. In the kitchen, that is. I seem to be having a difficult time getting back into the groove of cooking. I’m afraid that all the pre-Christmas preparations have left me knackered. I just had to use that word! It’s all good though. I’m hanging out with my girls, reading, watching movies, listening to music. We are eating, just not long, thought-out meals. Simple foods. Like this panino with Italian sausage. Oh, not just any sausage either. It’s the Bartolini sausage. I referred to this sausage briefly in the Orecchiette con Rapini e Salsiccia post. It was a side-note in that dish, with rapini the real star. This time, the star is the Bartolini Sausage.

Ages ago, I received the Kitchenaid attachments for making sausage. Hubby was hoping I would follow in my Italian ancestor’s footsteps and make some homemade sausage. All of those attachments have yet to be unwrapped from its packaging, let alone used for making sausages. But then I came across John’s recipe over at from the Bartolini kitchens. Simple, delicious and, most importantly, no casings! How great is that? Pork, spicy pancetta, garlic infused white wine, salt pepper and fennel seeds. I gotta have fennel seeds in my sausage. And that’s it. You’ve got yourselves some delicious makings for Italian sausage.

I had used some of it for my orecchiette dish and then froze the remainder into various shapes. And was I ever thankful to find them in my freezer once my mojo in the kitchen had gone.

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As I look at that photo with the sausages laid out, I can’t help but be reminded of an Eskimo Inukshuk. I grilled them on the BBQ, with big, light snowflakes falling down upon me from the sky. Sipping a glass of wine. It was a lovely evening for my first-ever barbie in the wintertime.

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Foraging through the fridge, I came up with a few goodies to add to these tasty little sausages, making this panino a meal in itself. Bumba Calabrese, a spicy sauce with Porcini mushrooms from Calabria, gorgeous spicy marinated eggplant from Italy, and my all-time favourite panino filling, rapini. Eat as is or grill it, it’s up to you. Now how’s that for a simple dinner?







Foodie Gifts


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I want to show you a glimpse of the madness that has been going on in my kitchen of late. Not including the mess. Do you know what I want for Christmas? A little elf, following me around all day, picking up after me. So every time I turn around, poof! All clean! Wouldn’t that be something?

And if I can’t have an elf, how about one of these Holiday Baskets? Filled with oh so yummy treats. I know I would love it!

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Like this small basket which has: white chocolate bark with pistachios, cranberries and dried roses.



A huge gingerbread Smores. Yes, huge homemade smores filled with dark Belgian chocolate and gingerbread marshmallows! Oh baby!



Oh so yum Salted Caramel Sauce. You know, for drizzling on your ice cream. Or pound cake. Or anything really.


And Hot Chocolate on a Stick. Made with dark Belgian chocolate. Some with cinnamon. Some with hot chill pepper. Perfect for melting into a hot cup of milk.


Or would you prefer the medium basket? With all of the above plus the addition of two of my specialty jams. Bacon jams, that is! Bourbon Bacon Jam (which almost took me to Recipe to Riches), and Apple Bacon Jam with Cider.

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Personally, I would choose the large basket. With everything in it plus Chorizo & Port Jam, spicy Bourbon BBQ Sauce, and some superlicious Momofuku Cookies.

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Orecchiette con Rapini e Salsiccia


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It’s been mad around here lately.  Has December been crazy for you too? Please forgive my blatant neglect with regards to your blog posts.  Between preparing foods for a dinner party of 24 people, cooking a light lunch for 100, baking cookies and goodies for bake sales, organizing a book fair and a holiday lunch for teachers and staff at my daughter’s school, planning a cookie exchange party, cooking and baking for gift baskets, and a health issue which sometimes leaves me bedridden, life has been somewhat overwhelming for me lately. And I’ve left out a number of things.  Who else has been suffering from all this craziness? My family.  Not being able to cook up some homemade goodness has left us all grumpy.  Oh, how I wish some of you lived close by!

Well, I did manage a meal here and there, and with a little help from my friend John over at from the Bartolini kitchens, I made Italian sausage for the first time ever.  And not just any sausage. Simple and yummy Bartolini Sausage.  It doesn’t get any easier than John’s recipe as there aren’t any casings involved.  How great is that?

