Tag Archives: recipe

Guest Post: JOELIX

19 Dec

{Note from Jillian: Today I have our first guest post on the blog.  Many thanks to the uber-talented Judith from JOELIX for whipping up this amazing Christmas recipe.  I seriously can’t wait until my arm is well enough to make these.  They involve two of my favorite things…mincemeat and cheesecake! Make sure to check out her blog JOELIX and be prepared to be inspired.  She’s one talented lady. }

Bonjour Jillian In Italy readers, I’m Judith from JOELIX.com. Jillian asked me to share something festive with you, while she is recovering from surgery. I hope she’s doing fine, because not being allowed to use your right hand for 6 weeks must be really tough! Especially with 3 kids… Big hugs Jill!

You all know that Jillian is a talented cook, so I decided to share my favorite christmas recipe with you today. I never cook myself (although I do enjoy baking & making desserts!), but I’m blessed to be surrounded by some amazing chefs. My all time favorite christmas treats are my mom’s mini cheesecakes with mincemeat. They taste very christmassy & sweet and look super cute. Plus they are not too big, which is perfect after a rich christmas meal.

So here is my mom’s recipe:

What you need:
200g digestive biscuits
120g melted unsalted butter
250g firm cream cheese
200ml crème fraîche
75g icing sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
100ml whipped cream
100g dried candied cranberries
2 tbs brandy
400g mincemeat

What you do:
Line a 12-hole muffin pan with cling film. Mix the crumbled biscuits with the butter in a blender until combined. Press biscuit mixture into the base and sides of the muffin holes. Press firmly with a spoon. Place the muffin pan in the freezer while you make the filling.
Combine the cream cheese, crème fraîche, sugar and vanilla extract in your blender and beat until smooth. Mix with whipped cream using a spoon.
Fill the muffin pan with spoonfuls of the cream filling. Freeze for another 30 minutes.
Gently heat the cranberries and brandy in a saucepan over low heat for 2-3 minutes. Then add mincemeat and warm through for another 3 minutes. Remove from the stove.
To serve, carefully remove the cakes from the muffin pan and serve with mincemeat topping. Bon appétit!

You can buy ready-made mincemeat at this time of the year, but my mom suggested it tastes much better when you prepare the mincemeat yourself. She wrote down her recipe and I made an easy downloadable recipe of it!

If you are going to try making these mini cheesecakes, let me know how you liked them! And of course: may your days be merry & bright! Gros bisous from France!

Rhubarb Ginger Chutney

25 Oct

During the whole summer I proudly showed off my garden to anyone who dropped by the house and every single time I showed my overgrowing rhubarb plants I would say I was just about to make chutney with it.  I started saying this 5 months ago and yesterday I finally got around to actually making it.

I’ll be honest.  Rhubarb isn’t on my top 10 list of favorite fruits (is it even a fruit?).  It’s actually not even in my top 20.  The tartness of rhubarb usually makes my jaw ache and I personally find it tastes like what I think a mouthful of maple leaves would taste like.

But we planted it a few years ago and now we have a thriving supply of it all summer long.  I made a surprisingly lovely Cherry Rhubarb Lavender Jam (the jam that almost killed me!) and a few tarts as well.  But considering we live in Italy and down the street from an amazing fresh cheese farm I wanted to try making a chutney to accompany all that wonderful sheep and goat cheeses that we eat on a daily basis.

I first saw this recipe on Raincoast Cottage months ago and  it’s originally from Martha Stewart.  I had to change up the recipe slightly but in the end it turned out quite tasty and the perfect accompaniment with cheese, crusty ciabatta and assorted sliced meats for dinner.  Click for recipe…

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Miniature Pretzel Bites

15 Oct


It’s cold and rainy over here today.  It seems as though the summer is finally over and that the heating system might need to be put to work again.  I have to admit that I’m absolutely not looking forward to winter and cold weather.  I’m one of those people who can never feel warm in the winter months.  I walk around the house with double wool socks, thick scarves and lots of fleece and I have the thermostat on 23 degrees and the fireplace on.  It’s one of the main reasons I moved away from Canada actually.  So wish me luck this winter and let’s hope for a short one.

To beat the chill I can usually be found baking.  Last week I made these miniature pretzel bites and they were devoured within minutes of being out of the oven.   The extra step of boiling the dough before baking is daunting for some people but it’s really not that bad!

I came across the idea to make pretzels over on Say Yes to Hoboken and the recipe is from the Our Best Bites site.  I decided to make the dough into miniature balls so that I could make several different flavours.  For this batch I made some savoury ones with sesame and poppy seeds and some sweet ones with cinnamon and sugar.  They really are so chewy and tasty.  My kids are asking for them on a daily basis now.

There’s nothing like Fleischmann’s quick rising yeast packets from Canada.  Good thing my mom arrives in a few weeks with some more.

