Sunday, December 22, 2013

Pear Upside Down Cake with Maple Mascarpone Cream

This dessert is a combination of recipes I put together from Fine Cooking and From Laptop to Tabletop 
and as festive treats go, it was a total winner!

 Smothered with a generous dollop of maple infused mascarpone cream, it will put a smile on everyone's face - whether they were on your naughty or nice list this year!




















Visit the printable recipe here: Pear Upside Down Cake with Maple Mascarpone Cheese or enjoy my easy to follow step by step video!




Prep Time: 40 minutes
Bake Time: 45 minutes
Serves: 8

Pear Topping Ingredients
  • 2-3 medium firm-ripe pears (about 1 lb.), peeled and cored
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 tsp. fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 oz. (4 Tbs.) unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces
Pear Topping Directions
  1. Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 350°F. Butter the bottom and sides of a 9x2-inch round cake pan (don't use a springform pan, as the caramel might leak out during baking). Line the bottom of the pan with a round of parchment and butter the top of the paper.
  2. Peel, core, and cut the pears lengthwise into 1/4-inch-thick slices. Arrange the pear slices on the bottom of the pan in a circle around the edge, overlapping them slightly, with the pointed ends towards the center. If necessary, cut a little off the pointed ends to make the slices fit better. Or if the pear slices don't reach all the way to the middle, arrange a few of the shorter slices in the center to cover the bottom of the pan.
  3. In a heavy-duty 2-quart saucepan, stir the sugar, lemon juice, and 1/4 cup cold water. Brush down the sides of the pan with water to wash away any sugar crystals. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and cook, occasionally brushing down the sides of the pan, until the mixture starts to color around the edges, 12-15 minutes. Gently swirl the pan once to even out the color and prevent the sugar from burning in isolated spots.  Continue to cook until the sugar turns medium amber, about 30 seconds more. (Once the mixture begins to color, it will darken very quickly, so keep an eye on it.)
  4. Reduce heat to low and stir in the 4 tbsp butter until smooth and pour evenly over the pears in the pan.
 Cake Ingredients 
  •  1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1-3/4 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. table salt
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 1-1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 4 oz. (8 Tbs.) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
Cake Directions
  1. Sift the flour, baking powder, ginger, cinnamon, and salt into a medium bowl. Stir to combine. 
  2. In a small bowl, stir together the milk and vanilla.
  3. Beat the butter on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 1 minute.Turn the mixer to medium and slowly add the brown sugar. Increase the speed to high and continue to mix until lightened in texture and color, 2 to 3 minutes total. Reduce the speed to medium and add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition and scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.
  4. Reduce the speed to low and alternate adding the flour mixture and milk mixture in five additions, beginning and ending with the flour. Mix each addition just enough to incorporate, as overmixing will lead to a tougher cake. Scrape down the sides of the bowl one last time and mix briefly to blend well.
  5. Spoon the batter in large dollops over the pears and smooth it into an even layer with an offset spatula. 
  6. Bake the cake until the top is golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 35 to 45 minutes. Transfer the pan to a wire rack to cool for 10 minutes. Run a knife around the edge of the pan. 
  7. Turn a cake plate upside down on top of the cake pan and, using pot holders, carefully invert the cake pan onto the plate.
Maple Mascarpone Cheese Ingredients

  •  ¼ c maple syrup
  • 8 oz container mascarpone cheese
  • 2 c whipping cream
In a large mixing bowl beat whipping cream, mascarpone and maple syrup on high speed until soft peaks form. Serve in dollops over slices of the cake.



***

Author:

Lyndsay Wells is a professional trainer, writer, and program developer with a passion for food and cooking. She is an award winning recipe developer, and a website ambassador for Kraft Foods Canada. Lyndsay believes cooking should be approachable and easy and has great tips and ideas for putting together sophisticated looking dishes that cooks of all levels can accomplish.

Visit her daily on her blog, The Kitchen Witch or on her YouTube Channel, CHARMED With The Kitchen Witch.

Facebook Twitter YouTube


Thursday, December 19, 2013

Christmas Eve Pasta - Shrimp Lemon Pepper Linguini

One of my favourite movies over the Christmas season is The Holiday starring Cameron Diaz and  Kate Winslett. Not only is the English cottage setting for one of the story lines enchanting, the second story line, which takes place in Los Angeles, is equally magical because both stories blossom into love - and what could  be more wonderful over the holidays than that?

Especially when my two favourite characters indulge in a Christmas Eve tradition that is simply lovely: Christmas Eve pasta.

As I said in my last post, this year my husband and I have rented a romantic winter cottage for the holidays and on Christmas Eve, in honour of The Holiday, I will be making this dish for two!

Succulent prawns are enveloped in a buttery herb and  lemon wine sauce and tossed with linguini or spaghetti pasta. Serve this with crusty bread and chilled Proseco and toast the season in style!