I added strong pancetta rather than mild to the meat mixture, to give it a little zing.  And I also added whole fennel seeds.  I just love the taste of fennel in Italian sausage.  I used this recipe in two ways and in this post I will show you how I used it in my Orecchiette and Rapini dish.

First, rapini.  LOVE!  One of the most popular greens in Italy.  Also known as broccoli rabe in America, if you’ve never tried it, you really should!  Rapini comes to us from the mustard family, with some referring to it as mustard greens.  With spiked leaves and little green buds that resemble broccoli, it is not at all related to broccoli.  It is a close relative of the turnip family and its flavour is characteristically pungent and bitter.  Not only is it yummy, it’s good for you too.  It has amazing health benefits such as cancer-fighting properties, keeping bones strong, lowering the risk of heart disease, and improving insulin sensitivity.  A cool weather vegetable at its best in the Fall, Winter and early Spring, when buying rapini look for leaves and buds that are crisp and dark green.  You don’t want any yellowing leaves nor yellow flowers on the buds.


My dad always prepared rapini simply.  Sautéd with olive oil and garlic. Served with steak or liver sausage, or added to cooked orecchiette pasta. My fave!  So this time, because my caveman is constantly demanding where the meat is if I should present a meatless dish, I served it up with crumbled sausage.  Here’s how you can do it too.


1 package of Orecchiette pasta

1 lb. of sausage, casings removed if you haven’t made your own

2 or 3 cloves of garlic, chopped

1 package of rapini, rinsed under cold water


Cook the sausage meat in a fry pan until done.  Set aside.  Boil some water and cook the “little ears”.  That’s what they resemble, no?  And that’s exactly what orecchitte means in Italian.


Prepare the rapini.  The stems are rather tough and I remove about 1/3 to 1/2 of them.  With the remaining stems, I crush them with the side of my butcher’s knife, to bruise them all up and render them tender after cooking. Otherwise, the rapini will be perfectly done but the stems will remain tough.


Over medium heat, add olive oil to you frying pan and when hot, add the garlic.  Cook for about a minute and then add the rapini.  Your pan will be rather full, but only for a few minutes.  It will wilt down to almost nothing. That’s why I always prepare two batches.  Add some salt and toss. After a few minutes, once they’ve wilted down quite a bit, add a lid and allow the water from the rinsed rapini to help cook them.  If they begin to dry out, add a splash of water.  They should be done after about 5 minutes.

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Once your pasta has been drained, return to the pot and add the cooked sausage and rapini.  Give the whole thing a good toss and serve.  Sprinkle some Pecorino Romano on top and Buon Appetito!

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Giving Thanks – Part I


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As my American neighbours to the south celebrated their Thanksgiving, I thought I would take a few moments to give thanks as well.

First, my birthday week.  Oh, who am I kidding!  I used to have a birthday week, but those days are long gone.  Now, I just have a birthday.  And a special birthday it was.  Many thanks to my friend Sue who organized a beautiful lunch in my honour.  Decorations, friends, presents and great food. A beautiful and oh, so delicious Salade Niçoise.  And no canned tuna for me. Gorgeous, pan-seared tuna steaks for my special day. With wine.  And a yummylicious chocolate-caramel cake.  Thank you Sue! And thank you Beatrice, Karen, Esther and Carmie.  It was a lovely afternoon!

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Sue did have one more treat up her sleeve.  And what a treat it was!  She took me to a hockey game on the last day of November.  A perfect ending to my birthday month!  The Montreal Canadians against the Toronto Maple Leafs. Watching a hockey game with my girlfriend, 6 rows from the ice, having hot dogs and beer.  Now what could be better than that?  I’ll tell you what. Montreal beating Toronto 4-2, that’s what!  Go Habs Go!


No-Bake Ginger Pumpkin Pie


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For the first time ever, the girls grew their very own pumpkins this year. Emma was quite successful with her bounty: 2 large pumpkins and a medium one.  Charlotte, just 3 wee little ones.  No matter, they were quite excited and decorated them for Halloween.  I asked to keep one for roasting.

We love roasted pumpkin seeds.  I usually just toss them with olive oil and salt, then pop them in the oven.  This time, I thought I’d try something different.  My friend Marina had come over for scones a few days earlier and brought me a gift.  A foodie gift.  Pimentón.