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Double Chocolate Zucchini Cakes

4 Sep

Today is the first day I have the house to myself in two months.  The kids started school this morning and everyone was a little emotional.  The kids were excited and nervous and I had the end of summer melancholy that goes with sending the little ones off on the bus and returning to an empty and quiet house.

More than anything it’s the silence that I always have to get used to.  I’ve been used to hearing footsteps up and down stairs, kid’s conversations and giggles, lego being poured onto the floor and doors being opened and closed.  And now….nothing.

So to fill this empty and quiet house I decided to make some muffins for the kids to celebrate their first day back at school.  Just the sound of the mixer running and the oven on was enough to make me feel a little less alone this morning.

These little cakes (or muffins…I’m not sure what they would be classified as) are really delicious and moist.  And FULL of vegetables.  Seriously, there are 2 cups of grated zucchini in them!  The zucchini gives them a rich, dense consistency and leaves absolutely no zucchini taste at all.  I’m curious as to whether my kids will notice the little green bits that you can see every now and then in the cakes.  Continue reading for recipe.

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Blueberry Anise Jam (with bling)

29 Jun


Last week, on a scorchingly hot day, a friend of mine and I took our children to the local organic blueberry farm to pick some delicious high-bush blueberries.  We picked over 3 kilos of beautifully plump sweet berries.  I put about half in the freezer for next winter and have been busy using up the other half since then.  I was of course contemplating what sort of jam or jelly I could make with them as well.

After talking with my mom she convinced me that star anise and blueberry are flavours that work really well together.  She told me that the anise gives it a warm spiced undertone without being too overbearing.  I wanted to add fresh ginger but she suggested to keep it simple and see how it turns out.  And you know…I’m glad I listened to her.  The jam turned out perfectly and there is indeed a deep blueberry flavour with the slightest hint of anise (which is a good thing because you don’t want to go overboard on such a pungent flavour). 

This is a very simple and quick recipe.  I cooked 6 cups of mashed blueberries with 3 1/4 cups of sugar, the juice of half a lemon and 2 whole star anise until it became thick and syrupy ( I ended up letting it simmer for about 20/25 minutes due to having to chase escaped chickens back into coop).  Since I didn’t have any pectin to add it isn’t really thick but works just fine as a jam or a sauce to pour over ice cream.

Since we  had picked so many blueberries I was busy the whole week making not only blueberry jam but also blueberry gelato, blueberry crumble and even blueberry financier cakes.

Chocolate Oat Dulce de Leche Bars

15 Jun

These are the richest, sweetest, gooeyest, chocolatey-est bars you’ll ever eat.  When you take your first bites it’s heaven.  After you’ve finished a whole bar you kind of feel like you shouldn’t have eaten a whole bar.  It’s a love/hate relationship to say the least.  I would definitely advise to cut very small bars and eat them slowly.  You should have seen my son after he ate one.  He was doing laps around our house for over an hour.  Then he passed out on the grass.  Like I said…they’re so right but so wrong at the same time.

After making these squares I made the whole family go for a 2 hour walk in the woods to try and get some of the sugar out of our systems.  We saw these gorgeous roses.  The pink against the bright blue sky was just mesmerizing.  I stared at them for a long time.  My kids stared at me staring at the roses and asked me to hurry up because they wanted to go home for some more squares.I gave some to my Italian neighbours and friends and I could tell by their faces that they were maybe a bit too heavy and rich for their liking.  My British, Irish and American friends thought they were great though.  I’m thinking that maybe these would be better to make in the cold winter instead of the warm summer.  In summer it’s all about light, fresh and fruity around here (something like this frozen honeydew recipe from the  joelix blog or this citron meringue pie from the classicplay! blog would fit the hot summer weather much better).  Get recipe for Chocolate Oat Dulce de Leche Bars here on the Daily Crave site.

I found these plastic boxes in Chinatown in Milan (usually used for take-out in sushi restaurants).  They’re actually great for giving little baking gifts to neighbours and friends.  I absolutely love this Tour Eiffel tape that I found in Japan (and it’s not washi!).

Cherry Rhubarb Lavender Jam (the jam that almost killed me)

7 Jun

Yesterday I picked up some ripe, beautiful cherries at the supermarket and decided I needed to continue my successful jam-making run that started a few months back (Blood Orange Marmalade, Strawberry Lime Vanilla Jam).

Many years ago I loved to sit down with a paper bag filled to the brim with fresh cherries and polish off the whole thing.  Unfortunately things have changed since then.  Since my last pregnancy I’ve acquired a fruit allergy and am unable to eat  most fruits raw.  It was a hard adjustment for this fruit-lover but the little boy I got in return was well worth it.