Visit the printable recipe here: Shrimp Lemon Pepper Linguini

Please enjoy the easy to follow step by step video.





Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Serves: 4 - Recipe easily doubles

Ingredients
  • 1 (8 ounce) package linguine or spaghetti pasta
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • 1/4 cup white wine
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
  • salt to taste
  • 2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 pound fresh shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil
Directions
  1. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add linguine, and cook for 9 to 13 minutes or until al dente; drain.
  2. Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat, and saute garlic about 1 minute. Mix in chicken broth, wine, lemon juice, lemon zest, salt, and pepper. Reduce heat, and simmer until liquid is reduced by about 1/2.
  3. Mix shrimp, butter, parsley, and basil into the saucepan. Cook 2 to 3 minutes, until shrimp is opaque. Stir in the cooked linguine, and continue cooking 2 minutes, until well coated.


***

Author:

Lyndsay Wells is a professional trainer, writer, and program developer with a passion for food and cooking. She is an award winning recipe developer, and a website ambassador for Kraft Foods Canada. Lyndsay believes cooking should be approachable and easy and has great tips and ideas for putting together sophisticated looking dishes that cooks of all levels can accomplish.

Visit her daily on her blog, The Kitchen Witch or on her YouTube Channel, CHARMED With The Kitchen Witch.

Facebook Twitter YouTube

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Roasted Pork Loin with Wild Rice Stuffing

Happy Holidays dear readers and visitors! I hope your festive season is a time of hope and joy. This year is a little different for my husband and I as our son is spending Christmas out of town on a ski trip. Not to be outdone by his holiday plans, we've rented a winter cabin and are planning an amazing retreat of our own.

Being the Kitchen Witch you know me to be, the holiday will be replete with an amazing assortment of great meals starting with one of my favourite ways to make a pork roast festive...


And that's by stuffing it with a gorgeous mixture of wild rice, toasted almonds, apple, and maraschino cherries. Serve drizzled with sherry infused pan gravy, and toast the cook with cool sparkling Proseco.




















Today's recipe is a little more labour intensive than my usual fare, but when cooking something special for the holidays, sometimes you just have to go all out!

Visit the printable recipe here: Roasted Pork Loin with Wild Rice Stuffing. 

Please enjoy my easy to follow step by step video. It will take you all the way through the recipe, from butterflying the pork, to making the stuffing!




Prep Time: 45 minutes
Brine Time: 12-24 hours
Roast Time: 2 1/2 hours

 Ingredients
  • 1, 4-5 lb boneless pork loin roast
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp each kosher salt, garlic powder, black pepper, herbes de provence or thyme
 Brine Ingredients
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup Kosher salt (or 6 tablespoons of table salt)
  • 3 cups of hot water
  • 5 cups of cold water
  • 3 bay leaves, crumbled
  • 1 tsp allspice
  • 1 tablespoon whole black peppercorns, lightly crushed
  • 10 medium garlic cloves, peeled and lightly crushed 
Directions
  1. In a large, wide pan or bowl, dissolve the sugar and salt in 3 cups of hot water
  2. Add the Bay leaves, Allspice, peppercorns, garlic and 5 cups of cold water; stir to combine
  3. Add the pork loin to the brine and cover the container with plastic wrap
  4. Refrigerate 12-24 hours
  5. Remove the pork loin from the brine and pick the spices off the meat
  6. Dry the pork loin thoroughly with paper towels
Wild Rice Stuffing Ingredients
  • 1/2 cup wild rice 
  • 1 cup low sodium beef stock 
  • 1 cup chopped button mushrooms 
  • 1 granny smith apple, chopped 
  • 1/2 medium onion, chopped 
  • 2 cloves minced garlic 
  • 1/4 cup sherry 
  • 1/2 tsp thyme 
  • 1/8 tsp sage 
  • 1/2 tsp salt 
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper 
  • 1/4 cup chopped maraschino cherries 
  • 1/4 cup softened cream cheese
  • 1/4 cup toasted sliced almonds 
Directions
  1. Cook the wild rice in beef stock, covered on low for 45-55 minutes until stock is all absorbed
  2. In a non stick pan sprayed with cooking spray, sautee the mushrooms, onion, and apple until caramelized and mushrooms have released their water. 
  3. Add garlic and sautee another minute. 
  4. Add sherry, thyme, sage, salt, and black pepper. Simmer 2-3 minutes until the alcohol has cooked off.
  5. Remove to a medium bowl with the cooked wild rice.
  6. Fold in the cherries and almonds. 
  7. Stir in the cream cheese until everything is well blended.
  8. Store covered in a cool place until ready to stuff.
To Prepare the Dish
  1. Pre-heat oven to 400
  2. Butterfly the pork loin as per the video instructions
  3. Rub both sides of the roast with extra virgin olive oil and sprinkle with the salt and garlic mixture,
  4. Pat the wild rice stuffing in a flat layer all over the center of the butterflied roast (as per video)
  5. Roll the roast and secure with butcher's twine.
  6. Place on a roasting rack in a roasting pan and roast uncovered for 20 minutes.
  7. Turn the heat down to 325 and continue roasting for 2 hours or until the meat reaches an internal temperature of 165.
  8. When the roast is done, cover with foil and let rest for 30 minutes before carving.
  9. Serve in slices with the gravy drizzled over all. 
Gravy Ingredients 
  • 1/4 cup sherry
  • 1 sprig fresh rosemary (optional)
  • 1 tbsp salted butter
  • 1 Tbsp flour
  • 1 cup beef or pork stock
  • 1/2 tsp each salt and pepper (or to taste)
Directions
  1. De-glaze the pan with sherry and fresh rosemary. 
  2. Melt the butter into the pan drippings and sherry. 
  3. Add flour to make a roux. 
  4. Add the beef stock, salt and pepper to taste. Whisk briskly until the gravy thickens.