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Pimentón is a Spanish version of paprika with a wonderful smoky flavour to it. An essential ingredient in Spanish cuisine, it’s what gives chorizo its distinct flavour.  I use it to flavour my chicken when making fajitas, or beef when making tacos.  I even blend into my mayo and dip my fries into it.  Its use is limitless.  I love it!  And that gorgeous colour, oh!  My daughter Charlotte took these to school for snack one day and her friends devoured them.  They even asked if I would share the recipe.  So here you go girls, this one is for you, The Pumpkin Seeds Girls at Villa Maria High School.  Place the seeds in an oven pan, drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle some sea salt and pimentón, and give them a toss.  Roast in the oven at 350 F, until lightly browned, about 30 minutes.  Enjoy!

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Now for roasting the pumpkin.  I cut it into pieces and peeled them.  I threw them into a roasting pan and then into a 350 F oven, until fork tender. Once cooled, I stored it in the fridge until I was ready to use it.

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Not having made my pumpkin pie for our Canadian Thanksgiving, much to Emma and my nephew’s disappointment, I thought I’d make it with the roasted pumpkin.  I’ve only ever used canned pumpkin, so this was a first.  I love this pumpkin pie.  Instead of using the typical graham cracker crust, I make it with ginger snap cookies.  It gives the pie a wonderfully warm flavour.  And it’s ready in a snap, no baking involved!

Ginger Pumpkin Pie

2 cups of ginger snap cookie crumbs, about 250 gr. of ginger snaps

1/4 cup of melted butter

3/4 cups of brown sugar

1 package of unflavoured gelatin

1 1/2 teaspoons of cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon of salt

1/4 teaspoon of powdered ginger

1/4 teaspoon of nutmeg

2 cups/400 gr. of roasted pumpkin, pureed, or a 14 oz. can of pumpkin

3/4 cups of milk

3 egg yolks

1/2 cup of 35% whipping cream

Place the ginger snap cookies in a food processor and blitz until they turn into fine crumbs.  Add the melted butter and mix with your fingers. Press the crumbs onto the bottom and sides of a 9-inch/1.5 L deep pie plate. Refrigerate until ready to use.

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In a saucepan, stir together brown sugar, gelatin, salt and all of the spices. Blend in the pumpkin, milk and egg yolks.  If you’ve forgotten to puree the pumpkin into a smooth texture, as I did, you can use a hand blender in the saucepan to do so now.  Over medium heat, bring to a boil and cook for 5 minutes, stirring constantly.  Set the pan in an ice water bath in the kitchen sink.  Allow to cool.

In a small bowl, whip the cream until thick.  Whisk 1/4 of the whipped cream into the pumpkin mixture.  Fold in the remaining whipped cream.  Pour into the pie crust and refrigerate for 4 hours, or overnight.  I like to decorate my pie with additional whipped cream and ginger snaps.  Happy Thanksgiving to my American friends!

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Scones & Clotted Cream


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My friend Karen was celebrating a birthday and I wanted to do something special for her.  Seeing as she is a huge fan of everything British, I planned a morning of tea, scones, jam and clotted cream.  Coming across clotted cream around here isn’t an easy task, and is quite expensive if you do.  As Karen stepped into my kitchen and saw the freshly baked scones, she teasingly asked, “And where’s the clotted cream?”.  To which I replied, “It’s in the fridge, but I’m not sure it’s ready… I’ve never had it before.”  Astonished, Karen replied that she was only joking.  Well, clearly I wasn’t.

After much perusing of various scone recipes, I settled on one from the New Zealand Women’s Weekly.  Why?  One look at this video and you’ll understand.  Annabelle White is so enthusiastic and excited about these scones, she is over-the-top cute!  I fell in love with her!  Oh, and the fact that these scones looked oh so fast and simple to make.  Or perhaps it’s the kiwi accent!

The original recipe can be found here, but I altered it by omitting the dried fruit and adding 1/4 of sugar instead.


