Monday, 25 July 2011

Making Zucchini Bread

Zucchini is one of the easiest fruits to grow in Southern Ontario.  If you have a vegetable garden, you know that one zucchini plant can produce an overwhelming amount of zucchinis.  However, my family can never have too many zucchinis.  We will fry, grill, boil and bake zucchini and incorporate them into any meal!  My Nonna controls her plants by picking the zucchini flowers, which are considered a delicacy in Italy.  She makes them into dumplings or coat them in a light batter and fry them - yum! 

If you have not picked your zucchini flowers this summer and find yourself with an abundance of zucchini, you can always make them into bread.  Zucchini bread is very light, sweet and is similar to banana bread.  Follow my recipe for two perfect loaves:

Using a cheese grater, grate 2 cups of zucchini.

In a mixing bowl, beat 3 eggs, 1 cup of vegetable oil, 2 cups of sugar, and 3 teaspoons of vanilla extract.  Add the grated zucchini and mix.

In a separate bowl, mix 3 cups of flour, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon baking powder, 1 teaspoon baking soda and 3 teaspoons of cinnamon. 

Slowly and gradually add the dry ingredients to the wet ones and stop mixing once they are combined.  Do not mix more than necessary!  Pour the batter into 2 lightly greased loaf pans and bake at 375 degrees for approximately 1 hour until the loaves are brown on the outside and they are split down the middle.

I always freeze some loaves for when you don't have enough time to bake.  Just allow the bread to cool completely and wrap it in either foil or plastic wrap.  Once frozen, it only takes an hour to defrost, serve with special coffee and your guests will be impressed.  It tastes like you just made it!!! 

Enjoy baking.

Monday, 18 July 2011

Lemon Meringue Pie

Lemon Meringue Pie is my least favourite type of pie.  I will almost always turn down desert when offered this type of pie unless, of course, I need a sugar fix!  There's just something about this pie that doesn't excite me.  I like lemon, I like whipped topping and I like shortbread pie crust... but the combination of the 3 just doesn't cut it. 

Anyways, I was asked to make lemon meringue pies for a fish fry potluck and I had a double box of Dr. Oetker Shirriff Lemon Pie Filling Mix in the pantry; so I gave it a try:

Step 1:  Separate 4 eggs - yolks in a saucepan and whites in a bowl or cup for now.

Step 2:  Mix the 4 yolks with 2/3 cup of water in the saucepan.  Add 2 pouches of lemon filling mix and stir.  Add 4 cups of boiling water, stirring constantly.  Bring to a boil and remove from heat once it thickens.  Remove from heat and add 2 tablespoons of butter.  

Step 3:  Allow the lemon mixture to cool and pour evenly into 2 pre-baked pie shells.

Step 4:  To make the meringue, beat the 4 egg whites with and electric mixer until soft and fluffy.  Add 1/2 cup of sugar and continue beating with mixer until stiff peaks form.

Step 5:  Cover the lemon filling with meringue topping and bake at 350 degrees F for about 15 minutes.  The meringue will be golden brown when it's ready.  

I didn't even try this pie, so I couldn't tell how it tasted.  Others who tried the pie said it was good, but I didn't get any raving compliments.  This pie lacks bite.

Thursday, 14 July 2011

Butter Tarts - A Little Taste O' Canada

Did you know that the butter tart is a Canadian desert?  Butter tarts were common in pioneer cooking and can be traced back to the 1600's.  Traditionally, the tarts consisted of sugar, butter and pastry but today there are several varieties of butter tarts.  Some Canadians use pecans, walnuts or coconut to spice up their tarts, but raisins are most common.  Here is my recipe for Canadian Butter Tarts; the recipe makes exactly 12 tarts. 

It's always the best to use your own homemade pie pastry, but sometimes it's easier to buy a pre-made pastry.  I made the pastry ahead of time so it would be quick to make the tarts.  I used a glass to cut out circles of pastry and placed them into muffin cups.

Before you make the filling, place about 9 or 10 raisins in the bottom of each tart shell.

To make the filling, whisk together 1 cup of brown sugar, 1 egg, 1 tablespoon of butter, 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract and 1 tablespoon of hot water. 

Pour into tart shells to cover raisins (approx 2/3 full).

Bake at 450 degrees F for 10-12 minutes or until the crust is golden brown.  Let them cool completely before attempting to remove them from the muffin tray.

From experience, these won't last very long so you should almost always make a double batch!  For a truly Canadian experience, try your butter tarts with beer :) Haha

Proud to be a Canadian Cook,

Saturday, 9 July 2011

Rice Crispie Treats

I made these for the staff at work when it was my turn to serve a Treat Day.  I love these homemade squares way better than those that come pre-packaged at the store.  These are super easy to make and they keep for weeks if you wrap them tightly or keep them in Tupperware.  The best thing is that you don't have to turn on your oven in the humidity this summer and kids (and adults too) love them!!!

First, you take a tablespoon of butter to a large pot and melt it.

Then, add your package of marshmallows and keep stirring until they are melted. 

Then add a teaspoon of vanilla extract.

Add 6 cups of Rice Krispies and stir it up until all the cereal is coated with marshmallow goo.  Lay the "batter" out onto parchment paper and flatten it with your hands.

Let it cool at least 10 minutes in the fridge or in a cold room.  Once it's hardened a little, you can cut it up into squares.  I like to put sprinkles on my rice crispie treats, but you can leave them plain if you like.


Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Tutto Gelato

Hey - wow - it's been nearly a month since my last post.  Life can get pretty crazy busy towards the end of the school year.  However, my mum and I took some time for ourselves last week and visited Copper Creek Spa and then a stop at Tutto Gelato in Klienburg.  What a treat!!!

Tutto Gelato offers all the authentic Gelato flavours including MOCHA CAPPUCCINO and LEMON TART.  We decided to get 2 scoops - 1 scoop of TIRAMISU and 1 scoop of MAPLE SUGAR.

It was so good!  Please note, you will need several napkins.  Gelato should almost always be shared :)  It tastes better that way!

We really enjoyed sitting outside this cute shop, eating our gelato, and watching people walk by.  Klienburg is a really sweet spot and Tutto Gelato is the perfect place to soak in the ambiance. 

Just a note that if you are planning to visit Klienburg anytime soon, the stores close around 5 or 6pm.  Don't be disappointed and go early and spend a morning or the afternoon and check out all the shops!