***

Author:

Lyndsay Wells is a professional trainer, writer, and program developer with a passion for food and cooking. She is an award winning recipe developer, and a website ambassador for Kraft Foods Canada. Lyndsay believes cooking should be approachable and easy and has great tips and ideas for putting together sophisticated looking dishes that cooks of all levels can accomplish.

Visit her daily on her blog, The Kitchen Witch or on her YouTube Channel, CHARMED With The Kitchen Witch.

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Monday, December 9, 2013

The Canadian Food Experience Project - Pudding Chomeur - A French Canadian Delight!

I experienced Pudding Chomeur or "Poor Man's Pudding" at the home of my friend Raymonde about 12 years ago. The occasion was a book club dinner that brings a group of dear friends together once a month to discuss a book, share a glass or two of wine, and enjoy what is always a memorable feast.

We've been getting together since October, 1998 and our very first book was "She's Come Undone" by Wally Lamb. I served dinner at my place - roast beef with Yorkshire Puddings and my mom's recipe for apple crisp.

In the years since, we've read well over 150 books and have added new recipes to our cook's arsenals - like today's recipe for Pudding Chomeur for the Canadian Food Experience Project.

When I tasted this family recipe passed down from Raymonde's mother in Gerrardville Quebec, I knew this traditional dish was going to become my family's Christmas dessert - and it also proves my theory that the very best recipes are the old time ones.

This fudgy, gorgeous masterpiece is so simple to put together and is made with ingredients most people always have on hand - but when served hot with a big dollop of vanilla ice cream it's as good a dessert as any I've had in the best restaurants.

If you've never tried Pudding Chomeur, I hope this post will inspire you to give it a go and, I promise, you won't be disappointed!

Please enjoy my easy to follow step by step video.
The printable recipe can be found here: Pudding Chomeur




Prep Time: 5 minutes
Bake Time: 35 minutes
Serves: 6

Sauce Ingredients
  • 2 cups brown sugar
  • 1 1/4 cup water
  • 3 tbsp butter
  • Boil for two minutes
Cake Ingredients
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 tbsp shortening or butter
  • 1 beaten egg
  • 1/3 cup milk
Directions
  1. Beat all the cake ingredients together and put in the bottom of greased square 8x8 cake pan.
  2. Pour the sauce evenly over top of the cake. Bake at 350 for 35 minutes. The sauce will turn to a creamy fudgy layer onthe  bottom of cake. Slice and scoop with a spatula making sure to get lots of caramel sauce.
  3. Serve warm with ice cream.
Cooks Note
The recipe can be made the day ahead and then re-heated for ten minutes at 350 just before serving.



***

Author:

Lyndsay Wells is a professional trainer, writer, and program developer with a passion for food and cooking. She is an award winning recipe developer, and a website ambassador for Kraft Foods Canada. Lyndsay believes cooking should be approachable and easy and has great tips and ideas for putting together sophisticated looking dishes that cooks of all levels can accomplish.

Visit her daily on her blog, The Kitchen Witch or on her YouTube Channel, CHARMED With The Kitchen Witch.

Facebook Twitter YouTube

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Fish Florentine Casserole (Perfect for Christmas Eve!)

It's December 1st, which in the life of this Kitchen Witch, means the Christmas season has officially begun! For me, Christmas isn't a day, it's a feeling I nourish and watch grow from the first weekend in December when our tree and decorations go up.

In the evenings I look forward to walking the dog past the many homes with beautiful light displays, reflecting on all of the things I have to be grateful for, and pondering the recipes and ideas I wish to share with friends and readers via this blog.

For the entire month of December I will be featuring recipes I've developed with the holiday season in mind, and if you're looking for something specific, make sure to visit my recipe index page: Holidays and Special Occasions because all of my tried and true recipes for the holidays can be found there!