  • 3 cups of self-raising flour
  • 1 teaspoon of baking powder
  • Pinch of salt
  • 80g of semi-frozen butter
  • 1 1/2 cups of buttermilk
  • 1/4 cup of sugar

The trick to baking these scones, apparently, is using frozen butter and grating it into the flour, and handling the dough as little as possible with your hands, using a knife to mix all the ingredients together.  The knife saves overworking the gluten and produces a lighter scone.  It makes a rather wet dough, but that is exactly what’s got Annabelle so excited!


Preheat the oven to 400 F.  And in case you’re wondering what fan bake means, it’s convection bake.

Stir the flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl, using a knife.  Grate in the frozen butter and work it into the mixture with the knife until it’s mixed in. Don’t overwork it. The colder the butter remains, the better.

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Add the buttermilk and sugar and continue to stir with the knife.  Keep the mixture wet, so add a little more buttermilk if necessary, just 1 or 2 tablespoons.

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Place the mixture on a lightly floured surface and gently pat it into an oval shape, with just 5 or 6 pats in total.  Using a pastry scrapper if you have one, a sharp knife if you don’t, cut the dough into 15 pieces.  Place them on a baking tray, close together.

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Bake at 400 F for 10 to 15 minutes, or until golden.  Oh so scrumptious, no?

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Clotted Cream and the Great Scone Debate

“Oh clotted cream, why do you baffle me so?”    Oh Lidia

And now for the celebrated clotted cream.  Apparently, it isn’t so easy to make at home.  So they said.  You need to use unpasteurized heavy cream. Unpasteurized cream or milk is non-existant here in Montreal, unless you own a cow.  Which I don’t.  And you also need to use a high fat heavy cream.  40% fat content is good, 50% is better.  The highest fat cream available to us is a mere 35%.  So, against all odds, I went ahead and made it.  And make it I did.  Oh yeah!  Lusciously yummy!

Preheat the oven to 200 F.  Pour 2 cups of 35% cream into an oven dish with a lid.  I read that it needed to be in the oven for 8 hours.  I didn’t read the part that said to leave it in there for an additional 4 hours if it hadn’t thickened.  So after 8 hours, or at 10:30 PM, I had to learn how to set my oven so it would turn itself off at 2:30 AM.  Only it beeps to let you know that the oven has shut itself off.  And keeps on beeping.  Until hubby nudges me at 2:45 AM and says that something is beeping in the kitchen.  Oh Karen, I hope you appreciated that clotted cream!  After 12 hours, remove the dish from the oven and allow to cool before placing in the fridge for 8 hours.  The cream is now clotted, if you’re lucky.  Remove the clotted cream carefully, not including the liquid cream on the bottom which you can use as regular cream. Transfer to a glass container.

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Who would have thunk that this oh so luscious cream could spark a national debate over in the UK?  Well, it has!  The great debate is thus:  Do you spread the jam over your scone first and add a dollop of clotted cream on top?  Or do you spread the clotted cream over your scone and slather the jam over it? Hmmmm.  Unbelievable the amount of readings one can find on this.  In The Guardian.  The Telegraph.  Even The Independent.  Apparently, it’s a long-running rivalry between Cornwall, who claims it’s jam first with the clotted cream on top, and Devon, who insists it’s cream first with jam on top.  There’s actually a mathematician from the University of Sheffield who’s claim to fame is having proved which is the correct way.  Except that in The Telegraph she claims that it’s jam first.  And the very next day on, she insists it’s cream first.  Well, I just had to do my very own test, didn’t I?  So I tried my scone with jam first and the cream on top.  Yum!  Then I tried it with cream first and the jam on top.  Just as yum!  Maybe I needed to try again.  I did, with the same results.  So now I’m asking you my friends, how do you like your scones?

With the jam slathered on first and the clotted cream sitting on top?


Or with the clotted cream spread onto the scone and the jam dolloped over it?


And as I notice the time, I realize it is my birthday!  Happy Birthday to me! xo

Nutella Banana Bread… I Think


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I have been doing some much-needed cleaning around my home.  Not so much cleaning as organizing.  Oh, the stuff I put aside, you wouldn’t even begin to imagine.  And when we’re expecting guests and there are little piles of stuff everywhere, chances are I’ll run out of time to get to them so I just dump them.  In closets, grocery bags, armoires.  And then I scramble when searching where the heck I could have placed my driver’s permit renewal form.  Or worse, my over-due property taxes!