So now I have to enjoy apples, peaches, pears, plums, strawberries and cherries (to name a few) cooked.  Usually the thought of cooked fruit brings images of old people in hospital beds but I’ve found some great ways to enjoy my favorite fruits over the years.

So how did this jam almost kill me?  Well, I pitted all the cherries, washed my hands with hot water and soap 5 times and an hour later touched my eyes.  And this my friends turned me into a swollen-faced mess.  My face puffed up to double it’s normal size, my eyes were swollen shut and welts appeared.  My kids ran away screaming in terror.  I actually heard my son ask my husband in a traumatised voice “will mama ever go back to normal?”.  Luckily I had some antihistimines close by.  The jam ended up turning out so delicious that it was almost worth it.  Almost.


I browsed through the internet for a good cherry rhubarb recipe and came across this one on the apt 2b site (amazing recipes on this blog).  In the end I couldn’t really manage all the steps that the recipe calls for (due to suddenly being blind!) so I literally dumped approximately 300g of chopped rhubarb with 200g sugar into a large pot and let it simmer for about 10 minutes.  I then added about 600g chopped pitted cherries, another 2500g  sugar, a few tablespoons of lemon juice and a few apple quarters.  I let it simmer for another 15-20 minutes before adding some fresh lavender tied in cheesecloth (the recipe didn’t call for it but I thought it would be a nice addition) and a few tablespoons of powdered pectin.  I let it simmer a further 5-10 minutes and then removed the apple pieces and lavender bundle.

Then I went and soaked my head in cold water for half an hour to try and get the swelling down while the jam cooled.  The jam cooled but the swelling didn’t go down.

I think I lucked out because the jam turned out perfectly.  It’s sweet with a slight tart and perfumey aftertaste.  My family loves it and after breakfast one jar was almost finished.  I take that as a compliment.

Madeleines

31 May

The other day I decided to make some of the husband’s favorite sweets, the famous Madeleine Cakes from France.  I know he is capable of sitting down with a platter of over 20 of these and devouring every single one within minutes.  It’s definitely his weakness.  That and orange flavoured Pimms.  And since I’m pretty sure I’d lose my mind trying to make those Pimms cookies I try and make these every so often for a guy that is seriously a saint.  He’s just so happy all the time and seems to make those around him happy as well.

The love of Madeleines has definitely been passed on to the next generation!

Recipe:

French Madeleine Cakes

1/2 cup butter
1 cup flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp salt
3 large eggs
2/3 cup white sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract

1.  Melt butter in microwave and set aside to cool.

2. In a bowl sift together all the dry ingredients.

3. With the electric mixer beat eggs and sugar together on medium speed until mixture has tripled in volume (about 5 minutes).  Then add vanilla and beat to combine.

4. Gently fold flour mixture into sugar/egg mixture with a spatula.  Be sure not to overmix!

5.  Mix a small amount of egg mixture into melted butter to lighten it.  Then fold into the sugar/egg batter in 3 additions. Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

6.  Spoon one tablespoon of mixture into buttered and floured madeleine pans (or even mini muffin pans).

7.  Bake in 375 F (190 C) degree oven for 11-13 minutes (or until edges begin to brown).

8.  Remove from pan and let cool.  Serve with a dusting of powdered sugar.  Enjoy!

(Recipe found here on the Joy of Baking site)


Chocolate Shortbread with Minty Ganache Filling

17 May



Today I baked some delicious Chocolate Shortbread with Minty Ganache Filling and they turned out really really tasty.  At least for those who are fans of the mint/chocolate combination.  Which I seriously am.  It’s really one of my favorite flavour unions.

It all started when I had my first After Eight as a small child.  And the fact they come individually wrapped in those tiny black glassine envelopes makes them that much more appealing to me (lover of any sort of packaging!).

These are really rich cookies so one is definitely enough (ok maybe tw0).  The addition of the mint makes them slightly lighter than a shortbread with straight-up chocolate ganache.

Continue reading for recipe… Continue reading

Gingerbread with warm caramel sauce

5 May


Today was one of those days that I just craved something from back home.  It was a chilly and cloudy day and I was wandering around my kitchen trying to find inspiration for something to bake.  I opened up my baking cupboard and the first thing I saw was a little carton of Maritime Molasses and a tiny tin of  pumpkin pie spice.  I knew immediately what I wanted to make.

I remember througout my childhood we always went to visit Peggy’s Cove (a famous Nova Scotia tourist destination with famous lighthouse).  We always stopped at the Peggy’s Cove restaurant to have a piece of their famous Gingerbread.  

So today that’s just what I made.  It’s an easy cake to bake and the sauce whips up in minutes.  It is very moist  and rich with a tiny hint of the spicy ginger.  My kids love it and we almost managed to finish the whole cake.  Shame on us.

Click for recipe…
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