To kick things off this season, I thought I'd begin with a wonderfully luscious make ahead casserole featuring fish.

 White fish filets are baked with tender baby spinach, a luxurious creamy lemon herb sauce, and topped with golden, fluffy, mashed potatoes making this the perfect casserole after a long day of Christmas shopping or the Christmas Eve table for families who observe the Catholic tradition of eating fish on that wonderful night.


Light hints of lemon and thyme hit all the right notes and I promise, it's a recipe everyone is going to just love!

If you visit this blog, please, don't be a stranger. Leave me a comment to let me know you've been by. Better still, if you try this recipe, let me know how it turned out for you.

Visit the printable recipe here: Creamy Fish Florentine Casserole

Please enjoy my easy to follow How To video!



Prep Time: 20 minutes
Bake Time: 45 minutes
Yield: Makes 6 4x4 slices


Ingredients
  • 4 large white fish filets like halibut, haddock, Pacific cod, catfish, or basa
  • 2 tsp lemon herb salt, divided (Visit recipe here: Lemon Herb Salt )
  • 1/2 tsp pepper 
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice, 1 tsp lemon zest
  • 1 Tbsp chopped fresh thyme 
  • 1 clove minced garlic
  • 1/2 cup low sodium chicken stock
  • 1/2 cup Philadelphia Cream Cheese
  • 6 cups raw spinach cooked and well drained
  • 6 medium russet potatoes (about 2 lbs)
  • 3 tablespoons butter, cut into pieces
  • 1/4 cups milk
  • 1 large egg yolk

Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (200 degrees C).
  2. Combine the lemon juice, lemon zest, garlic, and chicken stock in a medium sauce pan and heat almost to the boil. Add the cup of cream cheese and stir to make a cream sauce. Stir in the fresh thyme. Set aside.
  3. Boil the potatoes until they’re soft and tender.
  4. Lightly mash and add the butter, milk, and 1 tsp of lemon herb salt. Let cool slightly and then add the egg yolk. Continue to mash until they are completely fluffy with no lumps (I use my immersion blender with the whipper attachment).
  5. Arrange the fish filets in the bottom of a 2 quart rectangular baking dish that has been coated with cooking spray. Sprinkle the fish with the second tsp of the lemon herb salt and 1 tsp of pepper. 
  6. Cover with the spinach and pour the lemon cream sauce over all. 
  7. Spoon the mashed potato mixture over the top and spread evenly with a fork. Use the tines to make a pattern in the top. (Note: the recipe can be covered and stored in the refrigerator at this point for up to 8 hours. Make certain if not baking right away that the cream sauce and potatoes are completely cooled).
  8. Bake uncovered 45 minutes until bubbly and lightly browned.
  9. Cover with tinfoil and let rest 15 minutes before slicing and serving.
*Cook's Note: If you do not have a 2 quart rectangular casserole dish, an 8x8 square pan will also work just fine.



***

Author:

Lyndsay Wells is a professional trainer, writer, and program developer with a passion for food and cooking. She is an award winning recipe developer, and a website ambassador for Kraft Foods Canada. Lyndsay believes cooking should be approachable and easy and has great tips and ideas for putting together sophisticated looking dishes that cooks of all levels can accomplish.

Visit her daily on her blog, The Kitchen Witch or on her YouTube Channel, CHARMED With The Kitchen Witch.

Facebook Twitter YouTube

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

How to Butterfly and Stuff Tomato Basil Chicken Breasts

Today's recipe is not only tender, flavourful, and healthy it is also perfect for entertaining because the chicken breasts can be stuffed and breaded hours before a dinner party and popped into the oven an hour before eating.

This would also be a quick and easy make ahead for a weekend dinner. Simply prepare your chicken in the morning and bake when ready.

The flavours of tomato, fresh basil, cheese, and balsamic vinegar in the stuffing beautifully offset tender butterflied chicken breast meat.



Better still, I'm going to share a cooking technique with you to butterfly a boneless chicken breast so that you get it nice and thin.

How to Butterfly a Chicken Breast
  1. Remove a chicken breast from its packaging and place it on a clean cutting board with the top-side down.
  2. Remove the tenderloin with a sharp knife, then place your hand on top of the breast and cut into the thickest part of the chicken, slicing across it about halfway.
  3. Stop cutting, and open the chicken up like a book. Do not cut all the way through the breast unless you'd like to create two thinner pieces of chicken.
  4. Starting at the end of the chicken, about an inch before the edges, run your knife from top to bottom horizontally to make a long slit in the meat. Be careful not to go all the way through. Do this every inch all along the width of the chicken breast which will cause the breast to "open up" like a fan and continue to flatten.
  5. Cover the chicken breast with plastic wrap and flatten more with a meat mallet or rolling pin.
Please enjoy the easy to follow step by step video:




Tomato and Basil Stuffed Chicken Breasts
For printable recipe click HERE

Prep time: 20 minutes
Bake time: 60 minutes
Serves: 4

 Ingredients
  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 cup chopped spinach
  • 1 diced tomato
  • 1 clove minced garlic
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 cup panko breadcrumbs
  • 1/4 cup shredded parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 tsp each garlic powder, salt, pepper
Directions
  1. Pre-heat oven to 350
  2. Butterfly four chicken breasts
  3. Combine the tomato, spinach, basil, cheese, olive oil, vinegar, salt, and pepper in a medium bowl and then spoon an even amount in the middle of each chicken breast.
  4. Wrap the breast meat around the stuffing and use small wooden skewers or toothpicks to close. 
  5. Mix the breadcrumbs, cheese, salt, pepper, and garlic
  6. Lightly wet the outsides of the chicken breasts and then generously coat in the breadcrumb mixture using your hands to press the mixture in.
  7. Place the chicken breasts on a baking sheet covered with tinfoil and sprayed with cooking spray.
  8. Bake for one hour at 350.



***

Author:

Lyndsay Wells is a professional trainer, writer, and program developer with a passion for food and cooking. She is an award winning recipe developer, and a website ambassador for Kraft Foods Canada. Lyndsay believes cooking should be approachable and easy and has great tips and ideas for putting together sophisticated looking dishes that cooks of all levels can accomplish.

Visit her daily on her blog, The Kitchen Witch or on her YouTube Channel, CHARMED With The Kitchen Witch.

Facebook Twitter YouTube

    Thursday, November 21, 2013

    Slow Cooker Vegetarian Lentil Stew

    With the blustery days of November upon us, the instinct to hibernate and tuck into warm and hearty meals is something most of us can relate to.

    And today's recipe for Vegetarian Lentil Stew is going to hit all the right notes!


    Lentils and root vegetables are slowly simmered in a tomato infused broth to become a tasty, budget friendly and healthy dinner or lunch. Better still, the left overs freeze like the dream!

    Visit the printable recipe here:  Slow Cooker Vegetarian Lentil Stew

    Please enjoy the easy to follow step by step video.



    Recipe adapted from Weelicious
    Prep Time: 15 minutes
    Cook Time: 8 hours
    Serves: 8

    Ingredients
    • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
    • 1 cup diced white onion
    • 2 tsp minced garlic
    • 1 cup carrots diced into bite sized cubes
    • 1 cup chopped celery
    • 1 cup Yukon Gold potato peeled and diced into bite sized cubes
    • 2 bay leaves
    • 1 tsp dried Herbes de Provence or Thyme
    • 2 cups chopped kale or Swiss Chard
    • 2 teaspoons kosher or sea salt 
    • 7 cups chicken or vegetable stock 
    • 1 28 oz can tomatoes with juice
    • 14 ounces dried, rinsed lentils
    • 1 tbsp white vinegar
      Directions
    1. Heat the oil in a sauté pan over medium heat and cook the onions for 4 minutes.
    2. Add the garlic and cook an additional minute.
    3. Place the onion mixture with the remaining ingredients - except the vinegar - in a crock pot and stir.
    4. Cover and cook the lentils on high heat for 4 hours or low heat for 8 hours or until lentils are tender.
    5. Stir in the vinegar during the last 30 minutes of cooking. The slight hit of acidity will add depth to the flavour of this stew.
    6. Serve with crusty bread or my Boursin Biscuits as pictured.
        * You can also place all of the ingredients in a large pot over low to medium heat and cover for 90 minutes or until tender.



    ***

    Author:

    Lyndsay Wells is a professional trainer, writer, and program developer with a passion for food and cooking. She is an award winning recipe developer, and a website ambassador for Kraft Foods Canada. Lyndsay believes cooking should be approachable and easy and has great tips and ideas for putting together sophisticated looking dishes that cooks of all levels can accomplish.

    Visit her daily on her blog, The Kitchen Witch or on her YouTube Channel, CHARMED With The Kitchen Witch.

    Facebook Twitter YouTube
     


    Monday, November 18, 2013

    How to Make Lemon Herb Salt

    If you enjoy recipes from me, your friendly neighborhood Kitchen Witch, then you'll be familiar with my Lemon Herb Salt because, like Emeril with his Essence, I use this beautiful salt in many of my dishes.


































    Not only does it add incredible flavour, it looks just beautiful all done up in a jar - making it an inexpensive, and impressive hostess gift over the holiday season.

    And making it is really just as easy as 1, 2, 3!

    Visit the printable recipe here: Lemon Herb Salt

    Lemon Herb Salt

    Prep Time: 60 minutes
    Yield: 1/2 cup seasoned salt

    Ingredients   
    • Grated zest of 1 lemon
    • 1 sprig each fresh rosemary, thyme, sage, parsley (can also add lavender if you have it)
    • 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
    • 1/2 cup coarse sea salt
    Directions
    1. Dry the herbs and zest slightly by leaving them on the counter for an hour or two.
    2. In a small spice or coffee grinder, pulse salt with lemon zest, dried herbs, and pepper until salt forms smaller crystals and mixture is blended, about 30 seconds.
    3. Pack into glass jars with tight-fitting lids and store in a cool, dark place for up to 2 months. Attach a ribbon and gift tag with serving ideas.