I came across piles of recipes.  Pages torn out of magazines while at the doctor’s office.  Photocopies from borrowed books.  Scraps of paper with notes on various recipes.  And sheets of paper with scribbles on it, listing ingredients and some form of method, but nothing else.  Such as this one.


I have no idea where it came from or what it’s called, but the fact that Nutella is present, well, I just had to try it.  You all know of my love affair with Nutella.  You could read more on that here.  From the ingredient list, this is definitely a banana bread with Nutella.  I’m thinking it’s from a European magazine or show because the measured ingredients are in grams, and because of the German flour #405.  I had to look that one up.  It’s our version of pastry flour.  And no electrical appliances either.  Or at least none that I wrote down.  All hand-mixed, it seems.  The result?  Oh, sweet Nutella-banana goodness!  Hmm, maybe I should rename this bread!


200 gr. of pastry flour

3/4 teaspoon of baking soda

1/2 teaspoon of salt

120 gr. golden caster sugar

50 gr. butter, softened

3 ripe bananas

2 eggs

1 teaspoon of vanilla extract

150 gr. of yogurt

100 gr. of Nutella

1 banana, peeled & sliced

1/2 teaspoon each of cinnamon & sugar


Preheat the oven to 350 F.  Butter and flour a loaf pan.

Whisk together the flour, baking soda and salt in a bowl.  In a separate bowl, stir together the butter and sugar until well mixed.  Add in the bananas and mash with a fork.  Add eggs, vanilla and yogurt, and mix well.  Stir in the flour mixture and mix until just combined.  Pour batter into prepared pan.

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Warm the Nutella, bain-marie style, the bowl with Nutella in a larger bowl of hot water, until it reaches a runny consistency.  Spread the Nutella on top of batter and swirl the batter to create a marble effect.

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Peel and slice the remaining banana and place the slices over the top of the batter.  Sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar.  Bake for 55 to 60 minutes.  Cool in pan and you’re ready to dig in.  Enjoy!

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Double Yummy Apple Cake


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I first started baking this apple cake when I was pregnant with my first daughter. It didn’t start out as a double apple cake. It was simply an apple cake, with apples, cinnamon and sugar mixed into the batter, and of course oil. I think by now some of you know how I feel about adding oil to my cake batter. If I can replace it with applesauce, I do. That’s where the double comes in. Applesauce and apples. Yummy! And rather than mix the apples into the batter, I layered them onto the batter in 2 layers and sprinkled cinnamon-sugar over them. Double yummy!

I can actually remember the very first time I made this cake. My dad loved sweets. Loved them! His on-set diabetes at the age of 60 did nothing to deter him from his beloved sugar addiction. He was in the hospital and I had gone to visit him with this freshly baked apple cake. A snack we would share together. It was lunchtime when I arrived and as he was having his lunch, he offered to share it with me. I replied that he was the one who needed to eat, not me. And being the sweet man that he was, he said, “Oh no. It’s not for you. It’s for the baby. The baby needs to eat more than you or I.” I shall always remember those words. He was already enamoured with this baby in my tummy! When the time came for the apple cake, one bite and he was smitten! And he was sure the baby was equally smitten. He believed the baby was enjoying it and would grow up loving this cake. Although my dad never got to meet my daughter, he was right. Charlotte just loves this cake. Emma does too, but it’s a comfort thing for Charlotte. And it’s comforting for me to know that Charlotte and my dad did in fact enjoy this double yummy apple cake together!


3/4 cups of sugar

1 1/2 cups of flour

1 1/4 teaspoons of baking powder

1/4 teaspoon of baking soda

2 or 3 large apples

2 eggs

1/4 cup of honey

2/3 cups of applesauce (I made my own with 2 or 3 apples in a food processor, adding about 1 tablespoon of water to turn it into a smooth consistency)

1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest

2 tablespoons of lemon juice

1 tablespoon of sugar

1 teaspoon of cinnamon


Preheat the oven the to 350 F. Lightly oil an 8-inch square pan, line with parchment paper or tin foil, and oil the paper. Lightly flour the paper.

Make cinnamon-sugar by combining the 1 tablespoon of sugar and 1 teaspoon of cinnamon.  Set aside.

In a bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder and baking soda, and set aside. Peel, halve and core the apples. Slice them into 1/4 inch thick slices and set aside.