    ***

    Author:

    Lyndsay Wells is a professional trainer, writer, and program developer with a passion for food and cooking. She is an award winning recipe developer, and a website ambassador for Kraft Foods Canada. Lyndsay believes cooking should be approachable and easy and has great tips and ideas for putting together sophisticated looking dishes that cooks of all levels can accomplish.

    Visit her daily on her blog, The Kitchen Witch or on her YouTube Channel, CHARMED With The Kitchen Witch.

    Facebook Twitter YouTube
     


    Sunday, November 17, 2013

    Herb and Cheese Pie Crust Recipe

    With the holidays approaching I thought I'd share an incredible recipe I've come up with for making Herb and Cheese pie crust - a crust that's just perfect for quiche, meat pies, savoury tarts, and this amazing Spinach and Mushroom Quiche being featured soon at the website Sweatpants and Coffee!

    Look how flaky and amazing this crust is!


    If you haven't paid me a visit there, you really must!

    In the meantime, the following recipe is going to change your pastry making life! It includes the addition of my trademark Lemon Herb Salt  -and if you haven't made that yet I may just have to cast a spell on you because it truly is

    Just.

    That.

    Fabulous.

    I make up big batches of it over the holidays to give away as gifts and it will honestly enhance all of your savoury recipes including this one for Herb and Cheese pie crust!

    Visit the printable recipe here: Herb and Cheese Pie Crust

    Pie Crust Recipe

    Prep Time: 80 Minutes 
    Bake Time: 35-40 minutes
    Yield: Makes 6 single pie crusts

    Ingredients

    • 5 1/12 cups all-purpose flour
    • 1 1/4 teaspoon lemon herb salt. Recipe for Lemon Herb Salt HERE
    • 1 lb cold lard, or cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
    • 1/4 cup fresh grated Parmesan cheese or extra sharp cheddar
    • 1 tablespoon white vinegar
    • 1 extra large egg
    • 1 cup ice cold water
    Directions
    1. Combine the flour and salt in a large bowl.
    2. Sprinkle in the cheese and mix well with the flour and salt.
    3. Cut in the lard or butter using a pastry cutter, a Kitchen aide or your fingers (I like to use my hands to make pastry) until the mixture resembles coarse meal.
    4. Whisk the vinegar and egg in a liquid measuring cup and add enough ice water to make 1 cup. Mix the liquid into the crumbled flour, cheese, and butter mixture with a fork, Kitchen aide or your hands a little at a time until well combined and the dough is easy to work with. I always use the full amount of liquid.
    5. Transfer to a clean work surface, and gently press to bring the dough together.
    6. Divide the dough into 6 equal parts.
    7. Shape each into a ball, flatten into a small round disc and wrap in plastic.
    8. Chill for at least 1 hour before rolling out or place the wrapped discs in a freezer bag and freeze.
    9. When ready to use, roll out disc on a lightly floured surface to 1/8" thickness, place in a pie plate or cut to for tart shells and bake as per your recipe instructions. 
    This recipe will keep in the freezer for up to 6 months. If frozen, thaw completely overnight in the refrigerator and then roll out as instructed above.



    ***

    Author:

    Lyndsay Wells is a professional trainer, writer, and program developer with a passion for food and cooking. She is an award winning recipe developer, and a website ambassador for Kraft Foods Canada. Lyndsay believes cooking should be approachable and easy and has great tips and ideas for putting together sophisticated looking dishes that cooks of all levels can accomplish.

    Visit her daily on her blog, The Kitchen Witch or on her YouTube Channel, CHARMED With The Kitchen Witch.

    Facebook Twitter YouTube
     


    Monday, November 11, 2013

    Pineapple Upside-down Cake

    When my son was a baby my husband would make us Pineapple Upside-down Cake to have as a treat with afternoon coffee - a tradition passed down from his father who also loved this dessert.


    Baked in a cast iron pan, you can see from the picture the beautiful caramelization that occurs when butter and sugar meet batter and fruit!

    Serve with a dollop of fresh whipped cream and a steaming mug of coffee or tea for a wonderfully comforting old fashioned treat.



    Visit the printable recipe here: Pineapple Upside-down Cake

    Please enjoy the easy to follow step by step video featuring my husband "Big V" and his "Secret Ingredient Cooking!




    Prep Time: 15 minutes
    Bake Time: 30 minutes
    Serves: 6-8


     Ingredients
    • 1/2 cup butter
    • 1 cup brown sugar
    • 6 canned pineapple rings (drained)
    • 4 eggs, separated
    • 1/2 tsp grated lemon zest
    • pinch of salt
    • 1/2 cup caster sugar
    • 1 tbsp spiced rum (optional)
    • 3/4 cup all purpose flour
    • 1 tsp baking powder
    Directions
    1. Preheat the oven to 350 (180 C/ Gas 4)
    2. Melt butter over medium heat in a 10 inch cast iron pan. Remove 1 tbsp of the melted butter and set aside. Add the brown sugar to the remaining butter in the pan and stir well to blend. Place the pineapple on top in one layer. Remove from heat and set aside. 
    3. Whisk together the egg yolks, reserved melted butter, and lemon zest until well blended. Set aside.
    4. Beat the egg whites and salt until stiff. Gradually fold in the caster sugar, then the egg yolk mixture. 
    5. Sift the flour and baking powder together. Carefully fold into the the egg mixture in three batches.
    6. Pour the mixture over the pineapple. Bake until a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean, about 30 minutes. 
    7. While still hot, invert onto a serving plate. Serve hot or cold.



    ***

    Author:

    Lyndsay Wells is a professional trainer, writer, and program developer with a passion for food and cooking. She is an award winning recipe developer, and a website ambassador for Kraft Foods Canada. Lyndsay believes cooking should be approachable and easy and has great tips and ideas for putting together sophisticated looking dishes that cooks of all levels can accomplish.

    Visit her daily on her blog, The Kitchen Witch or on her YouTube Channel, CHARMED With The Kitchen Witch.

    Facebook Twitter YouTube

    Thursday, November 7, 2013

    The Canadian Food Experience Project Butternut Squash Soup

    For this month's offering to the Canadian Food Experience Project, I've chosen to share a favourite short story by Leo Buscaglia called "The Fall of Freddie the Leaf" to accompany my recipe for Butternut Squash Soup.

    After every summer must come the harvest of fall...

    ***
    Spring had passed. So had Summer. Freddie, the leaf, had grown large. His mid section was wide and strong, and his five extensions were firm and pointed. He had first appeared in Spring as a small sprout on a rather large branch near the top of a tall tree.

    Freddie was surrounded by hundreds of other leaves just like himself, or so it seemed. Soon he discovered that no two leaves were alike, even though they were on the same tree. Alfred was the leaf next to him. Ben was the leaf on his right side, and Clare was the lovely leaf overhead. They had all grown up together. They had learned to dance in the Spring breezes, bask lazily in the Summer sun and wash off in the cooling rains.

    But it was Daniel who was Freddie's best friend. He was the largest leaf on the limb and seemed to have been there before anyone else. It appeared to Freddie that Daniel was also the wisest among them. It was Daniel who told them that they were part of a tree. It was Daniel who explained that they were growing in a public park. It was Daniel who told them that the tree had strong roots which were hidden in the ground below. He explained about the birds who came to sit on their branch and sing morning songs. He explained about the sun, the moon, the stars, and the seasons.

    Freddie loved being a leaf. He loved his branch, his light leafy friends, his place high in the sky, the wind that jostled him about, the sun rays that warmed him, the moon that covered him with soft, white shadows. Summer had been especially nice. The long hot days felt good and the warm nights were peaceful and dreamy. There were many people in the park that Summer. They often came and sat under Freddie's tree. Daniel told him that giving shade was part of his purpose.

    "What's a purpose?" Freddie had asked.

    "A reason for being," Daniel had answered. "To make things more pleasant for others is a reason for being. To make shade for old people who come to escape the heat of their homes is a reason for being. To provide a cool place for children to come and play. To fan with our leaves the picnickers who come to eat on checkered tablecloths. These are all the reasons for being."

    Freddie especially liked the old people. They sat so quietly on the cool grass and hardly ever moved. They talked in whispers of times past. The children were fun, too, even though they sometimes tore holes in the bark of the tree or carved their names into it. Still, it was fun to watch them move so fast and to laugh so much.

    But Freddie's Summer soon passed. It vanished on an October night. He had never felt it so cold. All the leaves shivered with the cold. They were coated with a thin layer of white which quickly melted and left them dew drenched and sparkling in the morning sun. Again, it was Daniel who explained that they had experienced their first frost, the sign that it was Fall and that Winter would come soon.

    Almost at once, the whole tree, in fact, the whole park was transformed into a blaze of color. There was hardly a green leaf left. Alfred had turned a deep yellow. Ben had become a bright orange. Clare had become a blazing red, Daniel a deep purple and Freddie was red and gold and blue. How beautiful they all looked. Freddie and his friends had made their tree a rainbow.

    "Why did we turn different colors," Freddie asked, "when we are on the same tree?"


    Recently, I've been faced with the loss of a dearly loved family member; and though I know that saying goodbye is part of this journey we call life, knowledge can't glue back together a grieving heart - or make things better for those who are hurting the most.