In the bowl of an electric mixer, or with a hand-held mixer, beat the eggs with the 3/4 cups of sugar. Add honey, applesauce, lemon zest and beat well. With the mixer running on low speed, add the flour mixture and diluted lemon juice and mix until just combined.

Pour 1/3 of the batter into the prepared pan and spread evenly. Arrange half the apple slices on top of the batter and sprinkle with 1/3 of the cinnamon-sugar. Spoon another 1/3 of the batter over the apples and spread evenly. Sprinkle with more cinnamon-sugar. Top the apples with the remaining batter, spreading evenly, and sprinkle with the remaining cinnamon-sugar.


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Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean. Cool the cake in the pan on a rack for 30 minutes. Good luck with this part. As soon as the cake pan hit the counter, both girls were in the kitchen demanding a slice. I told them to go away. Then hubby came into the kitchen and helped himself to a slice. The girls were back in a flash and before I knew it, all three were biting into piping hot slices of this double yummy apple cake. If you can make it past the 30 minute cooling time, remove the cake from the pan and allow to cool completely on the rack. Now, you can dig in.

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A Canadian Thanksgiving with my fellow bloggers


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I mentioned in my last post that this past Monday was our Canadian Thanksgiving. We were going to celebrate at the cottage with a Sunday evening dinner, having my in-laws over, along with my brother and nephew. Thanksgiving dinner for 8.

Seeing as my brother and nephew were arriving for Sunday lunch, I needed to plan for that as well. On the lunch menu were these gorgeous and amazingly delish Quinoa Pea Fritters, from Leah over at sharing the food we love. Mine were nowhere as gorgeous as hers, but I bet they were just as scrumptious! Served with a tomato salad, some Italian cheeses and crusty bread, it was just right.



And for dessert, this luscious Cheese Pudding, from Erika over at TEA WITH ERIKA. Not as high and pretty as hers, but Oh! So divine! I cheated by doubling up the slices and made them look just like Erika’s! Creamy, milky, yummy!

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Now, onto dinner. Wanting to take advantage of the gorgeous weather and wishing to extend the BBQ season, I decided to try smoking a beef brisket on my charcoal barbie.  Non-traditional, I know, but we have turkey enough throughout the year. I wanted to try something different.

As I set off Friday morning to buy my brisket, hubby called to let me know that his mom announced that she was going to roast a turkey on Sunday and bring it over for dinner. Her cottage is down the road from ours, you see. “Did you tell your mum I was smoking a brisket?” “No.”, he replied, “But that’s fine. Go ahead with the brisket, we’ll just have both and the brisket can be eaten throughout the week.” Fine by me. My brother didn’t mind not having turkey, Italians don’t really do turkey. My nephew, on the other hand, thought it was sacrilege! He likes his turkey and all that comes with. The stuffing, mashed potatoes with gravy, the cranberry sauce. Needless to say, he was quite happy to hear that my mum-in-law was coming over with a traditional Thanksgiving dinner.

I was down by the lake late Saturday morning when I could hear my mum-in-law having a discussion with hubby up at the house. It seems that in her hurry to leave for the cottage Friday morning, instead of grabbing the turkey out of the freezer, she grabbed a chicken by mistake! A 7 pound chicken! She had the stuffing already made, the cranberry sauce too. So she was going to stuff the chicken! Hubby wasn’t thrilled. We’d had roast chicken 2 nights before. When we told her of my nephew’s relationship with turkey, she drove to town, 20 minutes each way, and went to 3 different grocery stores looking for a fresh turkey. No such luck. Two hours later, she returned with a second chicken! Which she wanted me to stuff and roast. Along with boiling the potatoes and carrots she was going to bring over to me the next day. In addition to smoking a brisket over a period of 6 hours, making broccoli salad, and dessert! Which wasn’t my traditional pumpkin pie. When my nephew said to me, “You made your pumpkin pie, right?”, I made the decision that for the first time ever, we would be celebrating American Thanksgiving this year. With roast turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes with gravy, and my pumpkin pie!

Instead, what I did serve for dessert was deliciously moist Zebra Cake, from Fae over at Fae’s Twist & Tango. Although my zebra cake didn’t turn out as exotic-looking as Fae’s, it was perfect. And as Fae tells me, no two zebras are alike!


Along with this yummy cake, I served up succulent Spiced Roasted Pears, from Suzanne over at a pug in the kitchen. I used Asian pears which we picked up on our apple-picking trip and they were truly delectable!


With the Roasted Pears sliced up alongside the Zebra Cake, I poured this incredibly decadent Chocolate Caramel Sauce, also from Suzanne over at a pug in the kitchen. Hot dang, that sauce was incredible! After the first bite, everyone grabbed for the dish and poured loads more. I could have served it up in a tea cup and they would have drank it! Me included.

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As for the smoked beef brisket? Rubbed with brown sugar and various herbs and spices. Marinated overnight. And smoked over mesquite wood for 6 hours. Oh man! It was smokin’ good! For my first time, I was quite pleased. I’ll make a few adjustment for the next time, and it can only get better. Served with a hot Bourbon BBQ Sauce, it was just right! The stuffed roast chickens were great, as was every other aspect of our meal. At the end of it all, my mum-in-law came to me and exclaimed how pleased she was with everything, “Oh Lidia! Everything was so good. And how nice for me not to have to cook. Thank you!”. And she kissed me. Isn’t that what Thanksgiving is all about? To show your appreciation and give thanks to those you love!



Pollo alla Toscana


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We are being blessed with glorious weather here in Montreal.  Temperatures have been in the low 20’s (50’s in F), with some days as high as 25 degrees C.  Unbelievable!  Our windows are open all day long, I go out wearing just a T-shirt and jeans or shorts, and we’ve been sleeping with our window open at night.  Oh, and we’ve been barbecuing quite a bit.  We love to use the barbie and being able to stretch out the season is wonderful.  This is a long weekend for us as we celebrate Canadian Thanksgiving.  And as they’re calling for brilliant weather all weekend long, we’ll be sure to grill our way through to Thanksgiving Monday.

Olive oil, lemon, garlic and rosemary are the quintessential flavours of Tuscany.  I use this mix of seasonings on my beef roasts, as in this Sunday Roast, when grilling lamb, and even on my pork kebabs.  But my ultimate favourite is when grilling chicken.  A whole chicken, butterflied, adapted from an Ina Garten recipe.  Or spatchcock chicken, as our friends over in the U.K. call it.  Don’t you just love that word?  Happy Thanksgiving to all my Canadian friends.


1 whole chicken

1/3 cup of extra virgin olive oil

Zest of 2 lemons

Juice of 3 lemons

3 garlic cloves, minced

2 or 3 sprigs of rosemary, leaves minced


Black Pepper

1 lemon, cut in half


You can ask the butcher to butterfly the chicken, or you can do so yourself.  I’ve gotten pretty good at it.  With good kitchen shears and a good sharp boning knife, it is pretty easy.  Cut the backbone out with shears, then lay the chicken open, skin side down, and remove the breast bone with a sharp boning knife.

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In a dish big enough to lay down the open chicken, combine the olive oil, lemon zest and juice, garlic, rosemary and pepper.  Sprinkle both sides of the chicken with salt and add the chicken to the marinade, turning to coat.  Cover the dish with plastic wrap and refrigerate 6 to 8 hours, or overnight, turning the chicken over a few times and spooning some marinade over it.

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Prepare your charcoal fire by piling the coals over on one side of the grill.  When they’re ready, spread some of the coals, about 1/4 of them, over to the other side of the grill.  If using a gas barbie, grill over low heat.  Place the chicken down on the grill over the smaller amount of coals, skin side up.  Weigh down the chicken with a heavy pot, bricks or a stone, covered in foil paper.  This method allows for the chicken to cook evenly.


Grill for about 15 minutes, until the chicken is golden brown.  Turn the chicken over, weigh it down again, and grill for another 15 minutes, until it is cooked through and the skin is golden brown.  Grill the lemon halves, cut side down, during the last 10 minutes of grilling.  If your coals are too hot, the skin might be a little darker than it should, as happened with my chicken.  Nonetheless, it was quite delicious.  Remove the chicken to a cutting board and allow to rest for 10 minutes. Squeeze the grilled lemons over the chicken and then cut into single serving pieces. Buon appetito!