    "It's what happens in Fall," Daniel told them. "It's the time for leaves to change their home. Some people call it to die."

    "Will we all die?" Freddie asked.

    "Yes," Daniel answered. "Everything dies. No matter how big or small, how weak or strong. We first do our job. We experience the sun and the moon, the wind and the rain. We learn to dance and to laugh. Then we die."

    "I won't die!" said Freddie with determination. "Will you, Daniel?"

    "Yes," answered Daniel, "when it's my time."

    "When is that?" asked Freddie.

    "No one knows for sure," Daniel responded.

    Freddie noticed that the other leaves continued to fall. He thought, "It must be their time." He saw that some of the leaves lashed back at the wind before they fell, others simply let go and dropped quietly. Soon the tree was almost bare.

    "I'm afraid to die," Freddie told Daniel. "I don't know what's down there."

    "We all fear what we don't know, Freddie. It's natural," Daniel reassured him. "Yet, you were not afraid when Summer became Fall. They were natural changes. Why should you be afraid of the season of death?"

    "Does the tree die, too?" Freddie asked.

    "Someday. But there is something stronger than the tree. It is Life. That lasts forever and we are all a part of Life."

    "Where will we go when we die?"

    "No one knows for sure. That's the great mystery!"

    "Will we return in the Spring?"

    "We may not, but Life will."

    "Then what has been the reason for all of this?" Freddie continued to question. "Why were we here at all if we only have to fall and die?"

    Daniel answered in his matter-of-fact way, "It's been about the sun and the moon. It's been about happy times together. It's been about the shade and the old people and the children. It's been about colors in Fall. It's been about seasons. Isn't that enough?"

    "That afternoon, in the golden light of dusk, Daniel let go. He fell effortlessly. He seemed to smile peacefully as he fell. "Goodbye for now, Freddie," he said.

    Then, Freddie was all alone, the only leaf on his branch. The first snow fell the following morning. It was soft, white, and gentle; but it was bitter cold. There was hardly any sun that day, and the day was very short. Freddie found himself losing his color, becoming brittle. It was constantly cold and the snow weighed heavily upon him.

    At dawn the wind came that took Freddie from his branch. It didn't hurt at all. He felt himself float quietly, gently and softly downward. As he fell, he saw the whole tree for the first time. How strong and firm it was! He was sure that it would live for a long time and he knew that he had been part of its life and made him proud.

    Freddie landed on a clump of snow. It somehow felt soft and even warm. In this new position he was more comfortable than he had ever been. He closed his eyes and fell asleep. He did not know that Spring would follow Winter and that the snow would melt into water. He did not know that what appeared to be his useless dried self would join with the water and serve to make the tree stronger. Most of all, he did not know that there, asleep in the tree and the ground, were already plans for new leaves in the Spring.


    Such is the harvest of life and as I sit in my Vancouver Island home contemplating the nature of things, the planting and the harvesting, the hellos and goodbyes, I'm reminded that love lives on and though it will never bring her back - Irene, my other mother, saver of souls and laugher at great jokes - I will comfort myself this evening with a warm bowl of butternut squash soup.




















    I hope you'll try this recipe, and when you do think about a wiley Irish lady from Prince Edward Island who never let anything get the best of her, always looked on the bright side and loved to play the slots.

    Until then...

    Follow along with the step by step video here: Butternut Squash Soup.



    Butternut Squash Soup 
    Visit the printable recipe here: Butternut Squash Soup

    Prep time: 15 minutes
    Cook time: 60 minutes
    Serves: 6
    • 2 tbsp butter
    • 2 small onions diced
    • 3 cups peeled, seeded, and cubed butternut squash
    • 5 cups chicken stock
    • 1 tsp paprika
    • 1 1/2 cup peeled, cubed potatoes
    • salt and pepper, to taste
    • 1/2 cup whipping cream
    • Dash of white wine
    • 1 1/2 tbsp chopped chives
    Directions
    1. Melt butter in large stockpot. Add onions and cook until tender.
    2.  Add squash, stock, paprika, and potatoes and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer 35 min or until veggies are soft.
    3. Remove, cool, and puree in a blender until smooth.
    4. Return to pot and add whipping cream and wine. Slowly reheat, stirring.
    5. Stir in chopped chives just before serving. Ladle into bowls and garnish each with two whole chives, or other greenery.



    ***

    Author:

    Lyndsay Wells is a professional trainer, writer, and program developer with a passion for food and cooking. She is an award winning recipe developer, and a website ambassador for Kraft Foods Canada. Lyndsay believes cooking should be approachable and easy and has great tips and ideas for putting together sophisticated looking dishes that cooks of all levels can accomplish.

    Visit her daily on her blog, The Kitchen Witch or on her YouTube Channel, CHARMED With The Kitchen Witch.

    Facebook Twitter YouTube